news (external)

Fear of Screens

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Wed, 2016-01-27 22:19

Nathan Jurgenson, The New Inquiry, Jan 27, 2016

Nathan Jurgenson responds to Sherry Turkle's recent book, Reclaiming Conversation, with the question, "Why would anyone want to believe that people who are communicating with phones have forgotten what friendship is?" I think it's a good question, because the depiction of an online life as empty and soulless is not an accurate reflection of the reality. Jurgenson suggests, "Turkle’ s claims may feel commonsensical in part because they are self-flattering: They let us suspect that we are the last humans standing in a world of dehumanized phone-toting drones... Turkle makes the unqualified and unsupported assumption that real conversation, connection, and personhood must happen without the screen." In essence, I would say, Turkle is inferring from an 'is to an 'ought', where her critique of digital media is based on some 'natural' way of having relationships.

[Link] [Comment]

Inspiring the Next Gen of Tech Workers

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Wed, 2016-01-27 01:10

By John K. Waters, THE Journal

It has been called “America’s persistent problem”: not enough skilled workers to fill millions of job openings. The high-tech sector in particular has complained for years about the country’s shallow pool of tech talent. Some leading companies in that sector have partnered with online education providers in hope of deepening that pool in the relatively near term. Google, AT&T, Facebook, and Twitter, for example, have worked with Udacity to create targeted online certification programs, a few of which provide training for specific jobs currently available. Some high-tech companies are also acting with an eye toward the future with programs and events aimed at K-12 students and educators.

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Students earn gen ed credits and major credits online

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Wed, 2016-01-27 01:05

By Katie Ellington, the Asbury Collegian

Many think of a typical school day as a series of in class lectures that are over by dinnertime. But a number of Asbury students are taking both general education courses and major requirements from their dorm rooms. “There are a limited number of courses offered online for traditional undergraduate students, most of which are foundational courses,” said Registrar Sheryl Voigts. While students take classes online to simplify schedules, work at their own pace or get some work done over the summer, Dean of Graduate and Professional Studies Dr. Bill Hall, who helped start the online program, says it wasn’t until two or three years ago that these courses opened up to the entire student body.

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Collaborative classrooms mark wave of the future in higher ed

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Wed, 2016-01-27 01:02

By Tara García Mathewson, Education Dive

Student-centered models turn instructors into guides as students investigate for themselves. Student-centered, collaborative classroom design is exploding across higher education and virtually all faculty today understand the difference between labs of computers and classrooms that feature them. INTERESC has three collaborative classrooms in high demand and plans to design more as soon as there’s money to build them. The designs put students at the center of instruction, shifting the faculty role to one of tutor or guide. “This changes the whole way we teach,” Benavides said. At the School of Education, students benefit from more engaging class periods, as well as the modeling of how to be comfortable with technology as teachers. Their instructors serve as content guides, and they also help solve technical problems that are sure to crop up in the modern classrooms.

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Birdsong - Wed, 2016-01-27 01:00
Categories: Cartoons, Science News


Gesundheitsberichterstattung - Tue, 2016-01-26 23:00

Pressemitteilung vom 27. Januar 2016 - 26/16

Ende 2014 rund 5,2 Millionen Beschäftigte im Gesundheitswesen

WIESBADEN - Zum 31. Dezember 2014 waren rund 5,2 Millionen Menschen in Deutschland im Gesundheitswesen tätig. Wie das Statistische Bundesamt (Destatis) weiter mitteilt, waren das rund 102 000 oder 2,0 % mehr als Ende 2013.

Weitere Auskünfte gibt:

Anja Afentakis,
Telefon: (0611) 75-8128,

zur vollständigen Pressemitteilung
Categories: Science News

New Learning Design book is out!

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Tue, 2016-01-26 22:15

Grainne Conole,, Jan 26, 2016

This is the sort of thing that might become a landmark in the field. As a collaboration among a number of different groups of proponents of learning design, it stands as a sort of marker or statement of the core values of the field. The aim of this work is to define and extend the  Larnaca Declaration of learning design, first formulated a couple of years ago, which seeks to create a 'notation' to educators can use to describe and share successful strategies. The declaration employs an excellent analogy, that of musical notation, which allows us to share through the generations the thoughts of great componsers. Even jazz can be understood this way, the authors argue. "Even improvisation often uses some predetermined basic musical structures, such as the chord progressions in the twelve-bar blues."

