OLDaily, by Stephen Downes

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June 11, 2013

Coursera Condescension
Jon Beasley-Murray, Posthegemony, June 11, 2013

Part of the whole marketing schtick is to make it seem like nothing would be possible without your particular product. It's unfortunate (but unsurprising) to see it at work here. "we dwell on Raúl Coaguila, a Peruvian who won a Fulbright, we are told, thanks to his Coursera expertise. Because the fact is, Koller informs us, there is 'not very much computer education to be had in Peru.'" Really? Jon Beasley-Murray has actually been to Peru. "Pretty much all you see are endless adverts for computer courses at the multitude of local colleges and universities. Try for instance, the Universidad Peruana de Ciencias Aplicadas or the Universidad Nacional de Ingeniería. Or even the venerable Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos, which has been teaching computing for over seventy years. Heck, this October you could take part in the V Congreso Internacional de Computación y Telecomunicación, hosted at the Universidad Inca Garcilaso de la Vega. What, did Koller think they live in mud huts down there?" The same is true, I can attest, in other Latin American countries.

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Exploring the Acceptability of Online Learning for Continuous Professional Development at Kenya Medical Training Colleges
Isaac William Kyalo, Sandra Hopkins, The Electronic Journal of e-Learning, June 11, 2013

This paper is essentially a survey of attitudes regarding the adoption of online learning. The authors find "little evidence that the quality and availability of technology is impacting on the decision of whether to undertake an OL course or not. Rather it appears that some of the practicalities of OL training create uncertainties in the minds of the lecturers." Given that the study is of staff and students in Kenya, this is an interesting result. But in a different sense, the results are not surprising. "There seemed to be some hesitation about the benefits of OL over face-to-face learning in light of the clinical nature of the subjects being studied and also about the accreditation of OL courses." Read more from the current issue of the The Electronic Journal of e-Learning.

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Report of the E-Learning Work Group
Christopher Boddy, University of Ottawa, June 11, 2013

A major study on new learning technologies at the University of Ottawa recommends the adoption of blended learning. "Blended learning combines the best of online and face-to-face instruction to enhance the learning experience, improve outcomes and increase access in a cost-effective way... In particular, it recommends the development of 1,000 new blended courses (representing 20% of the total course current offering) equivalent to having 500 professors using blended learning by 2020." Additionally, it "does not recommend developing MOOCs in the short term without first doing a detailed market analysis and a feasibility study" but does recommend  "strategically developing 'flag-ship'MOOCs in French in the medium term after undertaking a feasibility analysis that assesses the costs and benefits." Via Tony Bates.

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Connectivity – The Achilles Heel of Remote Knowledge Web Work
Luis Suarez, E L U S A, June 11, 2013

Luis Suarez writes, "when you are working from the traditional office space things are relatively good in terms of connectivity. You know, everyone working along through the same pipes, so to speak... however, when you are a remote knowledge worker, who depends on the Web for the majority of your work, things are much different." From my own observation, this effect is exaggerate if you introduce competition into the workplace. The people located together (and near the big boss) benefit from proximity.

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The Open Road
Stephen Downes, Half an Hour, June 11, 2013

I have once again found myself enmeshed in one of the interminable arguments with people supporting open licensing. It happened after I posted some tweets saying Creative Commons should promote all its licenses equally. It boiled over in the discussion lists where once again I was accused of being everything from anti-profit to pro-commercialism, and told that if I wanted to participate in an open access research project, I should just change my principles. I am honestly tired of this endless discussion, and I simply don't have the same resources to throw at this that the publishers and marketers have. But I'll say, for the record, that it's wrong to say that a resource is "free" and "open" only if you can charge money for it. I make the point in a story about roads, which will be my last word on the topic for the foreseeable future. If the people supporting free and open learning really want to be toadies for the marketing class, well they can go ahead and do that. If they ever decide to support free and open learning resources where people don't have to pay for them, they can talk to me and we'll move forward on that basis. Me, I'm taking the Open Road, even should it prove to be the road less traveled.

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StopWatching.Us: Mozilla launches massive campaign on digital surveillance
Mozilla, June 11, 2013

Honestly, I don't think they're going to stop watching, at least, they won't stop watching in the online equivalent of public spaces and malls. But the secrecy of the program, and uncertainly about how the data will be used, is sufficient to warrant concern, especially when the data is extended to include things like health and education. Anyhow, some recent coverage:

Why these resources? These are the ones I thought offered some insight or original point of view. Related: I think Obama could make this a defining moment of his presidence, in a good way, drafting clear legislation ensuring transparency, equity of access, and protection of personal provacy, with respect to online data.

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MOOCs, Hype, and the Precarious State of Higher Ed: Futurist Bryan Alexander
Howard Rheingold, DML Central, June 11, 2013


Howard Rheingoild interviews Bryan Alexander in this wide-ranging 24-minute video (with text-intro, if you're rushed) on the fuiture of MOOCs. Writes Rheingold, "the ballyhooed arrival of free MOOCs into this frightening intersection of economic, intellectual, and social forces has ignited debate about the future of universities. The Reedie in me asks: What is the place of liberal arts ideals in an atmosphere like this?"

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Learning to Use Brain-Computer Interfaces
Ed Yong, The Scientist, June 11, 2013


Discovering how we learn in a completely new domain is teaching us more about how we learn. In this case, reserachers are studying how we learn to use brain-controlled interfaces (BCIs). These are sensors that detect brain activity in order to move cursors, remote-controlled helicopters, and even artificial limbs. "We learn to use BCIs in the same way that we learn other motor skills, like riding a bicycle or throwing a ball. At first, it takes deliberate conscious effort and involves a network of many different brain regions. As people practice, however, the tasks become easier and almost automatic, and the network becomes much less active... we will be able to design systems that train users in the most effective way possible, slowly adding complexity while they develop skill."

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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