by Stephen Downes
Jun 24, 2014
Study of MOOCs Suggests Dropping the Label ‘Dropout’
The Chronicle: Wired Campus Blog,
Jun 23, 2014
I'm not a fan of research papers that produce taxonomies, but if you do produce a taxonomy, it should reflect causes, practices, or some such thing. If I were to categorize MOOC users, therefore, I'd characterize them by the impact they have on the system: uploaders, commenters, subscribers, viewers, and lurkers. Each of these can be quantified by site statistics. Meanhile, the best response to this research report is the first comment in the Chronicle: "The fact that anyone ever considered a person who clicked on a link on the internet but failed to devote several weeks of their time to the "product" to be a "dropout" should be the news."
Un-Fathom-able: The Hidden History of Ed-Tech
Jun 22, 2014
Not that we were first - I know we weren't - but we had been offering courses online for four years by the time "the first online class" (at, and according to, MIT) was offered. By 2001, actually, I had left Assiniboine, where we put the General Business Certificate courses online, and had been at the University of Alberta for two years, where we put a municipal government learning and resource portal online. So I can persoanlly attest that the 'history' told by the founders of these new education ventures are works of fiction. This talk by Audrey Watters, by contrast, is not. It's the sober alternative to the hype.
We Can Code It
Jun 22, 2014
Intelligent and literate article on computer literacy and learning to program. The focus is on encouraging girls and minorities to join the crowd, but the real strength of this article is in the first half where the author describes the sort of literacy enabled by learning to program. It leads off with Boston's adoptahydrant.org, and then lists off some examples of digital literacy: sorting, abstraction, iteration, parallel processing. And it shows the strength of this way of looking at the world: when faced with a problem, the digitally literate can devise a method that solves it, rather than being overwhelmed. And this is what creates advantages for kids who learn to code. "Computational thinking opens doors." Via Doug Belshaw.
Another bit of computational thinking not mentioned in the article is following the links (and, believe me, this is definitely a programming skill, at least for debugging). I followed the adoptahydrant.org link to find several interesting sites: one is Boston Built, which promotes code created in that city (an idea to pass along to my colleagues here in Moncton); another is Code for America, which (again following links) is a whole set of open source civic government applications created by civic volunteers, things like Textizen, a text-based civic participation platform, and many many more. Digging into Doug Belshaw's page I found EduSpam, which I may contribute to, Mozilla Thimble, Remix, and this special link.
Norwegian MOOC commission
The corridor of uncertainty,
Jun 21, 2014
For those of you who speak Norwegian, the government of Norway has released a commission report on the potential of MOOCs. It recommends a "national investment of up to €16-47 million annually in the coordinated development of online education in the country" which would include the development of a national MOOC platform, MOOCs that lead to course credit, and "inquiry on whether MOOC students should qualify for study loans and grants." An English version of the report is expected soon; meanwhile, this summary provides a good overview in English.
This newsletter is sent only at the request of subscribers. If you would like to unsubscribe,
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.