news (external)

German universities face funding fears as states scrap fees

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - 33 min 7 sec ago

Alexandra Topping, The Guardian, Oct 01, 2014

Leading the opposition to ongoing plans to eliminate tuition fees in Germany are - wait for it - universities. Dr Holger Fischer, vice-president of Hamburg University, said: "It is a catastrophe for the university." The coverage in this Guardian article is no less apocalyptic. "The German university fee system is on the brink of collapse," it reports breathlessly. From where I sit, it looks like a social democratic government actually following the principles it campaigned on (other left-leaning parties should take note). "Tuition fees keep young people from low-income families from studying and are socially disruptive." The trend toward the elimination of tuition fees in Germany is a good thing, and should be celebrated.

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Learning in an Introductory Physics MOOC: All Cohorts Learn Equally, Including an On-Campus Class

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - 33 min 7 sec ago

Kimberly F Colvin, John Champaign, Alwina Liu, Qian Zhou, Colin Fredericks, David E Pritchard, International Review of Research in Open, Distance Learning (IRRODL), Oct 01, 2014

Ouch: "In spite of the extra instruction that the on-campus students had," reports this study, there is "no evidence of positive, weekly relative improvement of our on-campus students compared with our online students." So, according to this study, MOOC students learn just as well as in-class students. Which raises the question of why, exactly, we would force students to go through the unnecessary time and expense of in-class participation.

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JSTOR, Daily

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - 33 min 7 sec ago

Colleen Flaherty, Inside Higher Ed, Oct 01, 2014

Although I'm the first to support increasing the accessibility of scientific research, every time I think of JSTOR I think of the persecution of Aaron Swartz, so when JSTOR announces it is launching "content a little more digestible and to engage a different kind of audience" in the form of " JSTOR Daily. The slick-looking home page already features some 100 blog posts and original articles," I wonder what the catch is. And the catch, I suppose, is that most of "the world’ s knowledge" is locked behin a subscription wall, and JSTOR Daily just becomes, in effect, advertising for that.

OK, in fairness, the articles are really well written and the content is interesting and engaging. I looked at the most recent half dozen and checked the references and all the JSTOR articles, though dated, were accessible even from my non-subscription home desktop. I'm definitely subscribing (O love general interest publications like this). So maybe my prejudices can be overcome.

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How Diversity Makes Us Smarter

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - 9 hours 33 min ago

Katherine W. Phillips, Scientific American, [Sept] 30, 2014

I have frequently cited diversity as one of the key ingredients of network design. This is not an arbitrary choice; emergence is not possible without diversity. So it's not surprising to see articles like this pointing to how diversity makes us (ie., society) smarter. "Diversity enhances creativity. It encourages the search for novel information and perspectives, leading to better decision making and problem solving." The lesson to draw from this is that diversity is equally important in learning. "This is how diversity works: by promoting hard work and creativity; by encouraging the consideration of alternatives even before any interpersonal interaction takes place. The pain associated with diversity can be thought of as the pain of exercise."

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OLDaily by Stephen Downes - 9 hours 33 min ago

Jose Ferreira, Adaptive Learning in ELT, [Sept] 30, 2014

Knewton's sales representative, Jose Ferreira, is making some big claims. "We literally have more data about our students than any company has about anybody else about anything, and it’ s not even close.... We literally know everything about what you know and how you learn best, everything." Except, responds Philop Kerr, it's not that simple. "The basic premise here," he writes, "is that the more data you have, the more accurately you can predict what will work best for any individual learner" But is this true? Not without good theory. "Knewton’ s claim that they know how every student learns best is marketing hyperbole and should set alarm bells ringing." Moreover, I would add, it should set everyone's  privacy alarm bells ringing. Do we  really want textbook publishers to know everything about us?

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Education at a Glance 2014

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - 9 hours 33 min ago

OECD, OECD, [Sept] 30, 2014

This is a comprehensive compendium of mostly authoritative statistics and data related to education in a selected set of OECD and developing nations. I spent a good hour this morning reading various charts, but think that if you want the best quick summary it's best to read the editorial (pp. 13-15) because while the story it tells is a familiar one, it is underlined in urgency as social mobility decreases and income disparities increase. While young people are better educated than their older peers, the levels of education required for employment are rising even more rapidly. This is not just a social justice issue. "The increasing social divide between the educational 'haves' and 'have-nots' – and the risks that the latter are excluded from the social benefits of educational expansion – threatens societies as a whole." The report covers attainment level by country, the influence of parents' education, the effect of education on participation in the labour market, advantages from education, investment in education, teachers' salaries, education spending and demographics. See also  the supporting website for the report.

