eLearning and Technology

E-Library of Research Materials Bulks Up Literature Collection

By Michael Hart, Campus Technologies

Academic online database Researchomatic has added 20,000 new literature topics to its collection of nearly 4 million topics across a wide range of academic fields. Researchomatic.com is an e-library of essays, articles and research papers intended to help high school and college students as they prepare their own academic assignments. Students can search its database for specific topics. They will get multiple summaries of a few hundred words each on the topic they select. They can also copy and paste citation information that attributes the information to Researchomatic.com.

http://campustechnology.com/articles/2014/10/22/elibrary-of-research-materials-bulks-up-literature-collection.aspx

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10 ways ed-tech tools promote academic honesty

By Andy Trus, eCampus News

Online assessment expert shares academic tools and resources for educators to prevent student plagiarism and promote academic-honesty. Going to the web for teaching and learning doesn’t have to be the den of student cheating (intentional or not) as some make it out to be. In fact, online tools–if you know how to choose and implement them–can promote academic honesty at whole new level. The internet empowers students with readily available means to compare answers, use outside resources, and look up answers to their online assignments and exams. With answers literally at their fingertips, instructors using ed-tech tools are often challenged with maintaining their students’ academic honesty.

http://www.ecampusnews.com/top-news/tech-academic-honesty-329/

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Harvard creates ‘Big Data’ course for social innovators

By Marquis Cabrera, eCampus News

Harvard created a new course that started this semester–Data Science in Education: Big Data, Learning Analytics and the Information Age–with the intention to teach educators and social innovators the basics of big data. Which is critical, since big data has the ability to improve the provision of public services, enable governments to spend taxpayers’ monies more efficiently, and advance societies forward. However, before these innovations can happen, most in the field still need this basic question answered:”What exactly is BIG data?”

http://www.ecampusnews.com/top-news/harvard-data-course-320/

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What Happened To Women In Computer Science?

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Fri, 2014-10-31 22:29


Steve Henn, NPR, Oct 31, 2014

It's worth looking at this phenomenon.  When I worked in computing in 1980 half the staff were women. "For decades, the number of women studying computer science was growing faster than the number of men. But in 1984, something changed. The percentage of women in computer science flattened, and then plunged." What happened? asks NPR. Well, many things. But mostly this: " The share of women in computer science started falling at roughly the same moment when personal computers started showing up in U.S. homes in significant numbers... marketed almost entirely to men and boys. This idea that computers are for boys became a narrative. It became the story we told ourselves about the computing revolution. It helped define who geeks were, and it created techie culture." Today, 20 years later, we reap the fruits of a dysfunctional misogynistic culture (p.s. don't bother with the comments unless you want to be depressed all over again).

[Link] [Comment]

The grassroots of learning

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Fri, 2014-10-31 22:29


Ryan Tracey, E-Learning Provocateur, Oct 31, 2014

Good article looking at 'the earlier Cormier' and 'the later Cormier' on the subject of rhizomatic learning. Me, I'm not so sure that what Dave Cormier had in mind was the idea of following link to link to link - but he is in a better position to correct (or not) the author on this. At any rate, the post was engaging, which is good enough for me. P.S. don't miss the comments, beginning with Crispin Weston's criticism of the concept of content and of the dynamics behind group formation (good, informed comment, well worth the price of admission).

[Link] [Comment]

Competency-Based Education: No More Semesters?

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Fri, 2014-10-31 22:29
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Anya Kamenetz, NPR Ed, Oct 31, 2014

OK, back in 1998 I  said that time would no longer be used as a measure of learning, "that time in online learning ceases to be an objective standard." I said things like "learning will be measured by the amount of information accumulated, not the amount of time spent in a chair" (I was less precise back then). Though I  supported such things as prior learning assessments I've never been keen on competencies. I learned working directly with teachers (eg. at the Brandon Adult Learning centre) that you can't just break down course content into a bunch of modules; more global variables come into play as well, and are captured by such artifacts as the term paper. Now where does that go on the test? Now in our current work we're deloping algorithms to detect competencies in expert performance. One perfectly acceptable result to me here is the null result, that is, a result showing that expert performance cannot be reduced to a set of necessary and sufficient competencies.

