OLDaily, by Stephen Downes

[Home] [Top] [Archives] [Mobile] [About] [Threads] [Options]

February 4, 2014

Charles Oppenheim on who owns the rights to scholarly articles
Charles Oppenheim, Open, Shut, February 4, 2014


Richard Poynder writes, " the Scholarly Communications Officer at Duke University in the US, Kevin Smith, published a blog post challenging a widely held assumption amongst OA advocates that when scholars transfer copyright in their papers they transfer only the final version of the article." However, he writes, "Charles Oppenheim, a UK-based copyright specialist, believes that OA advocates are correct in thinking that when an author signs a copyright assignment only the rights in the final version of the paper are transferred." The bulk of the article is a guest post by Oppenheim, which is unfortunately not as useful as the introduction.

[Link] [Comment]

Strands of Standards is an Anti-Pattern
Tom Hoffman, Tuttle SVC, February 3, 2014


Although Liping Ma's article is a critique of the reorganization of mathematics instruction, it offers lessons applicable to the redefinition of learning into the acquisition of competencies in general. Tom Hoffman summarizes it nicely: "Ma's argument is that American elementary school mathematics was profoundly but nearly imperceptibly transformed by the switch from what she calls a 'core-subject model' to a 'strand' model. The difference to Ma is that a 'core-subject' '...is a collection of skills or a self-contained subject with principles similar to those of the discipline of mathematics." Now a strand isn't the same as a competency, but the problem is the same. "Once you see an academic subject as a bags of stuff, you're not going to be able to resist trying to solve every problem by changing around the stuff in the bags, and there is a very strong tendency to do that willy-nilly." Or as I would say it: you've taken one problem - teaching the nature and theory of mathematics - and replaced it with ten problems - teaching the nature and theory of each of the strands.

[Link] [Comment]

Moralities of Everyday Life
Paul Bloom, Coursera, February 2, 2014


I'm looking at the Moralities of Everyday Life course being offered by Paul Bloom of Yale (it's a bit too strong to say I'm taking it). Mostly the course is readings and videos with some quizzes (there are 'office hours' but that's really a ridiculous concept for a course with 60,000 people). Anyhow, it links to an essay from Steven Pinker called The Moral Instinct. Now I find the idea that we have innate moral principles ridiculous, but there's room for a moral sentiment (as described by, say, Hume, and suggested, say, by the mirror neuron). But Pinker sets up the argument this way:

  • The first hallmark of moralization is that the rules it invokes are felt to be universal.
  • The other hallmark is that people feel that those who commit immoral acts deserve to be punished.

Really? If these are the hallmarks of morality, then it seems to me it would follow that there are no moral principles, because no rules are universal, and the idea of punishment is an artifice not having anything to do with instinct. But no matter; this is all a distraction.

Pinker cites five "candidates for a periodic table of the moral sense not only because they are ubiquitous but also because they appear to have deep evolutionary roots" from Haidt - "harm, fairness, community (or group loyalty), authority and purity." Look how he argues for them: "consider how much money someone would have to pay us to do hypothetical acts like the following: Stick a pin into your palm... Stick a pin into the palm of a child you don’t know." And four others, one for each supposed instinct.

Now note this: the argument is putatively about the innateness of morality, and what principles are innate. But what has been asserted and accepted without substantiation so subtly you might not have noticed: first, that some people (the ones with the right instincts) are better than others, and second, that money is the determinant of value. Which is what we would expect of Yale. If there's a danger to MOOCs, this is it: the propagation of myths (especially about human nature and values) against a population unprepared to respond to then. Most critics question the qualifications of the learners; I question the intentions of the teachers.

[Link] [Comment]

This newsletter is sent only at the request of subscribers. If you would like to unsubscribe, Click here.

Know a friend who might enjoy this newsletter? Feel free to forward OLDaily to your colleagues. If you received this issue from a friend and would like a free subscription of your own, you can join our mailing list. Click here to subscribe.

Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.