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Becoming MOOC

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Mon, 2015-11-02 05:09 (Stephen Downes), Half an Hour, Nov 01, 2015 There are two types of MOOCs. On the one hand, there is the xMOOC - this is a formal course created in a site like Coursera or EdX. An xMOOC will have regular lessons, videos and assignments, be led by an elite university professor, and attract a large online audience. These are the MOOCs that have received most of the attention in recent years and have generally shaped people's impressions. But there's another type of MOOC, called the cMOOC, which is based on connection rather than content, which looks more like an online community than a course, and doesn't have a defined curriculum or formal assignments. These were the original MOOCs, and they posed a much greater challenge to both the educational institutions that offered them and the participants who studied in them.
One major criticism of the cMOOC is based on the free-form nature of the course. Students have to manage their own time, find their own resources, and structure their own learning. For this reason, it is argued, students must already have a high degree of skill and internet savvy in order to be successful. A student who cannot navigate complex websites, search for and assess resources, or make new friends through a social network may have difficulty navigating through a cMOOC. As Keith Brennan writes, "Not everyone knows how to be a node. Not everyone is comfortable with the type of chaos Connectivism asserts. Not everyone is a part of the network. Not everyone is a self-directed learner with advanced metacognition. Not everyone is already sufficiently an expert to thrive in a free-form environment. Not everyone thinks well enough of their ability to thrive in an environment where you need to think well of your ability to thrive." (Brennan, 2013) But what makes a person able to function from the first day in such an environment? What constitutes the literacy that is missing in such a case? There's no clear answer, but proposals abound. Brennan himself suggests that proficiency is based in learner efficacy. "Self-efficacy is our belief that a task is achievable by us, and that the environment in which we are working will allow us to achieve that task. It's that ticking heart that measures out the motivation in us," he writes. And in order to preserve and promote self-efficacy, design is important. Tasks must be challenging, in order to be satisfying, but not so frustrating as to create confusion. Whether a particular task satisfies these criteria, he writes, depends on cognitive load and prior knowledge. That's why "why we tend to teach absolute novices using techniques and contexts that are different to the ones we deploy for absolute experts, and why we avoid exposing novices to too much chaos." Other writers refer to these criteria under the heading of flow, and trace its origin to game design. (Baron, 2012) But cognitive load theory assumes that there is some specific outcome to learning such that supporting experiences can be divided into those supporting the learning outcome (aka 'signal') and those that constitute part of the background (aka 'noise'). This is especially the case if the purpose of the learning experience is to remember some specific body of content, or to accomplish some particular task. However, in a cMOOC, neither is the case. Indeed, navigating the chaos and making learning decisions is the lesson in a cMOOC. The cMOOC is in this way similar to constructivism. As George Siemens writes, "Learners often select and pursue their own learning. Constructivist principles acknowledge that real-life learning is messy and complex. Classrooms which emulate the 'fuzziness' of this learning will be more effective in preparing learners for life-long learning." (Siemens, 2004) What, then, would promote learner efficacy even in chaotic or noisy environments? A second, more robust, proposal takes the idea of literacy literally. A language might appear chaotic at first. Even if someone has learned how to spell the words, and even if they know what they mean, the nuances of using them in a sentence are many, and a language supports an infinite number of new sentence combinations. Each new experience with a language will be different, there are tens of thousands of words to choose from when forming a sentence, and only the barest of grammatical rules to aid construction. Imagine the language learner given a new text to read and criticize, picture them in front of a blank page they have to fill with words, and you have created an experience very similar to participating in a cMOOC. What sort of literacy would be appropriate in a cMOOC? Two major types of literacies suggest themselves: 21st century literacies, and digital literacies. 21st century literacies are those literacies appropriate for living and working in the 21st century. This is an environment which changes at a much greater pace than in previous years, where there is a constant flow of information, where connectivity with people worldwide is part of our everyday reality, and where jobs that existed ten years ago have disappeared, and new ones have taken their place. A good example of this is the Framework for 21st Century Learning, which addresses several dimensions of this new type of learning, including core skills of collaboration, creativity, communication and critical thinking, and supporting skills such as workplace skills, information media skills, and the traditional core types of literacy and numeracy. (The Partnership for 21st Century Skills , 2011) Alternatively, we can focus on literacies specific to the digital medium itself. For example, the Mozilla Foundation has developed and promoted a Web Literacy Map which describes in greater detail how to engage with digital media (as opposed to merely consuming it). (Belshaw, 2015) Three major types of skills are identified: exploring, building and connecting. The first describes how to find your way about the chaotic environment and even to make sense of it for yourself. The second examines traditional and new forms of content creation, including authoring and art, in a digital media environment. And the third addresses the previously under-represented function of sociality and connection. Taken together, these three literacies can be seen as a way for individuals to manage cognitive load for themselves, to adapt the task of making sense of the web to their own skill level, and therefore to manage even in an environment that is not well designed. Belshaw writes, "In its current form, the Web Literacy Map comprises a collection of competencies and skills that Mozilla and our community of stakeholders believe are important to pay attention to when getting better at reading, writing and participating on the web. Web literacy is about more than just coding. The web literacy standard covers every part of web literacy-from learning basic coding skills to taking action around privacy and security." In this sense, the modern understanding is about more than communication and meaning in a language or symbol system. It is about operating and interacting in a complex and multi-dimensional environment. This makes it particularly relevant to an understanding of the difference between literacies required in traditional courses and the contemporary literacies required in a much less structure learning environment such as a MOOC. These types of literacies can be combined into an overarching set of literacies that may be described under the heading of 'critical literacies'. These literacies encompass not only the skills related to comprehension and sense-making, but also the creative abilities that support criticism, construction and communication. And they go beyond this in addressing the dynamics of today's world. They include, at a minimum, the following: the ability to detect and define syntax, structure, patterns and similarities; the ability to identify and generate meaning, purpose and goal; the ability to sense and create context or environment; the ability to apply or use language, literacy and communication to accomplish tasks; the ability to support a conclusion, criticize an argument, offer an explanation or define a term; and an understanding of how to recognize, manage and create change. Or, in brief: syntax, semantics, context, use, cognition and change. (Downes, 2009) These literacies may be necessary for success in a MOOC, but they are more widely applicable as well. The theory of knowledge underlying the creation of the cMOOC suggests that learning is not based on the idea of remembering content, nor even the acquisition of specific skills or dispositions, but rather, in engaging in experiences that support and aid in recognition of phenomena and possibilities in the world. When we reason using our brains, we are reasoning using complex neural nets that shape and reshape themselves the more we are exposed to different phenomena. Choice, chance, diversity and interactivity are what support learning in neural nets, not simple and static content. Cognitive dissonance is what creates learning experiences. To learn is to be able to learn for oneself, not to learn what one is told; it is to be able to work despite cognitive overload, not to remain vulnerable to it. So the cMOOC is harder, requiring a greater degree of literacy, but in developing these literacies, promotes a deeper learning experience. Finally, an understanding of the literacies required also helps us understand the difference between traditional courses, including the xMOOC, and the less structured cMOOC. It also offers ground for criticism of the former. Traditional literacies are rooted in our comprehension of, and ability to work within, abstract symbol systems (and in particular, language and mathematics). It is no coincidence that PISA, for example, measures student performance in language, science and mathematics. These are be languages of learning, as well as the content of learning. But from the perspective of the cMOOC, these traditional literacies are inadequate. They form only a part of the learning environment, and not even the most interesting part, as we engage in environments that cannot be described through timeless abstractions or static facts and figures. But this is exactly what we face when we attempt to extend our learning from the eternal present and into the vanishing past or future. We need to learn to engage with, interact with, and recognize form and change in the environment for ourselves, rather than attempt a static and distanced description. Learning in a MOOC and literacy in a MOOC become synonymous. We are not acquiring content or using language and literacy, we are becoming literate, becoming MOOC. Each bit of experience, each frustrated facing of a new chaos, changes you, shapes you. Participating in a MOOC is like walking through a forest, trying to see where animals have walked in the past, trying to determine whether that flash of orange is a tiger. There are no easy successes, and often no sense of flow. But you feel the flush of success every time you recognize a form you defined, achieve a skill you needed, and gradually gradually you become a skilled inhabitant of the forest, or of 21st century human society. Baron, S. (2012, March 22). Cognitive Flow: The Psychology of Great Game Design. Retrieved from Gamasutra: Belshaw, D. (2015, January 13). Web Literacy Map. Retrieved from Mozilla: Brennan, K. (2013, July 24). In Connectivism, No One Can Hear You Scream: a Guide to Understanding the MOOC Novice. Retrieved from Hybrid Pedagogy: Downes, S. (2009, November 12). Speaking in LOLCats: what literacy means in teh digital era. Retrieved from Stephen's Web: Siemens, G. (2004, December 12). Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age. Retrieved from elearnspace: The Partnership for 21st Century Skills . (2011, March). 21st Century Student Outcomes and Support Systems. Retrieved from Note: this article originated as a submission requested by a magizine, but when I learned that they wanted an article that was 2,000 characters long, not 2,000 words, this article became available as a blog post. [Link] [Comment]

The Power of Reuse: Wikipedia in Action

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Mon, 2015-11-02 05:09 (Stephen Downes), Half an Hour, Nov 01, 2015 Summary of a panel at the Hewlette Grantees' Conference. Errors are again my own.
