by Stephen Downes
Jan 16, 2017
It's worth taking note of how the display of page content has changed over the years. The rise of mobile devices and touchscreens has been influential. Today it makes more sense to design pages that respond to swipes rather than clicks (while keeping mouse options in play). The long-scroll does that. This article highlights some design patterns you've probably already come to recognize. At some point I'll explore more deeply how to create these (though that said they're available in most standard CSS template collections).
This is a placeholder for when I need to respond to arguments like "we can't afford free tuition" or "OERs must be sustainable". The money does exist, however, it has been concentrated into the hands of a very few, where it serves nobody but them. In Canada the situation isn't really better where just two people (pictured) have the same wealth as a third of the rest of the Canadian population. This also explains why education alone will not solve poverty and inequality; we need policy changes at a higher level.
Community Tracking in a cMOOC and Nomadic Learner Behaviour Identification on a Connectivist Rhizomatic Learning Network
Aras Bozkurt, Sarah Honeychurch, Autumm Caines, Maha Bali, Apostolos Koutropoulos, Dave Cormier, Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education, 2017/01/16
The difference between the research we see in a connectivist MOOC (cMOOC) and those offered by Coursea, Udacity, etc. (xMOOC) is striking, and nowhere better exemplified by this detailed diagram we see in this paper. The best we get from the xMOOCs are demographics and completion rates. Here we get visible evidence of interactivity and social presence. The authors actually call for similar research to be undertaken for xMOOCs. The authors argue "cognitive presence has a critical function for meaningful learning experiences" and report "findings that reveals (sic) high cognitive presence, higher order learning skills and low dropout/high completion rate (in cMOOCs) when compared to other MOOCs." Note: found via OERCommons, which reports the author as 'Anonymous', which is an injustice to the actual authors.
Overall this is a pretty good article from David Wiley on some of the basic concepts behind the use of open educational resources (OERs). I have a couple of quibbles (which should not be taken as detracting from the overall value of the article). First, Wiley defines "education" in economic terms. "Ideas, knowledge, skills, and attitudes are public goods," he says. "This means they are nonrivalrous and nonexcludable." I don't see the world that way, which makes me impatient about the whole concept of licensing in education to begin with. Secondly, he writes that copyright law concerts digital resources into "club goods". Why doesn't he say they just become "private goods", which is what they were when they were physical resources? He explains, "Club goods are resources that are nonrivalrous but excludable, like cable or satellite TV." I think this is a distinction without a difference.
This article gleans the relevant datum from the recent study of Harvard and MIT MOOCs. This year saw enrollments drop at each "to about 540,000 at HarvardX and 670,000 at MIT." This is against a background in MOOCs generally where enrollment (as reported by Class Central) doubled over last year. What makes the different at Harvard and MIT? "The leveling off of interest probably has a lot to do with the schools’ choice early in 2016 to no longer offer certain certifications for free — a choice those in charge almost certainly knew must negatively impact enrollment."
When you say things "don't work" you have some idea of what it would look like if they "worked". In education, however, this definition of an outcome has remained elusive. In simplistic terms, "worked" might mean "got better grades", but according to this article "setting achievement standards" isn't one of the things that works. One might define "worked" as "grew relative to one's previous state", but this implies a direction of growth, which is thus far undefined. Many people prefer growth toward specific "content knowledge", but I think that's only because it's easier to measure (and standardize). Measurement against content knowledge fails, however, when evaluating class size, because the benefit of smaller class size is to personalize the direction of growth toward student interests and inclinations. Similarly with spending; wouldn't "what works" depend on how that money is spent? All this could have been discussed in this article, but wasn't. Pity, as the end result is the generation of misinformation rather than knowledge.
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