news (external)

How Penn State student government aims to lower textbook prices, accomplish semester goals

by Anshika Agrawal, The Daily Collegian

“We are trying to work with different universities in the state to address how we can lower the cost of textbook prices, whether that be using an older edition of a textbook or using online editions,” said Andrew Ahr, the UPUA College of Arts and Architecture representative. One of their initiatives involves lowering textbook costs, known as Open Educational Resources. “[OER is] a huge thing that schools across the Big Ten… are looking into right now because they’re trying to make a huge shift [from] print resources towards online, more affordable resources,” UPUA At-Large Representation Sophie Haiman said.

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Online Software Developed for Hands-On Learning About Evolution

by Siobhan Treacy, Electronics 360

Kinesthetic learning is one of the most common types of learning. Hands-on learning is helpful for students in science classes. This is why science classes have a required lab period where students learn through experiments and projects. But one topic covered in science classes has been nearly impossible to learn hands-on until now: biological evolution. It is hard to physically show students how a species evolves over time in a classroom. But now there is a new online tool that can show students the evolution of populations over time.

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Distance Learning Discussed at MU


The University of Missouri Board of Curators discussed problems and goals of distance learning and collaboration among campuses at a meeting on Friday morning at the Columbia Campus. Choi wants to increase the number of online courses and programs offered. The board of curators says more online classes are necessary for student flexibility. Curator David Steelman says the four campuses need to find a way to use distance learning so students can graduate on time. The board of curators’ task force will work on solving problems and removing boundaries from online courses among the four campuses.

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M.B.A rankings in question

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Sat, 2018-02-17 01:09

by Jeremy House, Education Dive
Citing a “recently discovered issue with data,” Temple University asked that its online master of business administration program not be considered for U.S. News & World Report’s annual ranking of best online programs, reports Insider Higher Ed. Earlier in the year, U.S. News & World Report removed the Temple M.B.A. program from its 2018 Best Online Programs list because its ranking was discovered to be based on inaccurately submitted data. Temple’s Fox School of Business joins a list of business schools to catch hot water over imprecise data submissions. George Washington University in 2016 and Tulane University in 2013 confessed to supplying erroneous data to U.S. News & World Report for its annual ranking. Additionally, the Financial Times removed Spain-based the IE Business School from its ranking because of irregular survey data.  Questions have also been raised about the value such rankings and the pressure university officials may face to fudge data.

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As companies step up to train workers in rapidly changing technologies, can universities keep up?

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Sat, 2018-02-17 01:05

by Patti Zarling, Education Dive
Apple’s co-founder joins growing pool of tech wonks launching independent programs to fill skills gap. Steve “Woz” Wozniak, a co-founder of Apple, has joined a growing pool of business leaders looking to take matters to upgrade higher education to meet the needs of today’s tech industries into his own hands. As businesses — including those outside of Silicon Valley — require employees with specialized computer, engineering and tech skills, alternative education programs are popping up to provide training for 21st century jobs some say traditional colleges, mired in 19th century teaching styles, aren’t prepared to meet.

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Your New Best Friend: AI Chatbot

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Sat, 2018-02-17 01:02

by Kristen C. French, Futurism

Today, the Replika chatbot is available for free for anyone over the age of 18 (it’s prohibited for ages 13 and younger, and requires parental supervision for ages 13 to 18). More than 500,000 people are now signed up to chat with the bot. To do so, users tap the app icon — a white egg hatching on a purple background — on their smartphones and start the conversation where they left off. Each Replika bot chats only with its owner, who assigns it a name, and, if the user wants, a gender. Many users are members of a closed Facebook group, where they share screenshots of text conversations they’ve had with their Replikas and post comments, claiming their Replika is “a better friend than my real friends ” or asking “Has anyone else’s AI decided that it has a soul?”

Your New Best Friend: AI Chatbot

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School Shootings: No More Thoughts and Prayers

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Fri, 2018-02-16 21:53

Ronnie Burt, The Edublogger, Feb 16, 2018

I endorse this message: "Please, no more thoughts and prayers. It is time for action on how we can stop a 19-year-old, who had been suspended from school for bringing a gun, from walking into a store and purchasing a military-style assault weapon. We must work to elect those to office that will make this happen. For decades we’ve done nothing while our kids are dying. We are ready for real change and real action."

