OLDaily, by Stephen Downes

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January 15, 2013

500 Open Courses on UMW Blogs
Jim Groom, bavatuesdays , January 15, 2013.

Jim Groom points to 500 courses on the system free and open to anyone hosted at UMW. No doubt someone will have something to complain about - the courses, say, aren't perfect, aren't completge, are only in blog form, aren't always read all the way to the end, or don't guarantee academic success. Like that - as though there were any better (see below for an example).

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Traditional and Online Courses, Web Logs, Academia]

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Unthinking Technophilia
Jennifer Cost, et. al., Inside Higher Ed, January 15, 2013.

A collection of Six community college faculty members have taken it upon themselves to denounce MOOCs on the grounds that "MOOCs are designed to impose, not improved learning, but a new business model on higher education, which opens the door for wide-scale profiteering." I thought about writing a reply, but I thought instead about this article, also in Inside Higher Ed, which states (to quote the newsletter) "Union College in Kentucky typically loses half its freshman class before the second year begins, so its new president has made students a promise: If they stay, work hard, and get involved, they won't see a bill for their last semester before graduation." And I'm thinking, who exactly are the profiteers here? Half the class at this college gets nothing for their investment of tuition and a year of their lives, but it's the other guys that are profiteering? The enthusiasm for MOOCs has nothing to do with technophilia. It has everything to do with a system that is more and more frequently being seen as the problem, not the solution.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Vocational Education, Tuition and Student Fees, Newsletters]

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Telling Everyone to Just Uninstall Java was a Terrible Idea
John Fontaine, , January 15, 2013.

Here's the background: Java applications were shown to be vulnerable to malware, so the U.S. Department of Homeland Security recommended that people uninstall Java from their desktop. I agree with the author that the recommendation was overkill, but only just. I generally run my browser with Java (not Javascript, which is different) turned off. Even when it's not doing anything it's sitting in the background, eating system resources, and being disruptive (for example, by causing YouTube videos to stutter). But useful software like Collaborate (formerly Elluminate) requires Java, so I guess we're stuck with it for now.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: YouTube, Video, Audio Chat and Conferencing]

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Summary of a Literature Review on The Effectiveness of Instructional Games by Robert Hays
Karl Kapp, Kapp Notes, January 15, 2013.

In summary (quoted from the article):

  • The empirical research on the effectiveness of instructional games is fragmented.
  • (It) does not tell us whether to use a game for our specific instructional task.
  • There is no evidence to indicate that games are the preferred instructional method in all situations.
  • Include debriefing and feedback so the learners understand what happened in the game.
  • Instructional support... increases the instructional effectiveness of the gaming experience.

Karl Kapp also summarizes some recommendations from the paper, for example, including recommending "a detailed analysis of the learning requirements" and that "instructors should view instructional games as adjuncts and aids." Given the fragmentated nature of the literature, I would hesitate to endorse the recommendations.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Gaming, Research, Experience, Online Learning]

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Toward Better Conversations
Anil Dash, A Blog About Making Culture, January 15, 2013.

They're probably getting publicity just because they're from the right circles (ie., Princeton) but the concept is sufficiently sound to pass along - with some caveats. The idea here is to build better conversation - something the web has been short on recently. What we want is a way to create and (just as importantly) manage online conversations. I'm not sure this project is it, but it does some righ things: it gives a space for people to have their conversation publicly without all the "die bart die" trolls interrupting the flow, while still providing a way for outsiders to contribute. Big negative, though: you have to login via Twitter. That's a deal-breake in my mind. But it shows there's fertile ground for people in the wrong circles to build something that actually works, and they don't need to work the Twitter connection.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Twitter, Project Based Learning]

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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