Search Posts

Listing 0 to 100 of 31386 posts found

E-Learning 3.0 - Fall, 2019

If there are enough registrations in advance I will offer a 2019 edition of the E-Learning 3.0 course (last year's: https://el30.mooc.ca ) I am opening the registrations starting today - to register, you can fill in the form here.

Google Beefs up Classroom, Begins Certifying Students
Getting Smart, 2019/06/26
Icon

As this article summarizes, " Google announced enhancements to Classroom, a new Chromebook App Hub, and certification program for students. These updates should lead to more robust learning tools for both teachers and their students." Google's forays into education bear watching. It is not only developing learning technology, it is offering an increasingly wide array of online courses and certifications. As Inside Higher Ed pointed out recently, "More than 8,000 people have completed the eight-month Google IT support certificate program since it launched in early 2018."

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
Mathematicians Have Proposed a New Structure to The Periodic Table
Michelle Starr, Science Alert, 2019/06/26
Icon

George Siemens comments on this, "It's networks all the way down." And you can see why. The Periodic Table of the Elements has a much more network-like feel after this reworking by mathematicians at the Max Planck Institute. "Our results contribute to the undergoing generalization of network theory to hypergraphs, where the traditional network description as a graph is being abstracted to that of hypergraphs as a mean to model complex relations among multiple entities," they write in their paper.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
International Survey a Breath of Fresh Air
Grant Frost, frostededucation, 2019/06/26
Icon

This article summarizes the Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) 2018 TALIS - Teaching and Learning International Survey. Unlike PISA, which gives students achievement scores (and is used, says Grant Frost, to justify some dubious political decisions), TALIS "recognizes the inherent link between student success and the way teachers view their chosen profession" and asks "teachers and school leaders about their working conditions and learning environments." The report is long (220 pages) and detailed and presented to the reader as a user-hostile series of images.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
An illustrative story about public higher education funding
Bryan Alexander, 2019/06/26
Icon

Bryan Alexander recounts the story of what happened when people in Michigan were given the option of setting budget priorities. “No matter the size of the group, no matter where in the state, the results were always the same: Higher education should go on the chopping block.”  He asks, "How will this story play out in the future?  How much longer will state governments continue to be such non-partners for public colleges and universities?" It's not a question - nor a crisis - unique to the United States. And I don't think it's just the perception that other things are more important. Educational institutions have not helped themselves; people think (accurately) that they serve a rich elite, and wonder why the average person should be paying for that.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
What is student agency–and why do we need it?
Jennifer Davis Poon, E-School News, 2019/06/26
Icon

The topic of 'agency' was the last of nine topics in the E-Learning 3.0 course and the one that has given me the most pause for thought recently. I won't say that this article is the final word on the subject - not even close - but it's helpful in framing some thinking. A lot of the time things like freedom and agency are defined in terms of choice. But I don't find this very satisfying (as anyone considering the choices on TV, or in the election booth, can attest). This article defines agency (in part) not as choice but as 'initiating action' - this "invokes existential concepts such as voice, choice, free will, freedom, individual volition, self-influence, and self-initiation." There are some useful links here giving us at least some starting points.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
The Geometry of Thought
Barbara Tversky, Edge, 2019/06/26

This isn't the way I think about thinking (it's more constructivist than connectivist) but it is interesting nonetheless to read about Barbara Tversky and "structure, dots and lines and boxes and networks and categories and hierarchies and cycles and spirals and descriptions and linear if zig-zag explanations and arguments and conversations and stories and chaotic intriguing collages. Spatial structures that we create by actions of the mind and put into world."

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
Insights into the Economy of Open Scholarship
Knowledge Exchange, 2019/06/26
Icon

You can't just read the summary; the information isn't there. But the full report (135 page PDF) released earlier today is a quick read. It begins with a summary of the issues raised in the ten interviews with open access publishers; the top issue is, surprisingly, HR and staffing, but this is probably related to number five, sustainability and scalability. Other issues included business models, infrastructure, and infrastructure. There's then a summary of each interview, including a handy 'business model' table for each publisher. Here are the publishers (with links to their home pages) interviewed:

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
Can people be pushed into mandatory learning? Old myths in new mantras
Inge de Waard, Ignatia, 2019/06/25
Icon

This post wanders a bit, but it ultimately makes a good point: "Whether we say learners must self-direct, or self-regulate or self-determine their learning, inevitably this means we are talking about learners that are willing to learn, and are capable of learning." Which is pretty much to opposite of mandatory training.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
6 Great Features in Windows 10’s New Game Bar
Chris Hoffman, How-To Geek, 2019/06/25
Icon

I know it's just a think for gaming, but under the hood the Windows Game Bar has a lot more potential, as explained in this article. "While this tool is focused on gameplay, it also makes an excellent desktop screen recorder. Open the game bar, click the record button, and it will record whatever application is on your screen—complete with microphone input, which you can toggle on or off from the panel." You can also chat on Xbox Live - something that would be great if it weren't limited to Xbox. So pretty much any Windows 10 user is a couple of clicks away from being able to produce their own live learning content.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
The Robots are Writing: Will Machine-Generated Books Accelerate our Consumption of Scholarly Literature?
Lettie Y. Conrad, The Scholarly Kitchen, 2019/06/25
Icon

We've seen a number of automated content generation services previously in these pages. This article raises the question: who will read what they write? In some cases (such as the auto-written Washington Post articles) they will be read by people who don't know and don't care whether their news is written by a robot. But what about things like learning resources or reserach reports? This article focuses on the question of whether students will have the cognitive tools to counter algorithmic bias (which is totally the wrong question, since humans are also biased, yes, even professors). The real question is: how much better will robot texts be than human-authored texts? And will it matter that they are better at all?

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
Hey! This isn't what I signed up for!
Apostolos K., Multilitteratus Incognitus, 2019/06/25
Icon

I often read articles saying professors should be required to take classes in digital pedagogy and similar subjects, so they'll be better teachers. Typically, though, this isn't what someone who spent (say) an academic career studying physics wants to do. As one professor wrote (quoted in this article), "I got into academia because I love creating and sharing knowledge. As I sit here working through my day, I can't help but wonder how I turned into a website administrator and customer service agent." Any reasonable reform to higher education, I think, is going to be one that enables professors to focus on their discipline (and which allows the rest of us to follow along).

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
Answer Sheet: A Report that Detailed up to $1 Billion in Wasted Federal Funds on Bad Charter Schools May Have Underestimated the Problem
Valerie Strauss, Carol C. Burris, National Education Policy Center, 2019/06/25
Icon

One of the problems with privatized public services is that you have to set up a separate agency to watch over the private services, because otherwise they take advantage of the system for their own gain. This is true whether it's construction, education, or urban planning. So it's no real surprise to read of this report that documents, as the article says, "waste and fraud" in the charter school system. For example, "In Michigan, we found 63 charter schools, nearly all of which received grants of $100,000 or more, that never opened." And for example, "Cases of self-dealing between federal grant recipient charter school CEOs and their companies (and sometimes churches) are not infrequent among Charter Schools Program grant recipients." When private enterprise enters public service, we should not be fooled by false economies offered in the sales pitch, and we should be ready for the inevitable drift from public service to private interest. Originally from the Washington Post.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
China‘s Social Credit System
Verfassungsblog, 2019/06/24
Icon

This is a set of short articles analyzing China's social credit system from a variety of perspectives. The idea of the system is that it gives each citizen a ‘score’ based on behaviour and implements a connected system of incentives. The response in western countries is a mixture of fear and hypocrisy - fear that social credit entrenches the surveillance state, and hypocrisy in presuming that nothing like this exists outside China. These essays are great reading even if they take a slightly western perspetcive. And they point to some of the issues that will surround social recognition of learning achievement, something I've been projecting for a while now. Image: Wired.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
Geoffrey Hinton and Yann LeCun Deliver Turing Lecture
Geoffrey Hinton, Yann LeCun, 2019/06/24
Icon

