news (external)

Ted Mitchell: Access without excellence is not equity

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Thu, 2016-05-12 02:05

By Tara García Mathewson, Education Dive

If the United States wants to reclaim its place as the country with the greatest portion of adults with postsecondary degrees, greater attention must be paid to issues around equity. A dozen other countries now have a more educated populace than the United States, not because the U.S. is graduating fewer people, but because other countries are increasing their pace, pushing more of their population through postsecondary programs. At the Education Writers Association meeting in Boston this week, U.S. Under Secretary of Education Ted Mitchell emphasized the need for quality of education coupled with consideration of equity and access. “To talk about quality without talking about equity and access is simply foolish if what we’re looking for is a higher education system that can continually propel the American society and American economy forward,” Mitchell said.

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Anyone can build a MOOC

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Thu, 2016-05-12 02:03

by Brian Mulligan, Institute of Technology Sligo Ireland

How can Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) be financially sustainable when they are so expensive to build? Well one group of educators in Europe disagree on the grounds that it does not have to cost that much to build one. If you think you can teach, then you can teach online. This group from Germany, Holland, Ireland and Spain have got together to show how it can be done. On the 17th of May, 2016, they will be launching their own MOOC; “Making MOOCs on a Budget” to show people how they can build their own open online courses with very little money and even with limited time.

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Aktionstag "Chronisch entzündliche Darmerkrankungen" am

Gesundheitsberichterstattung - Thu, 2016-05-12 00:00
Ausgewählte Informationen zum Aktionstag "Chronisch entzündliche Darmerkrankungen" am 19.05.2016;
Motto: Neue Therapiestrategien
Categories: Science News

This AI has killer dance moves

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Wed, 2016-05-11 22:24

Nora Young, CBC | Spark, May 11, 2016

Driving back from a lunch meeting I listened to this interesting program on Spark about LuminAI, a computer program that learns to dance by dancing with you. It does not have dance moves pre-programed into it; rather, it learns through a process of pattern recognition (though the designers did cheat a little bit by giving it a dance repertoire language). What's interesting is not simply the understanding of how to learn without explicit instruction, it's also the idea of humans and AIs learning to work together. “ Co-creative artificial intelligence, or using AI as a creative collaborator, is rare,” said Brian Magerko, the Georgia Tech digital media associate professor who leads the project. “ As computers become more ubiquitous, we must understand how they can co-exist with humans. Part of that is creating things together.” Additionally, we can see this being a model for future instruction: an AI works with an expect for a period of time, learns what to recognize, then in turn is able to teach by working with novices (or as we called it, 'automated competency detection and recognition').

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Schools as Knowledge-Building Organizations: Thirty Years of Design Research

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Wed, 2016-05-11 19:23

Bodong Chen, Huang-Yao Hong, Educational Psychologist, May 11, 2016

Good overview of a complex topic. "Knowledge creation is proposed as a third 'metaphor' of learning— in addition to the
learning as acquisition and participation metaphors," write the authors, and now "Knowledge Building (KB) aims to move beyond metaphor to the realization of education as a knowledge-creating enterprise." This article provides an overview of Knowledge Building "to articulate its key ideas and explore its applications in various educational contexts." The result is an examination of topics such as collective intelligence, World 3 knowledge (ie., "the body of human knowledge expressed in its manifold forms"), knowledge communities, knowledge building principles, and ultimately, the role of the teacher and the role of technology. A secondary task of the paper is to consider the empirical evidence for KB approaches and assessment of the methodology, particularly from the perspective of basic and domain-specific literacies. Note that the final article is behind a paywall; this link is to the ResearchGate version.

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20 Ways Instructional Designers Are Ruining My Meetings

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Wed, 2016-05-11 19:23

Joshua Kim, Inside Higher Ed, May 11, 2016

I like the way Joshua Kim deconstructs that most useless of all creations, the meeting. "The people in the room will have one experience, the people online will experience something different. The people in the room will do most of the talking. There will be a technical failure in the audio or the video at some point. This is how it has always been. What right do instructional designers have in making everyone in a meeting participate in the discussion in the web meeting environment - even when some of us are in the same room?"

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Refusing to Be Measured

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Wed, 2016-05-11 19:23

Colleen Flaherty, Inside Higher Ed, May 11, 2016

The battle shaping up over  Academic Analytics is an interesting one. The service basically measures the publication and citation activity of some 270,000 faculty members. As their website states, "Academic Analytics' unique "flower chart" affords the viewer a visualization of the overall productivity of the faculty within a given academic discipline. Variables on different scales (per capita, per grant dollar, per publication, etc.) and measuring different areas of scholarly productivity can be viewed simultaneously on a single comparative scale based on national benchmarks for the discipline."

