eLearning and Technology

Publishing's Prestige Bias

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - 7 hours 16 min ago

Colleen Flaherty, Inside Higher Ed, Jan 20, 2017

A study reports that journals tend to disproportionately select papers by authors from elite institutions. This is not because the papers are better or more informed but because of "a strong bias towards a few elite institutions who exercise outsized influence not only on who gets tenure-track jobs but also in who gets published and where." We see this same bias expressed outside academia, where journalists and media preferentially quote academics from elite media, even to the point of giving them credit for others' discoveries. Publishers, not surprisingly, disagree, arguing the result is either trivial ("Whether the level (of bias), once documented, is sufficient to be a problem that requires a remedy is in the eye of the beholder") or false ("data that I see could be explained by differences in the raw number and quality of submitted manuscripts"). Both objections are addressed and refuted in the article.

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Tips for a PhD defense or viva #phd

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - 7 hours 16 min ago

Inge de Waard, Ignatia Webs, Jan 20, 2017

Inge de Waard has earned her PhD and by way of celebration she gives us a certifiably useful guide to preparing for your defense (or viva), as it is known in the UK. I found it interesting because it highlights the core interests of the examiners (and by implication, the profession): how do your questions follow from your literature review, what theories guided you, how did you define such-and-such? And some good advice for preparing for a PhD defense.

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Understanding Metadata

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Thu, 2017-01-19 21:54

Jenn Riley, National Information Standards Organization (NISO), Jan 19, 2017

The National Information Standards Organization (NISO) has published an updated guide on understanding metadata (49 page PDF). It's a guide, so it begins at a pretty basic level. Some useful bits: the typology of metadata (though I think this is missing some important types, such as anotations, ratings, usage, etc); means of representing metadata (relational databased, XML, Linked Data and RDF), controlled vocabularies and content standards. It also summarizes some major metadata initiatives such as schema.org, Simple Knowledge Organization System (SKOS), Dublin Core, Friend of a Friend (FOAF), ONline Information eXchange (ONIX), EXchangeable Image File Format (Exif), etc. Finally, it addresses the core question of how metadata is generated.

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Reimagining the Role of Technology in Education: 2017 National Education Technology Plan Update

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Thu, 2017-01-19 21:54

United States Department of Education, Jan 19, 2017

This document might become obsolete very quickly, released as it was just a few days ago. But it's the first major update since  2010 and hence represents a landmark. The complete document (111 page PDF) talks about what people need to learn, teaching with technology, innovation, assessment and accessibility. They recommend the use of technology to support anytime-anywhere-anybody learning, learning resources that embody design principles from learning sciences, alignment of learning resources to intended outcomes and support multiple pathways to expertise. The authors also support things like learning dashboards, embedded assessment environments such as simulations and collaborative systems,

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The Big Shift in Platform Business Models

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Thu, 2017-01-19 18:54

John Hagel, Edge Perspectives with John Hagel, Jan 19, 2017

Normally when we think of platforms we think of news or social media, but education too has drifted into the platform model and is influenced by the shifting business models. First, says John Hagel, the platform model will shift to a customer-pay model, since trust is required in order to collect the data to support learning, and unless the customer pays, the loyalties of the platform owner lie elsewhere (with advertisers, say). A flat fee for access is the typical model (think Netflix) but additional schemes may focus on usage time, impact and results, or other metrics. A lot of this is drawn from an earlier article. The business model will also require increasing value to subscribers, for example, the trusted advisor business model. I think the error in this model is in the presumption that customer payments buy loyalty and trust. We pay for our cable and phone service, but nobody thinks providers serve the interests of the consumers. I think we need to look beyond the subscriber model to platform ownership.  Only when it's our platform will we trust it. Image, John Hagel  on Deloitte in 2015

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Students under surveillance

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Thu, 2017-01-19 18:54

Helen Warrell, Financial Times, Jan 19, 2017

Post introducing readers to services like SkyFactor and VitalSource (formerly CourseSmart), data-driven learning analytics and retention systems. The point underlined in the article is that such systems represent an almost casual attitude of invasive surveillance on the part of British and American institutions. Instructors have access to a dashboard showing "class attendances, assessment grades, participation in sports practices, and visits to the campus financial aid officer."  Such surveillance is not benign, writes the author; it is a source of disruption and stress for students. The justification, though, is the investment students make in education. “ Do you just let them fall through the cracks,” he says, “ or can you embrace technology that might help them deal with the stresses of college and progress?” Via internetactu (en franç ais).

