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March 6, 2013

What can I do with my educational data? (#lak13)
Sheila MacNeill, Sheila’s work blog, March 6, 2013

I think this topic will be on the top of a lot of minds in the next little while. No, not simple "what can I do with my educational data?" though that will certainly be the topic of conversation. But the other one: who owns my educational data? The question was prompted for Sheila MacNeill by the recent #etmooc webinar featuring Audrey Watters titled 'who owns your education data?' "This idea also chimes with the work of the Tin Can API project, and closer to home in the UK the MiData project. The latter is more concerned with more generic data around utility, mobile phone usage than educational data, but the data locker concept is key there too." I think that it's useful to think of educational data in the same terms as health data: there's certainly going to be some out there that belongs to practitioners and employers, but for the most part, in the main, it needs to be personal and private. But how does that square with learning analytics as it is currently being discussed? In a word: it doesn't.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Great Britain, Project Based Learning]

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Farewell Posterous
John Larkin, March 6, 2013

I've mentioned the death of Posterous in these pages before, but because it was one of the top four platforms used by MOOC participants to participate (WordPress, Blogger and Tumblr were the others) it seems relevant to link to the migration strategies: "one of the co-founders of Posterous is setting up Posthaven as a permanent replacement for Posterous." Also, two links: migrating your Posterous site to Edublogs and WordPress.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Google, Blogger]

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The Amplify Tablet: A Device Custom Made For Teachers And Students
Jeff Dunn, Edudemic, March 6, 2013

Did the world need "a device custom made for teachers and students?" I don't know, but it now has one, courtesy the the edtech startup Amplify(which naturally launched at SXSW). From my admittedly distance perspective, the designers have confused "education" with "command and control":

  • The teacher has the ability to monitor everything happening on the rest of the tablets in the classroom.
  • the ability for a teacher to send out an ‘eyes on teacher’ announcement where all devices tell the student to look up at the teacher.

As Joel Klein writes in the announcement, "We are changing the very meaning of education by leading the way in data-driven assessment... It comes packed with classroom management and organization tools, basic reference material, and access to millions of multimedia resources aligned to the Common Core State Standards."

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Assessment]

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inBloom & Microsoftian Over-reach
Tom Hoffman, Tuttle SVC, March 6, 2013

inBloom is basically a learning support application that pulls together student data in order to make recommendations. It provides "Secure data management service that allows states and districts to bring together and manage student and school data and connect it to learning tools used in classrooms.... inBloom’s data and content services integrate student records and learning resources that currently live in a variety of different places and formats, making it easier for teachers to find the information and resources they need." Except that... a lot of the data it would collect and store centrally is stuff that really should be personal and private. Or as Tom Hoffman puts it, "it's most evocative of monopoly-era post-XP, pre-Vista Microsoft... That's pretty much where inBloom is. Too far inBubble to realize how absurd and just creepy their plan is."

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Schools, Microsoft, Push versus Pull, Student Record Systems]

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Teenagers and Abstract Thinking: Unclear on the Concept?
Shawn Cornally, Edutopia RSS, March 6, 2013

Another of my early learning confessions: I had a terrible time with the whole concept of abstract reasoning when I was young. On reflection, I think it was because most of my learning was focused on the concrete: phonics and reading texts, mathematical operations, facts in science and history, and the like. What I didn't learn from school was this: "the ability to simultaneously consider multiple states of a system in order to analyze it for patterns, behavior and predictability." As a result, when I hit university, I struggled with math, and flailed at logic. Gradually, I got the concept - but only after teaching logic for a number of years (to my early students in those years: I'm sorry). I still deal with a lot of people who simply don't see the world abstractly. Not even slightly abstractly. Fortunately, my background gives me a bridge to them. But there are things that are nearly impossible to express to someone rooted in the concrete (like, say, recursion, fractals, complexity, etc) that are really the basis of 21st century thinking.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Schools]

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Naming Conventions For Institutional Repositories: Lessons from CORE
Brian Kelly, UK Web Focus, March 6, 2013

As Brian Kelly summarizes, "The CORE (COnnecting REpositories) project aims to 'facilitate free access to scholarly publications distributed across many systems'." From the web site, the basic services offered by CORE are:

  • CORE Portal - Allows to search and navigate scientific publications aggregated from a wide range of Open Access Repositories (OARs)
  • CORE Mobile - An Android application that enables you to search and download open access articles.
  • CORE Plugin - A Plugin to Open Access repositories that enables them to search for related scientific publications.
  • CORE API - Enables external systems and services to interact with the CORE repository.
  • Repository Analytics - A tool that enables to monitor the ingestion of metadata and content from repositories

Kelly wants in particular "to discover information held about Russell Group university repositories, based on a search of the CORE system using the obvious name for the host institution," but finds it difficult to filter repositories by host institution.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Project Based Learning, Learning Object Repositories, Metadata, Open Access, Academic Publications]

