OLDaily, by Stephen Downes

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by Stephen Downes
Aug 27, 2014

Common sense for some and new and inspiring for others
Barb Brown, Weblog, 2014/08/27

Barb Brown responds to a post I wrote back in 2013. I complained: "Course instructors discuss their approaches to backward instructional design and describe the digital tools used to support collaboration.... Well, this too could have been written in the 1990s, I guess...." She replies, "The topic may not be as timely or important to some audiences, especially those who are expert in teaching online... however, the topic of post secondary instructors collaborating on the design of online courses is relevant to a broad audience." Well maybe - but is content "relevant to a broad audience" really what belongs in an academic journal? More and more, what we are seeing is journal authors writing to an audience consisting of each other - and not keeping up with developments in the field. They applaud each other for having 'discovered' things that have been in practice for years, and even naming them after each other (hence, e.g., "Hai-Jew’s (2010) fourfold approach" for updating an online curriculum (ie., legal, new tech, new pedagogy, changes in the field - oh, oh, oh, I never would have guessed it would be those four!)).

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Returning to optimism
Bryan Alexander, 2014/08/27

This is a common failing in education writing: "I’ve been spending too much time with macroeconomics, getting bogged down in the grim news about America’s employment and income data....  But following these inquiries in depth, I lost sight of human capacity and agency." Here's the solution: "say more about what could happen if we make the right decisions." And more to the point: the moment you think education is more about money than it is about people, you're sunk.

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Employers Aren’t Just Whining – the “Skills Gap” Is Real
James Bessen, Harvard Business Review Blogs, 2014/08/27


"The idea of a 'skills gap' as identified in this and other surveys has been widely criticized," writes James Bessen, citing criticism from Peter Cappelli, Paul Krugman and the New York Times. "A worldwide scheme by thousands of business managers to manipulate public opinion seems far-fetched.," he says (naively). But the evidence for a skills gap can be found in wages. " We see it in the high pay that software developers in Silicon Valley receive for their specialized skills. And we see it throughout the workforce. Research shows that since the 1980s, the wages of the top 10% of workers has risen sharply relative to the median wage."

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Readers absorb less on Kindles than on paper, study finds
Alison Flood, The Guardian, 2014/08/27


So the premise here is that context has an impact on memory, and that eBooks read on the Kindle lack the appropriate context for remembering. "In this study, we found that paper readers did report higher on measures having to do with empathy and transportation and immersion, and narrative coherence, than iPad readers," said Mangen. But, you know, it's one study, with one set of readers. I've been reading online for the last 30 years. I expect my sense of context may well be different.

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Crowd-Sourced Peer Review: Substitute or supplement for the current outdated system?
Peter Suber, London School of Economics, 2014/08/27

Many authors, writes Peter Suber, prefer to have their work reviewed in private. But this may be about to change. He writes, "The problem with classical peer review today is that there is so much research being produced that there are not enough experts with enough time to peer-review it all. So there are huge publication lags because of delays in finding qualified, willing referees."

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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