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Feds launch networking site for academics, students and public servants

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Thu, 2017-01-19 15:54

Natalie Samson, University Affairs, Jan 19, 2017

This is a Canadian government initiative, "a digital networking platform called GCcollab.ca, a site it’ s pitching as an easy way for academics and students to connect and collaborate with Canada’ s public service." The open source software referred to in the article is Elgg, which formed the backbone of GCConnex. I am signed up on the site and will be welcoming connections and groups linking the academic sector and learning and development in the Canadian public service.

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The Two Resources Administrators Should Maximize for Personalized Learning Success

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Thu, 2017-01-19 15:54

Grant Rivera, EdSurge, Jan 19, 2017

This is a good non-technology based definition of personalized learning: "it occurs as leaders empower teachers to go beyond the traditional role of a 'content expert' and organically diagnose, analyze, guide, instruct, and coach students." This definition, however, makes personalization very labour-intensive, which it has in fact always been. Thus, writes Grant Rivera, "we need to maximize two finite, critical resources for student success: time and teachers." The rest of the article contains suggestions on how to do this: "break free from the constraints of the traditional school clock" and "gone are the days of a course-pacing guide that locks a team of teachers to a prescribed lesson plan."

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Machine Learning and Online Security in 2017

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Thu, 2017-01-19 01:02

by Doug Black, Enterprise Tech

As companies increase their digital footprints, ‘identify and diagnose’ capabilities will not defend against the growing array of security threats, according to analysts at Gartner Group. Because the types of data ingested by analytics packages are evolving from structured to hybrid data–containing text, objects and other formats– the market will respond to that transition by offering packaged applications that utilize more powerful predictive and prescriptive analytics. Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) (I use these terms interchangeably) continue to be hotly debated in security circles. The pessimists believe hackers will always outmaneuver ML, while the believers view AI as an essential companion to finding and displaying threat patterns in a complex, cloud-enhanced IT environment. While both sides have merit, the market itself is moving ahead with real-life ML applications in 2017.


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No More 'Beall's List'

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Wed, 2017-01-18 21:53

Carl Straumsheim, Inside Higher Ed, Jan 18, 2017

Beall's List, a collection of what the author called "predatory" journals, was suddenly  removed from the internet this week. The story broke on Twitter Sunday night and on  Debunking Denialism Monday. The site contained "thousands of journals and publishers that Beall alleged exploit open-access publishing for their own profit -- for example by spamming researchers with invitations to publish their findings or present at conferences, then pocketing publication or registration fees while providing little or no quality review." The emerging consensus is that the list was removed due to legal threats, but I have seen no formal confirmation of this. Beall was previously threatened  in 2013 and 2016. The list still exists on the Internet Archive; check here. You can also use thinkchecksubmit.org, "a cross-industry initiative led by representatives from ALPSP, DOAJ, INASP, ISSN, LIBER, OASPA, STM, UKSG, and individual publishers," to verify publications. More coverage:  Science Magazine, Ottawa Citizen.

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Design of an Embedded Engineering Learning on Social Cloud Model to Enhance Creative Thinking and Creative Product

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Wed, 2017-01-18 18:53

Sathaporn Yoosomboon, Pallop Piriyasurawong, International Journal of Online Engineering, Jan 18, 2017

This paper (9 page PDF), as the title suggests, describes the use of embedded systems to promote creative thinking in engineering. An embedded system "is a programmable or fixed in capability device iscontrolled by a computer or the combination of computer hardware and software re-modeled for a specific purpose." They are placed in medical equipment, industrial equipment, airplanes, cars, appliances, vending machines, cameras and toys. But these embedded systems don't have to be mounted in equipment - they can be served from the cloud as though they were actually installed in equipment and used for learning and experimentation by individuals or groups. That's what this paper describes.

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Early learning is making a difference for children from ethnic minority communities

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Wed, 2017-01-18 18:53

Sam Waller, Medium, Jan 18, 2017

This article summarizes  two  reports from UNICEF on pre-school programs in rural Cambodia. The emphasis is on both early childhood education and on multilingual education, both of which are important for a student's future success. Pre-school teacher Chey Nita... has seen firsthand the difference that can be made through multilingual education in pre-schools. She has also seen the impact that early education, both for her students and her family." What strikes me looking at this is the complete absence of technology in the school - even the whiteboard is too small, there are no chairs, and of course there's no sign of electricity at all. More information on Cambodia can be found on the UNICEF country page.

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The State of the MOOC: What Associations Should Know

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Wed, 2017-01-18 18:53

Ernie Smith, Associations Now, Jan 18, 2017

This is a routine report on MOOCs with a focus on associations, but note the zinge rat the end: "Education outside of the university system could gain momentum through MOOCs, especially with the growth of certifications. That’ s good for associations, which tend to offer a lot in the way of education." We are rapidly approaching the day when universities have competition for certification, which will mean that they (like the New York Times) will have to rely on the quality of their offering. One wonders whether they are up to that.

