OLDaily, by Stephen Downes

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by Stephen Downes
April 30, 2014

Google Halts Scanning of Student Gmail Accounts
Michele Molnar, Education Week, April 30, 2014

Oh how nice: "Google announced Wednesday in a blog post that it has halted the practice of scanning student Gmail accounts for any potential advertising purposes." So now they're no longer behaving like a creepy snoop. If you're a student. However, "Google can change this policy at any time, and, the scanning disclaimer is associated with advertising purposes only. 'There may be other commercial uses that they are exploiting student data for.'"

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Connectivism: a learning theory or a theory of how to learn?
Jon Dron, Athabasca Landing, April 30, 2014

So Jon Dron wrote a paper he posted yesterday in which he argues, in classic fashion, that connectivism is either trivial or wrong. Not all versions of connectivism - just my own presentation of it. So yesterday I spent some time responding to the article with a fairly detailed criticism, correcting the points where he seems to have skimmed the ample documentation, and clarifying the points he found fuzzy. (That wasn't the reason for the one-link newsletter, though - I had some other articles selected but it looks like my date function needs to be updated to match my new TinyMCE editor).

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Participants' Perceptions of Learning and Networking in Connectivist MOOCs
Mohsen Saadatmand, Kristiina Kumpulainen, MERLOT Journal of Online Learning, Teaching, April 30, 2014

I think the authors could have been a bit bolder in their conclusions ("creating networks and developing professional connections through networking technologies are advantages of participating in cMOOCs") but this paper for its own part offers an extensive set of references to primary and secondary MOOC literature from the first wave of discussion and studies (belying those who claim that there has been little or no research done on MOOCs thus far (yes, I still hear that at conferences)).

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Challenges to Research in MOOCs
Helene Fournier, Rita Kop, Guillaume Durand, MERLOT Journal of Online Learning, Teaching, April 30, 2014

This is a paper published by my colleagues at NRC describing research on some of the MOOCs we've offered over the years here. "the authors report on an exploratory case study of PLENK, a connectivist-style MOOC, and highlight some of the challenges in the research and analysis process, especially as significant amounts of both quantitative and qualitative data were involved." Because of the lag-time in publication in academic journals, this work seems to me to be talking about older work, but in reality this research is at the forefront of our understanding of massive open online learning.


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How artificial intelligence is about to disrupt higher education
Ollivier Dyens, University Affairs, April 30, 2014

This is an almost alarmist artticle describing how AI and big data will combine to perform most educational functions currently performed by humans. "For example, most universities today struggle with mental health issues and with retention and graduation rates. Use Big Data, crush the numbers in specialized AI software, and soon the narrative of why and how mental health issues appear, of why some students persist and some not, will become clear, predictable and operational." If it's any consolation, actually creating systems that perform such tasks will take considerable art and ingenuity, so there will still be work left for us humans to do. But of course our students cannot undertake these future jobs with yesterday's skills.

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To Create Change, Leadership Is More Important Than Authority
Greg Satell, Harvard Business Review Blogs, April 30, 2014

Change the word 'change' to 'learning' and you have a good account of why autonomy, rather than control, is essential in education. "Control is an illusion and always has been an illusion.  It is a Hobbesian paradox that we cannot enforce change unless change has already occurred.  Higher status—or even a persuasive presentation full of facts—is of limited utility. The lunatics run the asylum, the best we can do as leaders is empower them to run it right."

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Shame on Slideshare and Lessons Learned
Lucy Gray, High Techpectations, April 30, 2014


As readers know, I use Slideshare a lot - I was one of the very first users of the service (there was once a time when most presentations on Slideshare were mine!) and use Slideshare as an integral part of my presentation pages. So something like this is a worry - Lucy Gray saw all of her Slideshare presentations deleted and her account closed without notice or explanation. She has backups (phew!) but it's a major inconvenience. What's concerning is how arbitrary this was. Now I'm thinking seriously about a way to create my own embedded version of my presentations - anyone know how? - and dumping my Slideshare account.

[Link] [Comment]

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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