OLDaily, by Stephen Downes

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February 4, 2013

The Evolution of Cooperation
Jenny Mackness, February 4, 2013

Cooperation is a topic of interest to me - especially insofar as it differs from collaboration, which is something very distinct. So the notes from Howard Rheingold's class on the literacy of cooperation are of interest to me. This summary from Jenny Mackness covers the history or evolution of cooperation. "If Darwinian processes favour successful competitors why does cooperation exist?" The answers appear in earnest as soon as you begin to think about it:

  • molecules catalyze each other to higher levels of complexity
  • co-operators benefit from each other through mutual relationships
  • a group which was comprised of cooperators reproduced more effectively
  • people can achieve by collective action what they never could do alone
  • primates pick parasites off each other

Note that none of this resembles collaboration (much less competition). It occurs at a midway point, where there is interaction and exchange, but not a melding into a single unity. Cooperation - not collaboration - is where we should trace the future of learning online.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Interaction, Australia]

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Negating the learner in the learning process
George Siemens, elearns, February 4, 2013

Nice. It looks like the bulk of CCK08 is now available again online. The newsletter archives have always been available, here - scroll down to 2008. Now the pages and Moodle forum are back on the University of Manitoba website, here. And it points to an interesting different between ourselves and Coursera - even were the course a disaster, we wouldn't have shut it down. Mostly, because we couldn't have. From the outset our courses have always belonged to the participants. Not that it's likely we'll ever see any education provider understand that.

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

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Educon: Unraveling the Textbook
Tim Stahmer, assortedstuff, February 4, 2013

Tim Stahmer, reflecting on Educon (and linking to a few of the wonderful reflections written by others) jots down a few short notes about textbooks. "A replacement for the textbook should

  • be accessible on any device, anywhere
  • allow users to add comments
  • allow certain users (teachers, trusted students) to add and update materials
  • have a social media component to allow users to discuss the materials
  • have content controlled by educators, not publishers."

The fact that this would completely disrupt the textbook industry should tell us something. Related and relevant: Mike Caulfield, maybe colleges should worry less about moocs and more about textbook companies.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Accessibility, Books, Linking and Deep Linking]

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LearnDash, February 4, 2013

Audrey Watters notes this website in passing in her weekly summary: "LearnDash (is) a WordPress plugin that lets you create courses, set up quizzes, and track user info. It also takes advantage of the TinCan API (which I [Watters] wrote about here)." Note that even though WordPress is an open source application, this plug-in is not free (it's not priced outrageously, but people might be expecting it to be free). There's also a hosted version which is a bit expensive (but which would be a lot cheaper than buying an LMS).

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Open Source]

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University of Phoenix Online Platform Receives Patent from United States Patent and Trademark Office
University of Phoenix, February 4, 2013

This one passed by last week and I just never got the chance to ake note (I spent most of last week quite under the weather). It's the sort of link I need extra energy to writem, because it's another one of those "the U.S. patent system is broken" links. In brief: the University of Phoenix has received a patent for online course activity streams, and specifically, for "the University’s new Academic Activity Stream that will consolidate student activities, engagement, and interaction into one unified learning space." As Phil Hill writes, "The basic idea of the Academic Activity Stream is to rank information in a user’s activity stream based on individual interests, past history, and learning objectives – rather than merely ranking the items chronologically."

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Traditional and Online Courses, Interaction, United States, Patents, Google, Copyrights, Learning Objects]

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Publishers Cool on Facebook
Josh Sternberg, Digiday, February 4, 2013

It's the beginning of the end of the Facebook era. "Publishers aren’t pushing readers to 'like them on Facebook' as much as they used to. After all, only 16 percent of a publisher’s fans organically see a page post.Given a choice, a publisher would much rather have someone sign up for an email newsletter or even follow it on Twitter. 'Facebook throttles any one of our social post’s reach to 20 percent of the audience who raised their hand and said they want to hear from us,' said one publisher." In the future pundits will say Facebook's fall was self-inflicted, but from my perspective it's inherent in the nature of any organization whose only prupose is to make money (and that's what organizations become after their IPO).

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Twitter, Books, Newsletters]

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How NOT to Design a MOOC: The Disaster at Coursera and How to Fix it
Debbie Morrison, online learning insights, February 4, 2013

As I've told people in the past, what makes a MOOC a MOOC is that it i set up to use distributed resources, not centralized resources. It was inevitable that Coursera would learn this lesson the hard way. As one commenter said, "Wowzers, 40,000 students signed up for considering google spreadsheets limit of 50 simultaneous editors ... not a good choice!" and "Egads, this group thing in is a giant clusterf*." Debbie Morrison analyzes the causes of the failure: a problem with the Google spreadsheet used to join groups. She also notes, "Instructions for the group work in this  course are vague. It is not clear what the groups are for, or why one needs to join a group." The course? Coursera, Fundamentals of Online Education: Planning and Application.See also: Steve Krause.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Google]

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Free Course, Inexpensive Exam
Paul Fain, Inside Higher Ed, February 4, 2013

More on the same story, with a few new players. "students can use free course content from providers like the Saylor Foundation and Education Portal to study for “challenge exams,” probably the fastest and most inexpensive way to earn credits. The examinations, like those offered by Excelsior College and the College Board’s College Level Examination Program (CLEP), are designed to test whether students grasp the concepts that would be taught in a conventional classroom version." What's important is that the tests are accepted as rigorous. So this is what's shaking out as the stage-one model: MOOCs as a replacement for the first-year cattle courses.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Portals, Assessment]

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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