news (external)

Carnegie Mellon professor: Better tech enables higher-quality online courses

by Pat Donachie, Education Dive

Carnegie Mellon University Professor Bob Monroe discussed in a recent interview with Education Dive how the largely-held perception that Massive Open Online Classes would replace the traditional college lecture was largely overblown. The result, of the introduction of MOOCs into the higher ed landscape has been subtler, with it becoming increasingly clear that online learning opportunities offer an “evolution” of classroom instruction which allows faculty members to create a unique classroom experience via an online platform. Monroe said many higher ed institutions are also incorporating more focused learning opportunities into shortened programs, and online instruction is opening the door for class discussions to go deeper as they unfold over the course of days, rather than be confined to a classroom schedule.

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Microsoft wants all of rural America to get high-speed broadband

by JON BRODKIN – Ars Technica

Microsoft wants to connect two million rural Americans to high-speed wireless broadband by 2022, and it will get started with 12 pilot projects over the next year. The company is also offering free access to its intellectual property to help the rest of rural America get connected. Microsoft isn’t planning to become an Internet service provider itself. Instead, the company will “invest in partnerships with telecommunications companies” building wireless networks using TV “white spaces” spectrum, Microsoft President Brad Smith wrote in a blog post yesterday. “We and our partners will have at least 12 projects up and running in 12 states in the next 12 months.” The 12 states are Arizona, Georgia, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, New York, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

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University of Minnesota should go all in with online learning

By Jack Uldrich, Minneapolis Star-Tribune

This would not be just about the school’s future but about the state’s. The alternative is a hollowing-out, faster than you might think. In short, a strong online presence could make accessing lifelong learning a real possibility for every Minnesotan. The plan is not without risk, but maintaining the status quo also contains significant risk. The choice before Minnesota is akin to the words of the great economist John Maynard Keynes. He said: “Worldly wisdom teaches that it is better for reputation to fail conventionally rather than to succeed unconventionally.” What will Minnesota choose? Should we do nothing and fail conventionally, or take a chance and risk succeeding unconventionally?

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Welt-Hepatitistag am 28.07.2017. Diesjähriges Motto: "NoHep - Für eine Welt ohne Hepatitis"

Gesundheitsberichterstattung - 4 hours 48 min ago
Ausgewählte Informationen zum Welt-Hepatitistag am 28.07.2017. Diesjähriges Motto: "NoHep - Für eine Welt ohne Hepatitis"
Categories: Science News

Beginning the  Conversation…A Made-in-Canada Approach  to Digital Government

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Thu, 2017-07-20 17:06

Government of Canada, Jul 20, 2017

Some of the key conversations taking place in our field are echoed in this report on digital government in Canada. Most of the interestinbg stuff is near the end of the document: connecting with external tralent ("mechanisms like  Interchange  and newer flexible staffing regimes make it relatively easy and fast for hiring managers to bring outside professionals into government for short-term assignments"), user-centric design skills ("  a skills gap that needs to be addressed in the public sector at the intersection of user-centric design and agile prototyping and development"), cloud and open source technologies ("open source platforms have become an increasingly important foundational element for digital transformation in public sector organizations across the world"), digital identity ("many participants expressed a desire for the federal government to play a stronger leadership role, and to pilot digital identity solutions"), and digital literacy ("digital literacy was identified as being needed across government, at all levels and functions, to support smart decision-making"). The resulting website - Digital Canada - keeps people up to date on the program (and incidentally leaves the antiquated 'Common Look and Feel (CLF)' standards in the dust behind it as through they weren't even there) and their Twitter feed.

[Link] [Comment]

Evaluating personalization

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Thu, 2017-07-20 16:34

Philip Kerr, Adaptive Learning in ELT, Jul 20, 2017

This post looks at "the constellation of meanings that are associated with the term ('personalization'), suggest a way of evaluating just how ‘ personalized’ an instructional method might be, and look at recent research into ‘ personalized learning’ ." It follows a previous post illustrating how the term has been rendered meaningless by marketers. Unfortunately, writes the author, "but perhaps not surprisingly, none of the elements that we associate with ‘ personalization’ will lead to clear, demonstrable learning gains." But  what counts as a gain? This is what is missing in the research. "The Gates Foundation were probably asking the wrong question. The conceptual elasticity of the term ‘ personalization’ makes its operationalization in any empirical study highly problematic."

