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Feature Article
Elements of a Successful Panel
Stephen Downes, Oct 06, 2017.

Academic panels are often awful. It's not just their all-white all-male constitution. They are self-indulgent, inward looking, dull, pretentious and boring. Duncan Green writes, "They end up being a parade of people reading out papers, or they include terrible powerpoints crammed with too many words and illegible graphics." In the aggregate, all the elements in this article are equally important for successful panels, and the omission of one or another in each case represents a specific sort of blindness to form and function in society.

Enclosure: Panel_of_Experts.JPG
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Introducing Education Resources, a source of Open Educational Resources within Office 365
Microsoft, 2017/10/06

"Open Up Resources is a nonprofit working to develop the highest quality full-course OER curricula," according to this announcement, and "Microsoft Education is offering this curriculum through OneNote Forms and custom dashboards." This is the sort of thing I've been lookinbg to see more of - the idea is that open educational resources can be used in other applications by students or teachers as stuff they can use to create things. This works on all levels. "Teachers can distribute the Illustrative Mathematics course materials on any device via OneNote. Students can write, draw, collaborate and save their work automatically in a personal digital notebook. Real-time collaboration can occur around the materials: teacher-to-class, teacher-to-student, and student-to-student. OneNote Class Notebooks integrate seamlessly with common LMS and SIS platforms." Now I haven't tested this, but it's the ambition that interests me here far more than the execution.

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Skills, Competencies and Credentials
Alan Harrison, Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario, 2017/10/06


The current system of courses, grades and transcripts does not serve students well, according to a recent report (24 page PDF) from the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario. "While the current system does an excellent job documenting students’ knowledge of content, it provides neither students nor potential employers with an overview of the skills they have developed while studying." What's interesting is that this would suggest not merely a different system for documenting aachievement, but also completely new assessment metrics. This would in turn change the objective of higher education from that of imparting knowledge to that of training for skills. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but if we're going to open the door to renegotiate the purpose of universities, we need to have more options on the table, because higher education is about more than just skills and competencies.

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ResearchGate: Publishers Take Formal Steps to Force Copyright Compliance
Robert Harington, The Scholarly Kitchen, 2017/10/06


A time-honoured principle among researchers is the sharing of individual copies of published papers. One researcher says to the other, "Oh, could I have a copy of that?" and the other happily obliges. Like everything else that is good, this was automated and commodified on the internet and turned into sites like ResearchGate and Academia. Now requests for papers go through these centralized social networks, and the networks, in turn, ask you to upload your published papers. The sites also aggregate copies of open access publications. I don't like it because they force readers to log in to access the papers. Publishers don't like it because they think it's piracy, and they have formed a coalition to fight the practice: "the Coalition for Responsible Sharing, which includes publishers and societies ready to take action, ranging from legal requests asking ResearchGate to remove infringing articles, to litigation.

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Copyright 2017 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.