news (external)

This online school may replace modern liberal arts colleges

By Graeme Wood, The Atlantic

On a Friday morning in April, I strapped on a headset, leaned into a microphone, and experienced what had been described to me as a type of time travel to the future of higher education. I was on the ninth floor of a building in downtown San Francisco, in a neighborhood whose streets are heavily populated with winos and vagrants, and whose buildings host hip new businesses, many of them tech start-ups. In a small room, I was flanked by a publicist and a tech manager from an educational venture called the Minerva Project, whose founder and CEO, the 39-year-old entrepreneur Ben Nelson, aims to replace (or, when he is feeling less aggressive, “reform”) the modern liberal-arts college. Minerva is an accredited university with administrative offices and a dorm in San Francisco, and it plans to open locations in at least six other major world cities.

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Don’t Let Your Education End at Graduation

By LINDSAY GELLMAN, Wall Street Journal

Then there are online courses, which come in many flavors. iTunes U offers free educational content, including lectures, from colleges and universities. Khan Academy (, a nonprofit, is a free platform for original tutorial videos and assessments, and users earn virtual badges for mastering a given subject. Codecademy ( offers free, hands-on online programming courses and exercises. Coursera (, a for-profit online educator, partners with colleges, universities and other institutions to offer courses that are free to take, but there is typically associated course work—graded via machine or by peers—and there might be a charge for an optional course-end certificate. Know your industry—and know when you need to have a skill officially certified, or when informal learning might be sufficient or even preferable.

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NMSU Works To Elevate Online Courses


With more and more college courses transitioning into online formats, New Mexico State University is working to ensure the quality of its online classes matches the quality of those delivered inside the classroom. To reach this goal, NMSU’s Online Course Improvement Program (OCIP) began in 2009 as a partnership between the Associated Students of New Mexico State University/Student Technology Advisory Committee and the College of Extended Learning.

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Recent Research Review -- Reviewed (and Lamented)

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Fri, 2014-08-22 23:43

Will Thalheimer, Will at Work Learning, Aug 22, 2014

I will admit that  this article is an excellent read and that if you are in the field and haven't read it, you should correct this oversight immediately. If you really really don't have time this overview from  Will Thalheimer will do nicely. I think that if you are supportive of mainstream research in training and development you'll have no issue with most of the contents and will appreciate the liberal selection of references to bolster the assertions made. Personally, I think that learning is less about transfer than it is about growth and development, so some of the foundational work doesn't appeal to me (I remember, for example, studying Holyoak in detail on schemas and induction when his work first came out, and disagreeing profoundly with it). But not agreeing with the work is no excuse for not knowing it.

[Link] [Comment]

Top 10 reasons to trust Microsoft in the cloud

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Fri, 2014-08-22 23:43

Tim Bush, Microsoft UK Schools News Blog, Aug 22, 2014

OK, I'll be pretty blunt about this: don't trust Microsoft in the cloud. I speak from personal experience: I paid Microsoft for online products (specifically, videos) and thanks to some back-end account problem, I cannot play those videos. My efforts over the last few weeks to fix this have been fruitless. Their  online assistance helps for a bit, but then loses interest and stops responding. This isn't small change; we're talking a few hundred dollars worth of videos that have suddenly become unplayable. Videos that I actually downloaded and are on my computer and should be playable offline - unplayable. If this happened with my email or my Office applications, I'd be sunk. So ignore the promotional articles like the one linked here. If you can lose hundreds of dollars worth of property and have no recourse then you are dealing with an immature technology. Period.

[Link] [Comment]

Why Students Should Own Their Educational Data

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Fri, 2014-08-22 23:43

Jeffrey R. Young, The Chronicle: Wired Campus Blog, Aug 22, 2014

This is one of the core ideas of our LPSS project, and it's nice that a Harvard professor agrees with it: "What we need to know about you is your contextualized profile of your performance and what kind of support you’ ll need to be able to model your learner profile across contexts. If I had to push for one thing that I think is super important, that is that the user should own their data."

[Link] [Comment]

3 ways online courses could become more like iTunes

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Fri, 2014-08-22 02:09

By Denny Carter, eCampus News

Thanks to MIT, modularization could soon be an oft-repeated phrase in online education. Members of the MIT task force, who were asked to examine ways a college education could become more accessible, more affordable, and more effective, pointed to the concept of “modularization” as a key to improving the traditional web-based class model and the nontraditional massive open online course (MOOC). The task force suggested breaking courses into modules — or learning units meant to be studied in sequence but separately. This approach would mimic a person’s ability to purchase bits and pieces of an artist’s music from Apple iTunes, they said.