[Link] [Comment]

Information Underload

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Thu, 2017-07-20 16:17

Mike Caulfield, Hapgood, Jul 20, 2017

Mike Caulfiend comes out with a gem of a post questioning the concept of 'information overload'. The problem isn't too much information, he writes. The "big problem is not that it’ s a firehose, but that it’ s a firehose of sewage. It’ s all haystack and no needle." He has numerous examples: numerous cancer studies, no cancer cure. Numerous research studies, no repoducability. Big data in education, but no idea where this data should lead us. An "algorithm could only match you with the equivalent of the films in the Walmart bargain bin, because Netflix had a matching algorithm but  nothing worth watching." I keep telling people, 'education isn't a search problem'. Maybe I should be saying 'education isn't an algorithm problem'.

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Personalized Learning: Budget cuts spur new teaching model

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Thu, 2017-07-20 16:06

Sarah Julian, NonDoc, Jul 20, 2017

This is a post touting  Momentum Schools, Oklahoma's version of personal learning. "Momentum gives students the choice of how, when and where they attend school [and]    instead of traditional group class time, students schedule meetings with individual teachers to assess schoolwork. Students work at their own pace to ensure they master the content." Doing what? I wonder. The story doesn't tell us. Digging into the Momentum site reveals it's competency-based learning.  We see pictures of students at computers, so I can guess. And the  reason  this model was adopted was to save money, so they're cutting teacher interacton. And I don't see any real  freedom  in this model: students are bound to the content, bound to the machine.

[Link] [Comment]

Here (with 2 Years of Exhausting Photographic Detail) Is How To Write A Book

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Thu, 2017-07-20 15:45

Ryan Holiday, The Mission, Medium, Jul 20, 2017

This is a terrific post delivering exactly what the title promises, running from ideation, proposal, research, writing and editing, and even cover design and legal review. The value of the post isn't in giving aspiring writers a recipe they should follow - indeed, the method is completely paper-based and therefore more cumbersome than necessary. But it offers valuable suggestions about process, for example, the notecard system, which is very similar to what I do here with OLDaily (each one of these posts is like a separate notecard). It's something to show students to have them think about the process of knowing, the process of learning, the process of creating.

[Link] [Comment]

Are smartphones in class a problem or an opportunity?

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Thu, 2017-07-20 02:10


As one high school teacher put it in an Atlantic magazine article on this subject last year, “If educators do not find ways to leverage mobile technology in all learning environments, for all students, then we are failing our kids by not adequately preparing them to make the connection between their world outside of school and their world inside school.” The bottom line is that, while smartphones in school can be a distraction, they can also pave the way to better, more efficient use of educational resources. It is up to us as adults to harness their power for good instead of just bemoaning their power to distract.

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Online Course Discussion Boards: What to Expect

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Thu, 2017-07-20 02:05

By Bradley Fuster, US News

Online faculty assign discussion board questions because there is an overwhelming amount of research saying students deeply learn and grow through frequent conversations and debates on salient academic topics. Researchers say the online forum promotes deeper engagement with subject matter and gives a voice to those feeling stigmatized. Online discussions are a great way to think deeply about content by sharing ideas with classmates. In a post-first discussion, students can offer opinions free from the influence of classmates. Be bold, state and defend what you think, and you will enhance your learning experience.

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FAMU seeks millions to invest in STEM faculty, online technology upgrades

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Thu, 2017-07-20 02:03

by Byron Dobson , Tallahassee Democrat

Florida A&M University is seeking more than $24 million from the state in its education budget next year, with most of the money directed at hiring faculty and support staff, strengthening its academic portfolio and advancing online education. Of that, more than $7 million is needed for technology improvements throughout the campus, while another $1.3 million is needed for upgrades at the 3,800-acre agricultural research campus in Brooksville it inherited from the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2015. The legislative budget requests call for a combination of one-time funding and money FAMU needs annually.

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America’s hidden philosophy

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Wed, 2017-07-19 19:05

John McCumber, Aeon, Jul 19, 2017

This article offers what could be an interesting explanation for the state of educational policy and while I can't say I necessarily agree with it I can't entirely dismiss it either. It tells the story of UCLA  chancellor Raymond B Allen, who needed a reason to fire some Marxist professors during the McCarthy years. The argument he developed was that "members of the Communist Party have abandoned reason, the impartial search for truth." But what would 'reason' look like in this (capitalist) context? "Rational choice theory... was a plausible candidate. It holds that people make (or should make) choices rationally by ranking the alternatives presented to them."

The article doesn't extend the explanation to education policy, but I feel free to. It offers an explanation of the focus on STEM, as opposed to the non-rational theory-based disciplines in the humanities and social sciences. It explains the phenomenon of 'school choice' as an argument for privatizing schools. It explains  the popularity of 'evidence-based' practice measuring concrete outcomes such as test scores. And it explains  the rejection of 'social good' as an outcome in education. But as the article says, "  there is much more to a good society than the affordance of maximum choice to its citizens." And indeed, offering  choice  (as compared to allowing people to  create) is itself a mechanism of control.

