eLearning and Technology

Four-day week will cut absences, superintendent says

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - 40 min 32 sec ago


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 - 40 min 32 sec ago


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.

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

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - 40 min 32 sec ago


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.

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

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - 40 min 32 sec ago


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 - 40 min 32 sec ago
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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

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.

http://www.ecampusnews.com/top-news/video-online-learning-991/

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Education: Online course allows early childhhood teacher to keep learning

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.

http://www.smh.com.au/business/education-online-course-allows-early-childhhood-teacher-to-keep-learning-20140811-101yeb.html

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Online college courses making the grade

by Paula Ann Mitchell, Daily Freeman

Not surprisingly, the number of colleges and universities offering online study, or distance learning, is growing. The website www.collegeatlas.org, 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.”

http://www.dailyfreeman.com/general-news/20140816/online-college-courses-making-the-grade

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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]

How 'Google Science' could transform academic publishing

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


Liat Clark, Wired, Aug 20, 2014

According to Wired, "Google is allegedly working on a free, open access platform for the research, collaboration and publishing of peer-reviewed scientific journals." Kent Anderson responds, "I recommend that you read the entire article. As a piece of journalism, though, it is irresponsible. You can see the author straining to make a story out of whispers. There is nothing to report here." What makes the rumour plausible is that it's the sort of thing Google would do, and if it desired, could do. That should set every academic publisher atremble.

[Link] [Comment]

Show Your Work

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Wed, 2014-08-20 20:40
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Donald Clark, Big Dog, Little Dog, Aug 20, 2014

Donald Clark reviews Jane Bozarth's Show Your Work, which, he says, "beautifully describes how we need to rethink teaching and learning." I am in agreement with be basic premise of Bozarth's argument: "training tacit knowledge and skills often fall short of delivering expert performance because it fails to place the learning in the context of workflow."

[Link] [Comment]

#unrules26 - Biologically, the necessary order of learning is: explore, then play, then add rigor.

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


Clark Aldrich, Unschooling Rules, Aug 20, 2014

As Clark Aldrich writes, "It is almost impossible not to believe play is absolutely essential to mastery." He continues, "the most successful academic use of 'play' is not, as one might expect, the extension of successful socializing and educational play from kindergarten to subsequent first and second grades... the closer to the point of the real use of content, and the more sophisticated the content, the more play is encouraged."

[Link] [Comment]

D2L raises $85 million but growth claims defy logic

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


Phil Hill, e-Literate, Aug 20, 2014

Criticism from some education pundits about D2L's (formerly Desire2Learn) growth claims. Phil Ho;ll looks at the numbers and writes: "That’ s a 29% growth in the number of institutions and a 50% growth in the number of learners in just one year. Quite impressive if accurate. Yet the company went  through a significant round of layoffs in late 2013  that let go more than 7% of its workforce, and according to both LinkedIn data and company statements they have had no significant growth in number of employees over the past year."

[Link] [Comment]

A Response to ‘OER and the Future of Publishing’

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


David Wiley, iterating toward openness, Aug 20, 2014

David Wiley has responded to Knewton CEO Jose Ferriera's article arguing that OER cannot effectively compete against the textbook industry. As  mentioned here before, Ferriera raises the old canards of quality and publishing values, but Wiley hits on the publishers' real value: exclusivity. "Publishers will never put OER at the core of their offerings, because open licensing – guaranteed nonexclusivity – is the antithesis of their entire industrial model." Meanwhile, Michael Feldstein  offers a critique similar to my own: "open resources don’ t  have to be supported through volunteerism. It is possible to build revenue models that can pay for their upkeep."

[Link] [Comment]

In Pictures

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


Chris Charuhas, In Pictures, Aug 20, 2014

From the website: "In Pictures tutorials are based on pictures, not words. They walk you through real-world scenarios, step-by-step. There's no complicated multimedia, just screenshots that show exactly what to do. And, the online tutorials are free! No fees, no charge, just click and start." Chris Charuhas writes, by email: "They were developed through a research study funded by the U.S. Dept. of Education. We've recently created many new tutorials, on Office 365 and Google Drive applications. Considering the rapid adoption of Google Apps in schools, this might be of interest to readers of your blog." Purists will complain that they're not Creative Commons licensed, but I see no strings attached to the free access and I see no reason why people can't simply link to them if they want to reuse them.

[Link] [Comment]

What makes a conference really irritating?

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


Sean Coughlan, BBC News, Aug 20, 2014

I've been to more conferences than most, probably (more than 300, anyways) so in addition to being exposed to a lot ideas and opinions about education and technology, I've also learned a lot about conferences themselves. Here's my advice on  how to get the most out of a conference. Anyhow, this list of conference irritants is pretty superficial, but it's worth reading the comments for a chuckle or two.

[Link] [Comment]

The Future of College?

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


Graeme Wood, The Atlantic, Aug 20, 2014

I studied the work of  Stephen M Kosslyn back when I was in graduate school. At the time, he was defending a sophisticated 'picture theory' model of mind against cognitivists such as Jerry Fodor and Xenon Pylyshyn (who argue it's all rules, representations and sentences). I had a lot more sympathy with Kosslyn (though I've since before more of an advocate of J.J. Gibson). Anyhow, this article profiles Minerva - "what sets it apart most jarringly from traditional universities, is a proprietary online platform developed to apply pedagogical practices that have been studied and vetted by ... Stephen M. Kosslyn, who joined Minerva in 2012." I haven't been following Kosslyn recently, but maybe I should have been. Though - frankly - I don't think the Minerva approach described in this article is not one I would support - small and expensive doesn't really do it for me.

[Link] [Comment]

One chart that debunks the biggest myth about student loans

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


Libby Nelson, Vox, Aug 20, 2014

OK, first of all, people don't actually believe that the average student loan debt is more than $50K, so the supposed 'myth' being busted here is a straw man. Second, by focusing on the average balance the article focuses only on the amount still owing, not the amount that has already been paid back. Finally, it includes both large and small loans in the same calculation, thus lumping together people who need a lot of support and people who don't - it's like taking rich people and poor people and averaging their incomes together, and then using the result to say poor people are not really poor. It's a terrible biased presentation created by a  conservative lobby group to understate the need for public education support and people in educational technology (you know who you are) should not be sharing this piece of tripe. Not, at least, without disclaimers.

[Link] [Comment]

Remote Learning: The Lay of the Land

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Wed, 2014-08-20 02:10

By Andrew Binstock, Dr. Dobb’s

If I were obliged to choose industries that are susceptible to significant disruption in the next few years, I would have to point to education as being the most obvious and most important. In a generation and a half, education has gone from being an expense that most families bore manageably or with some difficulty to an extraordinary cost that can plunge students and their parents into deep, long-lasting debt. Rather than being the path of upward mobility that it was for generations, education has evolved into the principal barrier between the wealthy and the rest of us. Education costs have risen far faster than inflation and can be accommodated mostly by parents who begin saving towards the expense the day their child is born. The current model cannot continue along its present trajectory. It is ripe for disruption, particularly in the programming field where developers are always partially self-taught and demonstrated skill, rather than coursework completion, is the defining hiring criterion.

http://www.drdobbs.com/tools/remote-learning-the-lay-of-the-land/240168860

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