OLDaily, by Stephen Downes

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January 2, 2014

In 2013, eBook Sales Collapsed... in My Household
Eric Hellman, Go To Hellman, January 2, 2014


Interesting. Eric Hellman observes, "Internationally, ebook sales growth was strong. Print continued its slow decline. Bookstores continued to close. But for some reason, ebook sales in the US stopped increasing. And even started declining!" I have my own suspicions as to the reasons, of course (ranging from pricing to the text-based format). Hellman's reasons? First, "The Kindle acquired in early 2009 reached end-of-life due to a cheaply made power cord, and was replaced by an iPad. The lack of in-app purchase for the Kindle App has resulted in a significant impediment to Kindle purchases." And second, "fan-fiction websites, mostly fanfiction.net and ArchiveOfOurOwn.org." Or, in a nutshell, the reason eBook sales are does in that Apple doesn't share, and eBook readers do.

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Can Pearson Solve the Rubric’s Cube?
Michael Feldstein, e-Literate, January 2, 2014


Longish (7,000 words) post on Pearson Publishing's Pearson’s "startling publication" The Incomplete Guide to Delivering Learning Outcomes and their new efficacy web site. There's a lot to cover. First, Pearson has a history, and public impressions of Pearson are not good. So people have doubts when Pearson writes about the efficacy of online learning (despite the nice dovetail with Tony Bates's recent work). Efficacy, as they acknowledge, is difficult to define. They try this: "an education product has efficacy if it has 'a measurable impact on improving people’s lives through learning.'" (Note - the term 'educational product' is converted (for no good reason) to 'course' in Feldstein's paraphrasing).

We can question whether learning resources should be evaluated by efficacy at all, and whether it should be the publisher defining efficacy (as opposed to, suggests Feldtsein, the faculty selecting the resource), but the shift is a part of Pearson's effort to "finally [give] some thought to how they can design products that students actually want to use and buy." And the push to 'measurable' ties in with a strategy to try to "prove that those products actually…you know…work. If they do work." (Of course, with the vendor creating the metrics, we can be pretty sure they will 'work'). Interestingly, in order to do this, they have to transform the entire company, which forms the second part of Feldstein's post.

So, how will Pearson transform itself into an outcomes-foocused publisher? Feldstein writes, "Surprisingly, Pearson’s CEO John Fallon’s answer was, 'I’ll create a rubric.'" There's an online tool for applying the rubric. Additionally, they are incorporating the rubric internally; "the company is making a substantial investment in activities that should be conversation- and culture-building," including "a partnership with Nesta to define standards of evidence in educational efficacy research." Why a partnership with a private charity instead of actual educators? Therein lies the problem, writes Feldstein: "Pearson is creating their framework largely on their own, selectively inviting in external participants here and there." And they "don’t plan to share product efficacy scoring as part of our sales and marketing materials per se."

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Signs of Surrender in Public Higher Ed
John Warner, Inside Higher Ed, January 2, 2014

I write today in Half an Hour responding to a story in Inside Higher Ed called Signs of Surrender in Public Higher Ed. John Warner uses as a metaphor the 'surrender' of the press, as follows: "The rationale for Time’s move is that the magazine can now “explore new revenue opportunities,” which is code for the “native advertising” practices utilized at websites like Buzzfeed – which substitutes memes for news - and Politico - which makes no apologies for the fact that its Chief White House Correspondent engages in de facto influence peddling, as amply demonstrated by Erik Wemple at the Washington Post." Fair enough. But he then follows his article with an absurd list of seven signs of surrenter that have nothing to do with the point he just made. So here are seven real signs of surrender in higher ed generally (because, believe me, private higher ed is not immune).

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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