news (external)

Colleges Saw a Flood of Students at Recession’s Peak—and Discouraging Results

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Tue, 2014-11-18 16:48

Katherine Mangan, Chronicle of Higher Education, Nov 18, 2014

In 2008 the recession hit and colleges and universities saw a flood of new students looking to improve their knowledge and skills between jobs while the economy recovered. Six years and tens of thousands of dollars later, how did they fare? Not so well. In a nutshell, the system failed them. "Only 55 percent of the students who entered college in the fall of 2008, at the peak of the Great Recession, had earned college degrees or certificates by May 2014, according to a report released on Tuesday by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center." In view of those numbers, open online learning looks like an attractive alternative indeed. See also  Inside Higher Ed on the same story.

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Is Democracy in Deep Trouble?

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Tue, 2014-11-18 16:48

Don Tapscott, LinkedIn, Nov 18, 2014

I generally disagree with Don Tapscott but In want to chime in with him on this one. He argues that our political institutions are failing and the future of democracy itself is in question. Voters are increasingly unable to sway the political agenda, and our political leaders are behaving increasingly badly. "The ongoing abuse of trust by office holders is the product of widespread rot," he writes. "The result is a full-blown crisis in legitimacy." Consequently, he writes, we need to replace the existing system with "participatory" built around five principles:

  1. Integrity - "elected officials need to embrace integrity – which is honesty and consideration."
  2. Accountability - "we need to divorce politicians from relying on big money"
  3. Interdependence - "the public, private sector and civil society all have a role to play in sustaining a healthy society."
  4. Engagement - "mechanisms for government to benefit from the wisdom and insight that a nation can collectively offer."
  5. Transparency - "almost everything should be done in the full light of day"

These are nice-sounding principles but I fear they are unworkable. Two of them - integrity and transparency - depend on the character of our elected officials, which we already agree is lacking. What stands for 'engagement' today is mostly a series of public relations exercises. 'Interdependence' usually means granting special access to business and industry to the decision-making process, access they have purchased and will not let go.

We need to recognize that governance is complex and cannot be managed. We will not obtain good government by telling people how they ought to behave because, even if the recommendations are very good, a certain number of people will not follow them, and will ruin it for everyone else. We must structure democracy in such a way as to prevent these people from becoming so powerful in the first place. There have to be limits to wealth, limits to power, and limits to influence. There's no easy way to do this. But without them, democracy will fail at a time in history when we need it most.


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Beyond the MOOC Model: Changing Educational Paradigms

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Tue, 2014-11-18 01:09

by James G. Mazoue, EDUCAUSE Review

Four trends – MOOC-based degrees, competency-based education, the formalization of learning, and regulatory reform – are shifting educational practice away from core tenets of traditional education, indicating not a transient phenomenon but rather a fundamental change to the status quo.  It is ironic that at a time when higher education is seemingly more interconnected than ever, deep divisions exist over how best to carry out the core mission. The recent rancor over MOOCs reveals just how sharply divided the disagreement is between those who wish to preserve educational orthodoxy’s traditions and those who seek to abandon legacy practices in favor of more progressive alternatives. What MOOCs and other emergent trends might signify is a developing schism within education between traditionalists and progressives.

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Montana State U online program helps students finish a bachelor’s degree

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Tue, 2014-11-18 01:06

by MSU

A Montana State University online program that helps students complete their bachelor’s degree online saw its first-ever graduates this past year. Shanna Stanley of Conrad finished her bachelor’s in August through MSU’s online liberal studies bachelor’s degree completion program. Stanley has a 4-year-old daughter and works full time as a certified nursing assistant. The liberal studies bachelor’s degree completion program, developed for students who have completed at least two years of college and would like to earn a bachelor’s degree online, saw its first five graduates this past year. Since its inception, more than 90 students have enrolled in the fully online program. Two more students are expected to graduate this December.

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More students take on J-term, online courses

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Tue, 2014-11-18 01:03

By Corinne Hazen, The Miami Student

Miami University students have happily welcomed the addition of the winter term to the university’s calendar. With a total student enrollment increase of 29 percent from last J-term, the administration sees the addition as an overall success. According to Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs David Sauter, there are changes being made to this upcoming winter term. “[There will be] increased online and hybrid classes, more study abroad and more entrepreneurial offerings by faculty” Sauter said. Sauter said both students and faculty have found the additional term to be beneficial.