Pete Forsyth, Wiki Strategies (See also his blog post with resources for this panel at ) In the past we've been saying that it's important to the field of OER to improve content. But really, it's about teaching and learning. So what is it about Wikipedia that is an opportunity for learning? Jeanette Lee, the Cambridge School of Weston We are integrating technology in the classroom, and students are always asking whether they can use Wikipedia. We have a handout we created on how to use Wikipedia. One of the students wanted to use the message box from an article, and we had a conversation about how to use it. So, students are using Wikipedia and the question is how to integrate it. Amin Azzam, UCSF The peer review process has sort of a stranglehold on academic advancement, but they were interested in partnering with Wikipedia such that if an author updated an article it might be counted as a publication. The meeting on this was just yesterday. The medical students all go to Wikipedia first when they go o look something up, because it's written in a way they can understand, and then they go to a more reliable source. So then someone suggested that students could contribute to Wikipedia. Dan Cook, Wiki Strategies I'm a voracious consumer of Wikipedia. My work is both as a journalist and as a consultant. This week for example there was the experience of going from an article being marked for deletion to the potential removal of the banner altogether. I have these experiences pretty much on a daily basis. I was part of the 'new journalism' when it was coined in the 80s. Secret sources and fights with the editors and all that. But now Wikipedia is the new journalism of today; leave your ego at the door, don;t use any modifiers, we don't want any spin. But it's a hard place for traditional journalists to work; we have to unlearn everything we learned about journalism. Jeanette I compare Wikipedia articles to an expository essay, which students have to learn. So getting them to understand that Wikipedia articles have structure, they have references, etc. So the idea is making the use of Wikipedia in academia transparent. People are using it, they're just using it quietly. It was about how to get a language to move between Wikipedia articles and the more traditional essay. A funny statistic from Pew, from February: 90 percent of AP and National Writing teachers find information online for their classes; 90 percent use Google, 87% use Wikipedia, but they discourage their students from using it. So there is this contradiction. So we need to get out in front and deal with this contradiction. We need a PR campaign or something, so people know it is legitimate to use in their classrooms. Amin: Yes, 87-93% of medical students admits to using it. Dan: If you could just get them to take the next step and look at their sources! Jeanette: yes, that's what we want them to do, it's a great skill to develop. Amin: there's roughly 26K articles in the medical field, but a lot of them have room for improvement. One thing wwith my students is they're in the final year of med school, so they can contribute, but they haven't lost the ability to speak English yet. Pete: the articles I contributed to most were on topics I was learning about. Also, Amin mentioned 'English Wikipedia'. This points to a way where Wikipedia and OER have a lost of aspirations in common. (Reads from letter mourning the death of Babu Gi, from Kerala, and commemorating his contributions). Amin: discusses the translation of medical articles into other languages. Wikipedia has an initiative called 'Data Zero' to give access to Wikipedia content for free. To me this is a no-brainer. (See ) Jeanette: opportunities for OER to learn from Wikipedia - I don't have students contribute to Wikipedia, but I do have students use materials from Wikipedia and OER Commons - I do hand over a lot of content to students, and then they create the content that everyone uses. I give them the option: either I lecture, or you do this project. Usually they choose the project. And they know that everybody will be using the material for understanding the text. I view Wikipedia as part of the OER community, and it's a way for them to use Wikipedia even if they can't contribute (they're just high school students, I would have too many permissions I have to fill out). Amin: there's a source of med information by students for students called 'Up To Date', it's called 'crack for medical students', but it's subscription, and they don't realize how much the school has to pay. Pete: where do students become ready to contribute to Wikipedia? Jeanette: I think definitely there are high school students ready for that. Amin: it's a question of what fraction of school work is contributing. For example in my class they have peer review. They need this support. Jeanette: some projects are individual and some are group. Anything that's a presentation for the class, they grade it, I don't grade it. Pete: I see this as a new journalism and I would like to see training begin in the classroom, so they don't get the bad habits I got. When will students work on Wikipedia? Jeanette: there are concerns about privacy, that's the barrier. I do think it would be a hard sell for some districts. Showing districts how they can use Wikipedia would be much easier. Amin: my students had to create user names, so we could track their contribution. They began with non-descriptive user names, but eventually made it clear they were future doctors. Pete: there is this culture of anonymity in Wikipedia. It's a major part of the ethos. But then there's the potential for conflict of interest; we don't want the chief of Enron writing the article. Dan: why did reporters have bylines? So they could be held accountable. Journalists especially need to have user names that are transparent and they should describe themselves in a transparent way. There needs to be a high level there. When I search to see if an article is credible, I don't like seeing that the author is anonymous. Wikipedians will have to grapple with this. Amin: the concept of anonymity almost doesn't exist any more. They have their Facebook pages, they scrub them clean before going into med school. Dan: I think it's people in my generation, they don't want to give up their social security numbers, etc. Jeanette: developing people who are comfortable as Wikipedia users, as they go into college, they're used to working in that kind of environment. Amin: my future students will be already equipped knowing how to be contributors. Q: there are now things where you can remix in the OER space; but in schools there is this top-down ethic about who is eligible to do that (it has to be curriculum specialists, etc). Amin: I consider the medical librarian an equal partner in the course, and the Wikipedia contributors to be equal partners. There's no way for any of us top be experts in everything. It takes a village. Pete: Wikipedia and OER are characterozed by people coming together in ways that were never anticipated, and saying to previous generations, we're not waiting around for you any more. We want to address content gaps. Etc. The sort of thing that doesn't work well in that crowd-sourced way. Eg. the small number of contributions by women. Q. Pete said to me, the first thing they do after you tell them about OER, they go to Google and search for it, and find the article on Wikipedia. Do you care about what they're reading? Do you feel this is your responsibility? What ought we be doing in this community? Pete: it's not an easy process, it doesn't have easy boundaries, you have to decide what's important for yourself, and you have to think about how much you can get in, how to work with other people. Amin: Wikipedia is not a democracy, it's a do-ocracy. Q: it seems to be impermanent, in the beginning, anything we thought was of value was not surviving. But the value is where you should be participating. It does compel participation. We made a lot of mistakes, but most of our articles are surviving now; it's about participating in the community. Our students talk about 'surviving the Wikipedia process'. But that's the strength of Wikipedia. Pete: we see this dynamic a lot. People contribute an article and it's highly imperfect, just what was in the newspaper. And then a few years later an expert comes along, and says there's all these errors. And I say to them, "when were you going to do this?" When would you write the article, without having seen all the errors. Dan: I tell people, "go to the talk pages". That's where you can see the process at work. Q: does it make sense to have a Wikimedian-in-residence in OER? Amin: Brillian idea. Jeanette: I totally agree with that. And Wikipedia has done a good job partnering with universities. Such a person could encourage partnering with districts. Q: question was more whether it would conflict with the Wiki education foundation? Pete: no it would not at all. I know most of those people, I think there would be delight. [Link] [Comment]

Ten Key Takeaways from Tony Bates

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Mon, 2015-11-02 05:09 (Stephen Downes), Half an Hour, Nov 01, 2015 Like pretty much everyone else in the field I've been immensely enjoying Tony Bates's work-in-progress, an online open textbook called Teaching in a Digital Age.
