news (external)

A Data Commons for Scientific Discovery

By David Raths, Campus Technology

The Open Cloud Consortium is working to meet the collaboration and data-management needs of multi-institution big data projects. In 2008, a group of researchers came together to form the nonprofit Open Cloud Consortium (OCC), a shared cloud-computing infrastructure for medium-size, multi-institution big-data projects. The OCC has grown to include 10 universities, 15 companies and five government agencies and national laboratories. In a recent interview with Campus Technology, OCC Director Robert Grossman discussed the organization’s relationship to research universities’ IT departments, as well as its business model and sustainability challenges.

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9 accessibility steps for MOOC platforms

by eCampus News

U.S. reaches settlement with edX to increase MOOC accessibility for those with disabilities. Under an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice, edX will make its website fully accessible to users with disabilities within 18 months and will appoint a web accessibility coordinator, in addition to a number of other actions to ensure accessibility. The agreement with edX addresses complaints that edX’s website is not fully accessible to individuals with disabilities, including individuals who are blind or have low vision, those who are deaf or hard of hearing, and those who have physical disabilities affecting manual dexterity. Under the settlement, edX will provide accurate captioning for the deaf, oral navigation signals for the blind, and programming changes so those with dexterity disabilities can navigate content without struggling with a hand-operated mouse.

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5 universities taking innovation from buzzword to practice

By Meris Stansbury, eCampus News

How universities are looking past incubators to future functionality. Are college and university investments in innovation worth the time and money? Only if your incubators lead to scalable, sustainable success, says new research. A recent report, conducted in 2014 by the American Council on Education (ACE) and Huron Education aimed to gauge some of the current thinking and practices of select institutions on taking innovation from a commonly passed around buzzword to actionable practice. ACE chose five institutions that had detailed case studies and data on their innovation incubators—each highlighting the goals, challenges, and outcomes of their own unique approaches to scaling innovation campus-wide.

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Patient Zero of the selfie age: Why JenniCam abandoned her digital life

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Sat, 2015-04-18 19:59

Emma Reynolds,, Apr 18, 2015

The subtext of this item is that there is something wrong with sharing your life online, because after all the original "cam girl", Jennifer Ringley of JenniCan, gave it up after seven years and not has no social networking presence at all. But I think that reflects more the price of fame than of sharing, and I don't think we should accept the subtext. Nonetheless, this is a fascinating article well worth reading and an interetsing look back at, if you will, a more innocent internet.

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[A life marked by turmoil].

NLM - Nursing Informatics - Sat, 2015-04-18 17:01
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[A life marked by turmoil].

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Nursing informatics practice in traditional hospital settings.

NLM - Nursing Informatics - Sat, 2015-04-18 17:01
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The Open Publishing Revolution, Now Behind A Billion-Dollar Paywall

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Sat, 2015-04-18 16:59

Tina Amirtha, Fast Comnpany, Apr 18, 2015

Mendeley, as the author notes, built a piece of software "aimed at helping researchers organize their papers, annotate them, and share them with each other." In 2013 the company was acquired by Elsevier, which had "to squash the threat Mendeley posed to its traditional subscription model, and to own the ecosystem that Mendeley had constructed, with its valuable data on the behavior of millions of researchers." The reaction of members was, not surprisingly, widely negative. This article looks at the fallout, two years later, and some the efforts Elsevier has taken to soften its image.

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Keep gender in mind for course evaluations

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Sat, 2015-04-18 02:12

by the Daily Tarheel (letter to editor)

Recent research suggests that students rate female professors more harshly than male professors. When a female professor of an online course pretends she is male, her evaluations are significantly higher than when students know she is a female, and evaluations of female professors are more likely to focus on aspects of personality or appearance rather than intellect or skill in the classroom. Gender bias in course evaluations can be reduced by focusing comments on feedback that is useful for improving instruction. Ideally, student comments will help us improve our instructional techniques and thus improve the learning experience of future Carolina students. Comments that are vague, belittling, personal or based on gender expectations do not help us make our courses better.