It's hard to get a higher level set of talks than this, but they are also very accessible. Hinton's talk is entitled, "The Deep Learning Revolution" and LeCun's talk is entitled "The Deep Learning Revolution: The Sequel." Hinton: "One model is what I call 'intelligent design' and you call 'programming'." Some good comments - for example, language translation is a great task for neural networks, because it's symbols in and symbols out - but it works best when it's all vectors in between. And on the future of understanding reasoning - but not with inferences and rules, because that's enpty of any content. And the explanation of short-term memory - short-term changes in synapse weights. Great stuff.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
Personal Learning Environments: An Interview with EdMedia Keynote Speaker Linda Castaneda
Allie Alayan, AACE Review, 2019/06/24
Icon

There isn't a lot to this interview of Linda Castaneda, who teaches at Universidad de Murcia in Spain. There's some cookie-cutter intoductory information about PLEs, and then this: "A vision of PLEs as a posthumanistic proposal: a techno-social reality that embodies the socio-material entanglement with which people learn; and at the same time, an image of PLEs as a practical techno-pedagogical approach that enacts contemporary ideas about how people learn and how the learning must be personal and socially oriented rather than tech-personalised." I also checked out her home page and her most recent blog post, A different exam…, which describes how she required to create a public online video as their final submission.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
Fostering Openness in Education: Considerations for Sustainable Policy-Making
Javiera Atenas, Leo Havemann, Fabio Nascimbeni, Daniel Villar-Onrubia, Davor Orlic, Open Praxis, 2019/06/25
Icon

This is a wordy paper that lacks cohesion but it underlines the need for policy development around open educational practices and it makes the good point that "OE does not occur in a vacuum; ergo, policies aimed at fostering sustainable growth of OEP must acknowledge that such practices sit within a wider landscape of social, economic and educational ecosystems." The context of the post is a series of policy-development workshops framed by three issues: "use of data in education and educational policy; IP licensing, copyright and copyright reform; and unbundling and open learning accreditation." It would have been better to see the paper focus less on the background and more on the actual results of the workshops themselves.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
User-Generated Content’s Impact on the Sustainability of Open Educational Resources
Janani Ganapathi, Open Praxis, 2019/06/24
Icon

This article is a bit less focused than I would like to see, but it's an interesting case study looking at one OER publisher in India and its Storyweaver platform, and has some useful insights. I found myself nodding in agreement reading this: "The problem lies with people judging OERs’ quality based on other products in the market, where quality is determined by the price paid. That being said, where children have poor levels of literacy and limited or no access to education, the mere availability of any resource can be beneficial to their development." The question of sustainability takes centre stage, even with the help of user-generated content and community-based reviewing. But one wonders why basic education is a task being undertaken by private companies and NGOs, when surely it should be one of the primary responsibilities of the community as a whole.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
Proposed governance structure
Solid, 2019/06/24
Icon

Some interesting dialogue in Tim Berners-Lee's Social Linked Data (Solid) project. As the community has increased in size, governance has become more of an issue. It doesn't help that aspects of the project have bogged down, with decisions being left unresolved for years, while at the same time there are numerous depreciated and obsolete implementations. This proposal posits three major elements - a development team, a panel, and a decision-making mechanism. Long-time developers aren't exactly happy about the idea of a panel, but it does raise the question, "who represents the users?" See also this issue and this comment in Gitter that drew my attention to the issue.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
Communities and connections
Steve Wheeler, Learning with 'e's, 2019/06/21
Icon

Keynote presented to the European Distance Education Network (EDEN) by Steve Wheeler. He surveys his "thinking around new theories and emerging pedagogies that leverage to power and potential of networked technologies, and... about the personal devices students use and how they might be incorporated into every day teaching and learning." The whole opening plenary with several talks can be viewed here.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
Learning Decisions Podcasts - Episode 1 Online Now
Elliott Masie, Learning Trends, 2019/06/21
Icon

Elliott Masie has launched a new podcast. He writes, "Based on feedback from learning colleagues around the world, we have introduced a new open source podcast series for learning and business professionals. The first Episode has two topics: On-The-Job Learning and Why Podcasts.” Episode download is here.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
Tracking Jupyter Newsletter, the Nineteenth...
Tony Hirst, Tracking Jupyter, 2019/06/21
Icon

I can't really do better than to simply link to Tony Hirst's latest newsletter on Jupyter Notebook. I can't summarize it except to say that there is a lot of current information - MyBinder as a federated service, and epiphany.pub (billed as "Jupyter mixed with Medium"), and much much more. You can subscribe to the email newsletter or follow it on Twitter.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
The future of personalization—and how to get ready for it
Julien Boudet, Brian Gregg, Kathryn Rathje, Eli Stein, Kai Vollhardt, McKinsey, 2019/06/20
Icon

The article identifies three major dimensions of 'personalized': "physical spaces will be ‘digitized’... empathy will scale... (and) brands will use ecosystems to personalize journeys end-to-end." This is actually a straightforward extrapolation of things like augmented reality, sentiment analysis and web services. To get ready for it, say the authors, we should "invest in customer data and analytics foundations... find and train translators and advanced tech talent... build up agile capabilities... (and) protect customer privacy." This advice is pretty empty, and is focused on the wrong skill set. Future prosperity will depend not on being able to develop these capacities, but on being able to use them in novel and useful ways. That's more the domain of the artist than the data analyst.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
Consciousness is (Probably) a Biological Phenomenon
Richard Brown, 2019/06/20
Icon

Commenting on a recent interview of David Chalmers Richard Brown discusses some (relatively) recent arguments regarding whether consciousness is a biological phenomenon (or, say, a functional or computational phenomenon), specifically, the dancing and fading quality arguments, and the partial reports argument (both of which are well-explained in this article). I don't think either argument impacts my own position (that consciousness is experience) but the discussion is interesting and helps us look more closely at what it means to have an experience. Image: Jerry Carniglia.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
Stigmergy
Steve Dodson, Language Hat, 2019/06/20
Icon

I've used the word 'stigmergy' on a few of occasions in the past. This article, in addition to referencing a definition ("the trace left in the environment by an action"), makes the point thet 'stigmergy' is a good word while 'sematectonic' is an undesirable alternative (I would also add that the Greek word στίγμα (stigma) allows for traces as both representations and non-representations, while the word σῆμα (sema) connotes representations only, which actually makes it a narrower and less useful term). Image: Susnea.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
Google's 'App Hub' for educators curates quality tools, lesson ideas
Colin Wood, EdScoop, 2019/06/20
Icon

Google has launched what we are told is "an easier way for educators to find enriching and district-compliant tools through what it’s calling the App Hub." The website used Google Certified Educators (or other partners) to suggest lesson ideas (eg. A Personal Hero's Journey); these in turn link to the relevant applications (for example, ClassCraft). You can't determine from the site what it would cost (which strikes me as a significant weakness). It would be nice if a site like this would link to free and open source apps, but I didn't see any (which I guess tells us how the site defines 'quality').

