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The future of technology in adult learning

by the Inquirer

No matter how far we progress in formal education, there is always a point at which taught learning becomes optional. With adulthood comes the agency to decide when school or university learning will end. While professional development can mean acquiring new skills, we generally reach a critical point where the frequency with which we learn new information and disciplines slows down. The growth of the e-learning technology market was predicted to reach $51 billion (around £36 billion) by 2016. This could revolutionise how, when, and where we learn and enable adults to achieve more than ever before.

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Free Online Zika Virus Course Teaches You What You Need To Know


ALISON, the global free learning pioneer has launched a free course entitled “Zika Virus – What you need to know”. The course has been developed by ALISON Pedagogic experts within the guidance issued by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the US-based Centre for Disease Control (CDC). The course highlights the virus origins, how people become infected by it, its impact, and how to minimize your risk of acquiring the virus. WHO estimates that over one million Brazilians are now infected with the virus and that it will inevitably spread to North America. Mike Feerick, Founder & CEO of ALISON, stated, “Free Online Learning via ALISON is well placed to assist in developing public awareness of the risks of the Zika Virus. Our success of educating communities in West Africa about EBOLA tells us just how important our role can be.”

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Blended Learning: The Future Of Higher Education?

by Nick Morrison, Forbes

Universities have long been wrestling with the internet. On the one hand it represents a huge opportunity, in the shape of an enormous resource and new methods of delivery; on the other it represents a huge threat, in the shape of an enormous resource and new methods of delivery. But a pilot program at one of the world’s top universities is providing evidence that blended learning could be the future of higher education. Starting last semester, undergraduates in the engineering faculty at Imperial College London have been taking online business courses. While online courses are nothing new, the idea of delivering them to students who are physically present in the university is unusual.

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Extending a little thought experiment

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Fri, 2016-02-05 22:56

David T. Jones, The Weblog of (a) David Jones, Feb 05, 2016

At what point does something personal - like writing a nice note to congratulate someone - become something impersonal - like writing a script that automatically selects and congratulates people. David Wiley poses this question in a  thought experiment and David T. Jones carries the discussion a bit further. What if it isn't a congratulatory note, but something that sends a note asking people who have stalled whether they need any help? And, ultimately, "What about the apparently holy grail of many to automate the teacher out of the learning experience? Are we fearful that technology will replace teachers? Can technology replace teachers?" Image: PC Mag.

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Vancouver’s Just10 launches privacy oriented, ad free social network

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Fri, 2016-02-05 22:56

Terry Dawes, CanTech Letter, Feb 05, 2016

I'm thinking 'no' but I still want to send this along, because the service might succeed after all. "Vancouver-based Just10 has unveiled a new social network that promises to be ad free, to never track your movements for selling to third-party marketers, and to emphasize privacy through end-to-end encryption." The catch? You only get to have 10 friends.

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On Old School Social Bookmarking

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Fri, 2016-02-05 22:56

Alan Levine, CogDogBlog, Feb 05, 2016

Interesting look back at what we used to call 'social bookmarking' - that's where you record the URLs of interesting links and then 'tag' them with meaningful (to you) words and phrases. These bookmarks could be shared, or searched by tag, which made an excellent discovery tool. As Alan Levine notes, it seems to have become less popular. "It’ s one of those brilliant ideas that still make tons of sense yet never really caught on beyond the people who can get compulsive about tagging," he writes. Maybe. But I think what's missing is on the 'read' end - there's no really good way to read what people have found. We depend on things like Twitter and Facebook, and these really deaden the experience.

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Why kids — now more than ever — need to learn philosophy. Yes, philosophy.

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Fri, 2016-02-05 19:56

Valerie Strauss, Washington Post, Feb 05, 2016

If you read this more closely (like a philosopher would) you can see that what Valerie Strauss really means here is that kids should be taught how to reason more effectively. "The teacher’ s job is to guide and inform student inquiries, helping them pay attention to the quality of their reasoning, and making sure they realize they’ re meeting on terms of equality and mutual respect." This is a far larger endeavour than it sounds, as effective reasoning isn't simply a matter of memorizing some logical forms and fallacies. And while it is laudable to encourage kids to become better citizens, it's not clear exactly what that means - should they question assumptions, as Strauss suggests, or simply accept some things as fact, as many leaders suggest? And what is a better  citizen anyways?