I'm not on board with this project. In all fairness, I should engage with it more fully and formally, to tease out the nuances of exactly why I don't think this is the right approach. That work lies far in the future. Even so, let me take a few paragraphs to explain where I feel the fundamental issues inherent in this approach will arise:

  • why should there be a separate notation for  educational or  learning activities, as opposed to the notation we might use for activities generally? For example 'role playing' is not only a learning strategy, but a design strategy.
  • what is the basis for the proposed standardized and formalized vocabularies, and how are these vocabularies created, especially in cases where the 'educational' activity (such as roleplaying) overlaps with other fields?
  • the authors talk of the "need to create clearer conceptual foundations" - but I am sceptical that they have 'solved' learning. Compare with their description of the "wide range of theories and research methods that are used to guide decisions about teaching and learning activities". There aren't conceptual foundations yet.
  • indeed, there isn't an accepted ontology of learning or educational objects or events. Consider the "AUTC Learning Design project" described in the declaration: there is no principled distinction between a 'resource' and a 'support'. 
  • The understanding of conceptual types in learning design seems primitive compared to more established areas there notation is based on specific methodologies and principles, such as computer programming or interaction design. For example, consider the Jigsaw design pattern used as an example. The processes of combination and recombination strike me, at least, as a superficial replication of some neural network designs.
  • there is a presumption in this work that different theories can and will use the same terminology in the same way. But this does not accord with the work of people like Kuhn, who point to the incommensurability of concepts and terms between theories
  • the point of learning design is to depict "a sequence of teaching and learning activities is created independent of its implementation context," however, no vocabulary or syntax can be created independently of implementation (cf. Quine, 'Two Dogmas of Empiricism')
  • learning design is ultimately top-down and formal: the "usual expectation is that an educator who adopts a learning design will still need to adapt it to suit the particular needs of his/her learners." Compare this with discussions of (and criticisms of) 'knowledge translation'
  • it's not clear learning design as described here even makes sense outside the context of classroom instruction. As the authors note, there are different reserach methods, expectations, etc. with SCORM. How would learning design fare with an approach to learning that did not have learning outcomes or employ a curriculum?

The attempt to depict Learning Design with a common notation is an attempt to formalize in a reductive way the underpinnings of a creative act. It focuses on the world of the teacher. As a creative act, teaching can be - like drama or music - formalized in some interesting ways. But the processes of teaching and learning are not simply creative acts. They must function in a complex and often chaotic world, in a constantly changing environment where there is currently no consensus on what the fundamental objects are. It's like applying stage notation to the floor of the stock exchange, or applying musical notation to describe a busy intersection. It's just not the right tool to use to understand human interaction or the interplay of sound. And if we can't use it to foster this understanding, why use it all?

[Link] [Comment]

Pioneering computer scientist Marvin Minsky dies at 88

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Tue, 2016-01-26 22:15

Michael Pearson, CNN, Jan 26, 2016

I met Marvin Minsky at Idea City in 2003, where he gave a talk. We did not talk about artificial intelligence. We talked about the glass and light sculptures that were on display at one of the parties. It was one of the few times at the conference where he was on his own, without his assistant and without a crowd of people, and was able to explore. That was our one and only meeting.

[Link] [Comment]

Presentation Planning

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Tue, 2016-01-26 19:14

Common Craft, Jan 26, 2016

I studied public speaking in school and became quite good at it, winning four championships in six years. Back then I would memorize my talks, then improvise a bit as I spoke. Later, when I began doing academic presentations, the mode de rigeur was to read the paper to the audience. That was as dull as it sounds (and it's astonishing to see the practice persist still in some academic conferences). All this was before Power Point. With Power Point I could use notes and put them on the screen. I had also by that time read and mastered  Winging It by keithe Spicer. So now I could do pretty complex talks without notes. The method outlined in this Common Craft video is similar to what you'll read in the (pre-internet) Spicer book, but with visuals. It's good - if basic - advice. Via Richard Byrne.

[Link] [Comment]

Review of Continued Progress: Promising Evidence on Personalized Learning

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Tue, 2016-01-26 04:12

William R. Penuel, Raymond Johnson, National Education Policy Center, Jan 25, 2016

This is a review of a report titled Continued Progress: Promising Evidence on Personalized Learning (57 page PDF) which summarizes finding from three projects based on the idea of personalized learning. According to the report, the findings are generally positive, but they warn against saying the one thing caused the other; the experimental design was too weak and the data mixed. The review published by the National Education Policy Center (12 page PDF)echoes these cautions and also questions the methodology on a variety of grounds, the most serious of which is probably the predominance of charter schools in the research projects, a process that introduces "bias associated with being a school selected as part of a competitive process to be part of a program." Fair enough, but I think there are some positive takeaways. It's hard to balance personalized learning with a requirement of standardized outcomes, and the fact that these projects show no evidence of being disasters suggests that personalizing learning will, at a minimum, do no harm. I think that is promising evidence, even if the authors of the review do not.

[Link] [Comment]

Zygmunt Bauman: “Social media are a trap”

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Tue, 2016-01-26 04:12

Ricardo de Querol, El Pais, Jan 25, 2016

There's a lot to protest, says Zygmunt Bauman, but protest has been ineffective in the social media age, an age in which in which "all agreements are temporary, fleeting, and valid only until further notice" (this reminds me of an interview I heard on the weekend to the effect that the impact of Uber is that companies will feel free to flout regulations simply by saying they don't apply. Part of the problem, he says, is that social media protests lack leaders, so "they cannot convert their sense of purpose into action." In effect, "The difference between a community and a network is that you belong to a community, but a network belongs to you... people use social media not to unite, not to open their horizons wider, but on the contrary, to cut themselves a comfort zone where the only sounds they hear are the echoes of their own voice."  Zygmunt Bauman is a force, but I don't agree with his analysis here. True, the social contract (such as it is) is dissolving, but I don't think social networks are the cause. Creating change is no longer about forcing your will on to a recalcitrant community, it's about creating alternatives through networks of associations. More: Bauman Institute.