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
Libra developer site
2019/06/20
Icon

Libra, recall, is the new global digital currency being proposed by Facebook and others. Here you will find a link to the Libra White Paper and to rather more than you might have expected. There are also technical papers, such as The Libra Blockchain, and also Move, a new programming language, and also state replication using LibraBFT. If you want, you can clone the Libra repository, run your own 'core', and try your first transaction. For the non-technical, there's also Libra the organization, and the conditions for being a founding partner (tl;dr: you have to be wealthy and influential). All this tells me that Libra isn't going to just go away, and moreover (and this is key) it isn't going to limit itself to financial transactions.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
Digital Media’s Alteration Mechanism for Informal Learning
Otto Petrovic, Proceedings of the 10th International Conference on Computer Supported Education, 2019/06/20
Icon

What's interesting about this paper (10 page PDF) is that it covers familiar ground from a quite distinct perspective. The result is that the terminology and approach is different - for example, we have "collaborativism" instead of "connectivism", and we read of "alteration mechanisms" where "Learning can be defined as acquiring new or modify existing knowledge, skills, competencies, and perceptions which lead to alterations in thinking, feeling, and behavior." I'm not sure how much of the unique vocabulary is due to translation and how much to the author's isolation from mainstream terminology. The study consists of "capturing learning episodes in  the field by learners themselves in form of video, pictures, and annotations is based on autovideography and photovoice." The outcome is a useful table of 'alteration mechanisms' divided into three major categories.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
Knowledge structures for integrating working and learning: A reflection on a decade of learning technology research for workplace learning
Tobias Ley, British Journal of Educational Technology, 2019/06/19
Icon

This article surveys three "examples of the use of knowledge structures in intelligent systems for workplace learning," (APOSDLE, MATURE and Learning Layers) and describes the development of such tools as domain, task and competency models, among others. The paper describes forward progress but acknowledges "we are still far from understanding how knowledge services that operate on emergent knowledge structures contribute to individual learning." I think that the author projects a lot more unity than there actually exists in the field. "It now appears much more realistic than 10 years ago to conceive of intelligent AI solutions that consider human activity as a social and situated practice around shared artefacts that can be traced and supported in technology‐enhanced workplace environments." I think that a lot of stuff has been done, but am unable to say that we can measure any specific progress toward the eventual outcome.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
Quantifying Controversy on Social Media
Kiran Garimella, Gianmarco De Francisci Morales, Aristides Gionis, Michael Mathioudakis, arXiv, 2019/06/19
Icon

This article (26 page PDF) analyzes patterns of social media connectivity as a means of detecting and quantifying controversy in Twitter discussions. The main work is undertaken by algorithms that partition the conversation graph to identify potential sides of the controversy, specifically, "a state-of-the-art off-the-shelf algorithm, METIS." The quantification is probably the most problematic aspect of this. We could perhaps look at the graph and simply select the more controversial debates just by the shape, but to quantify requires an actual measurement. Here's what they do: "The measure captures the intuition of how likely a random user on either side is to be exposed to authoritative content from the opposing side." Summaries from MIT Technical Review and Olga Ioannou.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

Whence the Virtue of Open
stephen@downes.ca, Jun 19, 2019.


I think that the case can be pretty unequivocally made that open access is not always a virtue. So why would I say it's a virtue, and what could I possibly mean by that?


[Link] 69606 []
View as: [HTML] [Email] [Text] [List] [RSS] [Summary]


The Economic Value of Digital Identity
Irving Wladawsky-Berger, 2019/06/18
Icon

This article summarizes and comments on a recent McKinsey report on digital identity (previously covered here). The focus here is on identity as commodity. "McKinsey estimates that over half the economic value of digital ID will accrue to individuals in a variety of roles including consumers, workers, and asset owners.  The remaining economic value flows to the private- and public-sector institutions with which the individuals interact, such as providers of goods and services, employers, and suppliers of government benefits." I think that's very optimistic; we haven't seen half the value of anything accruing to individuals recently.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
Causation in Science and the Methods of Scientific Discovery
Clark Glymour, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews, 2019/06/18
Icon

If you think I am sometimes sharp with my criticism you should reas Clark Glymour's scathing review of Rani Lill Anjum and Stephen Mumford's Causation in Science and the Methods of Scientific Discovery to see how it's really done. Clark Glymour, just to be clear, is the real deal - he has a long and well-regarded history in the field. And his review describes what to me sounds like a first-year political science student's misunderstanding of scientific method. So we can look forward to another generation of retorts like "correlation is not causation" and other pseudocriticism. And that, I suggest, is who this book is written for.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
Can Khan Academy Scale to Educate Anyone, Anywhere?
Brian Kenny, Bill Sahlman, Harvard Business Review, 2019/06/18
Icon

The answer is 'probably not'. But we'll get to that. The article is an interview with Bill Sahlman, who authored a HBS case study of Khan Academy (you have to pay for it, because that's how Harvard rolls, but I wouldn't). The discussion is more or less an annotated history of Khan. But it's sort of funny how it works out. It's also the way the company worked out. It began with Sal Khan making simple videos that anyone could access and that became really popular without any marketing, then along the line, someone convinces him he needs to do adaptive content recommendations, and so now it needs marketing and revenue and a business plan, and I guess this is deemed a success. But from where I sit, 'probably not'.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
jExcel v3
Paul Hodel, 2019/06/18
Icon

So this is pretty neat: "jExcel is a lightweight vanilla javascript plugin to create amazing web-based interactive tables and spreadsheets compatible with Excel or any other spreadsheet software. You can create an online spreadsheet table from a JS array, JSON, CSV or XSLX files. You can copy from excel and paste straight to your jExcel spreadsheet and vice versa. It is very easy to integrate any third party javascript plugins to create your own custom columns, custom editors, and customize any feature into your application." Free and open source; read the information at the bottom of the jExcel page.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
Exploring The “Uberization” of Tutoring
Alexia Mezzini, EmergingEdTech, 2019/06/18
Icon

In what has the appearance of a paid-placement post the author extols the benefits of on-demand tutoring. "A student that’s struggling with advanced chemistry can quickly locate someone that’s certified and safe. This provides the tutors with a reliable source of new clients." What it doesn't discuss are the low wages and poor working conditions, nor Uber's penchant for losing money hand-over-fist year after year.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
Facebook to launch new cryptocurrency, called Libra
CBC News, 2019/06/18
Icon

Oh yeah, there's no way this could go wrong. "Facebook Inc. revealed plans on Tuesday to launch a cryptocurrency called Libra, the latest development in its effort to expand beyond social networking and move into e-commerce and global payments." The plan is to tie your personal finanances - Zuck Bucks, as they're already being known - to your personal Facebook account. Because there's no way any of that data would be misused. By a company everyone trusts to do the right thing.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
Dialectic of open
Heather Morrison, University of Ottawa, 2019/06/18
Icon

This presentation applies 'critical dialectics' (ie., "logic focusing on contradictions in social context") to analyze the phenomenon where "the word open is used as if the concept were essentially good." It is not hard to think of instances of 'open' which are bad - an 'open wound', for example, or leaving your front door open while you're on a business trip. Heather Morrison focuses on one of those contradictions, where 'open' is reified to the point where it means 'open for business' (ie., open for commercial exploitation). I think that while the presentation may rely too much on the ambiguity of the word 'open' the points raised are nonetheless good ones. Abstract and slides only; no audio or video, unfortunately.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
Emotion, Reason, and Language: Meanings Are Made, Not Retrieved
J. Marshall Unger, Sino-Platonic Papers, 2019/06/14
Icon

This might be a shocker to some people, but I think it is exactly right: " emotion and reason are not stored routines or algorithms retrieved by mental processes akin to computer programs but are rather thoughts and behaviors that emerge in real time. Recent studies of brain states during the transition from word recognition to word understanding (Kutas & Federmeier 2011, Broderick et al. 2018) strongly suggest that linguistic meaning likewise is dynamically created on the occasion of each linguistic interaction." Read that again. We create the meaning of a word or phrase each time anew every time we have a conversation. (Do read the references; they're both open access.)

"Naturally, this undermining of the notion of meanings as discrete, context-independent packets of information associated with words or morphemes stored in the mind calls into question the claim that context-independent systems of symbols standing in one-to-one relationship with such mentally stored atoms of information exist." We 'make meaning' the way we 'make an emotion' - naturally, habitually, fluidly, without thought or premeditation. This is a short (18 page PDF) semantically dense paper but well worth the effort. Via Language Log (which, along with Language Hat, I read religiously).

