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Marc My Words: In Learning and Performance Ecosystems, the Whole is Greater Than the Sum of the Parts (Part One)

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Thu, 2014-10-16 17:06
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Marc Rosenberg, Learning Solutions Magazine, Oct 16, 2014

Marc Rosenberg describes what is essentially the Learning and Performance Support System (LPSS) we are in the process of launching here at NRC. He writes, "A learning and performance ecosystem introduces new capabilities that integrate learning and performance solutions into the work environment, where the vast preponderance of learning actually takes place. While training is still important, the overall strategy minimizes the need for workers to leave work in order to learn, reducing work disruption, and placing more learning opportunities directly into the workflow."

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University centers struggle for students, while online courses grow in popularity

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Thu, 2014-10-16 02:09

by Bob Mercer, Sioux City Journal

When they were built in Rapid City, Sioux Falls and Pierre, South Dakota’s public university centers seemed to meet a vexing need. But those centers aren’t drawing students as well as education officials hoped, while Internet courses and other distance-education classes offered by the six traditional state universities set records again in the past year. The state Board of Regents received reports Wednesday that suggested distance education is competing against the centers for enrollment. The centers concept was developed a decade ago as a mechanism to deliver courses in cities with large populations of adults. That was before Internet courses swept the nation. The university centers show the effect. Unduplicated headcounts decreased at two of the university centers from fall 2009 to fall 2013. Sioux Falls dropped from 2,275 to 1,859; Pierre slid from 133 to 81.

http://rapidcityjournal.com/news/local/university-centers-struggle-for-students-while-online-courses-grow-in/article_bdcc562d-7f7b-579f-bc9f-bf88c951aee6.html

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Comparing xMOOCs and cMOOCs: philosophy and practice

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Thu, 2014-10-16 02:05
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Tony Bates, online learning and distance eductaion resources, Oct 15, 2014

Good post clearly describing the difference between xMOOCs and cMOOCs. "The early  MOOC courses had relatively identifiable  designs which still permeate most MOOCs. At the same time,  there  are two quite different  philosophical positions  underpinning xMOOCs and cMOOCs,  so we need to look at each design model separately." See more Bates in this post defining what a MOOC is.

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More part-time students taking online courses in South Dakota

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Thu, 2014-10-16 02:05

by Associated Press

The Board of Regents says more older students in South Dakota are taking online college courses while they complete their degrees part time. The regents say more than 22,500 students enrolled in distance courses at the state’s six public universities last year. University data show about 63 percent of all distance course learners are part-time students and the average age of students is nearly 27 years old. About 63 percent of students are female. The majority of students take courses using the Internet but many also use off-campus sites.

http://www.argusleader.com/story/news/education/2014/10/09/part-time-students-taking-online-courses/16966229/

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Adaptive Learning: Online and In Control

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Thu, 2014-10-16 02:02

by Paul Fain, Inside Higher Ed

The spread of adaptive learning technology in high education, to some, is the rise of the machines — replacing professors with software and an automated, cheapened form of instruction. To Ariel Anbar it’s a tool that helps him teach in new ways. Anbar is a professor in Arizona State University’s department of chemistry and biochemistry. Four years ago he began a collaboration with Smart Sparrow, an education-technology company based in Australia and San Francisco. “I was trying to create an interactive, game-like science course for non-science majors,” said Anbar, who this year was named ASU’s first Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor, an honor that comes with a $1 million research grant.

https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2014/10/10/emerging-adaptive-software-puts-faculty-members-charge-course-creation

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#1amconf, Altmetrics and Raising the Visibility of One’s Research

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Wed, 2014-10-15 14:04
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Brian Kelly, UK Web Focus, Oct 15, 2014

Brian Kelly looks at the range and effectiveness of systems that provide metrics for the impact of one's research, this in the context of summarizing "the first dedicated altmetrics conference" that took place in London recently. It's not a universally popular concept. This paper, for example, focuses on the promotion of papers by Twitter posts that misinterpret what the papers are saying. So the paper has impact, but not for anything it actually says. On the other hand, altmetrics are a large step forward from the unreasonable idea that impact ought be  measured only by citations in academic papers. Kelly looks at a number of  altmetrics systems that have developed recently, including especially Kudos,

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An Exemplar Use of Lanyrd (and a Proposal for Creating Lanyrd Entries)

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Wed, 2014-10-15 14:04
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Brian Kelly, UK Web Focus, Oct 15, 2014

Lanyrd  is software specifically designed to help conference attendees get the most out of a conference. It does things like host event schedules and publish archives of presentations. It wasn't welcomed enthusiastically out of the gate - many conference organizers preferred to exert tighter control over conference materials - but it has slowly been gaining ground over the last four years or so and last year was acquired by Eventbrite. This article from Brian Kelly looks at Lanyrd anew, offering an exemplar use and best practices.