Having said that, I think my perspective is very different from his, and this summary post offers me an opportunity to highlight some of those differences. So in what follows, the key points (in italics) are his, while the text that follows is my discussion. Note that this discussion is focused specifically on the "differences between classroom, blended, online and open learning." We have points of disagreement in other areas too :) but this post offers a way to focus on some aspects of that. Note as well that I'm not offering 'gotchas' here; Bates has discussed many of these points elsewhere and my objective is not to refute him based on this quick summary, only to identify the differences in perspective. 1. There is a continuum of technology-based learning, from ‘pure’ face-to-face teaching to fully online programs. Every teacher or instructor needs to decide where on the continuum a particular course or program should be. The continuum here is presented in one dimension, the most obvious dimension, with teachers and instructors making the decision as to where some particular course or program ought to lie. I think all elements of this statement are problematic. First, because online learning provides affordances not available in the classroom, there are multiple dimensions of comparison. For example, we could draw a line from one-to-one teacher on student instruction, to small classrooms, to larger lecture or presentation format courses, to delivery to thousands or even millions of people. Second, one of those dimensions concerns whether the online offering should be a course at all. Online learning allows for informal conversation, videos, simulations, interactive learning, games, and a host of other models that can be attempted imperfectly at best in a traditional classroom. Understanding, for example, the role informal learning can play is key to understanding the distinction between in-class and online learning. Third, in online learning the locus of decision-making need no longer rest with the instructor. Unlike a traditional environment, where a student's choices are to "stay" and "leave", an online student can select from many different options - including ion-class, if they're lucky enough to be able to find one that is local and offered at a time they can attend, at a rate they can afford. 2. We do not have good research evidence or theories to make this decision, although we do have growing experience of the strengths and limitations of online learning. What is particularly missing is an evidence-based analysis of the strengths and limitations of face-to-face teaching when online learning is also available. Here I am first inclined to point to differing beliefs regarding the nature and role of research and theories. I consider what I do to be research, for example, and I do not consider surveys of a dozen graduate students to be research. And I am sceptical of the value of theories based on models employing (what have been termed) folk-psychological concepts and naive understandings of human cognition. Any theory of the form "x causes y" in this field should be considered suspect. So it follows that to me "an evidence-based analysis of the strengths and limitations of face-to-face teaching when online learning is also available" is an oxymoron. Far too much in such an account is left unstated and merely assumed, with variables to be filled in by the reader's own prejudices. What constitutes a 'strength'? From my perspective, each person learning seeks different outcomes, so a 'strength' for one is a problem for another. But most of all here is the presumption that we can determine a priori the desirable properties of online or traditional learning. In this regard, I side with John Stuart Mill, and aver that "the sole evidence it is possible to produce that anything is desirable, is that people do actually desire it." Without an a priori definition of 'effective' most so-called evidence-based decision-making falls flat, and of course, what we do know though observation is that people desire many different things. 3. In the absence of good theory, I have suggested four factors to consider when deciding on mode of delivery, and in particular the different uses of face-to-face and online learning in blended courses: - your preferred teaching strategy, in terms of methods and learning outcomes - student characteristics and needs - the pedagogical and presentational requirements of the subject matter, in terms of (a) content and (b) skills - the resources available to an instructor (including the instructor’s time). I find it fascinating that three of the four factors are based on the instructor, with only the very generic "student characteristics and needs" constituting the fourth. I can understand that, from the perspective of the instructor, the instructor's "preferred teaching strategy" matters a great deal. But from the perspective of the student, the response is, "who cares?" Elsewhere, the many weaknesses of the lecture format, for example, have been documented, as also most instructors' preference for the lecture. This has produced yet another generation of students asleep in their classroom (especially those where electronic devices are 'not allowed'). The characterization even of "student characteristics and needs" is suspect. The phrasing suggests two aspects of concern: first, that we are considering these in the aggregate, as a generalization across an entire class (or generation?) of students, and not individuals; and second, these are factors out of the students' control entirely, as we consider (predefined? instructor-defined?) "needs"instead of wants, and "characteristics" instead of preferences. Part of this is the unrelenting instructional stance Bates takes throughout his work. It results in an assessment of factors impacting instructional decisions, even in areas where it's not clear the decisions are open for instructors to make. The key difference between in-class and online learning is the shift in the locus of control. I would also add (cynically) that today the resources available to the instructor are increasingly based on the students' willingness and ability to pay, as our governments gradually remove all levels of support for public higher education. 4. The move to blended or hybrid learning in particular means rethinking the use of the campus and the facilities needed fully to support learning in a hybrid mode. No disputing this one. As the trend toward online learning continues, the traditional school or university increasingly will become a place where local residents access lab and conferencing facilities, no matter where they are enrolled.Meanwhile, classes offered in situ at these campuses will increasingly need recording and conferencing facilities to support their worldwide audience. 5. Open educational resources offer many benefits but they need to be well designed and embedded within a rich learning environment to be effective. I mentioned above the need for an a priori presumptions regarding the desirable properties of online or traditional learning. It comes into play here. For one would ask, what is the basis for the belief that OERs need to be well designed and embedded within a rich learning environment to be effective? The evidence seems to suggest otherwise. The Khan Academy, for example, made a virtue out of offering very low quality videos helping viewers understand math and physics concepts. People exchange and learn from ideas presented in discussion boards across the internet despite these boards having no pedagogical design at all. I think that only within a very narrow definition of "effective" can we demonstrate a "need to be well designed and embedded within a rich learning environment." Again, it comes back to what people want to do. Generally, the learning I need to do from the internet is immediate and simple. A (badly designed) Wikipedia page often does the job for me. Indeed, typically, something designed in a rich learning environment just takes too much time and effort to be useful. I don't need a battleship if I'm just trying to cross the river. 6. The increasing availability of OER, open textbooks, open research and open data means that in future, almost all academic content will be open and freely accessible over the Internet. Agreed. 