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
Clay Shirky on Mega-Universities and Scale
Clay Shirky, Phil on Ed Tech, 2019/06/14
Icon

This article is completely focused on the United States, so it can't be said to make a statistical case for anything, but despite that, what Clay Shirky says here is right: "What the mega-university story gets right is that online education is transforming higher education. What it gets wrong is the belief that transformation must end with consolidation around a few large-scale institutions." Having said that, while the article suggests that 'everybody' thought a few mega-universities would take over the entire market, in reality very few people ever thought that, and even fewer said it.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
M. David Merrill
M. David Merrill, 2019/06/14
Icon

David Merrill has updated his website making many of his important works and contributions (which have been numerous and significant) accessible to the general reading public. He writes in an announcement, "My new site contains biographical information about my career and is primarily a repository of some of my most important publications.  It also contains links to some online lectures and a couple of online courses." Merrill is widely regarded for his wortk on instructional design, and in particular, his 'first principles of instruction', which are "a basic set of principles that are required to make instruction effective, efficient and engaging."

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
The End of the Line for iTunes U?
Lindsay McKenzie, Inside Higher Ed, 2019/06/14
Icon

It has been so irrelevant for so long that I didn't even think of it, but in the wake of Apple's recent announcement that it is phasing out iTines, it follows that one of its side-projects, iTunes U, is also headed for the scrap heap. But it is where it has been headed for some time: "in 2017... Apple eliminated the iTunes U section of iTunes, making full courses accessible only through the iTunes U app on Apple mobile devices." For most of the world, at that point, iTunesU effectively disappeared. It remains out of sight to this day.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
Fables of School Reform
Audrey Watters, The Baffler, 2019/06/14
Icon

I liked the Audrey Watters article in the Baffler (via Doug Belshaw) and largely agree with her criticisms of the 'ed reform' set. But I wonder about this dichotomy she is setting up: the "only a bold, outside innovator can see beyond the constraints that expertise typically places on those working within a field." Are the 'innovators' really working against 'experts'? Yes, I know, among the VC crowd there's a lot of in-group thinking, pitchy narratives and outright hucksterism. But not all experts are on the other side. Some experts (ahem) reject both the ASU+GSV story and the AERA story. The history of ed reform may be a history of the con. But not all innovation is a con.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
Uncovering Types of Knowledge in Concept Maps
Ian M. Kinchin, Aet Möllits, Priit Reiska, 2019/06/13

Good paper getting into the depths of concept maps. I like the dimensions semantic density and semantic gravity used to characterize different types of maps. "Tracing the changes in the semantic profiles that students exhibit provides a visualization of the progress that students are making against desired outcomes, offering a way of monitoring student progression and curriculum effectiveness."

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
MOOC-Based Alternative Credentials: What’s the Value for the Learner?
Fiona Hollands, Aasiya Kazi, EDUCAUSE Review, 2019/06/13
Icon

"Despite considerable unknowns, it is clear that MOOC-based course series will not be replacing college degrees any time soon. Even for well-educated participants, completion of a course series appears to be a challenge—or perhaps simply a low priority." OK, fine, so let's say we have established that MOOCs won't do what colleges currently do. Maybe doing what colleges currently do would be - all else being equal - "a low priority". If it weren't for the need to get a degree or diploma, would people be educating themselves this way? Survey articles like this aren't getting to the deeper issues.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
The IMS at an Inflection Point
Michael Feldstein, e-Literate, 2019/06/13
Icon

This is a longish article about the recent successes of IMS Global (the learning standards organization). If I had to sum up the thesis in just one quote, it would be this: "Market pressures now favor interoperability. The same companies that were the most resistant to developing and implementing useful interoperability standards in 2007 are among the most aggressive champions of interoperability today. This is not to say that foundational interoperability work is 'over.' Far from it. Rather, the conditions finally exist where it can move forward as it should, still hard but relatively unimpeded by the distortions of a dysfunctional market."

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
2019 Internet Trends report
Mary Meeker, Bond Capital, 2019/06/13
Icon

Mary Meeker has released her annual internet trends report. This year's report, wighing in at 333 slides, seems a bit weaker than previous reports; its education coverage (starting on p. 233, and again for China on p. 328) points to a few US-based cost and enrollment statistics, some data from Coursera and very broad trends in a few market segments. The 4.5B Annual Hours of ‘How-To’ YouTube Video Viewership is hugely significant, but it's just left hanging. The more interesting bits in the report are elsewhere. Highlights include: her discussion of freemium (p. 89), of the new role for data (p. 134, 147), on-demand work (p. 227), and Doximity, a million-member physician social network that can assist referrals by specialization (p. 282).

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
Nearly nine in 10 Canadians fooled by fake news: survey
Jim Bronskill, CTV News, 2019/06/13
Icon

What if the story about fake news is fake news? How would you know? There are some reasons to be suspicious about this story, since we never find out what we mean by 'fooled' and 'fake news'. So what do we do? If nothing else, go to the source (214 page PDF) and read it. The word 'fooled' appears precisely once. "Fewer than half indicate that they were initially fooled by the fake news they saw, but it is clearly happening at least sometimes." (p. 61) The story focuses on social media, but the survey also covers fake news on television and print media. Overall, 6 in 10 report seeing fake news on social media, roughly half on traditional media, and only 40 percent on blogs. Also missing from the story, interestingly: "internet users in Canada (59%), Turkey (59%) and the United States itself (57%) were most likely to say that the United States is most responsible for the disruptive effect of fake news in their own country."

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
Online learning and artificial intelligence report welcomed
JISC, 2019/06/12
Icon

There's a lot to digest in this report published by the British  Department for Education on online learning and artificial intelligence education (AIed) (102 page PDF). The authors appear relatively happy with the online learning market, but find weaknesses in the AIed market (that is, the application of AI to online learning products and services) suggesting that the demand (so far) is low and research investment is high. It's also hard for producers to differentiate themselves, since the benefits are hard to articulate. The best new markets appear to be in convincing employers to provide access to courses. They also recommend that online learning courses should include collaborative learning environments and tutor communication. This Jisc summary, meanwhile, highlights the recommendation that the government fund testbeds, and underlines the idea of the '4th industrial revolution'.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
4 Takeaways from EMOOCs 2019
Laurie Pickard, Class Central, 2019/06/12
Icon

Having co-opted the term 'MOOC', the commercial platforms have essentially rendered the term meaningless. That's the main takeaway from this MOOC conference, at least as I read this summary. "Already, the term 'MOOC' seems a bit quaint," writes Laurie Pickard. "Most MOOCs are no longer massive or open. None of what we call MOOC platforms refer to themselves in those terms." Maybe these platforms should abandon the term entirely and give it back to the people working toward open online education. Meanwhile, "MOOC platforms have also converged on a common business model, as described in Dhawal Shah’s Six Tiers of MOOC Monetization. With few exceptions, the top three MOOC providers have adopted all of the features of this model, in which free content attracts users, who are monetized with paywalls for course content and certificates, microcredentials, degrees, and corporate subscriptions."

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
The Brain Is Full of Maps
Freeman Dyson, Edge, 2019/06/12
Icon

The bit by Freeman Dyson to start this video transcript is brief but rich; the discussion that follows is interesting but not to the same level as the introduction. "Our brains are spectacularly quick," says Dyson, "transforming two tasks essential to our survival: recognition of images in space, and recognition of patterns of sound in time." We do this, he says, by comparing maps. Strictly speaking, this is at best a metaphor - but I think it's a better metaphor than one based in linear digital processing, inference and reason.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
OECD Learning Compass 2030 Provides Teachers, Students, and Employers with Milestones for Workforce Success
David Ross, Getting Smart, 2019/06/11

This article summarizes elements of the OECD Learning Compass 2030 (which catches my eye partially because of its discussion of agency). David Ross highlights three ”transformative competencies” targeted for 2030:

  • The ability to create new value;
  • The ability to reconcile tensions and dilemmas; and
  • The ability to take responsibility for one’s own actions.

