news (external)

Have a business idea? Get funded with Coursera

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Fri, 2014-12-12 14:13
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Unattributed, Coursera Blog, Dec 12, 2014

I'll give Coursera the prize here for innovative business strategy as it blends one of its open courses with a series of presentations of new business ideas to venture capitalists, who in turn may fund some of the ideas. I assume (?) Coursera gets some portion of the returns the VCs receive. But as usual, it's students who  pay most of the shot, a total of $196 for the course (which Coursera brands as 'three courses'). So the lure here is 'get rich quick' and the payment seems low in comparison to the payoff - except, I wonder just how many of them will ever get near to launching a successful business. This is one of those MOOCs where completion stats do matter.

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User Data Manifesto 2.0

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Fri, 2014-12-12 14:13
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Various authors, Website, Dec 12, 2014

The problem with most educational technology is that it fails on at least two of the three items (control over user data access, knowledge of how the data is stored, freedom to choose a platform). "This manifesto aims at defining users’ fundamental rights to their own data in the Internet age. People ought to be free and should not have to pay allegiance to service providers." You can contribute to this draft on the wiki. See also Ben Werdmuller: A  trade war is emerging over where you store your data.

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Technology In Education: An Integrated Approach

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Fri, 2014-12-12 14:13
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Ruben R. Puentedura, Ruben R. Puentedura's Weblog, Dec 12, 2014

I liked this presentation because it approaches educational technology a bit differently. First, it maps the SAMR (substitute, augment, modify, replace) into three elements of education (pedagogy, content, technology). Then it maps the observed impact on outcomes of particular technologies to these domains. It then maps all this to the ed tech 'quintet' (social, mobility, visualization, storytelling, gaming). Finally, it analyzes the impact of each on the development of the zone of proximal development (the increased learning we can achieve only with a 'More Knowledgeable Other') and outlines the shape of things to come.

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Five Psychology Principles That eLearning Professionals Should Know

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Fri, 2014-12-12 01:08

by Christopher Pappas, eLearning Industry

In this article, I’ll highlight 5 psychology principles that you should use before you develop your next eLearning courses. Knowing how learners acquire information and why they need such information, is the key to becoming a successful eLearning professional. Using psychology principles in eLearning courses, offers eLearning professionals the chance to take full advantage of learning behaviors when creating their next eLearning deliverable.

http://elearningindustry.com/5-psychology-principles-elearning-professionals-know

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Nanodegree Scholarship Program Expanded to an Additional 1,000 Students

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Fri, 2014-12-12 01:04

by Sustainable Brands

Nanodegrees, a new category of online degrees launched by AT&T and Udacity this fall, provide affordable and accessible training for jobs in the tech industry. As a company that relies on a highly skilled tech workforce, we believe that new educational pathways such as nanodegrees will help more people gain industry-relevant skills to fuel the 21st century workforce. This is also why, together with Udacity, we created the nanodegree scholarship program. Through AT&T Aspire, we are committed to helping students — regardless of age, gender, income or zip code — make their biggest dreams a reality.  Sustainable Brands is joining Udacity to announce an expansion of our nanodegree scholarship program from 200 students to an additional 1,000 students.

http://www.sustainablebrands.com/press/nanodegree_scholarship_program_expanded_additional_1000_students

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The University of Texas at Austin Introduces Online Business Courses for Professionals Worldwide

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Fri, 2014-12-12 01:02

by McCombs School, UT

McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin, one of the top ten undergraduate business programs in the nation according to U.S. News and World Report, today opened virtual doors to the Texas Business Foundations Program (BFP) Online providing working professionals everywhere with greater access to a world-class business education. This online educational experience delivers comprehensive business essentials, an accelerated pace of courses, and an immersive and interactive curriculum. The program fills the business fundamentals gap between having a non-business degree and advanced programs like an MBA. Starting today professionals may enroll in three-credit courses for $600 each or pre-purchase all six courses for a 10 percent discount. Students will earn the Texas BFP Online Certificate from the McCombs School of Business upon completion of all six courses.

http://www.broadwayworld.com/bwwgeeks/article/The-University-of-Texas-at-Austin-Introduces-Online-Business-Courses-for-Professionals-Worldwide-20141203

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Documents

xkcd.com - Fri, 2014-12-12 01:00
Categories: Cartoons, Science News

Formulating Science in Terms of Possible and Impossible Tasks

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Thu, 2014-12-11 23:13
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Chiara Marletto, Edge, Dec 11, 2014

This is a very interesting but conceptually difficult discussion of an alternative approach to the creation of scientific theories. In current theory, we  describe and explain what is and what isn't by formulating hypotheses and testing predictions. But in many cases, the predictions fall short because the theory doesn't describe what is actually the case, but what is possible. In communications theory, for example, we talk about what sort of system could transmit information. Or in biology, we talk about what sort of structures could produce evolution. But often these systems are not producing any particular communication or evolved organism, so we can reduce the descriptions to descriptions and predictions concerning underlying physical entities. Constructor theory provides that theoretical framework, allowing us to talk about information and processes in the same language we use to talk about particles and forces. It's worth looking at, because it suggests a way of being able to talk about education scientifically without being reductionist.

