OLDaily, by Stephen Downes

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January 2, 2013

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Why I'm Not Making Ed-Tech Predictions for 2013
Audrey Watters, Hack Education, January 2, 2013.

Good honest reflection of what goes wrong with predictions, with a nod to Nate Silver. One thing that struck me in the column was this criticism of Silver's methodology: "O’Neil argues that Silver assumes that 'the only goal of a modeler is to produce an accurate model,' something that might hold true for some topics — topics in which Silver happens to have expertise, like baseball, gambling, and polling — but that doesn’t hold true for other areas he covers in his book, including medical research and financial markets."

But - from my perspective - this is just the same as saying that medical research and financial markets are unscientific, because that's how science is practised these days: we don't make one-off predictions, we make models. This isn't just metaphorically true, it's literally true. When I tinker with gRSShopper (which I am constantly doing) I'm making a model of what I think learning looks like. And you'll find models deeply embedded in medical and financial sciences. Now these models are not perfect - they are not reality, and we cannot infer from them (the evidentiary basis for science is still evidence; that was the core proposition in my Master's thesis, Models and Modality). And there is the intractable problem of selecting between models. But if you're not making models, you're not doing science.

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Fiddling with criteria, or, accomplishment versus assessment
Dave Ferguson, Dave's Whiteboard, January 2, 2013.

Having previously written about music as a formof tacit knowledge, Dave Ferguson advances to make some useful distinctions:

  • Measurement is a description in terms of a more-or-less objective standard.
  • Evaluation comes when you compare the measurement with some set of criteria

He then adds, "it’s not always an easy task to choose the best assessment." Indeed, "I’d go further to say that there might not be a best assessment." Consider, say, the evaluation of "correctness" in fiddle music. In the Cape Breton tradition, adherence to the text is valued, while in the Scottish tradition, personal variation is valued. Which is "correct"? "The one stream isn’t better than the other; they’re just different. 'Personal style is greatly valued in Cape Breton music,' Dunlay writes, 'but it is expressed in ways other than by creating variations of tunes.'" (photo)

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Springsteen and an Atlanta Shave
Joe Posnanski, Joe Blogs, January 2, 2013.

Someone wrote to me to recommend this column,  a piece he said reminded him of my article Things You Really Need to Learn from 2006. It's a well-written piece by sportswriter Joe Posnanski on the subject of haircuts and Bruce Springsteen. The wisdom he reflects isn't originally mine, or his, or anyone's from this century, "that life is about delivering your best effort, giving the best you have, all the time, even when you're tired, even when you're discouraged, even when you are alone, even when other people will not see it or acknowledge it or even accept it." Bonus: Bruce Springsteen, The River, from Magnetic Hill last summer.

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Millions of Lessons Learned on Electronic Napkins
Jörn Loviscach and Sebastian Wernicke, YouTube, January 2, 2013.

Overview odf lessons learned by tgwo Udacityh professors presented in a half-hour video (no transcript) from the 29th Chaos Communication Congress on massive open online courses, free education, and freeing education.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Traditional and Online Courses, Video, Online Learning]

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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