7. As a result, students will increasingly look to institutions for learning support and help with the development of skills needed in a digital age rather than with the delivery of content. This will have major consequences for the role of teachers/instructors and the design of courses. I also agree with this. I've actually discussed it at length in The Role of the Educator.And my reflections here suggest a very different future than the one considered in this article. First of all, increasingly, educational institutions will not offer courses at all. Why would they? If you're looking for "learning support and help with the development of skills needed in a digital age" you are very rarely looking for a course. Typically, you're looking for help with a project, or maybe an offer of a project, in which you can apply and augment the skills you're attempting to develop. And different aspects of your support are offered by different people, at different institutions. Why would we suppose that the same agency offering learning is also the one assessing that learning? Insofar as 'design' (properly so-called) comes into play, it will be based as much on principles established outside education. Sure, there will be structured learning experiences (and we might even still call them 'courses'). But the idea of an instructor offering a course through a given institution will be the exception, a tiny minority of the cases, compared to the much larger learning and development environment generally. But of course Tony Bates knows this... 8. OER and other forms of open education will lead to increased modularization and disaggregation of learning services, which are needed to respond to the increasing diversity of learner needs in a digital age. Of this there can be no doubt. But let me add that the phrase"increased modularization and disaggregation of learning services" suggests the repackaging of products and services that already exist. But the defining characteristic of online learning is the wide range of new things you can do to support learning. This leans that there will be a proliferation of new learning services. And additionally, many old learning services will be discontinued. For example, when I was growing up, there was a thriving industry producing binders and lined paper. Moreover, the concept of blogging did not exist. Today we take electronic notes, blog them directly, and hire blog moderators to ensure children don't get themselves into trouble publishing online. Learning online isn't simply a shift in modality. It's different. The methods are different, the objectives are different, and the services are different. 9. MOOCs are essentially a dead end with regard to providing learners who do not have adequate access to education with high quality qualifications. The main value of MOOCs is in providing opportunities for non-formal education and supporting communities of practice. It is again interesting to see this one thing highlighted. It is interesting to me because this was never the intent of the MOOCs I produced, and with some few exceptions, is not the intent of MOOC producers today. But more interesting is the question of why MOOCs are a "dead end" in this regard. The suggestion here (and it's only implicit) is that MOOCs are incapable of providing the learning required to warrant the awarding of a credential. That's why Bates includes the phrase about students "who do not have adequate access to education."This suggests that access to traditional education is a necessary condition, that MOOCs could not provide an education by themselves. But why not? The role of answering this question is played by the phrase"high quality qualifications." Even if MOOCs could provide qualifications, they would not be"high quality". These, it appears to be suggested, may be offered only by (putatively) high quality formal education. But I submit that these are not empirical arguments. Indeed, I would go further and suggest that the only reason students cannot earn high quality credentials in MOOCs is that the institutions that offer such credentials won't grant them for MOOCs. And why would they? Their business model depends on requiring students undertake extensive and often extensive coursework before the credential can be issued. What makes the MOOC a "dead end", in other words, has nothing to do with the MOOC itself, but rather, has everything to do with the credentials. The more interesting question here is whether a person working from childhood could achieve the same degree of knowledge and (qualification for) credentials taking MOOCs exclusively. Can a non-literate and non-educated person become literate and educated through open online learning? Is there a fundamental property of closed formal learning that suggests that it is the only route to a credential? There are arguments to be made on both sides here. But I submit that the case is far from closed, and that this is not a takeaway. 10. OER, MOOCs, open textbooks and other digital forms of open-ness are important in helping to widen access to learning opportunities, but ultimately these are enhancements rather than a replacement for a well-funded public education system, which remains the core foundation for enabling equal access to educational opportunities. I think that Tony Bates and I both agree on the importance of an open and accessible public education system. Where we disagree is in the form that system should take. The existing public education system does a poor job of ensuring equal access to educational opportunities. Major barriers exist across the board, in factors as varied as child poverty and nutrition, access to school materials, fees and access to extracurricular activities, expectations and class backgrounds, travel and work opportunities, opportunity cost and risk, and much much more. Viewing online learning as nothing more than an enhancement of the traditional system is, to my mind, to preserve the inequalities inherent in the traditional system. It is to misunderstand the role played by the traditional system not only in the provision of an education but also in social netorking and the formation of social classes. The primary purpose, for example, of a school like Harvard or Yale is not to provide a superior education (their protestations to the contrary notwithstanding). It is to provide exclusive access to a network of potentially rich and powerful individuals who will shape and promote your career through future life. Simply building an enhancement on that system will not change the inequality it represents. For online learning to truly reach its potential it needs not only to break the educational monopoly of the rich and powerful, it needs to break the social monopoly of the rich and powerful, rending open their cliques, and laying bare the foundations of their influence. We too can form global networks of mutual self-support, but only if we break the existing structures designed to preserve status and privilege. And in the end, I think that this points to the deep difference between Tony Bates and myself. I think that we disagree ultimately about what constitutes an education. I think that he views it in terms of classes and content, of subjects and competencies and credentials, in terms of instruction and demonstration, pedagogy, skills and knowledge. This is a common and very traditional view of education, but one which I have increasingly come to question. In my view, education is more akin to shaping and growing oneself, of acclimatization to a community and to an environment. The learning of any subject is analogous to the formation of a literacy in that subject, based not only in speaking the right words, but also in seeing the world in a certain way, recognizing some things as important (and other things as not). Expectations are as important as knowledge in this view, the way we say something as important as what we say. This is what distinguishes between the education an elite receives, and an education that is reserved for the rest of us. While the mass of people get facts and skills and credentials, the elite are transformed into a natural ruling class. It's like the difference between someone who is taught the rules of the game, and someone who trains as an athlete. No amount of skills and drills can produce in a non-elite person the social and literary bearing of an elite person. My objective is to transform learning as a whole into something that produces at least this possibility for everyone. We should embrace this as a public policy objective. Because, with all the capacity, technology and wealth available to us in society as a whole, it's the least we can do. [Link] [Comment]

A Lexicon of Sustainability

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Mon, 2015-11-02 05:09 (Stephen Downes), Half an Hour, Nov 01, 2015 This is a summary of a talk at the Hewlett Grantees' Meeting, San Francisco, March 25, 2015. Errors (and typos, etc) are my own.