[Link] [Comment]

When bad ideas will not die: from classical AI to Linked Data

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Thu, 2014-12-11 17:13


Daniel Lemire, Weblog, Dec 11, 2014

The opening post is short, but I agree with it pretty much completely, and there's a great discussion that follows that draws out many of the arguments and implications. If it's all new to you, skip down to comment 19, which draws the distinction between classical AI and machine learning AI. In a nutshell, Daniel Lemire is arguing that the new 'Linked Data' approach, which is an heir to the Semantic Web, is an heir to the now discredited 'classical AI' approach to machine intelligence. In the classical approach, you collect all the sentences that describe the world, organize them into subjects and (especially) predicates, and link them together. "Collecting, curating and interpreting billions of predicates is a fundamentally intractable problem. So our AI researchers failed to solve real problems, time and time again."

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There Is No Best Programming Language

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Thu, 2014-12-11 17:13


Alfred Thompson, Computer Science Teacher, Dec 11, 2014

There is no best programming language, writes Alfred Thompson. But of course there is: it's Perl! Just kidding. Actually, this post should serve as a cautionary note to those who believe there is an idea path or certain foundational core materials in education. There are no such things. There's no one programming language everyone should start with and no particular programming language everyone should master. I studied Pascal, taught myself Basic, moved to Fortran, mastered C, moved to LPC, and then settled on Perl and Javascript. Most programmers I know haven't touched any of these, working from PHP to Ruby to Python. Others begin and end with Java. All of knowledge is like that. It might seem like everyone must start with Basic, but in different contexts you should maybe start with Scratch, Pascal, or even Assembler. It depends on what you're trying to do. And just so with math and English - do you mean people should start with number lines or times tables or basic axioms? English literature or grammar, phonics or the trivium? There's no one path, there's no one core. People who say there is are pushing a political agenda,. not an educational agenda.

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Universities risk only ‘social elite’ having key knowledge

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Thu, 2014-12-11 14:13
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Chris Havergal, Times Higher Education, Dec 11, 2014

A University of Leeds professor is arguing that the focus on open and accessible elarning will result in an environment where only the elite will have access to certain knowledge. “ Many of these courses veer towards mundane everyday knowledge and they do not give students access to the specialist knowledge that forms the bases for generalisation and critique,” argues sue Clegg. I would be more concerned were it not for the fact that this specialized knowledge is already reserved for an elite, and that open and accessible learning is rapidly shrinking the range of that specialized knowledge - the connectivism courses that we ran, or the AI course run by Norvig and Thrun opened up to the general public knowledge they would never have had access to in a pre-open-learning world. Hey, my first contribution to open learning was my guide to the logical fallacies, which quite literally formed the bases for generalisation and critique. So, no, this is a red herring argument, based on facts that are demonstrably not true.

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An update on Google News in Spain

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Thu, 2014-12-11 14:13


Richard Gingras, Google Europe Blog, Dec 11, 2014

I'm concerned by this item. I read feeds from Spain and post commentaries, including excepts, here from time to time. But now there's a new Spanish law that has forced Google News to shut down and could affect this website. "This new legislation requires every Spanish publication to charge services like Google News for showing even the smallest snippet from their publications, whether they want to or not." I'll play it by ear. But if Spanish agencies decide they want to charge me for listing content here, I will be forced, like Google, to shut down this service in Spain.

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Art can enhance humanity’s survival

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Thu, 2014-12-11 11:12
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Ollivier Dyens, University Affairs, Dec 11, 2014

What we need to understand about art, I think, is what is reflected in this article: "we are enticed by forms, shapes, rhythms and movements that are useful to our existence.... (art) acts as a device for creating effective metaphors, analogies, play on words, and allegories – mechanisms that draw unusual elements together to produce innovative shapes, dynamics and phenomena." We have artificially separated language and numbers from other forms of expression, and relegated the latter to the realm of beauty and pleasure, without understanding the need to express ourselves in different ways at different times. I've never understood the primacy of the literal (if I may so style words and numbers) and have always tried to express the same concepts in multiple media, because the abstractions of words and numbers so often misrepresent the meaning. As Dyens says, "If art enriches our lives it is mainly because it is a fantastic survival system, one that allows us to explore new survival structures and then disseminate them to the entire species through emotional means."

