OLDaily, by Stephen Downes

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by Stephen Downes
Jul 23, 2014

What’s the media got to do with education? The freedom to listen, speak and learn
Annika Burgess, eLearning Africa News Portal, Jul 22, 2014

The headline in the title of this post I think neatly ties together the link between media and education (and to a large degree why they are both interesting to me). "Dr Auma Obama, speaking on the following day about the work of the Sauti Kuu Foundation. Working in rural and slum areas in Kenya, the foundation teaches children about their 'light, voice and fire' or, in other words, their right to be seen, to speak, to participate and to challenge." These aren't luxuries; they're basic and core to both learning and society.

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The Bitcoins of Learning?
Unknown, Wikispaces, Jul 22, 2014

There isn't time (nor bandwidth in what has become terrible airport lounge wifi over the years) but I think that the concept of a bitcoin for learning is a really bad idea. I get the concept - students are looking for more than just grades; they want a learning 'currency' they can take with them to the workplace. And "currency, ideally, must travel, quickly and simply, and as widely as possible. It's a reductionist, simplistic mode of social interaction." But a substantial proportion of the economic and social woes in today's society stem from the unfettered flow of currency - especially shady currency - into cash hordes in small island nations and banking havens. I am quick to criticize the aristocracies and monarchies currently governing degrees and credentials, but the replacement of monarchy is not libertarian anarchy - that way lies madness - but proper civil and social government. (I have no idea who wrote this; his/her name appears nowhere on it, but it appeared in my twitter stream).

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Blackboard’s Big News that Nobody Noticed
Michael Feldstein, e-Loterate, Jul 22, 2014

Reporting from the Blackboard conference, Michael Feldstein writes, "the big corporate keynote had to be one of the strangest I’ve ever seen." High praise! After a long intro, it became (says Feldstein) "a carpet bombing run of announcements—a series of explosions that were over by the time you realized that they had started, leaving you to wonder what the heck had just happened." (What would education be in the United States without endless military analogies?) So what are the changes? A major user interface revision, a cloud version of the platform, bundles products, and other stuff. These actually make a lot of sense, and respond to (in order) longstanding criticisms, the challenge from MOOC platforms, and D2L's positioning. But you can't say any of that if you're Blackboard, so you mumble generalities and then make the announcements, kiss me quick, it's my birthday.

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Michael Feldstein, e-Literate, Jul 22, 2014

This will be (I hope) the last of the posts on D2L's name change. This post from Michael Feldstein essentially expresses incredulity at the verbiage and scepticism about the business plan (to the point of questioning one of D2L's recent acquisitions). It also includes two substantial references: to THE Journal for summarizing the announcements and D’Arcy Norman’s post "for an on-the-ground account of the conference and broader observations about shifts in the company’s culture."

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Rethinking the nature of inequality and labor: An essay review of Affective Equality
Eleni Schirmer, Michael W. Apple, education review, Jul 22, 2014

Good review of the book Affective Equality posing the central question, "Have the implemented educational reform policies mis-appraised the requirements of equality itself?" There are multiple "social systems that structure both equality and inequality: economic, political, cultural, and, affective." And example of this (not mentioned in the review) are parental expectations of their children. But this can't be addressed simply by hiring more staff; "it is a dangerous category error to try to squeeze all such labor into the domain of the economic market." You can't simply compensate 'care work' more generously; at the same time, for example, by offloading hands-on care-type work such as tutoring to low-paid instructors, academia overly rewards higher-paid non-care work such as administration and research. Care, according to the authors, must be recognized as a public good.

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Kindle Unlimited
Maria Bustillos, The Awl, Jul 22, 2014


Normally I use the article title for my own titles, but in this case I've edited it due to the language. So consider this a language warning. That said, I agree with the tome of the article, which asserts in summary that Kindle will now be charging $10 per month for access to six hundred thousand books in its library. As the author responds as a counterpoint, "it is possible to read six million e-texts at the Open Library, right now." And "But it shouldn't cost a thing to borrow a book, Amazon, you foul, horrible, profiteering enemies of civilization." That is, after all, the basis on which the public library was founded (as in, say, New Brunswick). But the publishers and vendors are pushing back against ruling like the recent HathiTrust case, which reasserted the rights of libraries to digitize and lend books from their collections.

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Unbundling Versus Designing Faculty Roles
Adrianna Kezar, Sean Gehrke, Daniel Maxey, American Council on Education, Jul 22, 2014

Those who follow OLDaily will recall that I've written before on what may be called the 'unbundling' of faculty roles (article, presentation). In my presentations I offer some 27 roles that could be mixed and matched in different configurations. This paper focuses mostly on the distinction between the roles of tutor, presenter and mentor. It's one of those papers that appears to be discussing change, but which I think is fundamentally conservative in its outlook. This becomes most apparent near the end as the author executes a"a pivot in terminology" and begins talking about 'redesigning', rather than unbundling, faculty roles. Via Inside Higher Ed, which points to a related paper on reimagining business models in higher education.

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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