But the subject of this article is the response of professors at Rutgers who are objecting to being assessed by the service. One major concern is that it is inaccurate. This is especially a problem given the difficulties faculty have seeing their own profiles, violating  with the Leiden Manifesto recommendation to "keep data collection and analytical processes open, transparent and simple." Moreover, "the data lack nuance or accounting for research quality and innovation." But suppose these conditions could all be met: would there then be an objection to being assessed in this manner? Or are these conditions which, in principle, could never be met?

[Link] [Comment]

Uber-U is Already Here

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Wed, 2016-05-11 16:23

May 11, 2016

Look at the elements of what we're calling here "Uber U" (quoted):

  • A mobile app that enables a user to connect to a central hub, which then connects student needs with available tutoring or other forms of help from around the world
  • A tracking system which enables fees to be charged and transferred between the student and the tutor.
  • Online assessments which can verify the competence and skills of the student and their identity.
  • A blockchain system which records all aspects of every transaction so that the credential awarding institution can verify that learning took place.

It would have been nice to be working toward this. Had things worked out the way I planned, we'd be sliding easily into this new vision with LPSS. But of course these concepts will move forward in any case, even while others fritter away working on enterprise LMS technology.

[Link] [Comment]

The Battle for “Personalized Learning”

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Wed, 2016-05-11 04:21

Michael Feldstein, e-Literate, May 10, 2016

I actually don't care who defines 'personalized learning' nor how they define it so long as I can keep distinguishing it from 'personal learning'. But I think it's far-fetched to say "it  seems to have no specific meaning at all" and even more so to say that "it means... robot tutor in the sky" (and yes, of course Knewton was over-reaching  - anyone who understands how this technology works understands that it has been over-reaching). And having said all that, their own definition ("a family of teaching practices that are intended to help reach students in the metaphorical back row") is just plain weird. Their examples ("that teachers have been using for a very long time") include 'homework' and 'tutors'. I get what they're after - nobody wants a repeat of the co-option of terms like we've seen with 'open' and 'edupunk' and 'MOOC'. But this sort of non-definition won't help anything. Why not at least refer to a principled way  of describing it, and work from there, instead of  "asserting squatters’ rights" by  pretending that nobody had ever attempted  the task  before? (p.s. -1 for mixing reference to LoTR and HP).

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The academic, economic and societal impacts of Open Access: an evidence-based review

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Wed, 2016-05-11 04:21

Jonathan P. Tennant, François Waldner, Damien C. Jacque, et al., F1000Research, May 10, 2016

This is a solid and (as the title suggests) evidence-based argument from a variety of perspectives in favour of open access. To this point I think the case has been conclusively made and this article offers an excellent summary. Even more to the point, though, the article is offered via an open journal practicing open peer review. So I can see that five referees looked at the paper and offered their comments, including questions and suggestions for revisions. It also helps that I know  who the referees are, so I can see that, for example, Peter Suber gave his thumbs up. There are also some other nice features, such as the ability to download images as PowerPoint slides, direct links to references so I can read them on the spot, citation exporter, tracking feature, and more. This is the future of publishing.

[Link] [Comment]

Lessons About Online Learning

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Wed, 2016-05-11 02:08

By Yoram Neumann and Edith Neumann, Inside Higher Ed

Several factors emerged as determinants of students’ academic performance and related outcomes, such as retention, graduation, satisfaction and commitment toward their college or university. The four major predictors of student learning outcomes were: student engagement and involvement in a variety of activities aimed at different cognitive domains of learning; student-faculty contact, including faculty members’ helpfulness and accessibility — as manifested through the immediacy of feedback and a concern for students and their problems; factors related to degree programs, including the integration and relevance of the various required and elective courses, as well as the quality of teaching focused on student learning and of academic advising; and learning opportunities beyond traditional courses, including opportunities to engage in self-directed learning and address critical issues in the course. Share on Facebook var button = document.getElementById('facebook_share_link_17431') || document.getElementById('facebook_share_icon_17431') || document.getElementById('facebook_share_both_17431') || document.getElementById('facebook_share_button_17431'); 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_17431') { button.onmouseover = function(){'#fff'; = '#295582'; = '#3b5998'; } button.onmouseout = function(){ = '#3b5998'; = '#d8dfea'; = '#fff'; } } }

Good Outcomes for Transfers

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Wed, 2016-05-11 02:05

By Doug Lederman, Inside Higher Ed

Study finds that students who start at community college earn bachelor’s degrees at much lower rates — but those who transfer fare as well as (or better than) “native” four-year-college students. Students who enrolled in community colleges were significantly less likely to earn bachelor’s degrees and had lower early-career earnings than peers who went directly to four-year institutions, but those who ultimately transferred to four-year colleges performed equally to those who went directly into four-year institutions, a new study has found. The research, published by the Community College Research Center at Columbia University’s Teachers College, examines terrain that has become increasingly important as more students (often encouraged by policy makers) consider enrolling in two-year institutions because they are less expensive.

