news (external)

AI Boosts Personalized Learning in Higher Education

by David Hutchins, EdTech

Personalized learning, which tailors educational content to the unique needs of individual students, has become a huge component of K–12 education. A growing number of college educators are embracing the trend, taking advantage of data analytics and artificial intelligence to deliver just-right, just-in-time learning to their students. Data-driven insights are becoming integral to business and financial decision-making by institutional leaders, and educators are quickly finding ways to leverage analytics to increase student retention. Applying data analytics to adaptive learning programs is proving to be another smart application. In adaptive learning, educators collect data on various aspects of student performance — from engagement with course content to exam performance — and tailor material to each student’s knowledge level and ideal learning style.

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How Online Instructors Can Avoid ‘Burnout’

By Tina Nazerian, EdSurge

There’s a correlation between burnout and health-care costs, Stout said. But burnout also leads to low employee morale, a reduced likelihood that an instructor will stick with an institution and a lesser likelihood that an instructor will be engaged. Disengaged instructors are less likely to care about their students. And what’s more, a burnout might result in an instructor objectifying students. “That person is no longer a person, it’s just a name on a screen,” Stout said. Stout told the audience about the Maslach Burnout Inventory test, which quantifies burnout into three subscales: emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and (reduced) personal achievement. It’s the most-commonly used instrument to measure burnout, she said, and there’s even one that’s tailored to measure burnout among educators.

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14 Study Hacks for Online Courses

By Lorena Roberts, Uloop
Taking an online class isn’t rare anymore — more and more universities are moving to online models. If you’re taking an online class, you might be afraid of what you’re getting into. You may not know how to take an online class, or how to study.
Here are some hacks for tackling online courses if you’ve never done it before.

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Distilling Canvas LMS Accusations Of ‘Openwashing’

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - 4 hours 2 min ago

Moodle News, Nov 22, 2017

This unattributed post on Moodle News largely clears Canvas of 'openwashing'. It points out that the software is released under a good open soure license, and moreover, that its APis are open. Some cracks around the foundation: a Canvas host could charge for API access, and Instructure (Canvas parent company) might not "protect the values and principles that have maintained the open source community alive and thriving" in the future. I haven't actually run an instance of Canvas (maybe I should one of these days) so I'm not sure whether there are any practical barriers. But this article makes it sound like I'd be fine.

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Fear and Loathing in the Moodle Community

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - 4 hours 25 min ago

Michael Feldstein, e-Literate, Nov 22, 2017

This is a long post from Michael Feldstein on the opposition to e-Literate's recent data regarding new Moodle installations. A lot of it is irrelevant (though I did learn some things about the now-abandoned dotLRN project). There are two threads to the argument. The second is that the e-Literate analysis is based on good data. The first is that exceptions to that data (of the form, say, "but it's big in Spain") are irrelevant. Feldstein also suggests that readers misunderstood some of the finer points of the analysis. I have no reason to doubt the second (though the account of 'primary LMS' is a bit sketchy). But the first leaves me wanting; I think the international market is more important than Feldstein is willing to credit, especially today, especially to non-American companies, and especially with respect to open source software. 

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Peppa Pig's tale of torture? Why parents can't rely on platforms like YouTube Kids for child-friendly fare

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Wed, 2017-11-22 17:20

Ramona Pringle, CBC News, Nov 22, 2017

A full mont after reports surfaced on Mashable, via a James Briddle column, BBC News report, and a NY Times paywalled article, the story of the dangerously inappropriate YouTube videos being marketed to kids has surfaced on CBC News. This is a sad reflection on the national broadcaster, which has all but abandoned coverage of science, technology and education. We are told "when it comes to protecting children from content, we can never rely solely on algorithms," but this is the same old 'algorithm as black box' treatment. Algorithms could perform the task perfectly well (in this case all they have to do is scan for guns and fangs!) but we have to be ready to hold companies accoubtable for what their algorithms produce (and what their 'kid friendly' sites contain).

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A.I. Will Serve Humans - But Only About 1% of Them

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Wed, 2017-11-22 17:05

Robby Berman, Nov 22, 2017

This is another post about the limitations of AI, both in terms of their effectiveness and in terms of their explainability. In terms of effectiveness, they depend on the data they're given (which explains racist AIs) and on the uses to which they're put (which explains selective blindness in AIs). We are also told “We can’t look inside the black box that makes the decisions.” But we can know a lot about it - its data sources, its algorithms, its deployment. These are covered in Europe's new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). What about explainability? Because there are so many input variables, we cannot understand AI in terms of simple rules. But we can understand the range of possible outcomes, whichc allows us to create a portrait of how a given AI operates. 

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5 reasons why analytics tech is a game-changer for universities

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Wed, 2017-11-22 01:07


Nine years ago, like many university IR offices, Alabama’s was manually pulling information, printing it on pieces of paper, and transcribing that information into spreadsheets that were distributed as responses. It was a tedious and time-consuming process. Now, the OIRA team monitors things like the graduation rates of our students, and the fail and withdrawal rates associated with specific courses. They look at time-to-degree information, faculty teaching loads and salary analyses for Alabama compared to peer institutions. In addition, they receive 500 to 600 information requests annually, which they attempt to answer within 10 working days. Much of the time, they respond within 24 hours because many requests seek similar information.