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Internationaler Tag zur Beseitigung von Gewalt gegen Frauen am 25.11.2014

Gesundheitsberichterstattung - Mon, 2014-11-17 23:00
Ausgewählte Informationen zum Internationaler Tag zur Beseitigung von Gewalt gegen Frauen am 25.11.2014
Categories: Science News

Technology Readiness Level (TRL) math for innovative SMEs

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Mon, 2014-11-17 16:48

Serkan Bolat, Serkan Bolat, Nov 17, 2014

This overview of the concept of the 'technology readiness level' (TRL) is useful in the areas of innovation and technology development (we use it in-house at NRC). The idea is to distinguish between innovations that are still at the conceptual stage and those that are ready for production. Our MOOC technology reach 5 or 6, and did not receive project support to go further. Our personal learning environment software has reach level 4 in earlier prototypes and now we're trying to get it to 5 or 6, after which if it's successful we have the plan and commitment to go further. TRL is useful because it demonstrates the hurdles to innovation - it's not typically getting to step 1, as most people (I think) suppose, it's getting past the higher levels and into deployment.

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Notes from Utrecht Workshop on Ethics and Privacy Issues in the Application of Learning Analytics

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Mon, 2014-11-17 16:48

Niall Sclater, Sclater Digital, Nov 17, 2014

Summary of a presentation from Hendrik Drachsler - "his call for ethical and privacy issues in the application of learning analytics had produced over 100 issues... put into four categories: privacy, ethics, data and transparency" - and Jan-Jan Lowijs - "described the nine general themes in the Directive which we found a useful way to propose answers to some of the 100 issues that had been submitted." Issues of privacy and security are becoming more prevalent in data analytics, and I'm not sure a policy-based approacvh will be sufficient to address them. See also: learning analytics using business intelligence systems.

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Embedding Learning in Work: The Benefits and Challenges

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Mon, 2014-11-17 16:48

Charles Jennings, Workplace Performance, Nov 17, 2014

One of the major aspects of the personal learning environment system we are designing revolves around the idea of embedding learning in work. Why? As Charles Jennings writes, "A common finding that has emerged from study after study over the past few years is that learning which is embedded in work seems to be more effective than learning away from work." After summarizing a number of research studies making this point, he turns to some of the challenges. One is that such learning can't be designed - it is "self-managed, and the measurement is in terms of outputs." Another is "the lack of understanding and failure to use performance support approaches" in typical workplace learning systems. Finally, "embedding learning in work almost always requires the active support of executives, business managers and team leaders."

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My reclaimed content workflow

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Mon, 2014-11-17 16:48

D'Arcy Norman, D'Arcy Norman Dot Net, Nov 17, 2014

Useful graphic from D'Arcy Norman illustrating his "reclaimed content workflow." As I am almost certainly facing a website migration this winter, the first in nine years, I am reconsidering these very issues. He writes, "I consider 2 parts absolutely essential: the WordPress-powered blog/site running at, and my Aperture library living on my home laptop." I'm much the same way, except I manage both photos and content with home-rolled code. Maybe I shouldn't. But it's a hard habit (or passion) to break.

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National OER Framework

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Mon, 2014-11-17 13:48

Paul Stacey, Musings on the Ed Tech Frontier, Nov 17, 2014

It's really interesting to read this longish post from Paul Stacey describing work he has done with the Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization to promote the use and development of OER at a Pan-Arab level to institutions, teachers and students, and then his visit to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where he was hosted by Abdullah Almegren who leads the National Center for e-Learning & Distance Learning at the Ministry of Higher Education. He has a photo in the exact location I was photographed wearing the same Arab dress. I'm thinking maybe we should exchange notes. He has "been helping the US State Department with their Open Book project" while I've been engaged in MOOCs. There's a lot of overlap. And I agree with him when he writes "OER affords a cross-cultural education experience and can act as a form of diplomacy, understanding, and peace-keeping."

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Public school educated and proud of it

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Mon, 2014-11-17 13:48

Kelli McGraw, sharing findings, inviting conversations, Nov 17, 2014

Every once in a while (far more frequently than I would like) someone touts the quality of students and professors at the elite universities like Yale and Harvard and MIT and the like. The same argument is less overtly made but nonetheless also applies to elite private schools. I've never believed these arguments, if for no other reason than that I've had plenty of opportunities to interact with these students and professors and, frankly, they're no great shakes. And far too often they seem to be just like you and I, but with their ethical filters turned off. My education comes from the public school system, and my university degrees were from that intellectual powerhouse, the University of Calgary. I received a first rate education and I'll stack up the result with anyone from one of the elites. In this post Kelli McGraw expresses similar sentiments about her education and work in the Australian public system.

