OLDaily, by Stephen Downes

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January 27, 2014

Books: Rome
Various authors, Project Gutenberg, January 27, 2014


Richard Seltzer has been pushing educational eBooks recently, for example this collection on the history of Rome. Which would be nice, but he is charging money for works that are available for free (he even borrows the descriptions of the works from Wikipedia). If you want to study the history of Rome (and you do, it's so fascinating!) then you should turn to the excellent and absolutely free works offered by Project Gutenberg.

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Opening Science
Sönke Bartling, Sascha Friesike, Springer, January 25, 2014

I think we've known for quite some time that science is not a set of facts that can be amassed but rather a network of interconnected perspectives or points of view. As Michael Polanyi said in 1962, "This network is the seat of scientific opinion which is not held by any single human brain, but which is split into thousands of different fragments … each of whom endorses the other´s opinion at second hand, by relying on the consensual chains which link him to all the others through a sequence of overlapping neighborhoods." So what does that mean for science today. We're going through a revolution in our understanding of the nature of science itself. Open science is one part of this. But it's a big important and essential part of it. This item links to an anthology on the subject of open science. There's a lot here - including a paper called Academic Goes Facebook, by Michael Nentwich & René König, from which the Polanyi quite is cited. In the spirit of open science, the anthology is available as a dynamic book, which you can read and edit online; a printed book, which you can order from the publisher, and an open e-book, which anone can read online.

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An Exploratory Study of Emotional Affordance of a Massive Open Online Course
Jeremy C.Y. Cheng, EURODL, January 25, 2014

Well, it's different. And I like the perspective it takes, starting with J.J. Gibson's direct perception, and the idea that "here is nothing inherent in technology that automatically guarantees learning." According to the author, "Emotional affordance of MOOCs is defined as properties which facilitate or inhibit an emotion-related process or behaviour as perceived by its users." So how does this all play out? "Being perceived as an in-group member may induce different learning incentives or strategies. Investigating non-achievement emotions in MOOC might thus provide a more complete understanding of the learning dynamics in the MOOC as a connectivist learning platform where interactions amongst participants are the pillar of knowledge creation." The data (in Table 1) came from 2,752 items, not a huge sample but useful. The items were classed across a few dimensions (type, positivity, depth, achievement-related). We learn that "Emotion becomes more salient, more verbal, and more public in the MOOC. It also becomes more shared and distributed." As well, we see greater incidence of altruism and intergenerational responance. This approach would reveal a lot more if replicated on a much wider scale (for example, I saw that the rate of cogitive emotional lanbguage was lower, suggesting a need for participants to become more self-reflective).

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Everything in Moderation
Carl Straumsheim, Inside Higher Ed, January 25, 2014

So, I've seen this before: "conversation, in his words, 'very quickly disintegrated into a snakepit of personal venom, religious bigotry and thinly disguised calls for violence.' But some students have accused him of abusive and tyrannical behaviour in his attempts to restore civility." Where? Well, in pretty much every unmoderated discussion list in the world. We also had this sort of issue threaten to arise in the Moodle discussion board we used in the bvery first MOOC. Our solution back in 2008 was to use distributed aggregated discussions, because moderation in massive courses is not really an option. This solution will be reinvented by someone at, say, Dike or Stanford, renamed (DOOC, maybe), and will become the next big thing in MOOCs. As for Inside Higher Ed, instead of looking to see where this has been encountered before (wehich is, like I say, everywhere), I guess it's easier to imply that the subject matter (and unreasonable fanatics) are the cause of this.

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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