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Building a Three-Dimensional Record of Student Learning

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Wed, 2017-11-22 01:05

by David Raths, Campus Technology

According to Helen Chen, director of e-portfolio initiatives in Stanford’s Office of the University Registrar, that dissatisfaction with the limitations of the basic transcript has spurred the university to launch several projects to explore new representations of the student record that might do a better job of conveying a student’s learning as well as co-curricular activities. One prototype sought to organize the student record not chronologically, but according to learning outcomes. “Our general education courses define learning outcomes,” Chen said. “What if you could organize the student record according to those outcomes rather than an emphasis on courses and grades?” Another effort called “Edusalsa” wondered what would happen if students could color-code their transcripts based on interests, strengths and weaknesses, to facilitate internal advising conversations.

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How Udacity Localizes to Meet the World’s Booming Demand for Technical Skills

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Wed, 2017-11-22 01:02


by Eden Estopace, Slator

Leah Wiedenmann, Udacity’s Marketing and Communications Manager in Europe, told Slator that all courses are available in English but select courses are available in Brazilian Portuguese, Mandarin Chinese, and Arabic. “Students across Europe and India take Udacity’s courses in English. In China and Brazil, nanodegree programs and courses are translated into Mandarin Chinese and Brazilian Portuguese, respectively,” she says. “Udacity also has widespread localized course offerings in Arabic, Bahasa, Japanese, Korean, and Spanish. [More importantly,] beyond localization of content, we also localize our services.”

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The rise of the campus meme

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Tue, 2017-11-21 21:02

Sahil Chinoy, Ella Jensen, The Daily Californian, Nov 21, 2017

If there's one thing people at elite colleges know how to do really well, it's how to create an in-group. Thus so with memes. The typical meme has been around for ages; I wrote about them in 1999, before the first image meme. These appeared as "I can has cheezburger" in 2007. Since then the format has thrived; sites like Imgur keep the tradition alive. And, of course, so do blogging sites like Tumblr and social media, like Facebook, which of course had its own history as an elite thing. This article is about the latest in-group thing, the campus meme. The idea is that the memes are so obscure you'd have to be a student of the campus in order to get them. But they also become a way for outsiders to look in. "Meme groups have become a mainstay of the United States’ elite universities, and at many schools, there are far more members than students." The meme groups are all in Facbook (natch) and though you have to be logged in to Facebook to view the group home page, you can jump directly to specific images from the listings at the bottom of the article (someone did a lot of work collecting and collating them).

[Link] [Comment]


OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Tue, 2017-11-21 18:34

Matthias Melcher, x21s New Blog, Nov 21, 2017

Matthias Melcher diagrams my post on Consciousness and extracts some of the essential elements in an easy-to-follow list of key concepts and ideas. "The greatest takeaway so far," he writes, "was the explanation of the mysterious ‘suddenness’ through recognition, see the last entry of my list."

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METRICS: a pattern language of scholarship in medical education

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Tue, 2017-11-21 16:17

Rachel Ellaway, David Topps, MedEdPublish, Nov 21, 2017

What is scholarship in colleges and universities? Maybe the best part of this post is the background reading you'll have to do to put it into context. For example, I thoroughly enjoyed Ernest Boyer's long paper (160 page PDF) on Scholarship Reconsidered even though it dates from 1980 describing three major phases of evolution in the U.S. university system (noting, in particular, their original focus on teaching, and the relatively recent focus on research). Boyer's much shorter (12 page PDF) paper of the same name is an outline of the model (discovery, integration, application, teaching). Glassick, Huber and Maeroff's 1997 Scholarship Assessed model (goals, preparation, methods, results, presentation, critique) is also not to be missed (16 page PDF). Felder (2000) offers a nice summary (4 page PDF). The proposal in the METRICS paper is a seven-part model (meta, evaluation, translation, research, innovation, conceptual, synthesis). It seems to me that the elements of service and social change discussed in the longer Boyer paper have all but disappeared from all three accounts (though maybe they're part of translation and innovation). The need for excellence in teaching seems also to be receding as a goal.

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No, you’re not being paranoid. Sites really are watching your every move

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Tue, 2017-11-21 15:02

Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, Nov 21, 2017

Just for the record, my website does not track you when you visit. Even if you sign up for a newsletter, it barely acknowledges that you exist. I like it that way, because there's no data to lose. But my website appears to be the exception. "A new study finds hundreds of sites—including,, and—employ scripts that record visitors' keystrokes, mouse movements, and scrolling behavior in real time, even before the input is submitted or is later deleted." As Steven Englehardt reports in the study, "This data can’t reasonably be expected to be kept anonymous. In fact, some companies allow publishers to explicitly link recordings to a user’s real identity."