Douglas Gayeton Lexicon of Sustainability Our food system is opaque. We asked people to develop a lexicon around food sources We started with the word 'sustainability'. That is one of the most opaque words. I asked a native hunter - he said he watches what the animals eat; they always leave something behind. I asked a farmer; she said it was about survival. I asked Miguel, who started growing organic food because it was too expensive. How to tell these stories? Photography is great, but it only captures one image at a time, one moment in time. I looked at a place where he grows fishg in boxes, the waste is used to grow tomatos, and he also grows worms. How do you tell that story in one photo? You can't - I made a compossite after taking thousands of photos. What if I had him tell me what the word 'vermiculture' means? You can combine the words with the picture and tell a good story. So we went around the United States and created a lexicon of sustainability. We created a book - the focus groups came back: "Nobody knows what 'lexicon' means." The power of graphical ideas: thought bombs.Photo composites with words all over them. By making things graphical and textual at the same time you engage people's left brain and right brain at the same time. You create a deconstrucive nattarative. Thing Sherlock Holmes: "all the answers were in this room. We just had to piece them together in the proper order." From a passive learning experience to an active learning experience. Knowing words - learning what they mean - can change the way entire industries work. A loaf of bread - a list of ingredients - most pof them did not exist 20 years ago. The Bible used to be written in Latin only - that is what an opaque religion looks like. But what if we published the book in the language that we speak? Eg. rBST is the name of a growth hormone fed to cows. A farmer sold milk without rBST - he was sued by Monsanto (they eventually lost). Or consider - what is the "cage free egg"? What does it mean? I asked the producer what it means. Pasture raised. But nobody knows what that means. What is the real cost of cheap food? People growing food according to values are competing against an industrial system that has externalized all its costs. The concept of 'true cost accounting' looks at hpw much something really costs. Consider a river - it provides free energy, and can be used to dispose of waste. We always pay when we get things cheap. The best example when we look at food is the 'cow to pickup truck indes' - the value of a grass-fed cow compared to a truck. How can these compete against an indistrial system? Convincing people of the value of voting with their dollars. There's this idea of organics and eating locally. There's a movement to have producers say whether food contains GMO organisms. It would force food producers to be transparent. It is opposed by Monsanto and others who benefit from an opaque system. GMOs aren't always bad - eg., a variant of papaya that was resistant to a disease, which was in danger of being wiped out in Hawaii. People talk about GMOs as privatizing seeds, etc - vbut that didn't happen here; he open-sourced the seeds. Or another term - 'antibiotic free' - 80% of the antibiotics are fed to livestock, and they're not even sick, because they gain weight quickly. So there's going to be a movement to lable antibiotics in meat. In fisheries, the term 'red snapper' doesn't mean you're getting red snapper. There's always the pressure to give you fish close enough to what you always get (so fish are predictable like tomatos). There's an initiative to tag a fish so you know where and how it was sourced. The concept of 'identity preserved' gives us a sense of where the food that is grown goes - for example, wheat grown in California that is shipped to Italy to become pasta. Before the second world war we spent 30 of our money on food. But after the war we applied economies of scale to everything. Everything was centralized. Everything was based simply on price. How do you reverse hat? It's a big challenge. There's a town called Greensboro that died. They went and asked an old man what ahppened, he didn't know, but he said they they used to be able to get a pie of pie in a pie shop. They re-opened the pie shop, and the town began to grow again. You can't have commerce without food. Peopl are beginning to apply the principle of 'terroir' - the idea that everything has a place - to the food industry (in the shellfish inustry it's 'aguoir'). 'Community Supported Agriculture' (CSA) - is where they get a box of food every week that is locally sourced. They are being more connected to their food, who grows it, where it's grown. Or a pie shop in San Francisco set up a CSAA for fish. This used to be commonplace. In Italy they knew to never buy fish on a Monday - wait until Tuesday when it's fresh. This is an example of people being connected to their food. A regional food hub - people are rebuilding what was dismantled when the industrial food system came in. People in the community selling for many producers. Producers pooling transportation costs cooperatively. There is the concept of a 'food desert' where there was no food in a 6-square mile range. I wenmt to a local supermarket - no food - just candy, chips, alcohol, etc. Consumers non't know they have other choices. There's a new 'corner store' movement - inserting places to buy local food in these corner stores. It's a system that is made by people. The average age of a farmer is 57. People are scrambling to educate young farmers. The concept is 'green collar' - they give people land and training, for a period of time (then you have to find your own land). It's a 'farm incubator'. And there's a 'kitchen incubator'. Setting up people with kitchens, business training, etc. - that's how you reinvent local food systems. Systems that are based on value. So - what's the verdict? I'm not pessimistic when I see seed swaps. Upswaping, to convert lamnd to farmland. We took this to Mexico - in Mexico 'organic' didn't mean aanything. Every Mexican, though, knows the meaning of GMOs - because corn in their national food. We learned, we need to speak to people in their own language. We do projects based on protability - PDFs you can distribute. We do puppet shows. We do food conferences. We help with street events. You can go to our website, you can download our resources. We have a website, launching next month, the 'lexicon of food'. All resources open sourced and free. Showing what people farms. Doing projects teaching people about aquaponics. We do 'market makeovers'. We have kids in Mexico making inages to explain their food system. It's very powerful because it's made by people. It's people-sourced. What will be your 'Road to Damascus' moment? Q: what about school lunches? A. people are confronting that problem. Politicians won't spend more money on school lunches until they see the value in it. Right now that's opaque. Q. I don't know a lot about food, but what I do know about is beer. What I've seen taking over Virginia is craft breweries, where people grow their own hps, etc. Peo[ple are willing to pay $9-$9 per glass. A. They say people always centralize industries but that's not true. Another example is the music industry. Q. Often discussion of open educaation is overely cerebral. But food today is your #1 cool thing. You can convince poeple with photos with food, but in education it's harder. A. Our projeect is not about food, it's about climate change. People don't identify with climate change. But you take all the ideas that contribute to climate change as clear as possible, so you can't mistake the message overall. The idea of the taxonomy is to pinpoint all the individual ideas of a thing and make them clear. Q. We are using terms in education that people believe they already know and we are using them in different ways. How did you grab people and help explain the complexities. A. First we make everything as conversational and without jargon as possible. And second, we say we are not out to make the definitivee lexicon of things. Wiords are shifting and changing. It's our biggest problem with Wikipedia - it doesn't have enough context to show all the contexts a term can be used in. Q. termss - like taxonomy - can acquire baggage over the years. Eg. GMOs - we read all our foods are genetically modified over time. You see that in education all the time - all the different terms for 21st century skills. A. We did a show; they kept asking for a list of all the images and we set them. It was only at the last minute we set up the GMO image of papayas. They said "what are you thinking?" There was a lot of opposition. All of these terms should elicit the fact that it's not a fixed idea, it's a dynamic idea. [Link] [Comment]

Experts and Authority

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Mon, 2015-11-02 05:09 (Stephen Downes), Half an Hour, Nov 01, 2015