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Auti-sim lets you experience the horror of sensory overload
Kyle Orland, Ars Technica, March 5, 2013

What is it like to be autistic? Most of us can't experience sensory overload directly, but with a simulation developed during Vancouver's Hacking Health weekend hackathon we can begin to approximate the sensation. As the article relates, "I wasn't really aiming to simulate what hypersensitivity actually is," team lead Taylan Kadayifcioglu (who goes by Taylan Kay) told Ars. "My goal was to elicit the same kind of reaction from a neurotypical person. So the goal was basically to irritate the hell out of your senses." It does that, but responses ion the coments suggest that it comes pretty close to the mark. This makes this sort of program an invaluable teaching and support aid. "So imagine you were trying to help people with an issue like this, but you have no idea what it feels like. I think in that way it's really powerful and helpful."

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Simulations, Experience, Hackers]

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The Human Brain Project
Human Brain Project, March 5, 2013

This is what real research in IT looks like. The researchers will bring in all the results from the biological and physiological literature on neural function. They will integrate these findings into a massive simulation of the human brain. This will we hope provide the most detailed and accurate pucture of the brain possible. This will then be used to attack brain diseases as well as develop new types of neural network computers. Of course, we will need much better supercomputers than we have today, so new computers - 'neuromorphic' computers - will be developed as part of the project. More. Image clipped from the project image library (specifically, this one) Via Alexander Hayes.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Project Based Learning, Simulations, Research, Google, Networks, Copyrights]

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Sugata Mitra: Slum chic? 7 reasons for doubt
Donald Clark, Donald Clark Plan B, March 5, 2013

Unlike the Nobel Prize, which rewards people for work they've done, the TED Prize is basically startup money for work they're going to do. This with the 2013 prize, which gives Sugata Mitra about $1 million to develop something called  School in the Cloud. This recent attention has caused some writers to examine the initiative that made him Gates-worthy in the first place, the 'hole in the wall' initiative, where he put computers in public places in India and watched as kids taught themselves how to use them.

Audrey Watters, for example, says people should ask critical quesions, questions about "this history of schooling as Mitra (and others) tell it," about "the funding of the initial “Hole in the Wall” project (it came from NIIT, an India-based 'enterprise learning solution' company that offers 2- and 4-year IT diplomas)," questions "about these commercial interests in 'child-driven education'."

Donald Clark assails Mitra's work. "'What we see is the idea of free learning going into free fall' said Payal Arora. When Arora came across these two ‘hole-in-the-wall’ sites, accidentally in India, she discovered not the positive tales of self-directed learning but failure."

Mike Caulfield offers heretical thoughts. "Mitra’s got a bad case of straw man disease here, but the most striking thing about his exposition is that he seems to believe our educational system was invented a specific time to solve a well-defined, identifiable problem: the production of clerical workers."

I'm not as critical as they about the concept of what Mitra calls self-organized learning. After all, that's pretty much what I'm up to. But I don't think learning will be reformed from the top down with TED talks and Gates grants, because I have my doubts that the learning provided by the corporations of today will be any more enlightened tghan the learning created to serve the needs of corporations in Victorian England. (Photo: what's left of the 'hole in the wall' project. Via Donald Clark.)

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Schools, Great Britain, Project Based Learning, Online Learning]

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Getting More Out of Student Blogging
Sue Waters, Sue Waters Blog, March 5, 2013

The whole concept of educational blogging has faded to the background recently, though you'd think that wth MOOCs it would be more important than ever. You'd think. Anyhow, this post features edublogs staffer reviewing the concept of edublogs, from her perspective, and reiterating their application in learning and how to do it well. "Almost all educators who blog well with their students use scaffolding – regardless of the age of the students," she writes. "It’s like teaching someone to drive a car.  They break down the process into key steps from learning to blog to becoming independent connected learners." Good post with a lot of detail.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Web Logs]

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VISIR Network
VISIR, March 5, 2013

Accoridng to the email, "The VISIR project – Vision, Scenarios, Insights and Recommendations – is the initiative of seven European networks, one research centre and one University involved in the open, distance and e-learning field. It aims to develop a shared vision on how ICT may help making lifelong learning a reality." They have launched their second survey.  You can download the 1st Consultation Executive Summary and the full 1st Consultation Paper. Interestingly, the first survey captured a sentiment to look more at education as it fits into wider society, looking at cultural and social-economic factors, rather than focusing effort and expense on institutional change. "A significant focus can be observed on overall learning in society as the real patrimony on which to invest (by leveraging ICT potential) as opposed to institutional learning systems, reflecting to a need to enlarge the perspective out of the borders of education systems." Exactly the right approach, in my view.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Project Based Learning, Research, European Union, Networks, Online Learning]

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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