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3rd Meeting of OERu partners

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Fri, 2014-10-31 10:28
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Various authors, OERu, Oct 31, 2014

If I were one of those people who reads the tea leaves, I would say OERu and WikiEducator are heading for a split. Why? Here's the text of the email I received today from OERu: "The OERu is a flagship initiative of the OER Foundation and we are proud to host our planning and course development on WikiEducator as our preferred platform." Up to this point, in all previous correspondance, the two were basically synonymous. But now WikiEducator has been demoted to "preferred platform." Coincidence? Well, like I said, if I were to read tea leaves... but, ah, of course, I don't. So this is nothing more than a link to the event advertised in the email, the 3rd Meeting of OERu partners (register as a  remote participant here).

[Link] [Comment]

Northern Arizona U Expands Competency-Based Degree Options

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Fri, 2014-10-31 01:10

By Joshua Bolkan, Campus Technology

Northern Arizona University (NAU) has added bachelor of science options to its online, competency-based personalized learning degree offerings. “Personalized learning’s online competency-based education model allows students to earn their degrees based on what they know,” according to a news release. “Students develop key skills and knowledge areas called competencies and earn credit by demonstrating how well they understand each competency, not from how much time they spend in class.” Previously, NAU only offered bachelor of arts degrees in computer information technology, liberal arts and small business administration. Those same programs are now available as BS degrees. In addition to earning credits for what they already know, the self-paced programs allow students to transfer credits from other institutions and pay a flat six-month subscription fee rather than paying by the credit.

http://campustechnology.com/articles/2014/10/21/northern-arizona-u-expands-competency-based-degree-options.aspx

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Flipping the Traditional Lecture Hall

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Fri, 2014-10-31 01:04

By Michael Hart, Campus Technology

There’s no question that the flipped classroom model has become all the rage at colleges and universities across the country. In fact, in the most recent Horizon Report, the New Media Consortium (NMC) called the flipped classroom one of the most important emerging trends in educational technology for higher education, noting, “The model is becoming increasingly popular in higher education institutions because of how it rearranges face-to-face instruction for professors and students, creating a more efficient and enriching use of class time.” Yet with all the flipped classroom’s potential for active, collaborative learning and increased interaction between professors and students, there’s still one bastion of higher education that has resisted the trend: the large lecture course. Columbia University is experimenting with the flipped classroom model in large lecture courses.

http://campustechnology.com/articles/2014/10/22/flipping-the-lecture-hall.aspx

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Cheating, plagiarism persist as current academic concerns

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Fri, 2014-10-31 01:02

by Michael Papich, Elon Pendulum

Cheating and plagiarism sit at the top of honor code concerns at Elon University and at most schools. But as the technology around teaching and the professional world change, the need to reassess the climate of unethical behavior arises. “It’s one of the things that’s so basic, we forget to talk about it,” said George Padgett, associate professor of communications. One of the main changes to classrooms in the past few years has been the popularization of online courses. In an environment where a professor and a student cannot see one another, professors have different takes on whether this makes cheating more or less likely.

http://www.elonpendulum.com/2014/10/cheating-plagiarism-persist-current-academic-concerns/

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Fitch: Online Learning Here to Stay for Higher Education

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Thu, 2014-10-30 01:10

by Fitch Ratings

Online learning as a means of educational delivery continues to expand throughout higher education. ‘While much of the media intensity surrounding the earlier days of MOOCs appears to have subsided, online learning in general remains an increasing component of educational delivery and at the forefront of the higher education dialogue nationally,’ said Colin Walsh, Director at Fitch. Fitch expects the growth of online courses to continue as more and more students, parents, faculty, and administrators embrace online learning as a means to supplement the traditional face-to-face learning environment. Institutions view online programs as a potential revenue generator by augmenting existing enrollment levels or offsetting enrollment declines in certain degree programs.

http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20141022006307/en/Fitch-Online-Learning-Stay-Higher-Education#.VEkcuPl4r2s

