OLDaily, by Stephen Downes

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June 28, 2013

Free Learning and the Wealth of Nations
Stephen Downes, June 28, 2013, Encuentro Internacional de Educación 2012 - 2013, Caracas, Venezuela

In ths presentation I focus on the role of teachers in MOOCs, talking about what we do, and why we do it. The talk outlines the design and construction of MOOCs, and looks at the approach to learning the use of MOOCs supports.

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MOOCs, MIT and Magic
Tony Bates, online learning, and , distance education resources, June 27, 2013

Interesting coverage and commentary from Tony Bates of an MIT conference on MOOCs. Not surprisingly, the focus in on xMOOCs, with the key 'innovations' of MOOCs being described as follows:

  • active learning: short video lectures interspersed with student tests/activities
  • self-paced learning
  • instant feedback
  • simulations/online labs to teach design of experiments
  • peer-to-peer learning.

Bates himself asserts that "MOOCs are the consequence of lecture capture technology. This technology makes it easy to move teaching online, but without changing the design of the teaching." And John Daniel demonstrates he knows less than nothing about MOOCs while asserting "open and virtual universities in both developed and developing countries have been providing open and distance learning on a massive scale for over 40 years."

Leaving aside the innovations MOOCs actually brought to educational technology (not the least of with is 'open' without tuition fees), I take issue with this: "It is as if researchers such as Piaget, Bruner, Vigotsky, Carl Rogers, Gagné, and many later researchers had never existed. Can you imagine anyone trying to develop a new form of transportation while deliberately ignoring  Newtonian mechanics?" If there actually were a Newton of education, he could complain, but the researchers he cites are more like the Becher, Gall or Ptolemy of education. And even if an educational Netwon existed, he or she would be overlooked these days in favour of TED stars and political favorites with fancy titles.

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Happiness is a Skill, Research Finds
Bradley J. Fikes, UT San Diego, June 24, 2013

I am one of those people who has to work very hard to be happy, because it is not my natural state. It's why I try to do good in this world. This is why I take photographs and go on long bike rides - I am opening myself explicity to the beauty of the world, and sharing it, as a way to make others happy, which in turn results in my won happiness. And as this item, - recommended by Jay Cross - poinbts out, I attend to what makes me happy. "The solution is to change the perception of one’s life, he said, by paying more attention to what’s working right instead of unproductively fretting about what is wrong." This article is a bit pseudoscientific, but the underlying points it makes, I think, are sound.

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From ‘yes, but’ to ‘how can we?’ and ‘why not?’
Scott Mcleod, Dangerously Irrelevant, June 24, 2013


One of those old management tricks is to get people to stop saying "yes but" and to instead start saying "yes and". That's what Scott Mcleod is doing in this blog post. "Instead of allowing those resistance points to dominate and defeat promising ideas, design thinkers work hard to try and reframe opposition into possibility by asking the question how can we?" Well, count me as a fan of "yes but." Why? Because when "yes but" is appropriate, it is because we have been presented with a complex question by the other person. Usually, the part that's implicit is the plan being proposed. Then something really obvious is adduced in defense of the plan. For example: the plan is to fire half the staff. The manager says, "We need to increase our profits, don't we?" You can't say "no". You have to say "yes". But if you say "yes and" you are agreeing to fire the employees. "Yes but" allows us to make the legitimate objection that you can't grow profits by cutting staff. So it is with this post. I can say "yes, Chris Lehmann  and Jesse McLean obtained impressive results. But that doesn't justify using sleight of hand to eliminate legitimate objections."

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Schools & What We Mean by Being 'Successful'
Deborah Meier, Bridging Differences, June 24, 2013

I think it's good to challenge the definition of what we mean by 'success', and not just because I talked abou it last week. Deborah Meier writes, "What do we mean by words like 'the best' or 'successful,' whether in personal or organizational terms? Does it assume one has to 'stand out' from others or a ranking order of celebrity, power, fame? Must there be losers? Is this a race?" Well, exactly. Who sold us on this notion that to be successful we must win some sort of competition?

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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