by Stephen Downes
Jan 19, 2016
Educational data, Pearson and the ‘theory gap’
It's a bit surprising to find this post on Pearson's blog (and a bit less surprising to find Pearson's response). In this post Stirling University's Ben Williamson offers several reasons to question Pearson's claim that it is opening up a "theory gap" with its creation and release of big data sets. "Pearson is becoming a methodological gatekeeper with the capacity to carry out new forms of educational research using large-scale datasets, big data and data science methods," writes Williamson. But this data is not theory-neeutral - no data is - and it builds in presuppositions about what is important and what constitutes 'success'.
Campus Event Systems Integrated
It's a small thing, really, and the surprise is that it took this long to do: "Software from OrgSync, which has services to help student organizations operate online, can now integrate with 25Live from CollegeNET, which allows campus event schedulers to search dates and spaces in order to reserve campus space."
The Massive Decline In Larger Education Company Market Caps
This is a little bit of stock market analysis from Phil Hill: "Despite the talk of record investments in ed tech and digital content, the reality of the business of big education companies is not so robust. In fact, there is a massive decline in market caps for many of these large companies, as investors are seeing real weakness." By "massive decline" he means that share prices of four publicly-traded companies are half what they were a year ago. I know that people like to read a lot into stock market analyses, as Hill does here ("investors are seeing real weakness"). But who knows what investors are seeing? Maybe they're seeing better deals elsewhere. Maybe it's because private investments in learning technology were $6.5 billion in 2015, up from $2.5 billion the year before. Maybe they're seeing spots before their eyes. The stock market is not rational, and it is a fallacy to ascribe rationality to it.
When U.S. air force discovered the flaw of averages
L. Todd Rose,
This is more evidence attesting to the fact that you can't just define for the average when you're designing for human beings. It therefore throws into question the reliability of a lot of research in learning and technology based on assessments of classes or larger groups of people. This includes learning analytics, and it also includes research based on studies like the PISA evaluations or similar sorts of metrics. In the case of the Air Force, they designed aircraft with adjustable seats, controls, and gauges - that's "personalization". But even better, if it could be done, would be to build custom-built aircraft for each pilot. That's "personal". We can't do it for aircraft, but we can do it for learning.
Platform Cooperativism: Challenging the Corporate Sharing Economy
Rosa Luxemberg Siftung,
"Despite all the scrumptious, home-cooked convenience of the 'sharing economy,'" writes Trebor Scholz, "we may end up sharing the scraps, not the economy." It's time for an alternative, he writes, and this alternative is the platform cooperative - a mechanism that employs the efficiencies of the internet for the benefit of the people doing the work, not some third party who simply owns a platform. "Silicon Valley loves a good disruption, so let’s give them one." Good overview with descriptions of mechanisms and underlying principles. 32 page PDF. See also the Platform Cooperativism website.
I've run my own experiments in platform cooperativism with the foundation of the Moncton Free Press. It hasn't gone as well as I would have liked, though I think it's performing a valuable service for the community. It needs more care and attention than I've been able to give it. And it needs, most of all, a revenue stream and a way of paying contributors and staff. But I think it's there, and if the NRC gig doesn't work out, I always have this to fall back on. Platform cooperativism is also a model for learning technology that does more than exploit students and authors for private sector gain.
The truth about “1 Like = 1 Prayer” posts on Facebook
A question I've received a lot recently revolves around why I want a distributed network rather than a centralized system like Facebook or Twitter. To me, the answer is very clear: systems that depend on mass, like Facebook (or Twitter, or Google search, or presidential elections) are systems where group affinity is manipulated for private wealth and gain. A classic example of this is the prototypical Facebook 'like and share' campaign. The people who distribute these care nothing about whether you want to save the whales, campaign against corruption, or promote gun rights. What they care about is accumulating a huge number of ;likes and shares' around a page, which they can then monetize. The next time you click 'like' on a Facebook meme, think about that.
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