[Link] [Comment]

Turnitin Launches Service Designed to Improve Student Writing

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Tue, 2016-01-26 01:05

By David Nagel, THE Journal

Turnitin, best known in education circles for its technology designed to detect plagiarism in students’ papers, has launched a new tool that aims to improve those students’ papers during the writing process. According to Turnitin, the technology, called Turnitin Revision Assistant, goes beyond simple grammar and spelling checks and instead provide “actionable comments” on demand, offering feedback on such aspects of their writing as “focus, use of evidence or organization, among many others,” according to the company.

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Game-Based Learning Has Practical Applications for Nontraditional Students

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Tue, 2016-01-26 01:02

By Marguerite McNeal, edSurge

Can game-based learning help nontraditional students improve outcomes? That’s the central question behind a report released today by Muzzy Lane Software, a Newbury, Mass.-based game development platform. Game-based experiences like role-playing scenarios and puzzles can let students test competencies in a safe environment. The new report shows the potential for these learners to benefit from modular, game-based approaches that fit within their lives and their instructors’ workflows. “We hope that this [research] leads to educators and curriculum designers and game-makers thinking about approaches to games that can overcome hurdles of cost and fit that have been holding things back,” says Bert Snow, principal investigator and vice president of design at Muzzy Lane.

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Reshma Saujani Makes the Case for Girls Who Code

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Tue, 2016-01-26 01:01

By Patrick Peterson, THE Journal

The code that makes computers run consists of long strings of seemingly random numbers and letters that tell the computer how to react to certain requests and even let the computer perform tasks that seem almost human. The geeky wizards who control this digital magic are mostly young men. But girls, led by lawyer-turned-tech-advocate Reshma Saujani, have begun to mine this source of power. “They are interested and they are good at it,” Saujani said during a keynote address to FETC 2016 last week in Orlando. Through the organization Saujani founded in 2012, Girls Who Code, more than 10,000 young women have been learning to create computer software which runs everything from smartphones to the nation’s power grid. The girls have discovered that there is no reason for them to avoid high-tech fields, which are normally chosen by boys.

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Statistik der natürlichen Bevölkerungsbewegung

Gesundheitsberichterstattung - Mon, 2016-01-25 23:00

Die im Informationssystem eingespeicherten gestaltbaren Tabellen aus dem Bereich "Statistik der natürlichen Bevölkerungsbewegung" des Statistischen Bundesamtes wurden um die Angaben des Jahres 2014 ergänzt.

Categories: Science News

Are At-Risk Students Bunnies to Be Drowned?

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Mon, 2016-01-25 19:11

Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, Jan 25, 2016

It's hard to know whether to be amused or offended by this story. Anyone who has attended university is familiar with the concept of 'weeding out' courses designed to thin the incoming class. And while there are many defenders of this philosophy, few have put it so, um, graphically: "This is hard for you because you think of the students as cuddly bunnies, but you can’ t. You just have to drown the bunnies … put a Glock to their heads." The speaker in question is Mount St. Mary’ s University president Simon Newman, as reported in the MSMU student newspaper, the Mountain Echo. It reminds me of the old 'or  the bunny gets it' clip. So obviously the language is inappropriate for the context. Even so, MSVU's Board is  standing by their president.

[Link] [Comment]

3 Things to Consider Before Taking Online Courses in College

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Mon, 2016-01-25 01:10

by Say Campus Life

Before you choose online as the route that is best for you, it’s important to understand that this format can be a challenge. Here are 3 things to do before starting online course work. Hopefully they help you decide.

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Confessions of a MOOC professor: three things I learned and two things I worry about

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Mon, 2016-01-25 01:02

by John Covach, the Conversation

Roughly two-thirds of my students have been over the age of 25. When we think about college courses, we assume the students are age 18-24, since that’s the usual age at which one gets an undergraduate degree. There are a significant number of people out there, however, who are interested in continuing to learn later in life. Students who take MOOC courses tend to be older and are mostly international. Continuing education courses at colleges and universities have served that public to a certain degree, but it is clear that there is more demand among older students than many might have suspected. Given the chance to learn according to their own schedule and location, many find this option very attractive. MOOC students are mostly international and already college-educated

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In Case of Emergency - Mon, 2016-01-25 01:00
Categories: Cartoons, Science News

Arzneimittelmarkt in Zahlen

Gesundheitsberichterstattung - Sun, 2016-01-24 23:00

Die im Informationssystem eingespeicherten gestaltbaren Tabellen aus dem Bereich "Arzneimittelmarkt in Deutschland in Zahlen" des Bundesfachverbandes der Arzneimittel-Hersteller e.V. wurden um die Angaben des Jahres 2014 ergänzt.

Categories: Science News


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