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Why Academics Stink at Writing

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - 9 hours 33 min ago

Steven Pinker, The Chronicle of Higher Education, [Sept] 30, 2014

"Fog comes easily to writers," writes Steven Pinker, "it’ s the clarity that requires practice." I completely agree. In this article bemoaning the obscurity of academic writing and offering some possible causes for the phenomenon, Pinker hits the nail on the head over and over again. I am not a Pinker fan, but this article may just make me one. Who cares about the nature of cognition, if we can agree on the problems with academic writing?!? " Even scientists, with their commitment to seeing the world as it is, are a bit postmodern.... It’ s just that good writers don’ t flaunt that anxiety in every passage they write; they artfully conceal it for clarity’ s sake."

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Why Free Online Classes Are Still the Future of Education


The MOOC was The Next Big Thing—and then it was written off for dead. But for Anant Agarwal, one of the founding fathers of this online reboot of university education, it’s only just getting started. The way he sees it, effective uses of the MOOC model are only beginning to take shape. Enrollment in edX courses has doubled over last year, and he believes we’re on the verge of an era he calls MOOC 2.0. Such optimism is to be expected from a man who makes his livelihood from this model. But Agarwal isn’t alone in this opinion. This week, a team of researchers out of MIT, Harvard, and China’s Tsinghua University—all schools that offer MOOCs—released a study showing that students who attended a MIT physics class online learned as effectively as students who took the class in person. What’s more, the results were the same, regardless of how well the online students scored on a pre-test before taking the class.

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Forget the MBA

by Ronald Alsop, BBC

When Luis Ochoa wanted to make the leap from investment banking analyst to corporate strategist, he didn’t follow the usual path of getting a master’s of business administration degree. Instead, the Stanford University graduate took a few free strategy and financial accounting classes on Coursera, one of the major providers of so-called MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), which have grown in popularity globally over the past few years. “I gained a foundation with those courses that helped me transition into corporate strategy” at Oppenheimer Funds, the 29-year-old New Yorker said. “Now, I’m not interested in an MBA because I’m where I want to be.” “We still get questions from companies about how good MOOCs are, but we’re finding that businesses are more and more willing to consider them to help fill skill gaps,” said Sebastian Thrun, chief executive of the MOOC platform Udacity, based in Mountain View, California.

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‘Going’ (But Not Going) to College

By Carl Straumsheim, Inside Higher Ed

How do you tell high school students they’re going to attend — but not actually go to — college? It’s a conversation the University of Florida is having with potential students, parents and school counselors about UF Online, the institution’s degree-granting online arm. Now facing its first full academic year, UF Online is hitting its course development and enrollment targets, but it has so far attracted few first-time-in-college (FTIC) students. UF Online launched in January with 583 students — all of them transferring in. In March, university officials said they hoped to enroll 750 to 1,000 students by the fall semester, including 100 to 150 high school graduates starting as freshmen.

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Move Fast and Break Things - 12 hours 11 min ago
Categories: Cartoons, Science News

Google X founder Sebastian Thrun leaves Google to focus on Udacity

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Tue, 2014-09-30 02:09

By Kye White, Startup Smart

Google X founder Sebastian Thrun has left his role as VP and fellow at the company. Thrun launched Google’s driverless car project and was the project lead on Google Glass. He is currently running an online education startup Udacity, which he also co-founded. Google confirmed the news to TechCrunch. “As the co-founder of Google [x] and our self-driving car project, Sebastian made huge advances in computer science and robotics that have paved the way for autonomous driving technology,” a spokesperson said.

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E-Learning Startup Udacity Raises $35M to Launch ‘Nanodegrees’

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Tue, 2014-09-30 02:04

By LIZETTE CHAPMAN, Wall Street Journal

Udacity Inc. has secured $35 million, the latest e-learning startup to raise funding in a growing cluster that has raised hundreds of millions from venture investors in a bid to redefine the way people learn. Unlike crowdsourced learning marketplaces like Udemy Inc. and Skillshare Inc., which invite the masses to teach a variety of skills, Udacity works with corporate partners to create online courses to train future employees. And while companies like the Minerva Project Inc., Coursera Inc., Khan Academy and others aim to upend the traditional college experience, Udacity targets college grads and is built with the help of industry partners seeking skilled employees. Those partners, a list of roughly 20 that now includes Google Inc., Facebook Inc., Cloudera Inc. and Salesforce Inc., provide the content and pay Udacity to develop online classes and verify knowledge upon graduation.

