news (external)

Microsoft launches new online training courses for aspiring AI engineers

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Mon, 2018-04-23 02:02

A new ten-course seminar for engineers looking to add machine-learning skills to their resumes is now available through the Microsoft Professional Program. The Microsoft Professional Program for AI will be available four times a year and it should take at least a few weeks to complete the training. Developers will be given an introduction to machine-learning principles and taught how to create learning models and data sets, modeled on an internal Microsoft training program. They will be awarded a “a digitally sharable, résumé-worthy credential” after completing a deep learning project at the end of the course, Microsoft said.

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Scholars look for ways to restore respect for expertise

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Sun, 2018-04-22 18:33

Mary Beth Marklein, University World News, Apr 22, 2018

I find the phrasing of the headline interesting, as though the scholars are trying to figure out how to get the rest of the world to listen to them. This was the focus of the recent AERA conference. The core of the issue, though, emerges in the desire of scholars to see people engage with reason and evidence more than emotion, hopes and fears. Which is fair enough, I guess - after all, I have been the first to argue in favour of correct and clear reasoning. But as the article notes, where are the academics and the researchers in the issues of the day? Why are their cloistered behind tuition barriers and subscription walls? Why don't we see them show what good reasoning and clear thinking looks like? If the only news you see is Fox News, you begin to think that Fox News is news.

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Open Chasms – definitions dividing or uniting the open community? Some thoughts from #oer18

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Sun, 2018-04-22 16:35

Sheila MacNeill, howsheilaseesIT, Apr 22, 2018

This is a bit of a natural follow-up to Phl Barker's post of the other day. Sheilla MacNeill addresses what she calls David Wiley's "potted history of open, open source, learning objects" and argues "if we don’t explicitly address diversity,  actively seek to include, support and embrace different voices, it’s not the difference between purists and pragmatists that will divide a community –  it’s who is included and excluded." That's all very good, but the people who get to make that point are the people who are actually doing it, or better, the people who have been excluded. To presume that you actually have the definitive community to which you are the gatekeepers over who will be invited or (in my case, I guess) disinvited is over the top. Here is the community. Go talk to them.

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Study: Lectures remain a steady, but ineffective, element of STEM education

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Sun, 2018-04-22 02:10

by Jarrett Carter, Education Dive
Approximately 55% of college classrooms throughout the United States and Canada are using the traditional lecture model to teach science, mathematics and technology, according to a new study published in Science magazine. About 27% of classes had some levels of interactive instruction, such as technology-based question and answer modules, and 18% were described as “student-centered” in a survey of 2000 classrooms.  The study’s author says professors have to feel confident in knowing and utilizing new forms of teaching, which may be stunting the implementation of interactive models of instruction. “I think there is a growing awareness and recognition among the STEM professoriate of the benefits of active learning strategies on students’ learning and attitudes toward STEM,” said Marilyne Stains, associate professor of chemistry at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln

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Universities must expand reach to stay competitive

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Sun, 2018-04-22 02:05

by Stephanie Kim,  Georgetown University
With their distinctive campuses, emphasis on research and scholarship, and singular form of governance, universities are sometime seen as academic sanctuaries, separate from the rest of society. While there is some truth to this notion, colleges, like other institutions, are also products of the society that shaped them—and they exert their own unique influence on society as well. In 2018, with the nation and world more fast-moving and interconnected than ever, the very pressing concerns of society will be the concerns of higher education as well; and those universities that are most able to confront these challenges—by expanding their missions, reaching out to “nontraditional” students, and partnering with other institutions here and abroad—will be the most successful.

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Class Central Learner Survey (2017): MOOC Users Highly Educated, Have Experienced Career Benefits

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Sun, 2018-04-22 02:02

by Dhawal Shah, Class Central

We received nearly 2,500 responses to the survey. Overall, we found that Class Central users tend to be highly educated. You are interested in MOOCs for both personal and professional reasons, and many of you have experienced career benefit from MOOCs. On the whole, you aren’t keen to pay for MOOCs, and you are divided over the value of the social and interactive elements of MOOCs.

More detailed results from the survey are linked below.

Class Central Learner Survey (2017): MOOC Users Highly Educated, Have Experienced Career Benefits

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What is the future of online learning in higher education?