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Anger at Google image search 'peace deal'

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Fri, 2018-02-16 21:13

BBC News, Feb 16, 2018

The essence of the deal Google struck with Getty Images is that it has removed the 'view image' button from its image search application. Now I personally don't know why you would search for images unless you wanted to view them. But more to the point, it seems wrong to me that one company with a few million commercial images would dictate the terms of access to an entire web full of billions of all sorts of images (including my openly licensed images that I want people to be able to view). "This is a terrible idea... you find an image on Google Images only for the image to be nowhere in sight," said one user on Twitter. "Talk about destroying your own successful service."  Google also removed the "search by image" button, which ironically is the best way for people to discover whether their images have been used by someone else. More: Ars Technica, Boing Boing, ZD Net. Update: there's a Chrome extension to put the 'view' button back. I checked and there's also a Firefox extension that does the same.

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Universities and the “democracy of the gullible”

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Fri, 2018-02-16 16:19

Jean Winand, UNESCO Courier, Feb 16, 2018

This is a good article and a weak article at the same time. It's a good article in the sense that it raises a significant issue and discusses it clearly and precisely. But it's a weak article in that it overstates the problem (it's simply not true that "no one thinks of criticizing the technical elite") and offers an overly broad resolution, taking a classic 'defense of the humanities' position. I don't, for example, debate the need for "research on Kant [Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), German philosopher] medieval philosophy or phenomenology." But I would certainly debate the manner in which it is currently conducted. Philosophy and the humanities have such an important role to play in the day-top-day lives of people, and yet their practitioners retrench behind academic walls, subscription barriers, and programs available only to the elite of society. No wonder governments question their continued funding. More from the current issue of Courier, which is dedicated to the question of why education is still searching for utopia.

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OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Fri, 2018-02-16 13:27

GitHub, Feb 16, 2018

This is a "JSON-like data structure that can be modified concurrently by different users, and merged again automatically." So how might that be useful? Here's one case: imagine a cMOOC has been developed and released, with all its contents defined in a JSON file (so it can be harvested automatically by personal learning environments). As people use the course, they begin to alter its structure and add resources. This data structure would make that possible. Would it work? No idea.

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IMS Global Learning Consortium Announces Caliper Analytics v1.1

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Fri, 2018-02-16 12:48

Press Release, IMS Global, Feb 16, 2018

The Caliper specification "was initially released in 2015, to enable the collection of valuable learning and tool usage data from digital resources, which can be used for predictive analytics." This is an update. It provides "guided language for describing, collecting, and exchanging learning data across learning technologies, and promotes better data interoperability through a shared vocabulary for describing learning interactions."

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How to be a relevant leader in a digital workplace

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Fri, 2018-02-16 01:07

by Baylor MBA

With technology breakthroughs and companies pushing the boundaries of possibility with augmented reality and artificial intelligence, employers and employees alike may be wondering what skills will be most valuable in the future. Technology has changed when and how workers perform their jobs. According to Deloitte’s report, millennials expect to be developed throughout their work life. Online learning platforms like Coursera, Udemy, IDEOU, EdX, LinkedIn Learning (, and Khan Academy are just a few of the massive online learning repositories available today.

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Maine’s universities are planning to knock down buildings. It isn’t a bad thing.

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Fri, 2018-02-16 01:06

Editorial: Bangor Daily News

The University of Maine System’s board of trustees has agreed to a preliminary plan to knock down up to 300,000 square feet of vacant, underused or deteriorating building space on university campuses across the state. It might seem a strange development to celebrate, but it’s worth acknowledging. It’s a sign the University of Maine System is taking steps to prepare for a future that won’t be as reliant on brick-and-mortar spaces and residential students straight out of high school. There’s a general consensus in the world of higher education that college campuses will likely have to grow smaller as more student learning moves online and adults who have no need for residence halls come to represent a greater percentage of students.

Maine’s universities are planning to knock down buildings. It isn’t a bad thing.

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Goodwill®, And Coursera Join Forces On Tech Support Training

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Fri, 2018-02-16 01:03

by Goodwill Industries

Goodwill is kicking off a collaboration with and Coursera, a leading online education provider, to help people obtain the skills they need to start careers in IT. Eighteen local, autonomous Goodwill organizations are now recruiting applicants age 17 and older to earn the Google IT Support Professional Certificate. This credential is designed to take beginning students to job readiness in 8 to 12 months using a Coursera platform, with content created exclusively by Google. is providing financial assistance to 10,000 learners over the next year. The scholarships will be awarded through nonprofit partners, including Goodwill organizations across the country.

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I Wrote Down Everything I Learned While Programming for a Month

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Thu, 2018-02-15 21:14

Sung Won Cho, Dnote, Feb 15, 2018

What if you wrote down what you learned every time you learned something. It would be a bit like taking classroom notes, but in real life. When I joined NRC people used to use scientific notebooks where they would capture everything. I use this newsletter for the same purpose, partially (but I don't capture all kinds of knowledge, like how to parse OPML files, for example). For me, being able to find the note again was important. But sometimes just the taking of the note can be enough of an intentional act. Anyhow, Sung Won Cho tried this (using Dnote) and found it " allowed me to see through the fuzzy meaning of learning and clearly quantify just how much I was learning... I was not learning as much as I had thought, but also because we seemed to misunderstand the ways of learning."