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LearningStudio and OpenClass End-Of-Life: Pearson is getting out of LMS market

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Fri, 2016-02-05 01:53

Phil Hill, e-Literate, Feb 04, 2016

With Pearson getting out of the LMS market, writes Hill, " there will now be more than 100 LMS changes triggered by this announcement... there are still some very large online programs that now have to select a new LMS." But maybe this is a good point for them to pause and think about whether they need to run a learning management system at all. Pearson says, "we believe our learning applications and services are truly 'where the learning happens.'" That's a bit misleading (and anyways, learning happens in the human brain) but the point is sound: you could remove most of the infrastructure of an LMS, and still support learning. See also Inside Higher Ed.

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Searching for the Algorithms Underlying Life

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Fri, 2016-02-05 01:53

John Pavlas, Quanta Magazine, Feb 04, 2016

I've also come to think there's probably one algorithm underlying perception, evolution, thought and consciousness. Here's how it's represented here: "Valiant’ s self-stated goal is to find 'mathematical definitions of learning and evolution which can address all ways in which information can get into systems.' If successful, the resulting 'theory of everything' — a phrase Valiant himself uses, only half-jokingly — would literally fuse life science and computer science together." Or, at least, one family of algorithms (or, whatever comes after algorithms).

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There’s a lot we’re not learning when we try to learn online

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Fri, 2016-02-05 01:10

by Amy X. Wang, Quartz

Online learning, in 2016, is no longer the cautious experiment it once was. Universities all over the world are warming up to the idea of internet-based degree programs, while free online education—popularly offered in the form of massive open online courses, or MOOCs—remains a booming area. There are obvious benefits: Online courses are accessible to anyone with a computer, (usually) cheaper than a brick-and-mortar education, and can be helpful to those who are in the middle of their careers or have other full-time commitments. But e-learning is still lacking in certain key areas. One of its drawbacks is a heavy skew toward certain subjects—a problem that results not from uneven offerings, but from a lopsided modern mindset about the role of education, and the inherent pitfalls of trying to learn from the internet in the first place.

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Build More Collaboration into Your Online Class

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Fri, 2016-02-05 01:04

By Travis Grandy, Inside Higher Ed

As I build my course in preparation for this summer, one of the challenges I anticipate is how I can create similar kinds of active learning experiences for students without the benefit of in-person meetings. This started my thought process about ways to foreground collaboration in an online class. Today, my post will discuss some approaches to designing online activities that promote active learning and team-building skills. Although I’ll focus on some example activities intended for an online class, they can also be adapted for blended classes as well. What follows are a few activities that I’ll be working to adapt for my online class. Hopefully they’ll give you some ideas too!

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WOW! Flipkart Hires Without Interviews Based on Nanodegree Projects and Udacity Profiles

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Fri, 2016-02-05 01:03


This is surely a big leap forward and a positive one at that. According to reports, Flipkart has started hiring fresh graduates based on the capabilities they have built through Udacity’s Nanodegree Programs. And yes, these graduates did not have to face any in-person interviews. This move clearly shows that Indian companies (especially startups) are open to move away from traditional hiring methods and are looking at people who are building their expertise through online education portals like Udacity! Peeyush Ranjan, CTO at Flipkart said, “The kind of disruptive work that we do at Flipkart demands a world-class talent pool and we are constantly on the lookout for experts who can solve the problems of Indian consumers. The conventional hiring process often comes down to the performance of the candidate on that specific day, which may not be a true reflection of their skills and temperament. This is where a partner like Udacity comes into the picture.”

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To Taste - Fri, 2016-02-05 01:00
Categories: Cartoons, Science News

The only way is ethics

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Thu, 2016-02-04 04:52

Miles Berry, An Open Mind, Feb 03, 2016

I agree that we need to pay attention to ethics when we teach. But as someone who has taught ethics in college and university, I am acutely aware of the fact that there is not one, but many, approaches to ethics. Which one should prevail? let me illustrate with a case in point. Miles Berry advises, "Honesty, integrity and truthfulness... surely should form part of any ethical approach to computing education.... If pupils sign up for online services, they shouldn’ t lie about their age or identity..." Really? Are we behaving ethically if we teach children to respond honestly to what we know are dishonest online services? Perhaps an approach based in reciprocity might be more ethical: treat online services with as much respect as they show for you (which, admittedly, isn't much). I think, as an educator, that it is far preferable to encourage students to think about ethics, and to make wise choices. Image: BeaverOnline.