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Berklee College hits the high notes as other colleges fall out of tune

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Thu, 2014-10-30 01:05

by Craig Douglas, Boston Business Journal

Berklee’s expansion has many drivers, some rooted in its traditional on-campus operations and others that are more entrepreneurial in nature. Together they have solidified Berklee’s enrollment and boosted its student residency numbers to record highs in the current fall semester. This September, Berklee broadened its enrollment reach with the launch of its first-ever online degrees in music business and music production. Chief Financial Officer Mac Hisey said the programs have around 240 students today and are on track to exceed expectations with approximately 300 enrollees by year end. The degree programs were targeted to enroll only 250 students in this first year and augment Berklee’s already 10,000-strong population of students taking courses online. “It’s actually expanding our demographic,” he said.

http://www.bizjournals.com/boston/blog/mass_roundup/2014/10/berklee-college-hits-the-high-notes.html

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The Role of Interactivity in Student Satisfaction and Persistence in Online Learning

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Thu, 2014-10-30 01:02

by Rebecca A. Croxton, JOLT

Enrollment in online courses is rapidly increasing and attrition rates remain high. This paper presents a literature review addressing the role of interactivity in student satisfaction and persistence in online learning. Empirical literature was reviewed through the lens of Bandura’s social cognitive theory, Anderson’s interaction equivalency theorem, and Tinto’s social integration theory. Findings suggest that interactivity is an important component of satisfaction and persistence for online learners, and that preferences for types of online interactivity vary according to type of learner. Student–instructor interaction was also noted to be a primary variable in online student satisfaction and persistence.

http://jolt.merlot.org/vol10no2/croxton_0614.pdf

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Online Ed Skepticism and Self-Sufficiency: Survey of Faculty Views on Technology

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Wed, 2014-10-29 11:57

By Carl Straumsheim, Inside Higher Ed

Gallup surveyed 2,799 faculty members and 288 academic technology administrators this August and September on issues identified by Inside Higher Ed. Virtually all faculty members and technology administrators say meaningful student-teacher interaction is a hallmark of a quality online education, and that it is missing from most online courses. A majority of faculty members with online teaching experience still say those courses produce results inferior to in-person courses.

https://www.insidehighered.com/news/survey/online-ed-skepticism-and-self-sufficiency-survey-faculty-views-technology

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Use of Synchronous Virtual Classrooms: Why, Who, and How?

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Wed, 2014-10-29 01:07

by Florence Martin & Michele A. Parker, JOLT

Virtual classrooms allow students and instructors to communicate synchronously using features such as audio, video, text chat, interactive whiteboard, and application sharing. The purpose of the study reported in this paper was to identify why instructors adopt synchronous virtual classrooms and how they use them after their adoption. An electronic survey was administered asking instructors from various institutions to describe their experience adopting a synchronous virtual classroom in either a blended or online course. In describing their reasons for adopting the technology, respondents most frequently cited institutional resource availability, increasing social presence, enhancing student learning, and the availability of technology. Along with audio chat, the features that most influenced the adoption of virtual classrooms and were used most frequently by respondents were the ability to archive conference sessions, see participants through webcams, and use text-based chat interfaces.

http://jolt.merlot.org/vol10no2/martin_0614.pdf

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More Mooc Developers Disrupt Business Education With Paid-For Courses

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Wed, 2014-10-29 01:06

by Seb Murray, Business Because

Coursera became the latest learning technology company to expand further into the fee-paying market with a series of programs similar to Moocs – massive online open courses – that are disrupting the business education market. Coursera launched 18 new Specializations last week – a sequence of online courses that students study through distance learning, an addition to the first batch announced in January. Significantly, the tech company will allow students to complete a real-life project and purchase a certificate to show to prospective employers. This move into vocational learning further encroaches into the territory of business schools, which already have to compete with Moocs in business-related subjects. Coursera rival edX announced plans to launch a series of short paid-for executive courses earlier this month that have been developed by leading universities.

http://www.businessbecause.com/news/mba-distance-learning/2864/more-moocs-disrupt-business-education-with-paid-for-courses