In an article last year (and soon-to-be book) Tom Nichols complained about the new relativism brought about by Wikipedia and Google and bemoaning the declining authority of the expert. I encountered his article today via Facebook; I'm not sure whether the source of this information had any impact on its veracity. "Today," he writes, "any assertion of expertise produces an explosion of anger from certain quarters of the American public, who immediately complain that such claims are nothing more than fallacious 'appeals to authority,' sure signs of dreadful 'elitism,' and an obvious effort to use credentials to stifle the dialogue required by a 'real' democracy." To be sure, the three things he cites here are all things to be avoided: 'Appeal to Authority' is an actual fallacy; it occurs when an authority is cited in cases where (a) the authorities disagree among themselves, or (b) where the authority is speaking outside the area of his or her expertise.Elitism is a structural defect in society, representing a state of affairs where those who are in power and authority manipulate the rules in order to maintain their (or their children's) position in society.Stifling the dialogue, as we are seeing in Canadian society today, is a breakdown of communications that prevents society as a whole from learning about its mistakes, exposing sources of corruption, or uncovering injustice.How do I know all this? Well, I too am an expert - or, more accurately, I am called an expert by people who are in a position to know, or to recognize, that I am an expert. And the relation between democracy, expertise and authority is, I would say, much less straightforward than described in Nichols's column. Let's take democracy as an example. Here's what Nichols says about democracy: But democracy, as I wrote in an essay about C.S. Lewis and the Snowden affair, denotes a system of government, not an actual state of equality. It means that we enjoy equal rights versus the government, and in relation to each other. Having equal rights does not mean having equal talents, equal abilities, or equal knowledge. It is true that it does not follow that because we are governed by democracy that we attain an actual state of equality. But it does mean, as Nichols suggests, that we are all equal before the law. But what does that mean? A naive interpretation would suggest that the law treats each of us the same. But experts know (having read Rawls) that democracy means something like "justice as fairness". That is, even though we are not all equal, in a democracy, the law should tend toward helping us all become equal. It's a complex idea but simple enough in practice. It means that society should help improve the talents of the untalented, that it should seek to increase the skills of those with lesser abilities, and to expand the knowledge of those with less knowledge. Yes, there is the presumption that there should be equality before the law (this is the famous dictate of Solon) but what it means in practice is that people in positions of power and authority should not bend the law to their own advantage. There's nothing wrong with using the law to enhance the standing of the poor and disempowered. Or as Plutarch says: Thinking it his duty to make still further provision for the weakness of the multitude, he (Solon) gave every citizen the privilege of entering suit in behalf of one who had suffered wrong. If a man was assaulted, and suffered violence or injury, it was the privilege of any one who had the ability and the inclination, to indict the wrong-doer and prosecute him. (Life of Solon, 18.5)So when Nichols says this: It assuredly does not mean that “everyone’s opinion about anything is as good as anyone else’s.” And yet, this is now enshrined as the credo of a fair number of people despite being obvious nonsense...he is wrong. In a court of law everyone's opinions are as good as everyone else's. Indeed, we even make allowances to the favour of those who are not in a position of authority or high social standing. The facts and justice stand independently of anyone's opinions. That is what Solon enshrined, and that is the rule that forms the basis of democracy. And it is the foundational principle of reason, science and enquiry to this day. As have numerous pedants before him, Nichols appears to be far more concerned about the source of knowledge and information than about its veracity (that is, its truth or fair representation). "I fear we are witnessing the 'death of expertise': a Google-fueled, Wikipedia-based, blog-sodden collapse of any division between professionals and laymen, students and teachers, knowers and wonderers," he writes. Google-fueled indeed; that's how I found the references to Rawls and Plutarch. Yes, experts make mistakes, he concedes. "But an expert is far more likely to be right than you are. On a question of factual interpretation or evaluation, it shouldn’t engender insecurity or anxiety to think that an expert’s view is likely to be better-informed than yours," he writes. This is true, just as it is true that a rich person has more money than you. But we shouldn't so lightly accept the moral authority of either. But let's acknowledge this, and agree that "experts have a pretty good batting average compared to laymen: doctors, whatever their errors, seem to do better with most illnesses than faith healers or your Aunt Ginny and her special chicken gut poultice." Quite so. But notice that it is in a democractic society, where experts are far more likely to be challenged, that experts hold the most sway. Before the widespread rise of public information, people were much more likely to purchase snake oil. Old wives tales, in an enlightened society, are exactly that: tales. It is when experts are beyond challenged by both the informed and uninformed that the true value of expertise can take hold. Nichols ought to pause for a moment to consider why this is the case. He writes, "The death of expertise is a rejection not only of knowledge, but of the ways in which we gain knowledge and learn about things. Fundamentally, it’s a rejection of science and rationality, which are the foundations of Western civilization itself." This to me represents a fundamental misunderstanding of how science and rationality work. The world of the expert - of any expert - is obliged to be subjected to the widest possible criticism. This applies equally to practitioners of snake oil and anti-cancer vaccinations. That is how we are able to distinguish between the reasonable and the irrational. And it does not matter whether the criticism comes from within the domain of enquiry or from an authoritative source. Because rationality isn't about getting things right, it's about getting the right things right. Look at his examples: "'Western civilization': that paternalistic, racist, ethnocentric approach to knowledge that created the nuclear bomb, the Edsel, and New Coke, but which also keeps diabetics alive, lands mammoth airliners in the dark, and writes documents like the Charter of the United Nations." These make my case far better than they make his case. First of all, those experts who also happen to be paternalistic, racist, and ethnocentric can be questioned on that basis. We know that facts do not exist in isolation, but rather, they are a product of a perspective or a point of view (even an expert's, most especially is he or she is paternalistic, racist, or ethnocentric). We should question whether modern physics embodies a western perspective of time. We ought to ask whether a biological thesis is informed by racism. Shielding the authority from uninformed questioning is more likely to shield the authority from these questions, which come from outside the field. The Edsel is a really good example of getting the right things wrong. It featured many advances in automotive technology, including engine warning lights, seat belts, and child-proof rear door locks. But it failed on non-technical features such as aesthetics and price. It's the sort of failure experts could have avoided with non-expert opinion (and it's why companies use devices such as focus groups to ensure they don't make similar mistakes in the future). Not trusting the expert is dangerous, writes Nichols. "We live today in an advanced post-industrial country that is now fighting a resurgence of whooping cough — a scourge nearly eliminated a century ago — merely because otherwise intelligent people have been second-guessing their doctors and refusing to vaccinate their kids." Well yes. But the reason people like Jenny McCarthy jumped on the anti-vaxxer bandwagon was that an expert, British physician Andrew Wakefield, "published a paper in The Lancet that purported to identify a link between the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine and the appearance of autism in children." And history is such that sometimes the lone expert is more trustworthy: witness the case of Frances Oldham Kelsey, who protected the United States from the horror of Thalidomide poisoning. Had Jenny McCarthy been right, she would today be hailed as 'an expert'. But she was wrong; Wakefield's paper was revealed as a hoax, and there is no link between vaccines and autism. But in the same breath, we would be dismissing Kelsey as a crank had Thalidomide turned out to be same. One of the features of expertise is that it is typically revealed only after the fact, when it is too late to be of any use. Before that time, we have to make use of argument, evidence and statistics, and not credentials. Nichols displays an increasing impatience with the rigour of disproving the Kelseys of the world. "You will get snippy and sophistic demands to show ever increasing amounts of 'proof' or 'evidence' for your case," he writes, "even though the ordinary interlocutor in such debates isn’t really equipped to decide what constitutes 'evidence' or to know it when it’s presented." But Nichols confuses between making the case generically, and making the case to the satisfaction of a particular individual. As an expert with a long history of engaging in arguments with people, I can say with assurance that it will not be possible to convince everybody of anything. People - experts and non-experts alike - have their own 'riverbed propositions' from which they will not budge no matter how reasonable the evidence. When an expert responds to an argument, it should be done publicly, as the intent is to demonstration to the public as a whole, not the individual in question. As a society, we decide. And we need to be clear about the nature of the two assertions Nichols is making. First, he is arguing that there are things that count as evidence and things that do not. And second, he is arguing that non-experts are incapable of drawing this distinction. I think that on both counts he is wrong. Sure, people may make unreasonable demands of science. For example, they may criticize evolution on the grounds that it is "only a theory", or demand "proof" of human-caused climate change. This does not mean these are not forms of evidence; it merely means they are unattainable (scientists would love to be able to refer to the law of evolution, or point to proof of global warming, but it's just not forthcoming). And things like Biblical references, the missing link, the little ice age, and other such non-evidence are not non-evidence: they are anomalies that the theory must explain. The coincident increase in diagnosis of