Taken together, he says, these amount to: “To act, rather than be acted upon.” This is an interesting inversion of the Kantian dictum that people should be treated as ends, not means, but it places the onus on the people being so treated rather than the people who would treat them one way or another.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
Reflecting on the Impact of the Open Education Movement
Grainne Conole, Mark Brown, Journal of Learning for Development, 2019/06/11
Icon

This paper (17 page PDF) is for the most part a very standard presentation of three types of open educational resources: Open Educational Resources (OER) as defined by UNESCO, e-Textbooks, and MOOCs; and of three design frameworks: the 7Cs of Learning Design framework, the SAMR model and the ICAP framework. These are useful background, but don't really contribute to the main discussion, which occupies the latter third of the paper. It's essentially a critique of open educational resources. "Despite the potential, in reality OER are not being used extensively by students or teachers, and there is still a concern that MOOCs are predominantly being taken by those who are already educated... inertia still exists in many traditional educational structures and a hesitance to engage in new open practices is more common than we typically like to admit." We've heard all this before. What's needed isn't yet another 12-dimensional scale, but rather, a refocus from education (and educational institutions) and toward learning outside the institution, which is where all the genuinely free learning resources are really being created and used. Image: Hewlett (2007)

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
Amazon Personalize is Now Generally Available
Julien Simon, AWS News Blog, 2019/06/11
Icon

According to this article, " Amazon Personalize is a fully-managed service that allows you to create private, customized personalization recommendations for your applications." This isn't something the average consumer would use. Rather, application developers who want to use recommendations add a service connected to AWS. So, for example, if I wanted to, I could connect this newsletter to AWS and have it provide perosnal recommendations for readers (based, say, on their demographics or reading history - whatever data I've collected). I'm not going to do that, though - we're still waiting for decent recommenders, and this is probably not going to start out as one.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
MoodleNet non-technical overview (June 2019)
Doug Belshaw, MoodleNet, 2019/06/11
Icon

Quick slide deck overviewing the latest developments in MoodleNet. They're at an interesting juncture right now - setting up communication between instances of MoodleNet (which will work as a federated social network, with no central hub) using protocols like ActivityPub (which is used in services like Mastodon). You can contribute ideas via the Changemap, an issues board at GitLab and source code also at GitLab.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
‘The Great Shame of Our Profession’
Kevin Birmingham, Chronicle of Higher Education, 2019/06/11
Icon

It takes a few paragraphs before this talk gets to its main point: "Universities rely upon a revolving door of new Ph.D.s who work temporarily for unsustainable wages before giving up and being replaced by next year’s surplus doctorates. Adjuncts now do most university teaching and grading at a fraction of the price, so that the ladder faculty have the time and resources to write. We take the love that young people have for literature and use it to support the research of a tiny elite.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
6 Insights About The Future Of Learning Inspired By How Engineers Train Robots
Cristian T. Duque, LMSPulse, 2019/06/10
Icon

Training a robot these days is effectively to train a neural network - we don't give robots 'programs' any more. So it's no surprise that there's a lot to be learned about learning from the way researchers teach robots. This article lists six of them (there's nothing quite so alluring as a listicle). Overall, what you'll learn is that I've taken some of my best ideas from how neural networks are trained: learning is iterative, takes practice, uses models and examples from experts, and can involve a lot of play.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
Bring back working papers
Jim McGee, McGee's Musings, 2019/06/10
Icon

I am sympathetic with Jim McGee's objectives here. "It can be difficult to distinguish a back of the envelope calculation from an SEC-ready filing when both are printed in 11-point Arial." Software developers have developed tools for versioning and iteration toward a final outcome, but "I am hard pressed to identify other knowledge workers taking advantage of those tools or practices." The problem is that other fields of endeavour aren't working toward a specif outcome and the process is often not linear or iterative. One might thing of these posts in OLDaily, or the mess I call my blog, to be working papers. But they may collectively lead nowhere until, one day, suddenly they do.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
What the World Needs From Education
Marc Prensky, Medium, 2019/06/10
Icon

Marc Prensky knows how to make a big statement. Here's his latest:

"People, In the future, will increasingly mean newly empowered symbiotic human hybrids who can, as individuals and teams, apply the strength of their unique blends of human and technology components to creating new and positive value and solutions to local and global problems.
“The big issue for the world is not to create more or new jobs, but to figure out effective ways for people to be compensated for whatever series of world-improving projects they want and choose to do.”

Can't say I disagree with him. See also: The No-Collar Workforce, Deloitte.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
Why Self-Organizing Teams Don’t Work
Cliff Berg, LinkedIn, 2019/06/10
Icon

The title of this piece should probably say "When Self-Organizing Teams Don't Work", since the author is describing the conditions under which self-organization fails, not arguing that it is never successful. What happens is, "half the time, new teams experience serious conflict." At this point one of several things may happen. Sometimes a leader emerges, and these "ad-hoc leaders achieve their de-facto leadership role by dominating discussions. Those who are quiet and thoughtful will often shut down when there are aggressive and vocal people present." That has often been my experience with groups, which is why I prefer a looser structure. Leadership, in this context, should be about orchestration rather than direction.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
Review of Language, Form(s) of Life, and Logic: Investigations after Wittgenstein
Kristijan Krkač, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews, 2019/06/10
Icon

Though over the years I've referenced Wittgenstein on numerous occasions (another instance from my blog over the weekend) I have been hesitant to dive more deeply into that connection. This review makes it clear why: there's no shortage of different ways to read Wittgenstein, and no shortage of commentators offering different perspectives. I don't want to get into disputes about whether Wittgenstein really said such-and-such. Meanwhile, the discussions continue, and this review chronicles one aspect of them.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
The Learning Styles™ Industry Versus Learning Preferences
Matt Crosslin, EduGeek Journal, 2019/06/07
Icon

Matt Crosslin sets out the sceptics' argument: "Learning Style skeptics do not contend that 'there are no learning styles.' We believe that there is no proof of the pre-dominant Learning Styles™ Industry claim that people learn better mostly or only in their preferred learning style. This is a huge difference." And from there the rest of his argument is reasonable. However. There is a Learning Styles Skeptics™ Industry and its predominate refrain is that "there are no learning styles". With the idea being that the content dictates the mode of presentation, and that the same presentation works equally well for everyone (who are, of course, directly instructed).

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

The Failure of Reason
stephen@downes.ca, Jun 07, 2019.


I think that things like logic, reason, mathematics and inference are wonderful tools. As Descartes so helpfully explains four centuries ago, they helps us make clear what is inherent in the ideas and options we already have. But we cannot base a society, a democracy, on them. We cannot count our way to justice, we cannot infer our way to decency.


Enclosure: 160818153821-omran-syrian-boy-elbagir-pkg-00002506-exlarge-169.jpg

[Link] 69571 []
View as: [HTML] [Email] [Text] [List] [RSS] [Summary]


Walmart Expands Employee Tuition Benefits
Paul Fain, Inside Higher Ed, 2019/06/07
Icon

According to this story, " Walmart this week announced that it is expanding a debt-free college tuition benefit for the retail giant's roughly 1.4 million U.S. employees." Called Live Better U, the offering consists of courses and programs offered in partnership with Guild Education, which acts as a broker for university courses. Guild also offers programs for other companies, including Lowe's and Disney. The more organizations like Guild grow, the greater will be the pressure on universities to lower prices.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
Information Intake Vs. Information Embodiment
Olga Ioannou, connecting data to information to knowledge, 2019/06/06
Icon

I would probably drop the word 'information' from this account, but the article by Tyler Kleeberger cited by Olga Ioannou in this post nonetheless makes an important distinction between the idea of 'consuming' learning versus 'embodying' learning. I have said before that the outcome of an education is a person; this is the embodiment of learning. To me, this means something very specific: that a person's neural network is shaped and formed as a result of learning. A wider view would include other aspects of embodiment (and I have no problem with this, until and unless we start ascribing magical powers to parts of the body).

