OLDaily, by Stephen Downes

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February 13, 2013

With $100M From The Gates Foundation & Others, inBloom Wants To Transform Education By Unleashing Its Data
Rip Empson, TechCrunch, February 13, 2013

The lede is completely buried in this story, but here it is: "This morning, the SLC [Shared Learning Collaborative] has officially renamed and rebranded itself under the guise of a new non-profit startup called inBloom, which it has been quietly building and developing over the past 12 months. Simply put, the new non-profit intends to help transform education by providing entrepreneurs, schools and districts with a better, easier way to make sense of and utilize big data." The problem is, do students want to send all their private data to this big centralized data store? I wouldn't.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Schools]

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The business of MOOCs: how to profit from giving away something for nothing
David Glance, The Conversation, February 13, 2013

The discussion in the comments is much more emlightening than the article itself, which is essentially a restatement of how to profit from giving something away for free, with references to online music, news, etc. - the presumption that online learning should somehow be 'sustainable' is itself never questioned (indeed, the author explicitly describes how revenues from tuition have traditionally subsidized university research). Oh, and to correct one earror early in the comments, the C in MOOC stands for 'Course', not "Courseware' (though the presumption implicit in the error is interesting).

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Research, Online Learning, Tuition and Student Fees]

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Dangerous Curves
Zack Budryk, Inside Higher Ed, February 13, 2013

Sometimes your students are not only smarter than you imagine, they are smarter than you can imagine. "Professor Peter Fröhlich has maintained a grading curve in which each class’s highest grade on the final counts as an A... [students] decided to test the limits of the policy, and collectively planned to boycott the final. Because they all did, a zero was the highest score in each of the three classes, which, by the rules of Fröhlich’s curve, meant every student received an A." Fröhlich was forced to honour the grades. "The students learned that by coming together, they can achieve something that individually they could never have done," he said via e-mail [to Inside Higher Ed]. “At a school that is known (perhaps unjustly) for competitiveness I didn't expect that reaching such an agreement was possible." As someone who boycotted Grade 12 English tsts (without getting an A as a result) I wholeheartedly endorse the students' decision.

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

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Jalopnik reboot hints at new era for Gawker where readers become writers
Tim Carmody, The Verge, February 13, 2013

One of my long-time objectives is realized in this development. It has always seems to me that comments on webstes, along with things like posts on discussion lists, should become blog posts in their own right. There are tons of reasons for this: it effectively solves the problem of comment spam, it makes writers more reasonable when they post to their own site, it distributes authoriship acorss the web, etc. I even envisioned an additional extension for email (I called it rmail)! Now I don't get enough comments on this site to make it a high priority coding project, and sites like blogger and even WordPress have never made it easy for thrid-party sites like me. And content hubs like Gawker like to keep the comments - and the page views - inside the house, to drive revenue. But this article describes at least a part of the right solution. It makes a person's comments in one place become a blog post in another place. One day the whole web will be like that. One day.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Project Based Learning, Web Logs, Discussion Lists, RSS, Spam]

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Estonian Schools to Teach Computer-Based Math
Ben Rooney, Tech Europe, February 13, 2013

Overtly this item is about using softare to teach math in schools in Estonia. But it is also about refocusing math instruction from solving problems in quadratic equations to applied statistics. I get the reasoning - the idea is to shift from mathematical calculation to framing and situating math problems in real life. But it is also shifting the context of mathematics from the sciences - and especially electronics - to business and finance. I'm not sure that's wise. It's true I've not solved a quadratic equation since my last math class. But I understand what it means to turn the knobs on an oscillator. Or to calculate decay in Audacity. Being able to visualize these shapes in your mind is at least as important as calculating a mortgage.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Schools, Visualization]

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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