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June 5, 2013

Life-Long Learning
Stephen Downes, June 4, 2013, Encuentro Educación, Caracas, Venezuela, by Adobe Connect

Slides and audio from my presentation to Encuentro Educación 2012 - 2013 in preparation for my upcoming visit to Caracas. Learning overall can be divided into the teaching function and the learning function; in this presentation I focused on the learning function, focusing on learning that is interactive, usable and relevant.

[Link] [Slides] [Audio]

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Lorna Campbell, Lorna’s JISC CETIS blog, June 5, 2013


"Many colleagues have commented previously that the relationship between MOOCs and OERs is problematic, now it seems to have hit the skids altogether." So writes Lorna Campbell, of the new FuitureLearn website, which went live today. My eyes are still hurting after looking at it - an orange and pink colour scheme will do that (thank Wolff Olins (see also, and also) for the design). There are no courses yet available on this UK-MOOC site, but there is nonetheless plenty to talk about. In particular, Lorna Campbell highlights the terms and conditions posted on the site, criticizing the conditions. She writes,  "If content can not be reproduced, modified or transferred then clearly it can not be reused, therefore it is not open." David Kernohan, on Twitter, opines, "least open license possible, no under 16s, purchasing clauses, gathers data from (& sells to) external sources. Open. 2013." I don't care about the "attribution non-commercial" aspect of the license, but do wonder why FutureLearn applies a "no derivatives" claise, and also why it stipulates that content is accessed strictly "through a student account," which does seem to preclude sharing. Also, I couldn't help laughing at a tweet proving pretty much conclusively that FutureLearn's terms and conditions are copied and adapted from Udacity's (or, less likely, that both are copied and adapted from some third source) - I've saved the comparison here.

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Google Entices Mobile Developers To Its Cloud With Kinvey
Dan Rowinski, ReadWriteCloud, June 5, 2013


You will want to have a look at this item especially to view this image. It represents most clearly just how complex the internet has becopme, and how many of the online services you access may appear to be simple websites, but are actually the result of layers of services operating together. It also illustrates a bit of a consolidation happening, where a single player - IBM, say - is munching its way from one layer to the next through acquisitions and investments. Or through partnerships, as Google is undertaking with Kinvey, a mobile services application provider. These days, you can't simply build an internet application from scratch - you have to navigate through and interact with this tangled web of providers.

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The Canadian Wireless Debate is Over: How the Incumbent Carriers Lost the Support of the Government
Michael Geist, June 5, 2013

This may be small news internationally, but it's pretty major, I think, here in Canada, and it suggests some wider trends may be moving in the right direction. In a nutshell (Michael Geist provides the details) the government took a series of measures this week to weaken the incumbents' hold on wireless services. Data plans can no longer lock-in consumers for three years, and data plans themselves should get more competitive. "government and public positions on the issue have solidified. The debate is no longer about whether the Canadian market is competitive. It is now about how to fix an uncompetitive market." Why might there be wider implications? Well, wireless data is not the only uncompetitive market in Canada and elsewhere. Most content-based markets are  uncompetitive either, with publishers and broadcasters relying on what are essential monopolies to keep prices high (that's why open educational resources are such a threat to them).

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Massive Open Online PhDs
Jon Dron, Athabasca Landing, June 5, 2013

In this discussion paper Jon Dron offers a good idea that suffers from one fatal flaw. The good idea is the PhD MOOC, or the Massive Open Online PhD. Sounds great, especially for someone like me. "A MOOPhD would, of necessity, be highly modular, offering student-controlled support for all parts of the research process, from research process teaching, through initial proposals, through project management, through community support, through paper writing etc." OK, so the fatal flaw? It's this: "The main idea behind this is to prepare students for a PhD by publication, not to award doctorates." Which sounds great, except that there are no PhDs by publication. Believe me, I've looked. Sure, some institutions may offer them for their own staff, but for the rest of us plebes, they're just an urban myth. That, to me, is a pretty big problem.

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Critical Care Nursing
Contact North, June 5, 2013


Overview of an e-learning program in critical care nursing set up by Durham College in Ontario. The program has three major components:

  • Six interactive theoretical courses offered via the Internet;
  • Practical experience in an intensive critical care simulation lab;
  • Hands-on preceptored (monitored) experience in an intensive care unit (ICU).

This is a combination we will see more frequently, as educational institutions especially recognize that learning online is best supplemented with simulations and real-world experience in authentic environments.

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The Corporate Educators are Coming...
Contact North, June 5, 2013

Very good article from Contact North on the implications of renewed corporate interest in the provision of online learning. Change is coming to the system, wriotes the autor, from the outside in- "Students will chose their courses and programs from around the world, based on estimates of quality and price." The primary economic driver will be assessment and credentialing. "Assessment centres for accreditation are where corporations see their profits... They are seeing that education and certification will continue to be critical conditions for employment in the knowledge economy." The scenarios are extremne, and game-changing. For example, imagine a "new merger creates Google Phoenix, bringing together Google Scholar, Google apps, the University of Phoenix online curriculum, and a growing collection of digital learning objects, all shareable through the Google Plus collaboration network."

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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