by Stephen Downes
Apr 28, 2016
I've spent a lot of time with Ludwig Wittgenstein in my head, not the least when I went searching for his hut at the end of the Sognefjord in Norway. Well, OK, I didn't exactly search for his hut, but I did once sail up the Sognefjord looking for huts generally, as depicted in this photo set. And I certainly understand the benefits of getting away from it all and living in the wilderness for a bit. So, as Dan Colman says, put Wittgenstein in Norway into your YouTube queue.
Discussion around the MIT Report on higher education reforms contines to echo around the blogosphere. It was referenced here in OLDaily three weeks ago. Inside Higher Ed calls it a love letter to blended learning and says "Online education can offer personalized pathways through course content with short lecture videos and well-timed quizzes that help students retain knowledge, the report reads, but it is most effective in a blended setting where students regularly interact with faculty members face-to-face.” But in this post Michelle Pacansky-Brock calls this "a general misunderstanding" of online learning. "The nature of online classes varies dramatically, much like face-to-face classes," she writes. "But, in both scenarios, the teacher matters and the teaching matters." But "a warm body teaching an online class is not necessarily going to result in an effective learning experience for students." You have to have more than a pulse. Via Phil Hill.
Alan Levine makes probably the most compelling argument of all in support of open content: "institutions pretty much just clearcut their web history." Unless the websites are saved by individuals (for example, the individuals who created them) these sites will simply disappear. Governments, museums, newspapers - all of these simply remove outdated content. "Why?" he asks. "Individuals have a deep stake in their work. Repositories, institutions? The stake varies with politics, staff turnover, leadership fetishes." Nothing is safe unless people can keep their own libraries of their own content online.
This is the sort of thing I want to see enabled for a personal learning environment. It is, of course, a lot easier to do on a multti-user hosted platform such as Slack (using specialty applications called slackbots). Here's how it works: "The basis of our algorithm for finding similar articles is a neural network, which takes the words of each article and projects them into vectors of numbers. We then aggregate the word vectors for each of the words in an article to come up with an article vector. The vectors of numbers allow you to easily uncover the relationships between words and articles by applying different similarity measures, such as cosine similarity. Specifically, the neural network algorithm is word2vec, which was implemented through the Python topic-modeling library gensim." This is all off-the-shelf stuff for platforms these days. I can't wait to see it implemented in a personal graph.
Each of the three companies is taking a slightly different approach - Google with its applications, Apple with iTunes, and Amazon with digital books - but all are making inroads into the education market. And "they are seeking alliances and partnerships rather than replacing the existing infrastructure or institutions." What they are doing is staying away from the expensive parts of education involving buildings and labour, and focusing on the low-overhead high-return part of education. This is good for them, but it will leave education systems without places to lower costs and increase access.
This newsletter is sent only at the request of subscribers. If you would like to unsubscribe, Click here.
Know a friend who might enjoy this newsletter? Feel free to forward OLDaily to your colleagues. If you received this issue from a friend and would like a free subscription of your own, you can join our mailing list. Click here to subscribe.