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Is this the “dark horse” of online education?

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Fri, 2014-08-22 02:04

By Meris Stansbury, eCampus News

It’s a perfect storm of economic factors and available technology that’s making competency-cased online education the real disruptive innovation for colleges and universities, say Michelle Weise, senior research fellow of Higher Education for the Clayton Christensen Institute, and Clayton Christensen, co-founder of the Institute and the Robert and Jane Cizik Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School. “Workforce training, competency-based learning, and online learning are clearly not new phenomena,” explains Weise. “But online competency-based education is revolutionary because it marks the critical convergence of multiple vectors: the right learning model, the right technologies, the right customers, and the right business model.”

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Which massive online courses are women taking?

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Fri, 2014-08-22 02:03

By Denny Carter, eCampus News

Coursera recently sought to answer that question, drilling down into enrollment data to see which classes, exactly, women were taking on the popular Coursera platform. Food and nutrition topped the list of Coursera classes women prefer, with more than 60 percent of enrollees in those classes identifying as female. Teacher professional development ranked second with almost 60 percent female enrollment. Medicine, arts, and health and society came in a close third with more than 50 percent female enrollment. But again, it was STEM courses and related fields that saw low levels of female enrollment and participation, according to Coursera’s findings.

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Loop - Fri, 2014-08-22 02:00
Categories: Cartoons, Science News

Four-day week will cut absences, superintendent says

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Thu, 2014-08-21 20:41

Alison DeNisco, District Administration: Education News, Aug 21, 2014

I have long believed we should adopt what amounts to a 3.5 day week - that is, 28 hours. This allows us to have what amounts to 7-day coverage of any position with two staff, with the work divided between them. It allows for 7-day use of facilities and resources. And, best of all, it addresses the issue of unemployment head on with the recognition that people are far more productive that they were when the 40-hour week was first implemented. I'm not sure, though, that the political will exists to return to workers a fair share of that increased productivity. Maybe something like this is the start of that.

[Link] [Comment]

Expert performance and training: what we really know

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Thu, 2014-08-21 20:41

Daniel Lemire, Aug 21, 2014

Sometimes I don't agree with Daniel Lemire at all - this post on the culture of envy, for example, is wrong in so many ways - but in this post he nails it. Expertise isn't simply inherited, and isn't acquired overnight; while it does require some predisposition, it is primarily the result of practice, and not just any practice, but reasonably guided and reflective practice. "As far as we know," he writes, "if you are a world-class surgeon or programmer, you have had to work hard for many years." Results are not guaranteed; this is a necessary condition, not a sufficient condition.

[Link] [Comment]

Robo-readers aren’t as good as human readers — they’re better

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Thu, 2014-08-21 20:41

Annie Murphy Paul, The Hechinger Report, Aug 21, 2014

When I read that robots are "unable to discern meaning" my first thought is to wonder what the critic thinks it is for a human to discern meaning. Yes, you can fool computers with nonsense - but you can also fool human referees of academic journals with nonsense as well. And - interestingly - it seems that it is becoming less and less easy to fool the computers, while humans remain as fallible as ever. So infallibility is not a criterion for being able to discern meaning.

This article suggests that computers may be better markers because they create a 'disinhibition effect' among students. "A non-judgmental computer may motivate students to try, to fail and to improve more than almost any human." But this isn't a criterion either - indeed, the author would not recommend allowing a computer to give grades. So what, then, is it to 'discern meaning' - and correspondingly, what is it to 'demonstrate meaning'.

I've discussed this in the past. Most writers believe that meaning (and truth) are based in representations, and that learning is essentially the creation (or construction) of these representations in the mind. So demonstration of meaning is a demonstration of the presentation and use of those representations. But this leaves the discernment criteria unfulfilled. Discerning is, I argue, a process of recognition. And computers can and do perform quite well at recognition tasks.

[Link] [Comment]

Why The Education Economy Is The Next Big Thing For The American Workforce

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Thu, 2014-08-21 20:41

Brandon Busteed, Fast Company, Aug 21, 2014

The author, Brandon Busteed, is executive director of education at Gallup. He argues that there should be a tighter commection between education and the economy to create what we calls the educonomy. The article is largely about how education is failing the economy:

  • "no correlation between the grades and test scores of its employees and their success on the job"
  • "we’ re more likely to see kids with entrepreneurial talent diagnosed as underperforming troublemakers"
  • "seven in 10 K-12 teachers are not engaged in their work (69%)"

All very well, but is increased involvement of the commercial sector in education likely to change this? Busteed calls for "paid and unpaid internships to high school and college students" and for ways to engage teachers and instructors. That sounds good for business - it gives them cheap labour (think of the adjunct professor model applies across the economy). But it's very bad for students and workers, who are already underpaid. Here's a better plan: hire people at full wages, then take steps to enable access to learning while on the job. Oh, but that might cost the commercial sector money. My take: if the economy is not willing to pay the freight, there's no good reason to integrate education and economy.