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Wake Forest Ending the Traditional MBA

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Wed, 2014-10-29 01:02

By Kaitlin Mulhere, Inside Higher Ed

After five years of declining enrollment in its traditional M.B.A. program, Wake Forest University is shifting gears to focus on an area where it sees greater demand — those M.B.A. seekers who want to earn a paycheck while studying. Starting next year, Wake Forest will no longer accept applications for a traditional, daytime M.B.A. program at its Winston-Salem campus. In the past five years, enrollment in the university’s traditional M.B.A. program has dropped from 123 to 98. At the same time, enrollment in the M.B.A. for working professionals program — which offers year-round evening and weekend classes — has grown from 242 to 304. The number of online and hybrid MBA degrees has grown in the past several years, and so has wider acceptance of such programs. Some top business schools now offer online programs in addition to their traditional programs. Many business schools have also launched or grown their programs for part-timers.

https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2014/10/23/wake-forest-drop-traditional-mba-program

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What I’ve learned in my first week of a dual-layer MOOC (DALMOOC)

elearnspace by George Siemens - Tue, 2014-10-28 19:53

This last week we launched our open course on Data, Analytics, and Learning on edX. The course is structured in a dual layer model, an approach that Matt Crosslin has nicely articulated. We have 20,000 registered students, with 32% having actually logged in and taken part in the course. 180 countries are represented, with the top being US, India, and UK, representing 25%, 11%, and 4% of students.

I’ve run numerous MOOCs over the past six years. I’ve used a range of platforms, including Moodle, D2L, Canvas, Drupal, Downes’ gRSShopper, and others. In the process, I’ve used roughly any tool I can get my hands on, including Second Life, Twitter, Facebook, G+, Netvibes, blogs, Wikispaces, Diigo, and so on. The largest group of learners in a course that i have run is ~5,000. The current course on edX is unique in the number of learners involved and in the dual-layer approach. Our goal was to enable learners to select either a formal structured pathway and a self-directed “learner in control” pathway.

I’m biased toward learners owning their own content and owning the spaces where they learn. My reason is simple: knowledge institutions mirror the architecture of knowledge in the era in which they exist. Today, knowledge is diverse, messy, partial, complex, and rapidly changing. What learners need today is not instructivism but rather a process of personal sensemaking and wayfinding where they learn to identify what is important, what matters, and what can be ignored. Most courses assume that the instructor and designer should sensemake for learners. The instructor chooses the important pieces, sets it in a structured path, and feeds content to learners. Essentially, in this model, we take away the sweet spot of learning. Making sense of topic areas through social and exploratory processes is the heart of learning needs in complex knowledge environments.

Though I am biased toward learner-in-control, I do recognize the value of formal instruction, particularly when the topic area is new to a learner. Even then, I would like to see rapid transitions from content provision to having learners create artifacts that reflect their understanding. These artifacts can be images, audio, video, simulations, blog posts, or any other resource that can be created and shared with other learners. Learning transparently is an act of teaching.

My reflections after week one of DALMOOC:

1. The first few weeks are identical to any other MOOC I’ve run. It’s chaos. Learners are unsure about how to position themselves in relation to the content and the interaction spaces. This is a critical sensemaking and wayfinding process. In a MOOC, we not only learn content, but we also learn the metcognitive processes and digital space markers that enable us to be active participants. This can be stressful for learners.

2. Learners really, really like content. I view content to be as much a by-product of the learning process as a pre-requisite. Lectures can be helpful in framing a topic. What is important though, is that learners create artifacts. An artifact represents how we understand something and then allows others to provide us feedback and shape, fact-check, and refine our thinking (have a look at a Private Universe – a detailed account of what happens when students only answer questions we ask rather than create artifacts that reflect how they understand a topic area).

3. There seems to be a growing number of professional learners in formal platforms (edX & Coursera). These learners have clear goals, want a certificate, and have expectations of the experience. In one forum interaction of DALMOOC, a learner mentioned that he/she had taken 30 MOOCs and this one was the most disorienting. Another learner said this was the worst MOOC that they had ever taken. Early MOOCs were easy to run because expectations hadn’t normalized. It’s different now. Learners engage with MOOCs with views of what should be happening and are comparing courses to what they’ve taken recently. The standards of quality content are higher than they were in the past.