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
Node.RED
Node-RED, 2019/06/06
Icon

I was trying to do something completely different today but I ran across this and had to stop for a look. Here's the quick pitch: "Node-RED is a programming tool for wiring together hardware devices, APIs and online services in new and interesting ways. It provides a browser-based editor that makes it easy to wire together flows using the wide range of nodes in the palette that can be deployed to its runtime in a single-click." It's a bit like IFTTT for everybody (assuming everybody can manage cloud services). It's not up to version 1.0 yet (most recent is around 0.20) but it seems to show promise. A large number of flows is already available.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
Humanities Commons
2019/06/06
Icon

I watched Bryan Alexander's Future Trends Forum today where the guest was Kathleen Fitzpatrick and the topic was the Humanities Commons, which according to its website is "the network for people working in the humanities. Discover the latest open-access scholarship and teaching materials, make interdisciplinary connections, build a WordPress Web site, and increase the impact of your work by sharing it in the repository." There's a lot to like about the site; maybe start by looking at the most downloaded resources for a sense of the range and quality. See also: Scholars, It's Time to Take Control of Your Online Communities.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
Generous Thinking
Kathleen Fitzpatrick, Humanities Commons, 2019/06/06
Icon

This site is the draft manuscript of a book that was published in dead-tree format earlier this year. The book expresses author Kathleen Fitzpatrick's "desire to see universities and those who work in and around them... develop more responsive, more open, more positive relationships that reach across the borders of our campuses." It's about listening before speaking, collaborating before competing, etc. It also involves working in publish, and reaffirms the idea of the university (and education in general) as a public space.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
Education in 2030
Holon IQ, 2019/06/06
Icon

This report has some flaws but it is overall a far better snapshot of the future of learning than many of its contemporaries. It draws from both the 'top down' - looking at data and research from sources like the World Bank and OECD - and the 'bottom up' - analyzing hundreds of news articles, blog posts and commentaries from a wide array of sources. This leads to a picture where five scenarios dominate - education as usual, global giants, regional rising, peer-to-peed, and robo revolution. These aren't depicted as alternatives per se - they're all at play in our complex environment, influenced by (and influencing) governments, markets, research, etc., each to a different degree. I like this report a lot, and my brain feels a lot like the graph diagrammed here.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
Data Feminism
Catherine D’Ignazio, Lauren Klein, PubPub, 2019/06/06
Icon

This book was mentioned by Kathleen Fitzpatrick during her discussion today. I haven't read it but a quick look through the chapter descriptions suggests that I should. The book captures a trend in thinking that looks at data as not abstract and based in reason alone but embodied and based in questions of context, power, community and relationships. " The products of data science are the work of many hands. Unfortunately, though, we tend not to credit the many hands who perform this work." P.S. I like the open book format with comments (even if the comment period is closed).

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
Perception As Controlled Hallucination: Predictive Processing and the Nature of Conscious Experience
Andy Clark, Edge, 2019/06/06
Icon

Rather than summarize I'll just pull a key quote from this terrific article featuring Andy Clark, a well-known expert in the field: "You experience a structured world because you expect a structured world, and the sensory information here acts as feedback on your expectations. It allows you to often correct them and to refine them. But the heavy lifting seems to be being done by the expectations. Does that mean that perception is a controlled hallucination? I sometimes think it would be good to flip that and just think that hallucination is a kind of uncontrolled perception."

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
Learning Preferences Instead of Learning Styles: A Case Study of Hospitality Management Students’ Perceptions of How They Learn Best and Implications for Teaching and Learning
Cynthia S. Deale, International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching & Learning, 2019/06/05
Icon

The term 'learning styles' has acquired a pejorative connotation caused not in the least by writers who just hate them, and writers who attribute to them properties (such as innateness, immutability, and relevance to direct instruction) never intended by their expositors. This article (9 page PDF) suggests employing the term 'learning preferences' to apply to the same concept, noting that "are also concerned with features that might influence learning, such as the setting, situation, and atmosphere, including where and when students prefer (to) learn." Viewed in this way, "perhaps focusing on the student truly makes sense." Image: AgileLeanLife.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
A set of patterns for the structured design of MOOCs
Steven Warburton, Yishay Mor, Open Learning: The Journal of Open, Distance and e-Learning, 2019/06/05
Icon

Most of the content in the journal Open Learning is (ironically) closed, but once in a while a rare open article will pop out into my search results. Just so with this 2015 article, which I viewed today. This article describes the results of 3 intensive workshops, over the course of which a total of 20 design patterns were developed from shared narratives of successful practice. The patterns are described in detail in Table 1 (you'll have to click on the link to view them). Table 2 organizes them according to design domain.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
Capturing Expert Knowledge of Mushrooms
Show less Olga MegalakAudrey Crimet, Ugo Ballenghein, Yannick Gounden, Sage Open, 2019/06/05
Icon

This article compares how expert knowledge differs from novice knowledge, and describes methods of capturing that knowledge. This work informs how we subsequently teach people to become experts. In this article, the authors argue that experts apply both perceptual and conceptual information in judgements of similarity and difference, while novices apply perceptual data alone. It made me wonder how much of the expert's description is rationalization after the fact, and how much was actual application of conceptual information. There's a good review of expertise development literature, including an explanation of the key roles of similarity and difference recognition in expert knowledge.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
VLE Review Toolkit
Fiona Strawbridge, et.al., UCISA, 2019/06/04
Icon

Via email I learned today that "UCISA (a UK membership organisation, similar to EDUCAUSE) have this week released a new VLE Review Toolkit, put together by the Digital Education specialist interest group." Basically it's a report covering things like planning, specifying, procuring and implementing a learning management system (LMS) (aka Virtual Learning Environment (VLE)). It's presented as a website with a fair number of pages - a PDF version might have been useful for the executive set, but I didn't find one. The advice looks good and there are links to case studies and resources.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
UNESCO OER Recommendation: One Step Closer to Adoption
Cable Green, Creative Commons, 2019/06/04
Icon

As Cable Green reports, "On May 28, 2019, UNESCO member state representatives took an important step for open education by adopting the 2019 UNESCO OER Recommendation (7 page PDF), providing unanimous approval to bring it to the next General Assembly" (there were some minor amendments which delayed the release of the text). The document contains many voices, as would be expected in a UN statement. It offers a new definition of OERs (but not really different from previous definitions): "an open license that permits no-cost access, use, adaptation and redistribution by others with no or limited restrictions."

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
The Authoritative Canadian Copyright Review: Industry Committee Issues Balanced, Forward-Looking Report on the Future of Canadian Copyright Law
Michael Geist, 2019/06/04
Icon

Michael Geist offers a detailed analysis (and accessible summary on BoingBoing) of the Canadian Copyright review: "the committee released the authoritative review with 36 recommendations (182 page PDF) that include expanding fair dealing, a rejection of a site blocking system, and a rejection of proposals to exclude education from fair dealing where a licence is otherwise available... that is the hallmark of a more balanced approach to copyright reform." With an election coming in October there's no chance these recommendations will be implemented in the current Parliament, but the next may consider them.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
Internal Contradictions with Open Access Books
Joseph Esposito, The Scholarly Kitchen, 2019/06/04
Icon

Despite the statement in the title, there are no contraditions with open access books, and Joseph Esposito's presentation of this story is unsurprisingly skewed. Nonetheless, it's a story worth telling. Open access publisher Knowledge Unlatched has recently pivoted to a commercial biusiness model. Part of this is the (beta) launch of a centralized Open Research Library, described here. It aggregates open access books and puts them into a closed and commercial viewer and charges money for additional services. Unsurprisingly, there were objections. Commercial OA publishers have expressed discomfort. None of this is surprising; it was predicted long ago, and we've seen it play out before. That's why I use a non-commercial Creative Commons license.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
The Baghera project: a multi-agent architecture for human learning Carine Webber
Carine Webber, Loris Bergia, Sylvie Pesty, Nicolas Balacheff, Laboratoire Leibniz, SlideShare, 2019/04/01
Icon

There's a lot to like about this short paper from 2001. The authors write, "Education is the result of an emergent complex process. It may not be the result of the action of one isolated strategy or the accomplished goal of one isolated agent... education, as a complex phenomenon, can emerge from interactions among agents having different and completentary abilities." They then demonstrate this principle with a multi-agent architecture, "an educational community composed of human and non-human agents." (I searched for follow-ups since 2001, but didn't find anything. Wish it had gone somewhere).