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Oculus Rift: Freezers, smilers, grippers, swayers, screamers and freak-outs – resistance is futile

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Mon, 2014-11-17 13:48

Donald Clark, Donald Clark Plan B, Nov 17, 2014

I wonder how big systems like Oculus Rift will become. OR (I'll call it for short) is a virtual reality system that fits like a mask over the face. And as Donald Clark says, "Once you flood their field of view with a screen that has a high refresh rate with rock solid tracking so that your head movements mimic what would happen in that world, along with great audio – you’ re there. That new world is your reality." I really should get me one of those. This article classifies OR reactions and provides a video of one person "freaking out" in the environment.

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POERUP – Policies for OER Uptake

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Mon, 2014-11-17 13:48

Various authors, POERUP, Nov 17, 2014

According to the website, "The official funding period of POERUP has ended on 30 June 2014, now all the project's key outputs and public deliverables are finalised and available to the public." It states, "POERUP wanted the policies to be evidence-based policies – based on looking beyond one’ s own country, region or continent, and beyond the educational sector that a ministry typically looks after."

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New Modes of Learning and Teaching in Higher Education

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Mon, 2014-11-17 01:09

by the European Commission

The higher education landscape is undergoing significant change as a result of technological innovations. We are witnessing changes in the way higher education is taught and in the way students learn…. There is enormous potential for widening access to higher education and increasing the diversity of the student population. Online technologies provide opportunities to learn anywhere, anytime and from anyone. This flexibility is essential for non-traditional learners and will enable a shift change in the engagement of higher education institutions in lifelong learning and continuing professional development. This will provide an important tool to governments in ensuring a diversity of provision within higher education systems to meet the needs of all learners. It also provides a platform for reaching international markets and complements existing developments in cross-border education. Share on Facebook var button = document.getElementById('facebook_share_link_12680') || document.getElementById('facebook_share_icon_12680') || document.getElementById('facebook_share_both_12680') || document.getElementById('facebook_share_button_12680'); if (button) { button.onclick = function(e) { var url = this.href.replace(/share\.php/, 'sharer.php');,'sharer','toolbar=0,status=0,width=626,height=436'); return false; } if ( === 'facebook_share_button_12680') { button.onmouseover = function(){'#fff'; = '#295582'; = '#3b5998'; } button.onmouseout = function(){ = '#3b5998'; = '#d8dfea'; = '#fff'; } } }

5 lessons from job-training programs: The original competency-based experts

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Mon, 2014-11-17 01:03

By Dian Schaffhauser, eCampus News

Some community colleges have succeeded in converting their job training programs into full-fledged competency-based degrees. One success story shares five lessons. Community colleges, which have been offering occupational education for decades, have long understood how to address the skills needed by local employers. Now they’re also learning how to integrate competency-based assessment into those courses.

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Online professional development gets industry prestige

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Mon, 2014-11-17 01:01

by eCampus News

According to the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics, demand for continuing education for adults aged 35 or older will continue to grow through 2016. “Despite compressed national median family income and claims that higher education might be over-promising and under-delivering, the underlying value proposition for continuing education persists,” said the School. TDJ-SOL’s courses and programs, including The Women’s Leadership Institute and The Daymond John Certificate in Entrepreneurship with marketing classes taught by ABC-TV Shark Tank star Daymond John, are “engineered for adult learners seeking concentrated continuing education opportunities that will help them grow and excel in their professional and personal development,” explained the School.

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Question - Mon, 2014-11-17 01:00
Categories: Cartoons, Science News

Here's How To Figure Out Everything Google Knows About You

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Sun, 2014-11-16 22:47

Julie Bort, Business Insider, Nov 16, 2014

This is a useful article not only because it tells you what Google knows about you (which is always interesting reading) but because it gives a hint at Google's methods and how effective they are. In my case, the methods produce spotty results, which oddly makes me happy. This is the most useful: "First, click on the link below or type it into your browser: Then click on Account history." Then scroll to the bottom to see 'Ad Settings'.

[Link] [Comment]

Saying No to Fully Online

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Sun, 2014-11-16 01:30

by Carl Straumsheim, Inside Higher Ed

UF Online, the University of Florida’s online education arm, won’t offer a political science degree after the department, concerned about quality and the state’s shifting leadership, voted against the idea. Unlike many online education initiatives, which target adult learners and other groups of students not normally served by course offerings on campus, UF Online is meant to educate first-time-in-college students — high school graduates between the ages of 18 and 22. When a department at UF declines to participate, it creates a hole in UF Online’s lineup. The decision wasn’t based on passionate opposition to online education, said Ido Oren, associate professor and chair of the political science department.

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