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Fee payments lift MOOC completion rates

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Sat, 2015-04-18 02:05

by Tim Dodd, Financial Review

Students in massive open online courses (MOOC) who pay a modest amount for a “verified certificate” are just as likely finish their course as regular university students, according to a new large-scale study of online education. The study, from Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) which jointly founded the leading MOOC provider edX, found those students who paid the usually less-than $US100 ($130) fee for a certificate, had a 59 per cent course completion rate, the same as the overall graduation rate for students enrolling in bachelor’s degrees in the United States.

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UCLA Library to expand program promoting free, online course material

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Sat, 2015-04-18 02:02

BY DANIEL AHN, Daily Bruin

UCLA, following the lead of many universities, is expanding an initiative to promote free, online course materials for students amid rising textbook costs. The Affordable Course Materials Initiative, a UCLA Library-led project which launched in 2013 as a pilot program, will become an official program fall 2015. The program, which UCLA recently decided to continue, seeks to encourage faculty members to compile online resources in a textbook-like form so they can be freely accessed by professors and students. The library will send out applications for the program this week, and instructors will be able to apply for a grant of up to $2,500 to help find resources and adjust syllabi and assignments. Since 2013, the UCLA Library has awarded $27,500 to 23 instructors. The library estimates that students enrolled in awarded courses saved more than $160,000 collectively since the program began.

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What Harvard Business School Has Learned About Online Collaboration From HBX

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Fri, 2015-04-17 16:57

Bharat Anand, Jan Hammond, V.G. Narayanan, Harvard Business Review, Apr 17, 2015

I think I have to file this under the category of "catching up" as trhe 'lessons' learned by Harvard Business School have long been known and studied in the wider online learning and distance education communities. Indeed, some of the recommendations they make - like having people begin by introducing each other in an online discussion, or that "norms of online collaboration can be shaped" - had become cliché s long before HBS 'discovered' them. More recent work has been focused on how to adapt these long-known techniques to massive and open online courses (because, as we all know, a thread consisting of 160,000 introductions is unmanageable). And some of the 'discoveries' appear to be genuine but have been disproven by deeper investigation. Extrinsic motivation, such as paying people, or tying collaboration to grades, may appear to work in the short term, but  fails in the longer term.

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Education shouldn't be a zero-sum game

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Fri, 2015-04-17 16:57

Andrew Parkin, Academica, Apr 17, 2015

Is Canada really over-emphasizing university graduation? It has one of the highest rates of university and post-secondary education completion rates in the world: "In Canada, 50% of the adult population has completed tertiary education, easily the highest rate in the OECD." But  a recent report for the Canadian Council on Chief Executives recommended cutting back on university degrees. "Canada could dramatically improve the quality of university education by cutting enrolment as much as 25 to 30 per cent," wrote Ken Coates. But it's not clear exactly what problem this solves. As Andrew Parkin writes in Academica, "Canada does not look at all like a country that has over-emphasized university education to the detriment of colleges," he writes. "The problem is not an over-emphasis on universities but an under-emphasis on any and all forms of postsecondary education and training." And it's not clear that a more open admissions policy in either system acts to the detriment of either quality or outcome. Quite the opposite: a wider admissions policy lessens our reliance on testing and enables those without the advantages of socio-economic status find an environment where they can thrive and flourish - people like me. Image: Herald Sun.

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Being There: Heidegger on Why Our Presence Matters

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Fri, 2015-04-17 16:57

Lawrence Berger, New York Times, Apr 17, 2015

On reading the headline I immediately thought of Terry Anderson.  He writes of the importance of 'presence' in learning "that views the creation of an effective online educational community as involving three critical components: cognitive presence, social presence, and teaching presence." As this article in the NY Times notes, the idea of presence is linked to the idea of our consciousness of external objects. Heidegger would ask, "given that I experience a stone in a more profound manner, what does that have to do with the being of the stone itself?" And Lawrence Berger offers the explanation, "Not only are we in direct contact with the people and things of this world, but also that our presence matters for how they are made manifest — how they come into presence — in the full potential that is associated with the sort of beings that they are." Now I don't believe this exactly - I don't think there's some sort of mystical projection of ourselves into the external world. But presence and consciousness are closely linked.