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Google's road to virtual reality begins with Cardboard

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Thu, 2014-12-11 11:12
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Nicole Lee, Engadget, Dec 11, 2014

Donald Clark has been a  vocal supporter of virtual reality and can be seen pictures displaying is passion for Oculus Rift. But this company, which was purchased  by Facebook out of the hands of a very angry Kickstarter audience, may be facing substantial competition from Google. Clark may want to refocus his energies. In a 20% project that took off, Google's  Cardboard regains some of the search giant's original charm while displaying a flexibility that is uncommon. The device is actually made of cardboard, some lenses, and a mobile phone. "Google is releasing new building specifications and tools for makers of its Cardboard headset, whether they're businesses like DODOCase and Knoxlabs or individuals like you and me.... mall businesses like I Am Cardboard and Unofficial Cardboard were formed out of just making and selling the Cardboard designs that Google open sourced."

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ICDE - UNESCO Policy Forum on open, online and flexible learning

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Thu, 2014-12-11 11:12
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Press Release, ICDE, Dec 11, 2014

An ICDE-UNESCO policy forum has called for "a new commitment is needed to opening up education, technology enhanced learning, the use of open educational resources, online, flexible and blended learning, research and innovation in the design, development, deployment and delivery of education at all levels." The forum was held in Bali in late November and a formal  Bali Declaration is available.

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Draft Strategic Plan (2015-2021)

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Thu, 2014-12-11 11:12


Various authors, Commonwealth of Learning, Dec 11, 2014

The Commonwealth of Learning has posted their draft strategic plan for the next 6 years and are calling for comments. It's a shift from previous plans. The first thing is a realignment from 'learning for development' to 'learning for sustainable development'. Additionally, there is increased recognition of the role for informal learning for development. The plan is also longer-term than the previous 3-year plans. The plan focuses on open schooling, participation in higher education, the virtual university for small states in the Commonwealth, teacher education, skills for healthy communities, technical and vocational skills development, farmers, and technology-enabled learning. The plan envisions roughly $12 million per year in expenditures, hoping for 20% funding from projects and fees, the rest contributions from 45 member nations. Be sure to see the recommendations on pages 47-48, which have some surprises - focusing on 4-6 nations, "transition from an educational development organisation to a backbone organisation focused on social impact," the need for major donors, and a total rethink of its communications strategy.

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Nearly 25% of 'people' viewing online video ads are robots used by fraudsters

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Thu, 2014-12-11 11:12
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Dominic Rushe, The Guardian, Dec 11, 2014

So how likely is it that the education content industry and learning analytics would be infected by the same sort of malfeasance that plagues online publishing? Well, to expect anything different would require us to believe that academic publishers have higher educational standards than publishers in general. So I guess I would have to ask whether they have given us any reason to believe this at this point? For otherwise, learning analytics developers should be prepared to enter into a long-term battle against scammers, just as in the case of the advertising industry.

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More Than Apps and Gadgets

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Thu, 2014-12-11 11:12


Stephen Downes, The Educationist, Dec 11, 2014

I wrote a short article to launch the first issue of The Educationist, a new magazine or journal launched this week by openlearning. In it, I argue that we should be clear about the role of education in supporting personal development and personal goals, rather than merely as a means to some end like "working to keep in power those who are already in power, providing them elite educations at exclusive universities, or we are perpetuating the servitude of the working people, teaching employment skills and vocational trades to the children of factory workers and farmers."

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When Charter Schools Are Nonprofit in Name Only

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Thu, 2014-12-11 11:12
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Marian Wang, ProPublica, Dec 11, 2014

So the way to be a non-profit charter school is tio accept government money and then turn around and hire management services from companies that actually do make a profit. "In the charter-school sector, this arrangement is known as a 'sweeps' contract because nearly all of a school's public dollars – anywhere from 95 to 100 percent – is 'swept' into a charter-management company."

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Instructional Design in the VUCA World

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Thu, 2014-12-11 11:12
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Sahana Chattopadhyay, ID, Other Reflections, Dec 11, 2014

Good article describing how the practice of instructional design has to change to adapt to new circumstances.  The author writes, "One of the implications of the shift is that instructional designers can no longer think about designing only formal training programs that will go on the LMS. They have to think of the entire spectrum and see it holistically... an instructional designer today is required to not only understand the fundamentals of good instructional design but must also expand his/her skill sets to include an  understanding  of community management, the spectrum of learning from formal to informal, the impact of social, local and mobile on user behaviour, the need to equip users with self-managed learning skills."

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