4. The most important learning shift is not yet happening. Learning in complex knowledge environments requires navigating distributed spaces (wayfinding), acting with partial information, sensemaking, and becoming comfortable without reading everything. This shift is difficult – it’s as much a world view shift as a learning task, as much about our identity as the learning content. It’s not easy and it’s unsettling and frustrating.

5. Learners act differently in different spaces. If you are in the course, skim the edX discussions. Then log into ProSolo. Skim the interactions there. Do the same with social media (our G+ and Facebook pages as well as the #DALMOOC twitter timeline). The tools and spaces are linked here. The conversation in edX, when discussing the course, is ~60% critical. In Prosolo, it’s largely positive. I find the negative comments in edX about structure a bit confusing as I view choices as giving learners the ability to be where they want to be rather than where designers and instructors force them to be. I chuckled at Matt’s tweet:

Interesting how some people will look through all of the options in #dalmooc, find the one they don't like, and then complain about it

— Matt Crosslin (@grandeped) October 28, 2014

6. We need to get better at on-boarding learners to engage in digital distributed spaces. My comments above reflect real experiences of learners who are finding the course format confusing. It’s not sufficient to say “well, what you really need is a world-view shift”. As designers, we have to support and guide that transition. We are not doing that well enough. Even though early Hangouts that we did in the course emphasized learner autonomy and the importance of developing a personal digital identity that is under the control of the individual learner, this message is understood through practice not to proclamation. It’s a challenging proposition: a learner understands the design intentions of the course by engaging in the activities but these activities are confusing because they do not understand the design intentions.

7. Technology glitches are tough. We are using a number of new tools in DALMOOC, including Carolyn Rose’s Bazaar and Quick Helper, a visual syllabus, Prosolo, assignment bank, and so on. We’ve had some glitches with most of those, as can be expected in a new tool being scaled to a large number of users. Learners may forgive a glitch or two. But each additional glitch or tool creates additional stress. A few learners have said “I feel like a guinea pig” and “I feel like I’m just beta testing software” and “I feel like a rat in a maze”. We need some tolerance for failure during experimentation. There is a line though where even the most committed learners feel overwhelmed.

8. Learners use discussion forums for different reasons. I’ve generally used them for discussion. Learners in edX use them for a range of reasons including quick search/help, venting, and as a way of orienting to the course. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen much in MOOC forums about social relationship formation. MOOC providers have done a bad job of building learner profiles. I can’t get to know my peers in edX or Coursera. This is an issue. Distributed social media improves this, but the social connectedness in edX forums is almost non-existent.

Overall, the first ten days of DALMOOC have provided an excellent learning experience for me. I’ve included a short presentation below on Sensemaking and Wayfinding Information Model (SWIM) that focuses on how learners engage in and navigate open learning spaces, largely reflective of the experiences of learners in this MOOC.

The new digital workplace: How enterprises are preparing for the future of work

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Tue, 2014-10-28 01:26
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Dion Hinchcliffe, ZD Net, Oct 27, 2014

The educational workplace, like all others, will continue to change dramatically as the information revolution marches on. Essentially, the next wave of change in the enterprise will bring it to something like par with what people today have at home: "mart mobile devices, jam-packed app stores, wearables of every description, a constellation of game-changing sharing economy services ala Uber and Airbnb." This will have sweeping changes on the ground, accoridng to the author: "New modes of collaboration; changes in how we structure our organizations because of digital networks; new ways of developing and managing workforces and talent;   the collaborative economy as a new core business model; upgrades to the digital workplace to reflect the complexity and ubiquity of tech."

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Take away the descriptors

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Tue, 2014-10-28 01:26
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Pam Hook, Artichoke, Oct 27, 2014

This is a fun project. "Nine notable offenders have agreed to have a go at stripping the jargon from the following educational terms... take a popular educational expression (captured in 2 words and a hyphen) and simplify it by writing 1000 words about it."

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