[Link] [Comment]

Technology Lab / Information Technology How Twitter’s new "BotMaker" filter flushes spam out of timelines

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Thu, 2014-08-21 20:41

Lee Hutchinson, Ars, Aug 21, 2014

I still maintain that it's easier to select for what you do want rather than to filter for what you don't want. But a centralized system, I think, can only attempt the latter. It doesn't help when the business model of the service provider involves sending you unwanted advertising messages. Anyhow, this is an interesting article about Twitter's Botmaker anti-spam system (and how it will be used to send you advertising).

[Link] [Comment]

8 tips for creating video in online learning

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Thu, 2014-08-21 02:09

By Meris Stansbury, eCampus News

To use or not to use faculty and admin created video in online learning has been a hot topic of debate in higher education, for many reasons. However, thanks to new research on video’s efficacy, best practices compiled over the last five years, and abundant technology resources, successfully creating and using video for online learning has never been easier to execute. According to a new report about instructor-generated video on student satisfaction in online classes, recently published in the MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, instructor-generated video (when created through YouTube) can have a positive and moderate influence on student satisfaction with, and engagement in, online courses.

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Education: Online course allows early childhhood teacher to keep learning

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Thu, 2014-08-21 02:05

by Kristie Kellahan, Sydney Morning Herald

Erin Foo, 24, is a student of Torrens University’s master of education (early childhood) program. She studies online and is building on her previous bachelor’s qualification. ‘‘The online nature of the course allows me to work and improve my qualifications simultaneously,’’ she says. ‘‘The small class sizes have allowed me to really connect with my peers and create a network of professionals that have a shared, common goal of revolutionising the early childhood industry.’’ Torrens’ online learning portal, LENS (Learn, Evolve, Network, Socialise), enables students to connect online with other education professionals in a simple and convenient way. ‘‘The connectedness between LENS, the modules, the online library and discussion boards provides an environment where I want to contribute to the learning and experiences of others,’’ Foo says.

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Online college courses making the grade

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Thu, 2014-08-21 02:02

by Paula Ann Mitchell, Daily Freeman

Not surprisingly, the number of colleges and universities offering online study, or distance learning, is growing. The website, in fact, reports that three-fourths of them now provide that option, leaving one to wonder what that might mean for the future of traditional “brick and mortar” university study. the State University of New York at New Paltz has watched its onlne programs grow. “Our summer online enrollments have averaged about 1,800-plus students and our winter enrollments are 300-plus,” said Philip Mauceri, provost and vice president for academic affairs at SUNY New Paltz. “The enrollments are mostly SUNY New Paltz students, but several non-matriculated students from other states have enrolled in select courses. Our students also have the opportunity of taking online courses from other SUNY schools through Open SUNY, easily transferring them into our college.”

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Micro-Learning: Its Role in Formal, Informal and Incidental Learning

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Wed, 2014-08-20 20:40

Sahana Chattopadhyay, ID, Other Reflections, Aug 20, 2014

Good article on microlearning, especially the list of "forms of micro-learning can be used to create a ubiquitous learning environment" at the bottom. "Microlearning deals with relatively small learning units and short-term learning activities.... the term is used in the domain of elearning and related fields in the sense of a new paradigmatic perspective on learning processes in mediated environments on micro levels."

[Link] [Comment]

Chromebox and Chromebase - definite contenders for desktop replacements

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Wed, 2014-08-20 20:40

David Andrade, Educational Technology Guy, Aug 20, 2014

I'm not yet ready to make the leap to Google's Chromebox and Chromebase but my recent experience with a Windows 8 debacle (downloaded videos that refused to play because I was not online) pushes me away from Mocrosoft and back into thinking there may be alternatives. "The Chromebase is a all-in-one monitor/cpu that comes with a keyboard laid out like the Chromebook with the special keys, and a mouse. The Chromebox is just the box, with a mounting bracket. It also has a notebook lock slot to help prevent 'walking'."

[Link] [Comment]


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