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Workplace Learning-and-Performance -- Four Responsibilities Initiative!

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Thu, 2016-02-04 04:52

Will Thalheimer, Will at Work Learning, Feb 03, 2016

The concept of the 'four responsibilities' is intuitively right and I think serves as a good corrective against approaches that focus exclusively on the client (at the expense of the learner) and vice versa. The responsibilities are, respectively: to the client, to the learners, to peers, and to oneself. So far so good. It makes me think of the multiple value propositions I need to balance in my own work. But the definition of the four responsibilities is followed by an absolutely cheesy  questionnaire that is frankly an insult to the reader (I score '5' in all dimensions, of course). These authors can do much better than this.

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The Giant Zero

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Thu, 2016-02-04 04:52

Doc Searles, Doc Searls Weblog, Feb 03, 2016

Doc Searles has come up with a new metaphor to say many of the same things he's been saying for a number of years now. But it's a good metaphor and there's a really nice bit in the middle of the article where he talks about the different frames we use to talk about the internet - the transport frame, the real estate frame, the publishing frame, etc - and some of the implications using these frames has with regard to our intuitions. "All of them," writes Searles, "mislead us into thinking the Giant Zero is other than what it is: a place without distance, and lots of challenges and opportunities that arise from its lack of distance."

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Can students’ online posts guide instructor intervention?

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Thu, 2016-02-04 01:10

By Laura Devaney, eCampusNews

A partnership between two universities seeks to predict where students will struggle academically to help better inform instructor strategies. A method of analyzing what students post in academic forums, and using those posts to help instructors identify where students are struggling most with reading materials, could help improve learning and instruction. Researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) and MIT are using a new method to analyze students’ online academic forum posts to predict questions so teachers can intervene.

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Big Data, Jobs, Mobile To Drive EdTech In 2016, Predict MOOC Company Chiefs

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Thu, 2016-02-04 01:05

by Seb Murray, Business Because

Business Because speaks to executives of edX, Coursera, Udacity, FutureLearn and ALISON to get their predictions for how online learning will be shaped in 2016. Anant Agarwal, CEO of edX, says that employers and universities will increasingly accept certificates for Mooc courses. Udacity is so confident it can find users jobs that it is guaranteeing them placement, or will refund their tuition. Vish Makhijani, COO of Udacity, says “For us, helping people learn so they can advance their careers is the cornerstone of online education.” Julia Stiglitz, director of business development and international at Coursera, which has 17 million users, anticipates rapid growth in mobile and tablet learning.

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Why Female Professors Get Lower Ratings

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Thu, 2016-02-04 01:02


Anne Boring, an economist and the lead author of the paper, was hired by her university in Paris, Sciences Po, to conduct quantitative analysis of gender bias. Through her conversations with instructors and students, she became suspicious of what she calls “double standards” applying to male and female instructors. Philip Stark, associate dean of the Division of Mathematical and Physical Sciences at the University of California, Berkeley, is a co-author of the paper along with Kellie Ottoboni. “Trying to adjust for the bias to make SET ‘fair’ is hopeless,” says Stark, “(even if they measured effectiveness, and there’s lots of evidence that they don’t).” Boring acknowledges that “SETs can contain some information that can be valuable.” But, she adds, they are too biased to be used in a high-stakes way as a measure of teacher effectiveness.

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From ACT to Acts

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Wed, 2016-02-03 19:47

Will Richardson, Read Write Connect Learn, Feb 03, 2016

This is a brief commentary on a recent report (32 page PDF) discussing how admissions officers should adapt to support more quality community engagement and less emphasis on simply counting accomplishments. As Richardson summarizes, "stop putting so much emphasis on AP classes and SAT scores and, instead, encourage kids to do meaningful, sustained good work in their communities and families." Sponsored by Harvard's School of Education, the report suggests that "College admissions can send compelling messages that both ethical engagement - especially concern for others and - the common good - and intellectual engagement are highly important."That sounds nice, but I guess I'd rather see these universities leading by example.

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