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Badges? We Don’t Need No Stinking Preprint Badges!

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Thu, 2018-02-15 21:03

Phil Davis, The Scholarly Kitchen, Feb 15, 2018

To date when people have talked about badges they've talked about badges as something people earn. But what about artifacts, like academic articles? It makes sense. Badges would function a bit like awards (the way films are labled with the 'Palm d'Or badge') or a bit like certification (as in the Good Housekeeping 'Seal of Approval'). It makes me think that all along I should have been awarding 'Posted in OLDaily' badges rewarding articles and resources worthy of mention. It's like how I once won the 'Cool Site of the Day' badge. But for professionals and academics. The 'Published by Nature' badge would be worth getting, and Nature could make it work by doing only peer review; leave the bother of publishing and distribution to others. Of course the opinion of the pro-publisher Scholarly Kitchen blog is that preprint services issuing badges are "outlaws" For example, "By incorporating post-publication validation badges into preprints, bioRxiv begins to transform itself into the largest open access megajournal the world has ever seen."

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Facebook spamming users via their 2FA phone numbers

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Thu, 2018-02-15 20:39

Jack Morse, Mashable, Feb 15, 2018

This article is a bit off in that its original title appears and then is obscured by the newer title. The original title? "Facebook is so desperate for engagement, it's spamming users via their 2FA numbers." I like it better than the original. '2FA' stands for 'Two Factor Authentication' and here refers to the practice of having people enter their phone numbers so they can verify logins via text messages. Now Facebook is sending marketing through these numbers. It also appears to have struck a deal with Microsoft to have its application automatically installed on Windows 10 machines, hence marketing themselves through the desktop as well (I use Windows 10 but can't report having seen these). These are annoying, to be sure, but also the inevitable result of a business plan based on massive numbers of eyeballs. And as I read recently, "The older generation is afraid of social media doing to their children what television did to them."

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A Hitchhiker’s Guide to Consensus Algorithms

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Thu, 2018-02-15 20:29

Zane Witherspoon, Hacker Noon, Feb 15, 2018

A 'consensus algorithm' is a mechanism for verifying transactions in a distributed network. A transaction doesn't take place until everyone (or a large enough subset of everyone) agrees that it can take place (ie., it isn't contradicted by some previous transaction). But how do you get to have a say in these consensus networks? That's what the algorithms decide. The first is 'proof of work', such as solving equations to 'mine' bitcoins. Another is 'proof of stake' in which you 'bet' on the validity of transactions. A third is 'delegated' proof of stake, in which you elect a subset of you to become validators. Related is 'proof of authority', where transactions are validated by approved accounts. The 'proof of weight' algorithms award authority to the largest entities. Then the algorithms get messy: there's Byzantine Fault tolerance, spaghetti algorithms, and more.

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What are the priorities for L&D in the modern workplace? Our survey says …

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Thu, 2018-02-15 20:18

Jane Hart, Modern Workplace Learning, Feb 15, 2018

The term 'L&D' is being used as a noun in this survey, as in 'the Learning & Development Department'. So we see questions like "Do you think that L&D should manage social learning in the workplace?" The answer to this one, courtesy of 173 responses to Jane Hart's survey, was 'yes' at 33% and 'no' at 57%. I'm not sure how an L&D department would manage social learning. The real surprise, though, was the answer to this one: "Do you think the primary purpose of the L&D department is to design, deliver and manage training/e-learning for the organisation?" Most said 'no', and the number is increasing. So what should these departments do? Respondents wanted to spend their time "helping managers develop their teams, and helping individuals learn from daily work and share their knowledge experience."

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Harvard Is Offering a Popular Online Architecture Course for Free

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Thu, 2018-02-15 01:05

By Jessica Stewart, Modern Met

Ever wondered what it would be like to take a class at Harvard? If you’re interested in architecture, you’ll be thrilled to hear that Harvard’s Graduate School of Design is offering its popular course, The Architectural Imagination, for free online. From the comfort of your own home, you’ll get the benefit of Harvard’s world-class faculty teaching the fundamentals of architecture. The 10-week course is designed to teach you “how to ‘read’ architecture as a cultural expression as well as a technical achievement.” Students can elect to enroll in the online course free of charge or pay $99 to receive a verified certificate upon completion. And, if you are an architect enrolled in the American Institute of Architects, the course can be used toward continuing education credits.

Harvard Is Offering a Popular Online Architecture Course for Free

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