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OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Fri, 2015-04-17 04:55

Website, Kifi, Apr 16, 2015

I have two major things to say about this site. First, analytics and recommendations are becoming commoditized. This is one of a number of services revolving around the concept of learning about you and recommending resources. The second this is that this is a beautiful piece of web design, gracefully introducing new users into a relatively comprehensive understanding of what it does with impressive efficiency. Find and share. Find and share. It's the new web. It's the modern version of applications like ScribeFire, which I was playing with last night after spotting it in a Doug Peterson post.

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Open Web Presentation for BC Campus

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Fri, 2015-04-17 04:55

Alan Levine, CogDogBlog, Apr 16, 2015

Alan Levine introduces and enmbeds a video entitled The Open Web (a) Lost (b) Reclaimed (c) Co-claimed (d) All of the above? He writes that it "was meant to get at what we see as un-necessary dichotomies in ed tech (and also to poke at multiple choice). This was the landscape setting to talk about the work we did at TRU during my stint, both the SPLOT tools and the You Show open seminar." You might also want to look at the The CogDog Show » Syndicate This - "a portfolio site built for my time as an Open Learning Scholar at Thompson Rivers University," he writes.

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The ‘University Of Everywhere’ Isn’t For Everyone: The Future Of Learning Will Be A Big Tent

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Fri, 2015-04-17 02:10

by Andrew Kelly, Forbes

The point is: all of these ideas are part of the future of learning. Because the set of prospective students is large and diverse, that future must be a “big tent” containing a variety of new ideas, not just online learning. Some of the tools (i.e., MOOCs) will be low-touch, low-cost affairs with little interpersonal contact. Others will feature short, intense doses of direct instruction and mentorship and cost significant amounts of money. In short, entrepreneurs will produce different products because learners have different preferences. While The End of College implicitly acknowledges this by talking about more than just MOOCs, other models always seem to take a back seat to the open online courses that Carey expects to dominate in the future.

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The Benefits of Adaptive Learning Technology

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Fri, 2015-04-17 02:05

By Kristen Hicks, Edudemic

Adaptive learning has long been a part of education. The basic concept is simple: Coursework should be adapted to meet the individual needs of each student. Every teacher has experience modifying curriculum in some way to help students access information. Nowadays technology can help make the adaptations easier and more streamlined. Many of the benefits that adaptive technology offers in online courses also apply to traditional classrooms. However, the nature of online learning means that some of the challenges adaptive learning helps to address are especially relevant to online students. When teachers and students don’t interact with each other regularly in person, as often happens with online courses, having a tool that helps pick up the slack becomes that much more important.

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Coming to a business school near you: disruption

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Fri, 2015-04-17 02:03

by Margaret Andrews, University World News

Over the past few years it seems you can’t read about higher education without thinking about how ripe it is for disruption. Rising costs, employer dissatisfaction with graduate skills, technology advances and new entrants are making the case for the need for new ways of thinking about and delivering education. Based on some recent developments, business schools may be the first to feel the heat. Clay Christensen, who popularised the idea of disruption, has written and spoken quite a bit about disruption in higher education in general, and the management education market in particular. So how is this beginning to play out in the management education sphere? There are many new initiatives afoot.

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Code Quality - Fri, 2015-04-17 02:00
Categories: Cartoons, Science News

VR and consciousness – some truly freakish ideas

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Fri, 2015-04-17 01:55

Donald Clark, Donald Clark Plan B, Apr 16, 2015

I experience the arbitrariness of consciousness every day. I put on my glasses, and my whole world changes. More recently, I have enjoyed the altered consciousness of being completely immersed in sound by means of my MP3 player and some quality earbuds. We are conscious - we experience. The two are one and the same phenomenon (think 'morning star' and 'evening star'). The varieties of experience are the varieties of consciousness. And experience is, fundamentally, in the mind, and consciousness is in part a re-experiencing, in part an imagining, in part a sensory perception, and in part, as Charles Dickens famously said, "an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of underdone potato." At a certain point, when virtual reality becomes sufficiently real, it becomes cognitively indistinguishable from actual experience, and hence, equally powerful.

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