OLDaily, by Stephen Downes

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October 11, 2013

QuickWire: Rutgers Graduate Faculty Opposes Pearson eCollege Deal
Lawrence Biemiller, The Chronicle: Wired Campus Blog, October 11, 2013

What's interesting about this item is not so much the fact that faculty rejected the proposal as it is what we learn about what Pearson was trying to negotiate (probably successfully in other cases): "the university and the company would jointly offer online courses and degrees and would share revenue... the contract would let Pearson delete course materials it decided were inappropriate." Open access books, maybe? One wonders (given the typical content of university courses) what Pearson would find "inappropriate". And who made the editors at some publishing company some sort of academic expert?

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The Especially Deserving Poor
Mike Petrilli, Bridging Differences, October 11, 2013

Mike Petrilli continues his ridiculous campaign to normalize poverty. Today he focuses on helping the poor - but only those who deserve it. "A good many of our policies and programs, then, should be designed to help people with the drive, work ethic, tenacity, and motivation to rise.... In short, we should bring an ethos of meritocracy back to our anti-poverty efforts--the same ethos that still works relatively well at the top of our social structures and could work equally well at the bottom." I might have some sympathy with this perspective were I to observe the ethos successfully at work at the top. But too frequently, the rich have become so not due to work ethic, tenacity and motivation, but rather through good fortune, illegal behaviour or connections. If Petrilli really wants a merit-based society, then he should apply it to everyone: give each person an equal start in life, with equal resources. For example, a 95 percent or greater inheritance tax, for starters. Elimination of offshore accounts and similar privileges for the rich. That sort of thing. Ah - but we know that will never happen. And thus the whole idea of aid for the poor based on merit is a shallow hypocrisy, a ruse designed to do what the economy does best: to keep the majority of poor people poor.

Why can't these debates feature real opponents to the advocates of wealth and power, and not just the straw men propped up as media spokespeople? Can you imagine, say, a true socialist on CNN? An actual environmentalist, as opposed to a 'sustainability' advocate? An educator steeped in Friere and Illich, rather than policy reform wonks?  No, neither can I. People like Petrilli are shills, and they should be refuted with conviction and force, not treated as authorities of any sort.

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On Quality and OER
David Wiley, iterating toward openness, October 11, 2013

David Wiley briefly summarizes an effective argument showing that open educational resources can be - and often are - just as high quality as traditional resources, but warns of publishgers using distracting metrics. "We should never give into the temptation to focus on vanity metrics like number of pages or full color photos simply because they’re easy to measure. We have to maintain a relentless focus on the one metric that matters most – learning."

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Creative industries not harmed by digital sharing, report finds
Bart Cammaerts, Robin Mansell, Bingchun Meng, London School of Economics, October 11, 2013


A report from the London School of Ecionomics argues that creative industries have not been harmed by file sharing. "The creative industries are innovating to adapt to a changing digital culture," write the authors, "and evidence does not support claims about overall revenue reduction due to individual copyright infringement." Indeed, "The experiences of other countries that have implemented punitive measures against individual online copyright infringers indicate that the approach does not have the impacts claimed by some in the creative industries."

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No Need To Study
Unattributed, No Need To Study, October 11, 2013


I suppose this was inevitable: "NoNeedToStudy take online college classes for you,while you can concentrate on your professional responsibilities and assignments." This is what happens when the credential is more important than the learning. Your reaction at first glance is probably similar to mine: that it's wrong and even immoral. But from the perspective of a busy professional, it might be seen as no different from search-engine optimization (SEO) for students. Indeed, there's a lot of overlap between the two. Now, like me, you may also feel that SEO is wrong and even immoral. But most institutions practice it - and if it's OK to artificially augment one's web standing, it's hard to argue that it's wrong to artificially augment one's academic standing. So simply denouncing the service will not be effective; we need a better answer. (p.s. cheesey photo too, consistent with most institutional advertising).

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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