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
Google to restrict modern ad blocking Chrome extensions to enterprise users
Kyle Bradshaw, 9to5Google, 2019/06/03
Icon

Here we have a case where a media platform has become sufficiently dominant that it is prepared to enforce the requirement that users view ads (and get tracked, and infected with malware, and the rest of it). It's just this sort of case that induces me to use Firefox (which I have pretty consistently over the years) instead of a commercial product. As uBlock Origin developer Raymond Hill says, "Google's primary business is incompatible with unimpeded content blocking. Now that Google Chrome product has achieve high market share, the content blocking concerns as stated in its 10-K filing are being tackled." More: BGR ("Google quietly ruined Chrome..."), Vice ("Google struggles to justify..."), CNet ("Google holds firm..."), Forbes ("Google Just Gave 2 Billion Chrome Users A Reason To Switch To Firefox"). If I can't prevent a browser from loading unwanted and unsafe content, there's no way I'm running it on my desktop. Image: DazeInfo.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
What Works to Reduce Inequalities in Higher Education?
Koen Geven, Estelle Herbaut, World Bank, 2019/06/03
Icon

Alex Usher points to this World Bank report (89 page PDF) subtitled "A Systematic Review of the (Quasi‐)Experimental Literature on Outreach and Financial Aid." The authors "are exclusively concerned with outcomes of disadvantaged students" and focuses "on both enrollment in and completion of higher education." After a survey of the barriers faced by disadvantaged students, the report looks at specific interventions (their word, not mine) and assesses their success rate as revealed in the literature (the volume of which is in some cases unimpressive).

The results? "Outreach interventions targeted at students in high school or recent graduates seem to be a relatively cost‐effective tool to address inequalities in access to higher education, as long as the interventions go beyond providing general information about higher education." Support needs to be continued during the higher education period as well. Meanwhile, while "an early commitment of (needs-based) aid, while students are still in high school, leads to much larger impact on higher education access," by contrast, "merit‐based aid based only on academic results, without any assessment of students’ financial needs, seems to have no effect." Overall, "Interventions that combine early financial aid and outreach activities... seem to lead to large increases in enrolment rates, more consistently than either outreach or financial aid alone."

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
Dylan Wiliam: Teaching not a research-based profession
Dylan Wiliam, tes, 2019/06/04
Icon

This is not to say that teaching is not informed by evidence, but rather, that teaching is not prescribed by evidence. The causal relations are simply not sufficiently strong. "Physics works because protons and electrons don’t have good days and bad days; they behave consistently, and predictably." And it does not follow that teaching is not a profession. "Teaching appears to be less "professional" than other professions because the problems that teachers need to solve are just much harder." I think of teaching - and education generally - to be more akin to designing than to engineering.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
Post-18 review of education and funding: independent panel report
Jeremy Augar, Gov.UK, 2019/06/03
Icon

This report, known as the 'Augar Report' (216 page PDF), has commanded univocal attention from the British educational media over the last few days. Reaction has been mixed. Many critics agree with the assessment from the Financial Times to the effect that "the Augar panel’s wider proposals on reforms to student finance are regressive.... Shockingly, Augar proposes — explicitly — that the changes come at the expense of lower and middle-earning graduates, who would pay more." As Justine Greeing opines, it "represents much that has gone wrong in British politics." Hard to disagree. Much more on Augar from University World News, TES, The Conversation, The Guardian, HESA (Alex Usher), WonkHE (which has no fewer than 16 articles on Augar), Schools Week,

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
Toolkit: How to build a newsletter list
Paul Jun, Own Your Content, WordPress, 2019/06/04
Icon

Needless to say, I already agree that an email newsletter is one of the best ways to have a voice in the community (so is owning your own blog). Much better than social media. "You’ll scream so much on social media you’ll end up losing your voice, whereas with newsletters, you have to be thoughtful, clear, and useful." Why? "Email is definitely not ideal, but it is: decentralized, reliable, and not going anywhere—and more and more, those feel like quasi-magical properties." The only drawback is that it's getting expensive to send email newsletters; RSS does the same job, without creating extra cost - which is why companies like Google and Facebook work so hard to depreciate it.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
Goodhart’s Law: Are Academic Metrics Being Gamed?
Michael Fire, The Gradient, 2019/06/03
Icon

The answer to the question in the title is "Yes, yes, of course they are." The gaming probably goes well beyond the trends observed in this article. Trends include these: "over time, papers became shorter while other features, such as titles, abstracts, and author lists, became longer"; and "a sharp increase in the number of new authors (who) are publishing at a much faster rate given their career age"; and "a drastic increase in the number of ranked journals, with several hundred new ranked journals appearing each year"; and "different domains had widely ranging properties. Even subfields of the same domain had surprisingly different average numbers of citations." Via Reddit.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
Public Reason Liberalism
Jerry Gaus, 2019/06/03
Icon

In my E-Learning 3.0 course I advanced the idea of "community as consensus". This article (22 page PDF) allows us to look at some of the historical roots of that idea, as found in social contract theory (in, eg., Hobbes, Locke and Rawls), of 'public reason', that is, when people disagree "a cooperative and just social life requires that they abandon their private judgment about their claims and submit to the public reason of impartial justice." This in turn allows me to consider how exactly how (or whether) modern consensus algorithms are a departure from (and maybe an advance on?) traditional social contract theory.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
Cake or death: AMP and the worrying power dynamics of the web
Andrew Betts, 2019/06/03
Icon

Andrew Betts lays out the argument against Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). A lot of the discussion is pretty technical, but they boil down to the assertion (which is well-founded) that AMP essentially turn the web into a private portal for Google, and that Google is not managing this stewardship responsibly. As Betts says, "If Google was my doctor, they’d be currently explaining to my family that although the experiment they tried did sadly kill me, they got a ton of useful data from it, and they think they can definitely work on fixing that bug in the next version of the experiment." The article also links to a really interesting set of resources worth exploring, including the Portals specification, feature policy, Newsguard, and content passes (which "would require publishers of paywalled content to declare the paywall in the metadata of the article" instead of trying to trick people into clicking). Via Aaron Davis.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
Our AI Overlords Are Already Here, They Likely Employ You
Ton Zijlstra, Interdependent Thoughts, 2019/06/03
Icon

Short post pointing to a reprint of an article by Jeremy Lent from late 2017 arguing that corporations are artificial intelligences. This framing of the corporation allows us to talk about the ethics of AI in a different way, writes Ton Zijlstra. "It refocuses us on the fact that organisational structures are tools. When those tools get bigger than us, they stop serving us," he says. And second, it puts questions about ethics well into the future, "and not paying attention to how those same ethical issues play out in your current context." Imagine subjecting corporations to the same sort of ethical scrutiny we do to AI. Privacy, autonomy, choice - all of these are impacted by corporation in ways we would deem unacceptable for an AI.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
‘Robots’ Are Not 'Coming for Your Job'—Management Is
Brian Merchant, Gizmodo, 2019/06/03
Icon

The Davos set likes to talk about the "4th industrial revolution", which sounds great, but serves to mask the core issue of the previous three, in which the benefits earned by increasing industrialization benefited only a few, while the many who were displaced had to fight to retain even a small stake in society (and the same is true of the agricultural revolutions of earlier years, as the history of people like John of Gaunt will tell you). What this article stresses is that industrialization - this time in the form of robots - is something people do to other people. "The CEOs who see an opportunity to reap greater profits in machines that will make back their investment in three point seven years and send the savings upstream—they’re the ones coming for your job."