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Campuses See Value of Digital Learning, but Lack a Plan

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Tue, 2017-11-21 01:10

By Dian Schaffhauser, Campus Technology

In a recent survey, most chief academic officers (CAOs) at 359 two- and four-year institutions (86 percent) agreed that digital content and learning can improve the student experience. Eighty-seven percent of CAOs said digital learning resources “make learning more efficient and effective for students”; and 74 percent agreed that digital content would provide a richer and more personalized learning experience over print resources. However, a big hold-up to going “all digital” is a lack of student access to devices.

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Adam Brown’s MissionU uses a tech sector model to focus on skills for the workplace

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Tue, 2017-11-21 01:05

by Hannah Kuchler, Financial Times
This September, his start-up, MissionU, accepted its first intake of students — 30 would-be data analysts who are starting a one-year course with no upfront costs. Designed to prepare them for the workplace, MissionU works closely with businesses ranging from Lyft, the ride-hailing app, to digital music streaming service Spotify to teach both technical and soft skills. The deal is that students repay 15 per cent of their income to MissionU for the first three years after graduation in which they earn at least $50,000.

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Faculty Members at One More University Push Back at Online Programs

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Tue, 2017-11-21 01:02

By Beckie Supiano, Chronicle of Higher Ed

Faculty unions at Eastern Michigan U. distributed fliers objecting to the university’s deal with a provider of online courses. Professors at Eastern Michigan University are objecting to its partnership with a private company to market and support online programs, making it the latest institution to grapple with questions about the quality of online instruction. The unions representing Eastern Michigan’s faculty members and lecturers are asking campus leaders to stop marketing online programs with the company, Academic Partnerships, until they can review the arrangement. And they’re rolling out an advertising campaign in an effort to build public support for their position.

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Where is Technology Taking the Economy

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Mon, 2017-11-20 21:45

Irving Wladawsky-Berger, Nov 20, 2017

Irving Wladawsky-Berger offers projections about the new technological environment. "Machines have started to exhibit associative intelligence," he writes, "Associative intelligence is no longer just housed in the brains of human workers, but emerges from the constant interactions among machines, software and processes." It made me think of e-Trucks interacting with each other to form convoys, for example. Then I began to imagine road construction priorities being automatically determined by automated vehicles reporting bottlenecks and slowdowns. Anyhow, Wladawsky-Berger identifies several key changes in our political economy that result from this trend (quoted):

  • The criteria for assessing policies will change from 'growth' to 'job creation' (or maybe simply access to goods and services)
  • The criteria for measuring the economy will change, as virtual goods "generate unmeasured benefits for the user, cost next to nothing, and are unpriced"
  • Free market economies will be regulated. “In the distributive era free-market efficiency will no longer be justifiable if it creates whole classes of people who lose.”
  • "The next era will not be an economic one, but a political one... until we’ve resolved access we’re in for a lengthy period of experimentation"

I think these changes mught be even more significant than depicted here. If we're looking decades ahead, as Wladawsky-Berger, we may be looking at the replacement of money as a mechanism for exchange, as the assumulation of trillions of unused dollars in secret accounts has undermined its effectiveness for the purpose of regulating commerce.

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Pearson, WTF? Badges, patents, and the world’s ‘least popular’ education company

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Mon, 2017-11-20 21:35

Doug Belshaw, Open Educational Thinkering, Nov 20, 2017

Doug Belshaw has two bits of news about Pearson in this article. First, he reports on Pearson's new application to patent digital credentials (you know, like badges). It's only something Belshaw and others have been working on for years now. "he ‘background’ section uses language very similar to the Open Badges for Lifelong Learning working paper published in 2012 by Mozilla."  Additionally, he notes that " they have closed their DRM-Free ebook store, and will now proceed to delete all ebooks from their customers’ accounts." Well, I'm glad I didn't buy any eBooks from Pearson! "Perhaps I should have been more cynical, as they obviously are," writes Belshaw. "I note, for example, that Pearson waited until Mozilla handed over stewardship of Open Badges to IMS Global Learning Consortium (who have said they will not contest the patent) before filing." Will not contest? Seriously, IMS?

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Innovation Culture

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Mon, 2017-11-20 20:33

Rideau Hall Foundation, Nov 20, 2017

This website, and the associated project around it, are an outcome of the previous Governor-General of Canada, David Johnston, working with Tom Jenkins (of the Jenkins report on science and technology in Canada). The site says "Innovation is the creative combination of anything that, once done, makes something better." I have mixed views. The Canadian Museum of Science and Technology, now part of co-sponsor Ingenium, was one of my favourite childhood destinations. It just reopened (yay!). I should visit. And you can submit Canadian Innovation Stories (note that the site is slow). But innovation seems to me to be more than just 'combining' things, and more than just 'making something better'. The Governor-General's Innovation Awards, associated with the site, are almost exclusively for medical innovations and/or businesses. There are education resources, including a children's resource, that defines innovation as "creating or improving a thing (product) or action (process) to make a difference (impact)." This seems even narrower to me. It's not all about business. Disclosure: I was peripherally involved with the education resources and my name appears in the acknowledgements.

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