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E-Learning Through Smart Watches – Finding Possibilities

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Tue, 2014-09-30 02:02

by Training Zone

Transition from Desktop to mobile is still in process, there is a large portion of the industry which still struggling to develop content for mobile devices. Now a new challenge emerged to develop content for micro screens. The companies which are already in developing content for mobile devices may not face it as difficult as those who don’t. Still it is a great challenge to deliver content developed in different styles of content presentation such as animations, diagrams, images etc. Above all challenges, it has great potential to reach more learners anywhere for more time of the day with wide range of subjects. We can expect applications to come-up in the smart watches market to deliver learning content.

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The Most Popular Social Network for Young People? Texting

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Mon, 2014-09-29 19:35

Derek Thompson, The Atlantic, [Sept] 29, 2014

I can't say I'm surprised that texting would be more popular than Facebook or Twitter - it is, after all, the medium you can use to talk to your friends that doesn't leave a content trail, isn't monetized by advertisers, and won't accidentally become the next internet meme. "Messaging is an everything network. It's identity, it's social,  it's intent ("hey do you want to see Spider-Man"),  it's location ("yo I'm in the theater"). It's the purest form of social network, so simply social that we scarcely consider it a network."

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The Great British Bake Off copyright grab: We can use your #ExtraSlice Twitter images but not give you credit

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Mon, 2014-09-29 19:35

Paul Bradshaw, Online Journalism Blog, [Sept] 29, 2014

It's almost certainly not legal, but who is going to stop them? In case you haven't seen it (and you almost certainly haven't), here are the terms posted on the BBC TV show An Extra Slice website: "By submitting a photograph or other material ("Material") to and using #ExtraSlice, you grant to Love Productions Ltd ("we/us") the right to edit, modify, adapt, translate, exhibit, transmit, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute and otherwise use the Material, at no charge and in any medium for the purpose of the full period of copyright and therefore insofar as possible, in perpetuity (the "Rights") and for such purpose you agree to waive irrevocably all moral rights of whatever nature in the Material." I'd like to do the same thing to hashtags of my choosing. Like, say, #BBC.

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The ABC of Hand Tools (1945)

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Mon, 2014-09-29 19:35

Disney, YouTube, [Sept] 29, 2014

Disney produced training video for GM about proper use of hand tools in 1945. Because educational technology wasn't invented in 1995. Via Metafilter.

[Link] [Comment]

The Current Ecosystem of Learning Management Systems in Higher Education

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Mon, 2014-09-29 04:35

Eden Dahlstrom, D. Christopher Brooks, Jacqueline Bichsel, EDUCAUSE, [Sept] 28, 2014

As Audrey Watters comments, the LMS is back and humming like it's 1997. "Global learning management system (LMS) revenue was estimated at $1.9– 2.6 billion in 2013, with projected growth to $7.8 billion by 2018.3 These estimates include the K– 12 market, corporate training, and higher education segments and demonstrate clearly the considerable scope of the LMS market." Related: Instructure  launches a learning object repository.

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Online Learning is Just as Effective as Traditional Education, According to a New MIT Study

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Mon, 2014-09-29 02:12

by Lauren Landry, BostoInno

Researchers’ findings have been published in the International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, and co-author David Pritchard, MIT’s Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Physics, knows they will be controversial. The group, comprised of researchers from MIT, Harvard and Tsinghua University, completed a before-and-after test on students taking “Mechanics ReView,” an introductory mechanics course offered on massive open online learning platform edX. Researchers then conducted a similar test on students taking the class residentially, discovering: The amount learned is somewhat greater than in the traditional lecture-based course.

link to IRRODL article:

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Google’s ‘Most Searched For’ University Rankings

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Mon, 2014-09-29 02:08

by The Huffington Post UK

Google has revealed the most popular searches for universities from people across the globe – and the results were pretty unexpected. Compared to the typical university ranking system highlighting the ‘best of the best’ when it comes to higher education, the new Google ranking system gives us an indication of the universities that most people (including potential students) are searching for – as well as why this could be. The number one search? University of Phoenix, a US-based university with a plethora of online courses to choose from. The new rankings show that there’s a global interest in attending universities that can cater to those who want to learn online, rather than on campus. In third place sits the popular Open University, which also happens to be the top ranking uni in Europe on Google’s list.

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