by Stephen Downes
May 27, 2015
Analyzing the Social Web
Sheri Oberman sent me this link to a set of video lectures on the topic of analyzing the open web. Topics include network basics, network structure, visualization, tie strength and trust, building networks, and more. Tools used include Gephi, "an open source graph analysis and visualization tool," and NodeX, "a graph analysis and visualization plugin for Microsoft Excel. Works on certain Windows platforms only. The unique feature of NodeXL is the 'spiggots' it has to import data from other sites, like Flickr, Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook. I often use NodeXL to import data and Gephi to visualize it."
Trends 2015: Learning and Teaching in European Universities
European University Association,
This is a survey of European higher education institutions in an effort to identify trends half-way through the 2010s finding that, in essence, "the following issues should be addressed if progress is to be continued and consolidated in future:
- Lifelong access to learning for a diverse student body - "their success hinges on what takes place both inside and outside university classrooms, whether these are “click or brick”.... with a stress
on student engagement through their involvement in governance, volunteer activities in the
- Student-centred learning and preparation of graduates for the labour market and society - "the importance of promoting active learning and interdisciplinarity and ensuring that teaching is ICT-supported and research-led."
- Development and implementation of effective internationalisation strategies - "as a mechanism for preparing students for global citizenship and for developing a range of partnerships and research collaborations."
Links to a 133-page PDF.
The Big Five, self-esteem, and narcissism as predictors of the topics people write about in Facebook status updates
Tara C. Marshall, Katharina Lefringhausen, Nelli Ferenczi,
Personality and Individual Differences,
According to this study, different personality traits can effectively predict what people will write about in their Facebook status updates. For example, "extraverts more frequently updated about their social activities and everyday life, which was motivated by their use of Facebook to communicate and connect with others. People high in openness were more likely to update about intellectual topics, consistent with their use of Facebook for sharing information."
Linking Creativity to Entrepreneurship
Culture of Yes,
I like the second-last slide of the presentation, which depicts the idea as "replacing 'I wish' with 'I will'." Developing a sense of agency in people is urgent and crucial. But There's a lot more to the concept of 'entrepreneurship' in education than this, and it's all this baggage that gives me cause for concern. But according to Chris Kennedy, the concept is shifting. " I know I held a traditional view of entrepreneurship, that the area of study was really about creating people for the world of business. And yes, this is important, our schools are about so much more around the skills and qualities we want and the citizenship we want to foster."And the emphasis, he writes, is far more about the need for creativity and agency than business and finance.
Maybe, but if you look at the examples in the post the idea of business and finance are still central: in Early Entrepreneurs, "participating classrooms each get a $100 micro-loan as startup capital" and create a business to send profits to charity; in Entrepreneurship – Ignite Your Passion students "engage in topics such as leadership, communication, marketing, financial literacy, and entrepreneurship; culminating with developing their own business"; and YELL (Young Entrepreneurship Leadership Launchpad) is "a hands-on, experiential accelerator for high school students interested in gaining knowledge and developing experience in all areas of business and entrepreneurship."
Why do I dislike the idea of teaching entrepreneurship so much? Because it changes the child's perspective from the idea of serving social needs through work and learning to one of serving the needs of people with money. And when you have this perspective, you can never get at the question of why these people have all the money in the first place, and you can never perform work which changes that.
Setting the PACE: Teacher Assessment Practices in a Competency-based Education System
Good though overly pandering discussion of the application of an accountability strategy called PACE (Performance Assessment for Competency Education) in competency-based classrooms. "The best performance assessments integrate multiple subject areas and are requiring students to be engaged in deeper levels of learning," writes Jonathan VanderEls. " Our teachers are now building cross-disciplinary assessments that require students to demonstrate varied competencies whereas initially we were generally focusing on one subject area."
The mass university is good for equity, but must it also be bad for learning?
This article drifts a bit but is nonetheless an insightful look at the relation between mass learning, the academic tradition of informal learning, and class or background. People pine for the days when students eagerly discussed ideas at the café or in the pub, writes Hannah Forsyth, and they think the mass university brings that experience to everybody, but they forget that it is class, culture pedigree and background that gives them the skills necessary to flourish in this environment. I would argue that this is why so-called elite universities are values for their functions as selectors of people based on class, culture pedigree and background, and not (merely) as academic institutions. That's why their graduates continue to be favoured by employers, despite no obvious difference in experience or education. We need to understand in open online learning that what we are fostering is not just equitable access to a bunch of facts, but actual equity in the job market and society as a whole.
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