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
Future Formula Part 2: Faculty Spend and the Limits of Online Learning
Richard Garrett, Encoura, 2019/05/31
Icon

The focus of this discussion, both in the EdVentures study a few weeks ago and a bit more recently on Campus Technology, is that we still spend a higher percentage of money on teachers (as opposed to tech) in online learning. To me, the far more significant take-away is that "online schools spent far less on the combination of instruction, support and service than "conventional" schools ($5,110 per student compared to $32,580)." This is not a small difference; it is a huge difference. Some people suggest that this means we could cut education spending by more than 80%. On the other hand, I see this as saying we could be educating six times as many students for the same money. (These stats are of course selective and probably not representative, but my argument remains the same).

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
Women’s minds matter
Sally Davies, Aeon, 2019/05/31
Icon

This is an interesting post on a number of levels. The central premise is essentially that cognitivism, by separating rationality from the influences of the human body, is "a profoundly gendered blueprint." It (cognitivism) is also wrong. I would like to argue, however, that it's wrong because it's wrong, not because it is gendered. It's being gendered is an undesirable consequence of the philosophy, and possibly a reason why so many people still cling to it, but at core it doesn't just deny women their humanity, it denies humans their humanity.

Let me explain (as this is is a position I have taken in the past and maintain to this day). "Within a broad church that can be called – not uncontentiously – embodied cognition, a growing number of psychologists, scientists and theorists are approaching mental life as something that is not just contingent on, but constituted by, the state of our bodies." The author cites, with approval, psychologist James J Gibson, who argued that the computational mind, manipulating content-bearing representations, was not the correct way to understand perception. This is also my view, and is one of the core differences between my own view of education and that of most other researchers in the field of education (at least, to my perception).

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
Responding to Critical Reviews
Eric Hellman, Go To Hellman, 2019/05/31
Icon

Writing about the Recommended Practices for Improved Access to Institutionally-Provided Information Resources draft document (41 page PDF) (referred to as RA21), drafted by a committee of mostly publishers and scientific organizations, Eric Hellman concludes, "RA21 received 120 mostly critical reviews from a cross-section of referees, not a single one of whom is the least bit an idiot. Roughly half the issues fell into the badly-explained category, while the other half fell in the 'fundamental flaws and careless errors' category. RA21 needs to go back to the chalkboard and rethink even their starting assumptions before they can move forward with this much-needed effort."

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
Towards a Roadmap for Open Access Monographs
Janneke Adema, Knowledge Exchange, 2019/05/31
Icon

I learned through an email today that The Knowledge Exchange have just published the report Towards a Roadmap for Open Access Monographs (44 page PDF). The report contains recommendations that we hope will be building blocks for further development of OA monographs within the open research culture." The document summarizes the results of the Knowledge Exchange Stakeholder Workshop on Open Access and Monographs, which took place in Brussels in November 2018. There were two major workshops: a funder panel, and an author engagement workshop. The recommendations abre about what you would expect: models for sustainability, openness about publishing costs, technical requirements, and the need for data about open monographs.

 

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
Auto-Scaling Moodle Architecture on Amazon Web Services (AWS 2019 Update)
Joseph Thibault, LMSPulse, 2019/05/31
Icon

This report from LMSPulse (formerly Moodle News) focuses on auto-scaling architectures for Moodle using cloud services. It's an update of a post from MediaAgility that has since disappeared. There's a 6.5 minute video and a graphic (which is probably the easiest way to see the architecture). The diagram illustrates the use of a load balancer to distribute requests across two instances (the idea is you scale by adding instances), one of which handles email notifications. These are backed by syncronized database instances, and all are connected to cloud asset storage (S3 buckets) distributed via a content distribution network (CDN).

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
How Are We Creating a Safe Space for Open Pedagogy?
Heather M. Ross, McToonish, 2019/05/31
Icon

Heather Ross expressed the concern that some forms of open pedagogy might not be safe for some marginalized groups, and lists a number of examples. While I very much agree that we should avoid harming people with open pedagogy (or openness in general), I want to point to two important caveats: first, openness is neither the cause of nor the solution to these groups' marginalization, and shouldn't be expected to be able to make things right. And second, consequentially, we should not use these concerns to turn our back on open pedagogy or openness in general. Note also Ross's reference to the book A Guide to Making Open Textbooks With Students. Image: Here (author unknown).

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
BandLab for Education - free, collaborative music production platform built for schools
2019/05/30

Web: [This Post]

Would you recognise yourself from your data?
Carl Miller, BBC News, 2019/05/30
Icon

Author Carl Miller doesn't recognize himself from his aggregated data - not surprising, given that he is characterized as "young and struggling", no "regular interest in book reading", and a "Netmums - women trying to conceive". So, OK, the technology that collects data about us hasn't fully matured yet. But should we be cheered or spooked by the prospect that it will eventually get it right? Even more concerning, it is difficult (and getting more difficult) to know how these companies are depicting us. Whether or not they get it right, we should be able to see the data. This data will be how employers assess our competencies and credentials in the future; companies that collect and create this data have an obligation to get it knowably and openly correct.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
What does it mean to have a shared culture? A wrapup from this year’s CC Global Summit
Jennie Rose Halperin, Creative Commons, 2019/05/30
Icon

This is a self-congratulatory post summarizing the Creative Commons summit, and while there is no mention of "shared culture" beyond the headline, it makes for feel-good reading. It was the "shared culture" clip that caught my eye - what 'open' means - or at least, should mean - is not that we all share one culture, but rather, that people from many different values and cultures can share with each other. The more Creative Commons embraces a single shared-culture view of openness, the harder it will be to actually be open.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
The realities of journal publishing: a view from Canada’s not-for-profits
Canadian Association of Learned Journals, University Affairs, 2019/05/30
Icon

The Canadian Association of Learned Journals (CALJ-ACRS) has posted an opinion piece in University Affairs saying, essentially, that they are important and people should continue to pay for subscription-based journals. In particular, they criticize CBC coverage of the issue: "The CBC could have provided a more complete story if they had reached out to members of CALJ, who would have highlighted the cost-effectiveness of the Canadian journal publishing environment." But they're not cost-effective. Some of them, like the former NRC Research Press, should never have been charging subscriptions in the first place. And from where I sit, the CALJ editorial misrepresents the work that publishers do - it is the authors and reviewers to edit, typeset (yes, we must format them exactly right), fact-check, link-check, and the rest - everything, in fact, except 'build a brand' (and arguably, we do that too). Sorry - the CBC coverage is accurate. The CALJ editorial is rather less so.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
Why a New Kind of ‘Badge’ Stands Out From the Crowd
Goldie Blumenstyk, Chronicle of Higher Education, 2019/05/30
Icon

Business wants badges. Because that's how they wrest control of credentialing from institutions. That despite the reassurances of Goldie Blumenstyk is what motivates the credential developed by Capital CoLAB (Collaborative of Leaders in Academia and Business). "Capital CoLAB is now working to create a common logo for the certificate and has hired a vendor to develop a digital badge that could eventually be read by automated HR systems and used on sites like LinkedIn." See also MIT's Digital Credentials initiative (more) (because of course MIT would reinvent something like open badges and brand it with its own logo).

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]


Stephen Downes
Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada
stephen@downes.ca

SUBSCRIBE TO OLDAILY DONATE TO DOWNES.CA


Contact
· · · · ·

Follow
· · · · · · ·

My E-Books