autism with vaccination is a real thing, and it needs to be shown that this is the result of the better diagnosis of autism over time, not the needle. This is what Carnap calls the principle of total evidence, and recognizes that new evidence, even seemingly unrelated, might impact whether something being considered is true or not. And when Nichols argues that non-experts are incapable of making that distinction, he must explain the countervailing fact that society as a whole, which consists mostly of non-experts, has made that distinction, and that our medical system, our code of justice, and social infrastructure in general are built around the fact that vaccines are helpful and thalidomide is dangerous. And Nichols has to explain why societies where experts are more likely to be questioned and challenged are societies which are more likely to make this distinction. And he can't just argue that these counterexamples are coming from a non-expert, that the evidence here cited does not count as the right evidence, and that this is only a blog. Such responses would quite rightly be dismissed as fallacies by both experts and non-experts alike (and it is indeed the prevalence of fallacies in non-expert responses that is one of the major ways non-experts can spot frauds in the ranks of experts). And what of those people who are not even able to distinguish between a valid argument and a non-sequiter? Nichols has no time for them and finds them exhausting. I find them exhausting too, but I make my case for all to see, and have taken the time and effort to make the basis for argumentation and reason available to all. Because I value the contributions of non-experts, and would like to help them formulate their objections in the most effective manner possible. This is called the principle of charity, and is a fundamental rule in logic and reasoning. To get to the point of Nichols's argument, he wants a return of the gatekeepers: the journals and op-ed pages that were once strictly edited have been drowned under the weight of self-publishable blogs. There was once a time when participation in public debate, even in the pages of the local newspaper, required submission of a letter or an article, and that submission had to be written intelligently, pass editorial review, and stand with the author’s name attached. Even then, it was a big deal to get a letter in a major newspaper. Now, anyone can bum rush the comments section of any major publication. Sometimes, that results in a free-for-all that spurs better thinking. Most of the time, however, it means that anyone can post anything they want, under any anonymous cover, and never have to defend their views or get called out for being wrong.Yes. Anybody can publish whatever they want. This has resulted in a lot of clutter. But it has also resulted in Assange, Snowden and Manning, among many other notable examples. To understand why this is important, it is necessary to understand the role of gatekeepers. And - frankly - it was never the role of the gatekeepers to keep out the cranks. A brief look at the letters sections of most any newspaper before the days of the internet is evidence of that. It was to protect the newspaper from retribution from the rich and powerful should seriously damaging evidence or allegations be published. Let us be clear: the time before the internet was a time when the elite entrenched and protected each other. Even Nichols makes this point (though it is not clear he knows he is making it): There was once a time when presidents would win elections and then scour universities and think-tanks for a brain trust; that’s how Henry Kissinger, Samuel Huntington, Zbigniew Brzezinski and others ended up in government service while moving between places like Harvard and Columbia.Yes. There was pretty much a closed walkway between positions of power and authority and the elite institutions like Harvard and Columbia. And when Nichols writes that "I have a hard time, for example, imagining that I would be called to Washington today in the way I was back in 1990" he fails to understand that this is a good thing, and that calling people like George Siemens (an itinerant blogger born in Mexico, former restaurant owner, and self-made PhD in education) instead is far far better. And consider how Nichols regards those other gatekeepers, teachers and university professors: One of the greatest teachers I ever had, James Schall, once wrote many years ago that 'students have obligations to teachers,' including 'trust, docility, effort, and thinking,' an assertion that would produce howls of outrage from the entitled generations roaming campuses today.And despite the lupine ad hominem, students should indeed protest such instructions. Nobody has an obligation to produce trust and docility. Far better to be a nation of wolves than a nation of sheep! There are good reasons to eschew docility; women especially understand the need to challenge the orthodoxy of thinking emanating from the professorial pulpit. A requirement of trust and docility is in itself a betrayal of trust. But what Nichols is really worried about is that the experts might become servants of the people. This shows up in a number of ways near the end of his article. Consider this language: The idea of telling students that professors run the show and know better than they do strikes many students as something like uppity lip from the help Or this: many academic departments are boutiques, in which the professors are expected to be something like intellectual valets. But the argument is a bit more subtle than that. It's that we would be happy serving the people, but the people are not good enough to be masters. When citizens forgo their basic obligation to learn enough to actually govern themselves, and instead remain stubbornly imprisoned by their fragile egos and caged by their own sense of entitlement, experts will end up running things by default. And so this is a "terrible" thing, he will oh so reluctantly take his position as expert, and step into his natural place as the ruler of society. Or so he thinks. But he's wrong, and worse, he is dishonestly wrong. He is disappointed he is no longer getting calls from the White House, he yearns for the days when professors demanded docility and respect, and he would much rather return to the days when the only public discourse was that vetted by the editorial guardians of society. He does not actually want the non-expert to contribute to the governance of society, for if he did, this column would be a call or education and empowerment, and not a declaration to the effect that the masses are revolting. His kind just is the kind that brought us the excesses of the 20th century, and more recently the debacle in Iraq. He most properly should be ashamed of himself for setting himself above the likes of you and me. But as is so common among the realm of the self-declared expert, he feels no shame. [Link] [Comment]

The Exodus

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Mon, 2015-11-02 05:09 (Stephen Downes), Half an Hour, Nov 01, 2015 We are now reading that the exodus of people from New Brunswick through the winter was the largest it has been since 1976. It's the 17th quarter in a row the province has lost people. And it shows no sign of slowing.
I live in Moncton, supposedly the most prosperous city in the province. I live in a small house in what was once called the 'golden triangle', an older well-treed area just north of downtown with close proximity to the hospitals and the university. But I discovered this week that the value of my home has dropped $40K in the last few years. I can't say I'm surprised. This part of the city has been hollowed out; it is in decline, just as Moncton is in decline, and the causes are symptomatic of the malaise that has struck the province, a disease born of ineffective and weak-willed civil and provincial politicians. Just a couple doors down, Castle Manor, a heritage building if there ever was one, sits rotting and boarded up, home to nobody but the vagrants. The city allowed the land and the building to be divided into two parcels, with separate owners, with neither having value to anybody. There was a pre-emptive attempt to turn the lawn into a parking lot, an effort stopped not by the city but by by local citizens once they began taking the chainsaw to the trees. Right next to it, the CBC building sits empty, four or five storeys of office building right next to the Dumont hospital which should be brimming with opportunity. But the CBC, downsized to almost non-existence, has moved to the shell of an old Zellers store next to the Atlantic Superstore down by where Hall's creek enters the river. So many stories there. The health care system is broken in New Brunswick. In so many ways. It is centrally run, it is the subject of political influence (often by politicians seeking to shut it down and privatize health care), and it is backward and inefficient. The system was again the centre of controversy this week. The Moncton Cancer Centre announced abruptly that it would shut down its genetic sequencing program. This happened after the provincial government reversed a decision to block the purchase of genetic sequencing equipment in Saint John. "I cannot accept to be a party to raping the taxpayers of New Brunswick," by duplicating services, ACRI president and scientific director Dr. Rodney Ouellette announced during an interview with CBC News. He seems to be about the only person in this province who can't. Certainly the people who operate NB Power have no objection. One of their plants, which burn Irving oil (naturally), produces gypsum as a byproduct. This would normally be waste but they have agreed to sell the gypsum back to Irving. Anywhere else this would make money for NB Power, but in New Brunswick the contract is worded in such a way as to see NB Power pay the Irvings. Meanwhile, next to the CBC Building and Castle Manor sits the Saint Patrick Centre. This building is still open and operated as a community fitness centre. It struggles on ancient equipment, chronic underfunding, and roof leaks that will eventually destroy the integrity of the facility. This