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Ofsted's guidance on "remote learning"
Terry Freedman, Web Courseworks, 2021/01/14


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Terry Freedman comments on the British Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (Ofsted) set of "some useful tips" on remote education. His criticisms, I think, are well founded (and the Ofsted document reads like someone trying to correct what is what is well-known in the field with what they 'just know' must be true based on direct instruction and 'delivering the curriculum'). Freedman uses his criticism to pivot to proting some of his own (paid) content, which you should just ignore (it's hard to know which of these two items frustrates me more). Actually - skip the Freedman article, look at the Ofsted article, but don't follow any of it (I wash my hands of this whole thing).

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Online learning and (k-12) schools: do we need a different curriculum for online learning?
Tony Bates, Online learning and distance education resources, 2021/01/14


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Tony Bates asks whether "we need to change teaching goals and hence methods when courses are moved online." The question is relevant, he says, because many instructors simply moved to Zoom and kept doing the same things online as they did offline. He sets this discussion within a lengthy discussion of curricular and implementation changes in British Columbia and concludes, "We don’t need to change the curriculum – or at least the goals of the curriculum – for the purposes of online learning, but we do need to ensure that the teaching methods are adapted for what is essentially a different learning environment to classroom-based teaching." His argument - so far as it goes - is sound, but I think that the wider shift of society does in fact demand a change in curriculum. The goals of education today are different, or at least, need to be different.

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The Effect of Network Relational Structure on Knowledge Diffusion Learning: An Empirical Study
Zhang Renping, Zheng ShiYong, Qiu Ming, Rizwan Ali, Ubaldo Comite, International Journal of Emerging Technologies in Learning, 2021/01/14


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One way network structures can differ is by directionality: information (or following, or linking) might be one-way (ie., 'directional'), or it might be two-way (ie., bidirectional).  And according to this study, "under Weibo and WeChat, i.e., two different network structures, a variety of knowledge dissemination learning will have different effects." Specifically, it asks whether users' willingness to share either tacit or explicit knowledge is influenced by network structure. Unsurprisingly (since we rarely see negative results published in academic journals) the authors find that a significant correlation does exist. If you're chatting back-and-forth, you're more likely to share tacit knowledge, but if you're broadcasting, you tend to stick to explicit knowledge. Or so the study says.

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Kaanbal: A Mobile Learning Platform Focused on Monitoring and Customization of Learning
C├ęsar Huerta-Guerrero, et.al., International Journal of Emerging Technologies in Learning, 2021/01/14


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This paper (26 page PDF) describes a system that "provides the professor and student with multiple services for the learning monitoring and customization based on learning styles, context information, and mobile learning objects." Basically it evaluates learning styles with ther Honey-Alonso questionnaire along with contextual information from sensor data and recommends learning objects based on this data and on evaluations from learners with similar learning styles. This last bit is what is new to me, though of course this method is a staple of recommendation systems generally. The paper includes detailed design and development specifications and describes the results of two evaluations of the system. I won't say that this paper meets all the objections raised by learning styles sceptics, which are, after all, based on a pedagogy of direct instruction and assessment by means of test scores, but I do think it advances the argument, especially with regard to more open-ended and self-directed learning.

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Learning management systems are more important than ever
Diane Peters, University Affairs, 2021/01/14


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This article starts with the premise that learning management systems (LMS) are newly important to universities because of the pandemic, but shifts quickly into a more interesting and useful discussion of the history of LMS use in Canada and the factors influencing institutions in their decision-making today. Though companies like Canvas and Blackboard have made some inroads, the bulk of the market in Canada divides between Moodle and Desire2Learn. And, writes Diane Peters, today's LMS is at a crossroads. "They're great at housing content and have some communications and pedagogy-enabling features, but need outside software, plug-ins and the like to offer video, video conferencing, live chats and STEM-enabled features."

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Research data management guide
Concordia University, 2021/01/14


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The page is the Concordia Research data management guide but I'm recommending the embedded video. Ignore the cheap animation and computer-generated voice. It's short and hilarious and a great example of a data management horror story. If you're doing research on education technology, you would be well advised to follow this guide (and hence, to avoid saying things like "It's on a USB in a box... I just moved... so many boxes."

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Copyright 2021 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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