[Link] [Comment]

Stunning market data predicts the future of online learning

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Wed, 2017-07-19 17:39

Meris Stansbury, eCampus News, Jul 19, 2017

I'm not sure how "stunning" the data are, nor do I thing the prediction is particularly specific. Still. The trend is worth observing - "a year-to-year online enrollment increase of 226,375 distance education students– a 3.9 percent increase, up over rates recorded the previous two years" and "more than one in four students (29.7 percent) now take at least one distance education course (a total of 6,022,105 students)." So, yeah. Online learning has arrived. P.S. don't bother with the infographic, which is just an advertisement for a cloud e-learning company.

[Link] [Comment]

'Personalized Learning' and the Power of the Gates Foundation to Shape Education Policy

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Wed, 2017-07-19 17:32

Audrey  Wayters, Hack Education, Jul 19, 2017

What struck me in this post was this: "The amount of money that the Gates Foundation has awarded in education grants is simply staggering: some  $15 billion  across some  3000+ grants  since the organization was founded in 1998." And so Audrey Watters comments, "the Gates Foundation remains one of the most influential (and anti-democratic) forces in education. As such, it gets to define what 'personalized learning' is – what it looks like." Maybe. Or maybe not. Some of us  not  funded by Gates still have a horse in this race. 

[Link] [Comment]

Armenian Higher Education in the European Higher Education Area

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Wed, 2017-07-19 17:21

Tatevik Gharibyan, Inside Higher  Ed, Jul 19, 2017

This is an update of Armenia's education strategy in the years after it joined "the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) and the Bologna Process by signing the Bergen Communiqué in 2005." Armenia - which I visited in 2014 - is a small country with few natural resources (though you can get pomogranates everywhere) and thus depends on developing its 3 million people and attracting students (and ideas) from neighbouring countries. 

[Link] [Comment]

A new chapter for Glass

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Wed, 2017-07-19 17:10

Jay Kothari, X Company Blog, Jul 19, 2017

They're back! Google has relaunched Google Glass with Glass Enterprise Edition. As a fashion statement Glass was a failure, but the technology proved useful in the workplace. "Workers in many fields, like manufacturing, logistics, field services, and healthcare find it useful to consult a wearable device for information and other resources while their hands are busy." This is a use case that really makes sense, and would make even more sense with voice commands (there's no mention of this in the article). It's also a natural for on-demand context-specific e-learning. (As an aside, I find it interesting that the team at X.Company, which is a branch of Google/Alphabet, is using Medium as a blogging engine instead of  Google-owned Blogger.)

[Link] [Comment]

Amazon Inspire

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Wed, 2017-07-19 16:53

Amazon, Jul 19, 2017

As the EdSurge article says, "After more than a year of invitation-only private beta, Amazon just opened its free library of open-education resources, called  Amazon Inspire." You can't post your own resources on the site yet - but a statement from Amazon says this feature is coming soon. While site  calls  these open education resources, they are locked behind a subscription wall - they may be free, but you have to login to Amazon in order to view them, providing your name and email, zip code, the name of your school and the grades you teach, thus giving them your browsing and download information. This will be especially useful to Amazon when they include the non-free for-pay resources to the site. The site currently includes public domain and Creative Commons resources,  including  Non-commercial licensed resources, like this one.

[Link] [Comment]

Facebook Says It Will Start Testing a Subscription-Based News Product in October

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Wed, 2017-07-19 16:35

David Cohen, AdWeek, Jul 19, 2017

I have to believe that Facebook will be a lot more diligent about policing 'pirated' news content in user posts and groups than it ever was abusive content and   fake news. Because combating unauthorized file sharing is the  real  crisis we all face today. What I have noticed in general is that newspapers and magazine websites have begun to clamp down again with subscription paywalls, anti-ad-block barriers, and more. If I encounter one of those I just close the tab. And I do my very best to keep such links from appearing in OLDaily.

[Link] [Comment]

A conversation with Yale University Nobel Prize winner Robert Shiller

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Wed, 2017-07-19 02:07

by Coursera Blog

Robert Shiller, who won the 2013 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences, is the instructor of Financial Markets, one of the most popular courses on Coursera. Broadly, I think that the internet age is a fundamental revolution in our society, and I want to see it work. I think that the kind of education that used to be reserved for a few people at elite colleges should be shared around the world, and I’m happy to be a part of that. In terms of my course specifically, after I received the Nobel Prize, I had the opportunity to think about my role as an academic and what I could do to support others in the field. I realized that the Coursera platform could help me reach thousands of learners and give back to the community by sharing my knowledge. So, in February 2014, I partnered with administrators at Yale to launch the Coursera Financial Markets course.

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