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Draft Roadmap

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Wed, 2014-10-15 14:04
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Various authors, 4C Collaboration to Clarify the Costs of curation, Oct 15, 2014

In my email this morning: "The EC funded Collaboration to Clarify the Costs of Curation (4C) project is led by Jisc and includes the Digital Curation Centre and Digital Preservation Coalition among its 13 partners. Recently have been working with project partners to develop a draft Roadmap titled 'Investing in curation: a shared path to sustainability'." The glitzy 24 page PDF, which contains many pictures of money, is focused on six question documenting the efficiency process and "considers the actions necessary to achieve a change in the way that all organisations think about and sustainably manage their digital assets."

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National Cipher Challenge 1A

EdCompBlog by David Muir - Wed, 2014-10-15 09:44
The National Cipher Challenge is an annual event organised by the University of Southampton.

Cipher Challenge LogoThis is the second year teams from our school have had a go at the competition. We have a keen but young group of pupils and I hope that by exploring how the ciphers could have been solved after the answers have been published, we will have a better prepared team ready to tackle next year's challenges.

Also, I thought this blog would be a good place to consider some of the educational benefits of tackling competitions like this. So here is how I solved Challenge 1A. I'll follow up in the next day or so with a consideration of the computing and maths skills that could be developed through cipher cracking activities.

The first challenge was pretty straightforward. The cipher text given was:

QEVO,

XLEROW JSV FVMRKMRK QI MR SR XLMW SRI, WIIQW PMOI E JEWGMREXMRK GEWI.

M LEZI XLVII UYIWXMSRW:
ALC ASYPH XLI JPEK HEC EWWSGMEXIW AERX E WLMT?
ALC ASYPH XLIC AERX XLMW WLMT?
ALC ASYPH XLIC AERX XLMW WLMT RSA?

LEZMRK VIEH XLI EXXEGLIH HSGYQIRX M WYWTIGX XLEX XLI ERWAIVW EVI EPP
VIPEXIH XS XLI UYIWXMSR SJ ALEX IBEGXPC WLI ERH LIV JPEK HEC EWWSGMEXI
GVIA AIVI XVCMRK XS WYVZIC.

M EQ KYIWWMRK XLEX CSY EPVIEHC GLIGOIH SYX XLI SRFSEVH KTW WCWXIQ JSV
MRJSVQEXMSR EFSYX LIV QSZIQIRXW, FYX MJ CSY HMH JMRH ERCXLMRK M ASYPH
FI JEWGMREXIH XS LIEV EFSYX MX. MR XLI QIERXMQI M EQ TVIXXC WYVI XLEX
CSY ORSA QSVI EFSYX XLI JPEK HEC EWWSGMEXIW XLER CSY LEZI XSPH QI, WS
E FVMIJMRK ASYPH FI QYGL ETTVIGMEXIH.

EPP XLI FIWX,

LEVVC
The passage looked like a letter between Harry and Mark (two people named in the introductory text related to the challenge) so an obvious crib presents itself if you guess that QEVO at the start of the cipher text is Mark and that LEVVC at the end is Harry. This suggests the following substitutions:




A
B
C
D
E
F
G
H
I
J
K
L
M
N
O
P
Q
R
S
T
U
V
W
X
Y
Z


.
.
y
.
a
.
.
.
.
.
.
h
.
.
k
.
m
.
.
.
.
r
.
.
.
.



(Note: from now on I will adopt the convention of showing Cipher text in capital letters and plain text in lowercase, even to the extent of showing proper names like "Harry" as "harry".)

Substituting these letters into the cipher text gives you:

mark,XhaRkW JSr FrMRKMRK mI MR SR XhMW SRI, WIImW PMkI a JaWGMRaXMRK
GaWI. M haZI XhrII UYIWXMSRW: Ahy ASYPH XhI JPaK Hay aWWSGMaXIW AaRX
a WhMT? Ahy ASYPH XhIy AaRX XhMW WhMT? Ahy ASYPH XhIy AaRX XhMW WhMT
RSA? haZMRK rIaH XhI aXXaGhIH HSGYmIRX M WYWTIGX XhaX XhI aRWAIrW arI
aPP rIPaXIH XS XhI UYIWXMSR SJ AhaX IBaGXPy WhI aRH hIr JPaK Hay
aWWSGMaXI GrIA AIrI XryMRK XS WYrZIy. M am KYIWWMRK XhaX ySY aPrIaHy
GhIGkIH SYX XhI SRFSarH KTW WyWXIm JSr MRJSrmaXMSR aFSYX hIr mSZImIRXW,
FYX MJ ySY HMH JMRH aRyXhMRK M ASYPH FI JaWGMRaXIH XS hIar aFSYX MX. MR
XhI mIaRXMmI M am TrIXXy WYrI XhaX ySY kRSA mSrI aFSYX XhI JPaK Hay
aWWSGMaXIW XhaR ySY haZI XSPH mI, WS a FrMIJMRK ASYPH FI mYGh
aTTrIGMaXIH. aPP XhI FIWX, harry
(Note: to make it easier to process in the spreadsheet I used to help me crack this cipher, I removed the extra lines, effectively turning it into a single paragraph, but otherwise left the punctuation and spacing intact.)

