OLDaily, by Stephen Downes

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April 5, 2013

How the Web is being body-snatched
Doc Searles, April 5, 2013

The outline-form notes are a bit hard to read, but it's worth the effort to take the time to ponder Anil Dash's comments on how we're losing the web. Take, for example, this bit: "They are gaslighting(*) the Web.

  • Note how unevenly Facebook places warnings. “Please be careful…” they say, about clicking on a non-Facebook facebook link. You see this on many non-BigCo sites that use Facebook logins. But…
  • With big Facebook partners you don’t get the message. Coincidence
  • Also, sites that register with them get the warning, while those that don’t register don’t have the message, even though they are [no] less trustworthy. (Do I have that right? Not sure.)"

(*) "Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse in which false information is presented with the intent of making a victim doubt his or her own memory, perception and sanity. Instances may range simply from the denial by an abuser that previous abusive incidents ever occurred, up to the staging of bizarre events by the abuser with the intention of disorienting the victim." - Wikipedia. Not that there was no warning that these kinds of things would happen. See also David Weinberger.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Books, Wikipedia]

Sweating the Details of a MOOC in Progress
Karen Head, The Chronicle: Wired Campus Blog, April 5, 2013

I was enlisted as a 'friend of the MOOC' as the ocTEL MOOC was being prepared, and now I'm feeling guilty because I really had no time to help when they were planning, but now have comments as they're running into some opening week difficulties. But perhaps difficulties were inevitable, with or without my help; as Karen Head says, "I don’t think any institution was, or could be, fully ready for the endeavor." Additionally, as I've seen over and over again, people try to do on-campus things in MOOCs, without comprehending the distortions scale adds (conversely, the apply MOOCs to on-campus activities, not comprehending that they are removing the benefits scale offers). I would add that while the title of this post says the MOOC is 'in progress', they're really still preparing content for it. You don't understand the meaning of 'in progress' until you have thousands of people running through your site.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: none]

Four observations on how OER initiatives are modelled
Allison Littlejohn, Little by Littlejohn, April 5, 2013

Here, first, are the observations, as stated by Allison Littlejohn:

  • European OER initiatives are based (largely) on the traditional view of instructor using OER as content for teaching
  • Most European OER initiatives rely on government or institutional funding
  • OER is often viewed as content curated by ‘experts’
  • Significant groups of people are not being considered as key users of OER

From what I've seen of MOOCs in North America, exactly the same four comments could be made. So what's wrong with that picture. In short, it's unsustainable. Eventually the funding runs out, experts are too busy to curate all the resources, and the unrepresented groups turn elsewhere for resources. That's why I recommended community supported OERs to the OECD in 2006, and recommend community-based MOOCs today. Not that anyone listens.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Open Educational Resources, European Union]

To better understand Marines, lace up your combat boots
Community College Times, April 5, 2013

OK, this item (via Joanne Jacobs) is just a PR stunt. A week at boot camp won't even help the educators learn about boot camp, let alone learn about vets. But as I was having negative thoughts, it got me to thinking. First, I asked myself who paid for the boot camp, since it's expensive? Then I thought, why do they reserve boot camp for people who are going to become soldiers? Wouldn't it be useful for everybody, even if they don't intend to drive a Hummer or a tank? Why not make it a basic service that the military offers the community as a whole - to get basic fitness, survival training, self-defense. No long-term committments (but if you'll sign up to help the community in the future, we'll gladly take your name). And for the full length (I think it's six weeks?) not just a one-week sampler. It it were offered that way (especially with an incentive to employers to grant time off) I'd be there for that.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: none]

NYTimes rejects the MOOCopalypse
Mark Guzdial, Computing Education Blog, April 5, 2013

OK, I get this criticism, which comes from the NY Times, but I have a question. Here's the criticism: "They work well for highly skilled, highly motivated students but are potentially disastrous for large numbers of struggling students who lack basic competencies and require remedial education. These courses would be a questionable fit for first-time freshmen in the 23-campus California State University system, more than 60 percent of whom need remedial instruction in math, English or both." Now, the question: what are these students doing in university? Why are we charging them thousands in tuition and even more in state subsidies? If they are really uneducated and unmotivated, they belong in remedial education, not university, don't they?

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Tuition and Student Fees]

On ID Tokens
Tim Bray, Ongoing, April 5, 2013

Long-time readers of OLDaily know I've had an ongoing interest in authentication, and more particularly, authentication that is lightweight and automatic. We're finally moving toward such a system, which will eventually replace passwords. Here's an overview of the new system from Tim Bray. "ID Tokens are little chunks of text which claim that some particular person wants to tell some particular party out there that they’re signed in and authenticated by the Identity Provider that issued the token."It's presented as simply as possible, but it's still pretty technical, so don't expect to follow it clearly on first reading (at least, I didn't, your mileage may vary).

[Link] [Comment][Tags: none]

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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