OLDaily, by Stephen Downes

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November 6, 2013

Learning and Technology Policy Framework
Unattributed, Alberta Education, November 6, 2013


From Karen Andrews, via email: "Today, Alberta released a new Learning and Technology Policy Framework that sets the direction for the meaningful use of technology for learning. The framework was co-created with all of our education partners (school authorities, teachers' associations, post-secondary/Universities, industry and government, etc.)." The framwork is quite an interesting document. Here are the major principles and policy directions:

  1. Student-Centred Learning: Technology is used to support student-centred, personalized, authentic learning with all students.
  2. Teachers... read, review, participate in, share and apply research and evidence-based practices to sustain and advance innovation in education.
  3. Teachers... develop, maintain and apply the knowledge, skills and attributes that enable them to use technology effectively, efficiently and innovatively in support of learning and teaching.
  4. Education leaders establish policy and governance structures, cultivate innovation and build capacity within the system to leverage technology in support of student-centred learning and system efficiencies.
  5. All students, teachers, administrators and other education professionals have access to appropriate devices, reliable infrastructure, high-speed networks and digital learning environments.

Obviously there are other policies that impact educational outcomes. But this seems to me to be a good policy with what at first reading appears to be a progressive and sensible approach toward learning technolgy.

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Out of the picture: why the world's best photo startup is going out of business
Casey Newton, The Verge, November 6, 2013


Compelling tale of the brief life and death of a technology startup. Everpix could be described as the world's best photo hosting service. Unfortunately, it attracted fewer than 20,000 customers in its lifetime.  "Everpix had spent almost nothing to advertise the service, not that it could have afforded to pay for much. The company had spent almost all of its $1.8 million building the service." There's a really valuable life lesson in there. Or at least, a business lesson.

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A New Pedagogy is Emerging...And Online Learning is a Key Contributing Factor
Contact North, November 6, 2013

This is a really good article, looking first at hopw technology is changing student expectations, and then second, in much more detail, at how technology is changing pedagogy. A number of trends are identified and described:

  1. Hybrid learning
  2. Collaborative approaches to the construction of knowledge/building communities of practice
  3. Use of multimedia and open education resources
  4. Increased learner control, choice, and independence
  5. Anywhere, anytime, any size learning
  6. New forms of assessment
  7. Self-directed and non-formal online learning

Examples are provided of each of these seven trends, including our Change11 MOOC as an example of the seventh.


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Axing the honour roll: Do rewards hinder learning?
CBC, November 5, 2013

Good for St. Basil Elementary and Junior High School in Calgary, which is "doing away with all certificates and ceremonies honouring academic and athletic achievement." Why? Citing Alfie Kohn, they argue, “The research shows very clearly that 3 things tend to happen when students are encouraged to focus on getting good grades. The first is that they become less excited about the learning itself. The second is that they tend to become less likely to think deeply … The third thing that happens is when you get kids focused on grades they pick the easiest possible task when given a choice — not because they’re lazy, because they’re rational.” (I rermember graduating from the University of Calgary and finishing second for the Humanities academic achievement award - second to a person who did nothing but coursework, while I was editor of the student newspaper and participant in a wide variety of activities. Had I valued the award (or even known it existed) I may well have curtailed the best part of my education just to win some stupid trophy).

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Building Students' 'Cultural Capital'
Doug Lederman, Inside Higher Ed, November 5, 2013

I am totally opposed to the tenor of this article, which refers to the development of "cultural capital" in students and describes employing "bribery" (in the form of tuition rebates) in order to convince them to participate in on-campus activities such as listening to guest lectures or attending chamber music concerts. But there's an underlying thread that's important: many students come from communities or backgrounds "where there weren't any plays or concerts or chamber music." The role of education in introducing diversity to a student's life should not be underestimated. But one wonders why this would be limited to students and universities. Underground radio, poetry slams, indy rock, art openings, toga parties - these were all part of my education. But oh - that's probably not the kind of 'culture' the fine citizens bribing students had in mind.

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CM Group reduces reliance on public App stores to deliver mobile learning content
Gareth Desmond, PRFire, November 5, 2013

The logvic of this press release is inassailable: “Delivering a single piece of learning content via a single App may be seen as the simpler and cheaper option to begin with. But, imagine what happens to a user’s device when 10 or 20 different pieces of learning content is delivered, each within its own App! Device navigation and usability reduces, degrading the learning experience." Hence the Luminosoty app, which is set up to access multiple learning resources within a single app. "When additional learning content or updates become available, they are added to the central cloud based mobile learning platform and are automatically pushed out to the relevant groups of users."

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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