by Stephen Downes
Jun 23, 2015
An Example Why LMS Should Not Be Only Part of Learning Ecosystem
One of the things that really annoys me about business writing is the tendency of authors to drop the definite article ('the') or indefinite article ('a') from sentences and headlines. Phil Hill does this here (maybe accidentally, but hey... :) ). Does he mean: "An Example Why an LMS Should Not Be Only Part of a Learning Ecosystem"? Or does he mean "An Example Why the LMS Should Not Be the Only Part of Learning Ecosystem"? Two very different meanings: one suggesting an LMS can do many more things, and the other suggesting we need many more things in addition to an LMS. If we read to the bottom of the article, we read that "this episode gives a concrete example of how the traditional LMS should not be the only platform available in a learning ecosystem." But this would have been more helpful in the headline. So remember: don't forget your articles.
A Sensible Higher Ed Business Model for Online Degrees: Are We There Yet?
educational technology & change,
"For students from low-income families, the bottom line is tuition that can be paid through minimum-wage part-time jobs. In other words, can they earn enough working 20-30 hours a week to pay their tuition?" This is in a world where minimum wage (relatively speaking) and tuition is increasing. But it's a key figure: it's what allows a person to be able to keep working while obtaining an education, which (with luck) will vault them into more meaningful and rewarding work. And - says Jim Shimabukuro - we're on the verge of getting there. "The key to lowering cost is the elimination of irrelevant fees that have been historically associated with on-campus, face-to-face courses."
HEFCE, Elsevier, the “copy request” button, and the future of open access
According to Richard Poynder, "while OA advocates point out that most OA journals do not charge a fee, the reality (unless something changes) is that the pay-to-play model is set to dominate OA publishing." It is the result of publishers leveraging their existing advantage - their role in screening for high-impact publications and resulting relevance for promotion and tenure. "In effect, it would seem, traditional publishers are in the process of appropriating gold OA, and doing so in a way that will not only ensure they maintain their current profit levels, but that will likely increase them." And this position in being entrenched not only by increasing publication fees but by longer embargo periods. "Elsevier published a set of new sharing and hosting policies that, far from signalling the extinction of publisher embargoes, would seem more likely to set them in concrete."
‘Too fixated on the price tag': Universities Canada president says tuition no barrier to education
If you wonder why I occasionally take a negative view of the traditional university system in these pages, it's because of statements like this. Paul Davidson, president of Universities Canada, speaking to the Halifax Chamber of Commerce, said students are "'too fixated on the price tag' when it comes to tuition, and don’t consider supports available, such as scholarships, bursaries, financial aid from universities and income tax deductions." Most people do not qualify for scholarships, tax deductions only apply if you actually have an income, and the only reason to not fixate on the tuition price tag is to also pay attention to the ridiculous cost of books, housing, and other expenses incurred while studying. And that's in a good country, like Canada, where we do have a relatively accessible system. It's far out of reach to most people internationally. Here's a hint for the universities sector: start supporting students, figure out how to make the system accessible, and focus on the mission of improving education worldwide. Going to the Chamber of Commerce and criticizing your students is not on.
When Convenience Trumps Tradition
It's funny to read Darren Draper write about "feeling nostalgic for the favorite video stores I often visited as a kid" and ”'Vincent' and the thousands of employees just like him, lie at the heart of what once made Blockbuster so overwhelmingly great." I guess I'm a bit older, because I never did frequent video stores; the idea of renting av ideo never appealed to me (and seemed odd and foreign, as someone who watched video on TV and purchased albums from the record store). It's a caution to always question what "feels natural" to you. It's not (contra Draper) simply that people today want more convenience. It's that they never did build the sort of social structure around videos that he did. And probably never will - and probably won't miss it a bit.
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