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June 17, 2013

Connectivism, Online Learning, and the MOOC
Stephen Downes, June 17, 2013, Integrating Technology 4 Active Lifelong Learning, Online, via WizIQ

Longish online WizIQ presentation that looks mostly at the concept of learning theories and MOOCs. The first part examines in some detail the concept of knowledge rmployed in MOOC pedagogy - this is a view of knowledge as recognition of emergent phenomena from networks of connected entities. It them looks at learning theories properly so-called, which are theories describing the mechanisms that form, strengthen or weaken connections. From this is derives the main elements of MOOC pedagogy and network design. The class was hosted by Nellie Deutsch.

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School database loses backers as parents balk over privacy
Stephanie Simon, Reuters, June 17, 2013

I've long thought that the deal-breaker for big data and learning analytics is personal privacy. Now it appears events are bearing this out, a bit (PRISM notwithstanding). "A $100 million database set up to store extensive records on millions of public school students has stumbled badly since its launch this spring, with officials in several states backing away from the project amid protests from irate parents... The system is set up to identify millions of children by name, race, economic status and other metrics and is constructed in a way that makes it easy for school districts to share some or all of that information with private companies developing education software." Really? They didn't go for that...?

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MOOC-Ed: Massive Open Online Courses for Educators
Glenn Kleiman, June 17, 2013

Glenn Kleiman writes, by email, "We have launched a program of MOOCs for Educators (MOOC-Eds) and have opened registration for our second MOOC-Ed, with more coming soon.  Information is available at www.mooc-ed.org and I've attached the press release about the math one which starts July 1."

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Online universities: it's time for teachers to join the revolution
Anant Agarwal, The Guardian, June 17, 2013


The most useful thing about this article is the link to EdX code, which as the author notes was released in early June. I took a quick look at the git source, there's a lot there, a mixture of Python, Ruby, and NodeJS, built on Django, all using a Mongo database. OK, at least it's not Java. But hosting this still looks like a major commitment. As for the article itself, it on the one hand demonstrates a certain hubris ("we are part of a movement that seeks to change the face of education") and on the other the simplistic 'magic bullet' approach to learning management ("we are now looking at whether professors should assign homework before the lecture, instead of after"). And despite the title, it doesn't really mention teachers at all, nor what they should be doing (aside from moving homework assignments).

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MOOCs and the Future of the Humanities: A Roundtable
Ian Bogost, Cathy N. Davidson, Al Filreis, Ray Schroeder, Los Angeles Review of Books, June 17, 2013

Four newly minted (by the media) 'experts' on MOOCs discuss and debate the format. "To date, few discussions of what Aaron Bady has called “the MOOC moment” have focused specifically on how new models of online learning may impact the humanities. The Los Angeles Review of Books invited four distinguished professors, some of whom have experience teaching online, to reflect on the risks and opportunities MOOCs present for the humanities." One good quote from Davidson: "Higher education is becoming the province of the high achieving and the wealthy global 1%. I don’t want a society that massively excludes so many students, nor one where you have to be better than perfect to gain admission to your state university."

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Evaluating a cMOOC using Downes’ four “process conditions”
Christina Hendricks, You're the Teacher, June 17, 2013

Interesting summary and reflection of a 2010 paper by Mackness, Mak and Williams on the four conditions (autonomy, diversity, openness, interactivity) I set for evaluating MOOCs. The paper itself is of limited value as a research paper, being based as it is on a survey of 22 people. But the discussion is interesting, as "puzzling that in that recent post Downes doesn’t talk about asking participants about their experiences in a cMOOC at all." But some of the remarks in the paper show exactly why. Consider this: "The researchers provided quotes from two participants stating that they would have preferred more structure and guidance, and one course instructor who reported that learner autonomy led to some frustration that what s/he was trying to say or do in the course was not always 'resonating with participants'." So how is this relevant? So some people didn't like autonomy (one because they couldn't control outsomes) - what do I do, revise the criteria for assessing courses based on this? Clearly not.

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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