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Sat, 2018-04-21 02:10

by Matthew Lynch, TechEdvocate

With over six million students currently enrolled in online learning programs, there is no future in higher education except in online education. As universities adapt to better serve a growing population of digital learners, there will no doubt continue to be monumental progress made in educating all students, everywhere. Online learning is the future of education–at all levels, but especially in higher education. As the concept of distance learning evolves from cassette tape and telephone learning to high-speed, interactive Internet lessons, more doors are opened for students for whom traditional classroom learning simply does not work. The following trends will likely take hold in the next five years, allowing more students access to high-quality education from any location.

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College Wasn’t Designed Around Student Success. Here’s How to Fix It.

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Sat, 2018-04-21 02:04

By Bridget Burns, EdSurge

Half of the students who walk through the doors of a college or university leave without a degree. Half. Most of those students are bright and energetic, highly capable students—they may even be extra motivated to succeed because of the hurdles they’ve had to overcome just to get into college. But they lack resources. That’s just what the University Innovation Alliance has been working on for the past three years. The Alliance is a consortium of 11 major public research universities enrolling 400,000 students, 120,000 of whom are low-income.

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Amid speculation, Amazon continues to inch its way into e-learning

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Sat, 2018-04-21 02:03

by Riia O’Donnell, Education Dive
Following the hire of a Stanford University leader in learning science, Candace Thille, speculation rose that e-tail giant Amazon was moving into the e-learning space. A new report by CNBC suggests the company is looking at its cloud to build a corporate training service. Although the company denies any move into the online education space, job postings from Amazon since April 2017 have advertised for people who could help build a “learning platform.” As recently as December, an ad for a solution architect cited an opportunity to “enable hundreds of thousands of businesses in 190 countries around the world to transform and scale their learning initiatives.” Representatives for the company told HR Dive recently, “[Thille] is serving as the Director of Learning Science and Engineering within our Global Learning and Development team. Her remit is to help scale and innovate workplace learning at Amazon.”

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OER18 Open to all

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Fri, 2018-04-20 21:51

Phil Barker, Sharing and learning, Apr 20, 2018

Phil Barker argues that we should not be recommending Eric Raymond's work. Raymond authored, if you may recall, the enormously influential The Cathedral and the Bazaar paper recommending distributed open source organization. Barker argues that Raymond is a libertarian, a gun nut, and has regressive views regarding women and gays. " I do not think we should be recommending this person’s work to the OER community," says Barker. Now I personally find Raymond's politics reprehensible (assuming the Wikipedia account is correct). And yes, I'll delete content that's racist or hateful. But if I were to require a purity test for everyone I quoted or recommended, this would be a very short newsletter. I think it's a far more progressive strategy to pay attention to one's own failings and to leave social condemnation to those more qualified to render judgement.

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Open Invitation to Contribute to the Draft OER Recommendation Text

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Fri, 2018-04-20 21:37

UNESCO, Apr 20, 2018

According to this website, "A draft UNESCO Recommendation on Open Educational Resources (OER) text is currently being prepared. This open invitation is to call for inputs on the above-mentioned draft text." You can read the draft on the website (7 page PDF). Note the 'no cost' in the definition: "Open Educational Resources (OERs) are teaching, learning and research materials in any medium – digital or otherwise – that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits no-cost access, use, adaptation and redistribution by others with no or limited restrictions."

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Knowble – a review

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Fri, 2018-04-20 17:13

Philip J. Kerr, Adaptive Learning in ELT, Apr 20, 2018

Nice review of a language learning app providing a needed dose of scepticism. The app is called Knowble and is a browser extension that purports to improve English-language vocabulary. The problem is, it relies on Google Translate, so it often offers incorrect vocabulary advice. Google translates pretty well when the word is found in context, but " Knowble, however, have set their software to ask Google for translations of each word as individual items," which results in inevitable errors. "The claim that Knowble’s ‘learning effect is proven scientifically’ seems to me to be without any foundation," writes Philip Kerr. "If there has been any proper research, it’s not signposted anywhere."

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Assessing the Potential Toward Open Educational Practices in Kyrgyzstan

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Fri, 2018-04-20 16:00

Anita R Walz, Jyldyz Bekbalaeva, Open Praxis, Apr 20, 2018

This is the first reference to Kyrgyzstan in the almost 30,000 posts in OLDaily over the last 20 years, and proof that open education has become a completely worldwide phenomenon. According to the abstract, "Analysis of the results revealed a higher than expected gravitation toward student-centered pedagogy than previously assumed. The study also identified broad use of digital downloads as learning materials, conflation of open educational resources with free online resources." This actually doesn't surprise me, because OERs and student-centered pedagogy go hand-in-hand. The paper discusses 'non-disposable' learning activities such as editing Wikipedia articles, though noting "the practice of using non-disposable assignments for learning is likely still a new idea for most instructors." 19 page PDF. Image: logo from a 2014 UNESCO OER conference in Kyrgyzstan.