You now have a choice to make:
  1. You can look at the partially deciphered text to see if any further substitutions suggest themselves. For example, the three letter grouping XhI appears many times in the text. Since "the" is a very common three letter word, there is a good chance that X=t and I=e. Similarly, the letters Ahy appear three times, which means A is probably w. Substitute these letters and then look at the text again. Keep looking for recognisable words and guessing letters until you have decoded the whole message.
     
  2. In this case, the easier option is to guess what kind of cipher was used and see if your guess is right by trying it out on the cipher text. Since we have guessed that E=a, we could further guess that Mark and Harry are using a Caesar cipher where plain text letters are moved forward four places to get the cipher text letter. So a goes to E (b to c to d to E - four places). Use your code wheel, set A to E and check if the other letters we have chosen match our guesses. You should see that the guesses match all round the wheel. That is r goes to V (s to t to u to V - four places) and y goes to C (z to a to b to C) etc.
What ever method you choose, you should be able to decipher the rest of the message and read:

mark,

thanks for bringing me in on this one, seems like a fascinating case.

i have three questions:
why would the flag day associates want a ship?
why would they want this ship?
why would they want this ship now?

having read the attached document i suspect that the answers are all
related to the question of what exactly she and her flag day associate
crew were trying to survey.

i am guessing that you already checked out the onboard gps system for
information about her movements, but if you did find anything i would be
fascinated to hear about it. in the meantime i am pretty sure that you
know more about the flag day associates than you have told me, so a
briefing would be much appreciated.

all the best,

harry
So, Challenge 1A solved. Before going on to solve Challenge 1B, the next post will talk about the spreadsheets I developed to help crack the ciphers.


The Top Eight Things You Need To Know About Online Education

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Wed, 2014-10-15 02:09

by Tom Lindsay, Forbes

There is a variety of opinions in the media these days regarding online learning. Depending on what you read, online education can appear to be either a cure-all or cancer. In an effort to cut through the smoke, here are the top eight established facts you need to know.

1) Online learning is here to stay. Since 1986, when the first online degree program from an accredited institution was offered (by John F. Kennedy University in Orinda, California), growth has been exponential. Today, one-third of America’s 21 million enrolled students are taking some or all of their instruction online. The eleven-year study by the Babson Survey Research Group shows over seven million online enrollments in the fall semester of 2013.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/tomlindsay/2014/10/08/the-top-eight-things-you-need-to-know-about-online-education/

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SIUE to offer online classes over winter break

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Wed, 2014-10-15 02:05
by SCOTT WUERZ, BND Southern Illinois University Edwardsville will offer new winter session courses to begin Dec. 15, the school announced. The four-week courses will be taught online so students can go home for winter break and still earn credits. SIUE provides financial incentive for students interested in winter session. Students, who enroll and complete winter courses, will be eligible to waive the $50 per credit off-campus fee. They also may be awarded up to $150 in scholarship to use toward the winter session. The total savings adds up to $300 for a three-credit course.

http://www.bnd.com/2014/10/08/3444234/siue-to-offer-online-classes-over.html

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Online Mooc courses deliver Ebola health advice

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Wed, 2014-10-15 02:03

By Sean Coughlan, BBC

Online courses are delivering health advice about preventing the spread of Ebola to thousands of people in West Africa. The so-called Mooc providers – massive open online courses – are using their reach to provide information about the deadly virus. So far, 10,000 people have completed a free online course, Understanding the Ebola Virus and How You Can Avoid It. The provider, Alison, has 250,000 students using courses in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak has caused 3,400 deaths, mostly in West Africa, and the online course teaches about the signs and symptoms of infection and how to avoid getting infected. The course, which can be accessed on a mobile phone, is aimed at people living in regions affected by the virus and there are assessments on how the virus can be transmitted and treated.

http://www.bbc.com/news/education-29521360

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Where Do Birds Go

xkcd.com - Wed, 2014-10-15 02:00
Categories: Cartoons, Science News

The Cargo Cult of Game Mechanics

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Tue, 2014-10-14 14:03
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Steven Wittens, Hackery, Math & Design, Oct 14, 2014

