OLDaily, by Stephen Downes

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by Stephen Downes
Aug 01, 2014

Reclaim & Rethink
Tim Klapdor, Tim Klapdor, Jul 31, 2014

Tim Klapdor explores the concept of self, paticu;arly with respect to identity and learning. It's a complex issue. At first blush we think we have one self, but then everyone can think of an instance when we were (if you will) "not ourselves". Klapdor explores "Jung... the anima/animus (male/female). This underlying unconscious mind helped balance and maintain the persona..." Except that's too simple as well. There's the mental self, the bodily self, the public self, the historical self - I could go on; the list is almost endless. Philosophy is full of thought experiments designed to test the concept (if I take my brain and put it in your body, is the resulting person me or you?).

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The Ethics of Big Data in Higher Education
Jeffrey Alan Johnson, International Review of Information Ethics, Jul 31, 2014

Interesting look at the effect of data mining in education (8 page PDF). The author makes the point that research based in data mining works quite differently from traditional research. I quote:

  1. Data mining eschews the hypothetico-deductive process, relying instead on a strictly inductive process in which the model is developed a posteriori from the data itself.
  2. Data mining relies heavily on machine learning and artificial intelligence approaches, taking advantage of vastly increased computing power to use brute-force methods to evaluate possible solutions.
  3. Data mining characterizes specific cases, generating a predicted value or classification of each case without regard to the utility of the model for understanding the underlying structure of the data.
  4. Data mining aims strictly at identifying previously unseen data relationships rather than ascribing causality to variables in those relationships.

The author surveys the ethical implications of this. On the one hand, the good news is that model-based theories which treat all students as though they were the same are replaced with an approach recognizing the individuality of each student. But on the surface, the approach risks revealing information about students they don't want revealed, and risks fostering paternalism through the recommendation process, and at a deeper level, the risk of "scientism," or " he temptation to un-critically accept claims that purport to have scientific backing."

The current issue of the International Review of Information Ethics is a special issue on the digital future of education (it's issue number 21).

[Link] [Comment]

Disentangling The Effects Of Student Attitudes and Behaviors On Academic Performance
Susan Janssen;Maureen O'Brien, International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching, Learning, Jul 31, 2014

commented the other day that a study was misleading because it didn't take into account motivation. This paper documents that effect. "Separate analyses of ability and motivation groups are conducted," write the authors. "We find that motivation and ability explain variation in both homework and exam scores." The literature explains the link: "motivation influences performance through its effect on selfregulatory behaviors and study strategies... Self-regulated students engage in increased effort by completing supplemental problems, managing time effectively, and seeking help in solving problems." 31 page PDF.

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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