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by Stephen Downes
Apr 18, 2017

Of Progress, Problems, and Partnerships
David Wiley, iterating toward openness, 2017/04/18

So we know now why students will have to pay for Lumen learning's new 'open' educational resources. "The partnership also adds, for the first time, the option for students to pay Lumen’s course support fee rather than the institution. (Previously our model only allowed institutions to pay these fees, and that has made it difficult for some schools to work with us.)" Note the use of the passive voice ("the option to pay...") which suggests that this is something students would voluntarily choose. I'm glad David Wiley is excited, because I'm not. Will the students who opt not to pay still have access to the materials? Or is Lumen now just the Wal-Mart of learning?

In another post, Wiley answers the questions  pose directly: "No one is ever denied access to the OER in Lumen courses for any reason.... If you don’t pay, what you won’t have access to are personalization features, assessments, teacher analytic and communications tools, LMS integration, gradebook write back, and things like that." That's very nice, but: in the case where institutions have chosen to have students given 'the option' can they just get their $25 back? No, clearly not. There isn't any option except to pay the cost (though the cost is now putatively for personalization, etc).

Phil Hill also has an extended post on the story, but given the close relationship between MindWires and the companies involved I'm not going to consider it arm's length coverage.

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University of California researchers make lithium ion batteries last five to ten times longer
Jayson MacLean, CanTech Letter, 2017/04/18


Because of concerns about the availability of lithium I am not sanguine about this technology in general for the long term. I expect carbon (and more specifically, graphene) to offer a long-term solution. But meanwhile this looks like a nice advance in battery technology. "The new approach came about when researchers coated their lithium ion battery with an organic compound called methyl viologen which form a stable coating on the metal electrode and can eliminate dendrite growth, substantially increasing the battery’s life and stabilizing its performance." As this article makes clear, though, there are grounds for scepticism. It’s kind of like cold fusion. Here is an experiment that is unbelievable,” said Dahn, to Quartz Media. “There could be a small possibility that it is right.”

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Putting data in the hands of students
Timothy Harfield, Blackboard Blog, 2017/04/18


This is a key point: "Largely absent from mainstream conversations about educational data and student success is a consideration of the role of the student as a learner." It's not surprising to research underline the importance of this. "Providing learners with relevant analytics can increase their performance by fostering self-regulated learning, particularly among otherwise low-performing students." This is the thinking behind 'quantified self' and self-help applications such as fitness monitors. So it's no surprise to this eventually reaching the LMS.

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University to monitor student social media to gauge well-being
Richard Vaughan, iNews, 2017/04/18


This is a couple of weeks old but I don't want to let it pass without comment. The interesting thing here isn't that the school is using analytics to help students succeed - this is becoming common - but rather that they are  drawing content not only from the LMS but also from social networks. "The move is being considered as part of the private university’s plans to become a 'positive' place of learning, which will teach students modules in mindfulness and positive psychology." The contribution of social media data is, of course, optional. For now.

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Hills Like White Elephants
Ernest Hemingway, Stephen Downes, 2017/04/18

Audio recording. I read Ernest Hemingway's 'Hills Like White Elephants'. Just for you. :)

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Copyright 2017 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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