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Facebook moves 1.5bn users out of reach of new European privacy law

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Fri, 2018-04-20 15:36

Alex Hern, The Guardian, Apr 20, 2018

Facebook has spent a lot of time apologizing in recent weeks but it should not be believed. In an appearance before a Parliamentary committee in Canada it would not commit to honouring European GDPR privacy protections. And in an even more telling move, it moved 1.5 billion user accounts out of Europe and into the United States. I think that countries, including Canada, should endorse and ratify GDPR. Because it is obvious that these companies will not police themselves with any sort of restraint.

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The ‘Terms and Conditions’ Reckoning Is Coming

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Fri, 2018-04-20 15:30

Nate Lanxon, Bloomberg, Apr 20, 2018

One of the impacts of GDPR is that website terms and conditions will be required to be clearer. But this may just be the beginning of the end for book-length legal agreements. "If a typical user wouldn't understand the documents, the consent that companies rely on for their business activities would be legally invalid." The main beneficiaries here won't be users - who typically ignore the terms - but companies (including schools and colleges) who have to hire layers to parse the terms before using the site in their business.

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Comparing the Factors That Predict Completion and Grades Among For-Credit and Open/MOOC Students in Online Learning

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Fri, 2018-04-20 02:11

by Ma. Victoria Almeda, et al, Online Learning Journal

Online education continues to become an increasingly prominent part of higher education, but many students struggle in distance courses. For this reasonFor this reason, there has been considerable interest in predicting which students will succeed in online courses , achieving poor grades or dropping out prior to course completionn). Effective intervention depends on understanding which students are at-risk in terms of actionable factors, and behavior within an online course is one key potential factor for intervention. In recent years, many have suggested that Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) are a particularly useful place to conduct research into behavior and interventions, given both their size and the relatively low consequences/costs of experimentation

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As Education Civil Rights Office Gets More Money, It Limits Investigations

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Fri, 2018-04-20 02:04

By Andrew Kreighbaum, Inside Higher Ed

Department of Education has narrowed scope of civil rights inquiries — a necessary step, it says, to deliver speedier resolutions to students and colleges. The omnibus spending package passed by Congress last week will give a serious boost to the Department of Education’s civil rights enforcement arm, even as that office narrows the scope of its investigative work. OCR, however, has taken steps recently to streamline its investigation of civil rights complaints, limiting its use of broad systemic reviews and mandating that cases be automatically dismissed under a range of circumstances.

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With FCC approval, all systems are go for Starlink global internet

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Fri, 2018-04-20 02:02

by Mark Austin, Digital Trends
Not satisfied with merely ferrying cargo to and from the International Space Station (and putting a red Tesla into orbit around Mars), SpaceX now wants to provide high-speed internet to everyone in the world. SpaceX CEO and flamethrower enthusiast Elon Musk envisions Starlink as a network of thousands of satellites in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) that will provide broadband internet access to the entire planet. That plan took a big step forward this week when the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved the company’s request to provide broadband satellite services.

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Open Educators Factory

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Thu, 2018-04-19 21:55

Research Institute for Innovation & Technology in Education, Apr 19, 2018

In my email today: "Open Educators Factory is a methodology produced by the Research Institute for Innovation & Technology in Education (UNIR iTED) aiming to allow self-evaluation of professors capacity in the use of open approaches and to recommend tailored actions to increase the open education “fluency" of educators. The platform will be used by Brazil's Open Education Initiative, a major Brazilian project focused on Open Education and teacher professional development, that is being launched with the support of the Brazilian Ministry of Education." Nice.

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Why collaboration is a bad idea for developing personalized learning teachers

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Thu, 2018-04-19 16:18

Thomas Arnett, Christensen Institute, Apr 19, 2018

According to Thomas Arnett, "the 'collective action' approach will likely flounder at creating the pipeline of excellent personalized learning teachers that the field needs." This is because "when new innovations are still stretching to meet our expectations, the best strategy for pushing a product’s performance forward is for a single entity to control all the interdependent pieces of the solution." He draws a parallel between the development of teachers and the development of touchscreens. It's hard to imagine a more tone-deaf analogy, save perhaps the reference to training for a particular charter school network in New York City. Teachers are not "a product" and personalization may yet be something that resembles art more than it does manufacturing.

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