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Study: Higher ed falling behind fast in digital transformation

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Wed, 2016-05-11 02:02

By Tara García Mathewson, Education Dive

A study of college and university digital content management practices found schools are doing little more than publishing content, missing opportunities to deliver experiences and better engage students. Campus Technology reports the study, commissioned by five companies interested in higher ed digital business opportunities, found many schools overwhelmed by basic demands of maintaining the institution’s web presence with little bandwidth to shift from content publishing to digital storytelling. Report authors expect many colleges and universities will not be motivated to improve their digital content until they see negative consequences in student enrollment, but researchers say that will leave them playing catch up.

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Substitutions 3 - Wed, 2016-05-11 02:00
Categories: Cartoons, Science News

Cancellation of subscriptions to 2,116 Springer journals

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Wed, 2016-05-11 01:21

Press Release, Université de Montréal, May 10, 2016

A press prelease from the Université de Montré al minces no words in explaining why itè s dropping the bulk of its subscriptions from Springer: "'We are trying to best meet the needs of our community despite budget cuts in the last few years, the greediness of commercial publishers, and the weak Canadian dollar,' said Sté phanie Gagnon, Collections Director." One of the major culprits is bundling, which forces the university to buy journals nobody reads. "On their own, Libraries are absolutely no match for these multinational publishers. However, UdeM professors and researchers that are concerned about these changes are well positioned to make a difference....  The greatest risk for publishers is that people start questioning their access to this free research output and volunteer workforce as well as their business model.

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The DAO is alive, now let the evolution begin

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Tue, 2016-05-10 22:21

Julian Feder, Backfeed, May 10, 2016

I spent a good part of the day exploring this (and the rest of the day exploring the awesomeness of Windows 93). What we have here is really a two-part story, the first about Ethereum, and the second about Dao itself. To the first: according to the website, "Ethereum is a decentralized platform that runs smart contracts: applications that run exactly as programmed without any possibility of downtime, censorship, fraud or third party interference." Basically, it enables developers to create their own blockchain 'currencies' (which may or may not have financial value) which can be used in a variety of applications.

This leads us to the second part of the story, Dao, which is one of those applications. Basically it is a 'distributed corporation' that receives investments, chooses projects, and pays for their development; some of these projects return revenue to Dao and others don't. The key here is to prevent the corporation from being taken over and milked for value by large financial interests. As they say, "The idea of an organization without the need of headquarters, which exists almost outside of physical space, unseizable by force, which doesn’ t belong to any individual or group, and which has the ability to execute itself and self-regulate, would have sounded almost religious just a few decades ago." I wonder whether we could run science and education like that.

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World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF) Explore Plans to Combine

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Tue, 2016-05-10 22:21

Press Release, World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), May 10, 2016

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is, of course, the body that defines major web standards. The most important standard managed by the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF)  is the ePub standard for eBooks. According to the release, "The future evolution of EPUB technical standards would continue at W3C, along with broader work to improve publishing features across the entire Open Web Platform."

[Link] [Comment]

The Inconvenient Truth About Personalized Learning

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Tue, 2016-05-10 19:21

Julia Freeland Fisher, Clayton Christensen Institute, May 10, 2016

I think this article captures the core problem not only with learning research but also with learning analytics: "simply asking what works stops short of the real question at the heart of a truly personalized system: what works, for which students, in what circumstances?" There is, notes the author, "mounting evidence that 'average' itself is a flawed construct."  At a certain point, you need to be able to say why something works, which includes having an explanation for when it doesn't work. Most education research doesn't come close to this point.

[Link] [Comment]

Predictive Analytics for Publishing

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Tue, 2016-05-10 19:21

Carl Straumsheim, Inside Higher Ed, May 10, 2016

A new entrant based in Toronto is offering competition for  Academia and ResearchGate. As this article says,  Meta helps researchers to follow topics of interest in biomedical sciences (it intends to expand) with individual feed lists and libraries. The interesting bit is that Meta has organized this work as a graph of topics, researchers, journals and other elements. Presumably individuals using the service would also be included in the graph. The idea is to be able to predict emerging trends using data analytics. This may be more difficult than it sounds. After all, as cofounder  Sam Molyneux says,  “ There’ s always going to be a fraction of information that doesn’ t get published in articles,” Molyneux said. “ There’ s also the unpublished leading edge of science." Yeah. And that's a very large fraction. I tried out the site - I really didn't like the way the wizard seized control and wouldn't just let you explore until you had set up feeds and topics, but overall it seemed relatively intuitive.

[Link] [Comment]

Educational Technology Education Conferences 35 June to December 2016

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Tue, 2016-05-10 16:21

Clayton R. Wright, Stephen's Web, May 10, 2016

Clayton R. Wright has published the latest iteration of his excellent conference list. He writes, "Attached is the 35th version of the educational technology and education conference list. Since the previous list was published, 89 events were added to June 2016. This version of the list contains basic information regarding 1, 511 confirmed professional development opportunities. Additional events are noted, but dates and/or locations could not be confirmed."

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