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Journalism That Stands Apart: The Report of the 2020 Group

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Wed, 2017-01-18 15:53

New York Times, Jan 18, 2017

This is an internal report that the New York Times has shared with the world (and plugged with an article) describing how it needs to modernize its approach to journalism (archive version on Scribd). One of the keys is its decision to focus on a subscription-first model. "We are not trying to maximize clicks and sell low-margin advertising against them." This approach requires that the product be compelling, which is what the bulk of the report addresses. They're looking at a more visual product, a "digitally native mix of product forms", and greater reader interaction. Poynter, in addition,  covers an internal memo that was circulated to staff addressing staff cuts in editorial, a need for diversity, and the creation of 'thematic tams' to cover major stories.

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5 Online Education Trends to Watch in 2017

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Wed, 2017-01-18 01:05

By Jordan Friedman, US News

Experts predict more online programs will offer alternative credentials and degrees in specialized fields. Online students: There’s a lot in store for you in 2017. In the past few years, more students enrolled in online courses, more organizations offered alternative credentials such as digital badges and nanodegrees and more employers accepted online degrees from job candidates. Here are five trends experts say students might see in online education in 2017.


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S. Korean idol stars to join upcoming online class on Korean culture

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Wed, 2017-01-18 01:03

by Yonhap News

An online class in which South Korean idol stars talk about Korean traditional and pop culture will open for foreigners this month, a Seoul-based foundation disseminating the Korean language and culture abroad said Friday. “Korean Wave stars like girl group Laboum and Sungjae, a member of boy group BTOB, will show up in the Internet class at www.sejonghakdang.org,” the King Sejong Institute Foundation said. The Korean Wave refers to the global popularity of Korean dramas, films and pop music. The stars, who have a lot of fans abroad, will introduce traditional Korean music, pop songs, current foods and fashion in the class, and will join campaigns to disseminate Korean culture, the foundation under the Culture Ministry said.


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Student-designed courses thrive at Cal-Berkeley

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Wed, 2017-01-18 01:02

by Jarrett Carter, Education Dive

Courses on wizardry allegories in Harry Potter and political strategy as illustrated in ‘Game of Thrones’ are just a few of the courses available in the University of California – Berkeley’s “Democratic Education at Cal” program. The noncredit initiative, which encourages student innovation in teaching and learning on important topics, enrolls more than 8,000 students annually in 200 courses throughout the university. Students say the courses offer a productive opportunity to relieve stress, to expand personal networks and to gather new perspectives on culture and society.


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Modern Workplace Learning Magazine is launched

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Tue, 2017-01-17 21:51

Jane Hart, Learning in the Modern Workplace, Jan 17, 2017

Another publication in our field. As always, I welcome the new voice and look forward to future news and opinions from another perspective. The magazine "focuses on helping L& D departments do things differently and do different things in order to provide an effective service for today’ s workforce." I've followed the  feed and will pass along articles of interest. Articles so far by Ed Willis and Jane Hart.

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The Five-Tool Scholar

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Tue, 2017-01-17 21:51

Rick Hess, Education Next, Jan 17, 2017

I found this an interesting concept. The five tools are: "disciplinary scholarship, policy analysis and popular writing, convening and shepherding collaborations, providing incisive commentary, and speaking in the public square." The list is an attempt to explain Rick Hess's "Edu-Scholar Public Influence Rankings" (probably far more relevant to American readers than, say, me). But it led me to consider what we ought to value in scholarship. In my office, they look for leading edge scholarship, project and program development and management, and client relations and revenue generation (in response I suggested they also look for sainthood). Hess adds a 'public scholar' component that we are missing here. And he includes wading in the education policy cesspool, an activity probably best reserved for the partisans and pundits.

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Reporters flocked to a campus controversy but missed its surprising conclusion

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Tue, 2017-01-17 21:51

Christopher Hoffman, Columbia Journalism Review, Jan 17, 2017

Excellent article from Columbia Journalism Review on a controversy that enveloped the student-run Wesleyan Argus. It involved a column written by a staff member about Black Lives Matter that led to calls for the student association to withdraw financial support for the newspaper. This was a case that went to the heart of freedom of the press, the autonomy of the student press, and social responsibility in the press, all of which were front and centre in my own life for several years as I sat in The Gauntlet's editorial chair. The story not being reported, according to CJR, is that "Relations between The Argus and its critics, meanwhile, have improved significantly... (and) the campus has recognized the value of having contrarian voices."

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