Really interesting article and really interesting presentation. The thesis is essentially this: game design today has devolved into moneymaking systems that depend on "whales", that is, a small number of compulsive users who will pay to keep playing the game. This is "gaming as serious media." "It generally involves taking away choice, using scripts instead of simulations, with mini-games and quick-time events thrown in to amuse your hindbrain. It's tacitly saying that real storytelling, real human comedy or tragedy, can't happen while a player is in control. It's non-sense of course, plenty of games have done so before." The analogy with serious games in learning is clear, and I think the case is well made. See also this deconstruction of Chrono Trigger.

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Could a Newly Launched Metaphorical Search Engine Really Work?

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Tue, 2014-10-14 14:03
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Neurobonkers, Big Think, Oct 14, 2014

I spent a little time playing around with Yossarian Lives, a search engine that produces metaphorical results for search queries. The idea is, you pit in a search term, it responds with a set of images, and you can select an image, give it a title, and add an explanation. You can then save your idea to a list, and view other people's ideas. I had mixed results, but some of the ones others have produced were quite good. Sadly, the service is really only useful as a toy, as the image sources are commercial libraries and any actual use could get expensive quickly.

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Experts offer new resources for competency-based education

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Tue, 2014-10-14 02:08

By Meris Stansbury, eCampus News

Competency-based education (CBE) is making the rounds in higher education as colleges and universities eager to explore alternative pathways discuss the model’s potential. However, many initiatives have already laid extensive groundwork, offering multiple resources covering everything from CBE’s basic definition to implementation best practices. According to Michael Offerman of Offerman Consulting, during an EDUCAUSE 2014 panel, a number of national initiatives dedicated specifically to CBE have partnered together to provide as many diverse resources as possible for institutions ranging from the simply curious to those in final implementation stages.

http://www.ecampusnews.com/top-news/competency-resources-cbe-467/

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XPrize focuses on open adaptive learning, but will it succeed or fail?

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Tue, 2014-10-14 02:06

By Julia Freeland, eCampusNews

The Global Learning XPrize is aiming to spur the design of software that can serve students in as direct, unmediated manner as possible. The goal: to handsomely reward the team that develops the best open source, scalable adaptive software to help children in developing countries teach themselves basic literacy and math. As I’ve written about before, prizes are effective pull mechanisms to expedite R&D across a field and to in turn fill a gap that the market is currently failing to supply at scale. Unlike so-called push mechanisms that reduce the cost of R&D by directly funding research upfront, pull mechanisms incentivize private sector engagement and competition by creating viable market demand for specific products to solve specific problems. The XPrize is a good example of a pull mechanism, as are government Challenge Grants and social impact bonds.

http://www.ecampusnews.com/technologies/xprize-succeed-fail-423/

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Bricolage by smart people

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Tue, 2014-10-14 02:03


Daniel Lemire, Daniel Lemire's Blog, Oct 13, 2014

I've argued 'Against Digital Research Methods' in the past. Daniel Lemire summarizes the same point nicely: "It is fascinating how we have a hard time dealing with the fact that R& D is in fact nothing else but bricolage done by smart people."

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The 10K Hour Rule: Deliberate Practice leads to Expertise, and Teaching can trump Genetics

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Tue, 2014-10-14 02:03
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Mark Guzdial, Computing Education Blog, Oct 13, 2014

This is a pretty good article, not only because it invokes the classic 'make a PBJ' example, and not only because it cites the  proper source for the 10,000 hours of practice rule (hint: not Gladwell), but also because it provides an intelligent discussion of how the rule applies, offers a telling argument against the counterproposal (that skills are innate and not learned), and teaches us the value of focus and reflection in learning. But there's a not-so-subtle shift from "people can learn" to "people can be taught" and an invocation of the  mysterious "power of a great teacher to go beyond simple rote practice to create deliberate opportunities to learn," as though no other means were possible to accomplish the same thing by oneself, or with the aid of friends, projects, life experience or software. See also: Practice Does Not Make Perfect.

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The digital divide with online learning

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Tue, 2014-10-14 02:02

by Daytona Beach News Journal

The future is now for the Class of 2015. Unfortunately, many Florida high school students, including at least half the graduating seniors in Volusia and Flagler counties, are stuck in the past trying to catch up. It’s another lesson in the gap between what Tallahassee mandates for education and how school districts execute them. In 2011, state lawmakers passed the Digital Learning Act requiring students to pass one online course to graduate. This year’s seniors are the first class that must fulfill that requirement.

http://www.news-journalonline.com/article/20141006/OPINION/141009741

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