is what happened to Moncton High School, once the only high school near the centre of the city. The roof was left unrepaired for decaded, the metal girders rusted out, and the old stone heritage building was deemed unfit. The new school has now been relocated ten kilometers to the north, at the edge of city limits, in what literally was wilderness. There's a lot of mystery surrounding the move, which was ordered by the provincial government, and greatly benefited the owners of local subdivisions. Across the road from the new school a new subdivision has suddenly emerged, called 'Baron Heights', named after the putative owner of the property, Baron von Munchausen (I kid you not). The agreement with a company to 'develop' the old school fell through and now it sits, an abandoned hulk, about five blocks from where I live. The only saving grace is that the strip clubn, which for decades operated across the street from the high school, was torn down. But not until after all the students had left. In a city struggling to achieve more population density, this newest development boasts large "country lots". Moncton High School is also the place where, in a controversy straight out of the 1950s, a girl was punished for wearing a dress that revealed her shoulders. A lot of Moncton has been torn down. The local mall, Highfield Square, was torn down to make way for the new events centre (should it ever be built). Somehow, the price to acquire it jumped from $6 million to $12 million at the last minute. Moncton can't manage large building projects. There's plenty of evidence for this, including the $3.8 million overrun on the stadium, due to "poor management". The feasibility study for the events centre ran well over budget. We recently hosted the World Cup there. Apparently the city was caught by surprise by the demand for bus transportation to the 13,000 seat stadium. They also designed the stadium with exactly three entrances, none of which face the road. Just down the road from the former Moncton High School the local museum was 'upgraded'. Andrea and I tried to oppose the project before it got started, because it wiped out the last of the green lawn in the area and presented a three-storey wall as a facade on Mountain Road. It seems to have been secretly approved long before the public was told. Not surprisingly, it also ran into overruns costing millions of dollars. Like I said, we live just a few blocks from the downtown core. Recently, the bar patrons there have taken to street-fighting; the videos have been splashed all over the world. So where are the police? They are armed like paramilitaries lined up en masse to stand down a handful of people opposed to shale gas fracking on Indian land just up the road in Rexton. Or they're being shot at by a local thug who received his political education from a survivalist outlet across the river in Riverview. It turns out that the police we have are outgunned but a lone individual purchasing his weapons across the counter. The RCMP actually faces labour code charges in relation to the shootings. But back to resources, one of the problems with resources in the province is that we can't exploit them without losing money. Take the forests, which should be a prime revenue driver. It actually costs the government money to have a forestry industry in the province. Finally, we have the media in this city, which is owned by the local Oil and forestry company, and therefore not a reliable source of news. More, two editors were fired for cavorting with provincial government officials on the taxpayer's dime at a resort used by politicians, media and business to trade old boy stories and make deals, Larry's Gulch. Yes, Larry's Gulch. There really is such a thing. The newspaper's contribution to the economy was to fire all its photographers. There's some vision for you. I could go on... and on, and on, and on. I haven't even mentioned offshore tax shelters, the impact of the federal government, the mysteries of fishing licenses, the problems with roads and bike lanes and the joke we call our 'active transportation' policy. The bus system designed by amateurs. The downtown that is now mostly parking lost. The mysterious payments made to attract concerts. The push to privatize our water supply. It never ends. I could spend a week tallying this up. I'm fed up. The visible signs of decay in my own neighbourhood are not the result of external factors. They are not the global winds of change blowing hard across New Brunswick. They are self-made, self-inflicted, brought to us by government officials and the civic and provincial level who have been incompetent and sometimes unethical. Too much money simply 'disappears'. Too often decisions are made to benefit shady associates and business connections. Too much of the government's money flows from the people and to the businesses and industries who should be financing it. And the saddest thing is that there's nobody willing to stand up for the alternative. Even the NDP leader gets drawn into the trivia and minutiae fostered by the local paper instead of standing up to its owners and demanding accountability. Our provincial Liberal and Conservative premiers are active participants in this mess. Once they're done, they leave the province and are rewarded with high-paying consulting jobs, or some such thing. My goodness, people. Have some damn courage. Stand up for something! It costs a lot of money and takes a lot of courage to pick up stakes and leave. I know; I've done it before. In 1980 I left an economically moribund city of Ottawa suffering similar malaise and headed for the green fields of Alberta. It cost me every cent I had and I arrived in the city without a job and without prospects. And yet I still thought it was a better deal than living in a city where only the rich got richer and where the poor were an underclass. It's not just 3416 people leaving the province. It's 3416 people making the hardest decision they've ever made, 3416 people giving up on the prospect of having a good, safe and secure life here in New Brunswick, 3416 people voting in the only way they can against a system that has become inept, incompetent and corrupt. [Link] [Comment]

Scaling the Heights of Language, its Learning, and its Teaching

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Mon, 2015-11-02 05:09 (Stephen Downes), Half an Hour, Nov 01, 2015
This is a summary of a talk by Diane Larsen-Freeman at TESL 2015. It was a treat to listen to. Errors and omissions are entirely my own. This is a beautiful location - and I hear that Canadians are fond of nature. And you'll hear a lot today about econogy and nature. Complex dynamic systems. The have captured my attention. I've been talking about it for 21 years. I will start there, but the central focus of my remarks will be about fractals. I'm going to try to make the case than language is a fractal - and if that is true, what does that tell us about language learning and teaching? Complexity theory - scientists seek patterns and relations within systems. Complex is not the same as complicated - an automobile is complicated, but not complex. In complex systems you have systems made up of components which interact, and give rise to patterns at other levels of complexity. The example of a murmuration is an example of complexity. I think of language that way. The interactions of people communicating creates patterns. The perturbation - addition of an element to a system around which organization occurs. Eg. puppies forming a pinwheel around a bowl of milk. 'Emergence' is the arising of these patterns our of a complex system. Mandelbrot described the inability of traditional geometry to describe natural phenomena - clouds, mountains, coastlines, bark, lightning. (Photos of fractals in nature). The term is from the Latin 'fractus'. Anuradha Matur and Dilip de Cunha were asked to devise a strategy to build resiliance in the face of rising sea levels in Norfolk, VA. They thought, think of the coastline not as a line but as discontinuous 'fingers of high ground'. They augmented the coast with similarly shaped engineered landforms. Controlling or imposing from the top down does not work with natural systems. Fractals are self-similar at every level of scale. If you look at the whole thing and see a certain design, as you look at each smaller piece you see the same (similar) pattern repeating. These patterns are generated as a result of iteration. Eg. the Koch snowflake. See also the animated fractal mountain. Also, I've been told that the paintings of Jackson Pollack are fractals. Also, rhythm in nature. Christopher Joyce, Feb 21, 2012. Fractals are modeled with differential equations - the output of one iteration becomes the input of the next. Eg. Mandelbrot set, sample zoom. Algar 2005 p. 20 - structure of patterns from the repeated applications of a single algorithm. Nature uses fractals - they are a very efficient means of squeezing a lot of material into a small amount of space. Eg. the lungs have an enormous surface area.Eg. the brain is a fractal. So... Language is n o different from other natural phenomena in that form follows functions. For example, Zipf's power law - the frequency of any word is inversely proportional to its rank in the frequency table. The most frequent word occurs twice as often as the second, which occurs twice as often as the next, and so on. Eg., in the Brown corpus, the words the, if, etc. The other half is composed of the hapax legomena - words that only occur once. Why is this? Zipf argues for the conservation of speaker effort, which would prefer that there only be one word, contrasted with conservation of listener effort, in which each word has a specific meaning. This is a trade-off. So here is where the fractal effect is clearest. Zipf's law accounts not only for a large corpus as well as for specific writers - the 10 highest-frequency words account for 24 percent of a text (Schroder, 1995). Zipf's law is not controversial. Fractals follow a power law as they reduce in size by a fixed ratio. See eg. the words of Tom Sawyer, Moby Dick. Fractals emerge from dynamic processes that are recurrent. In similar fashion, patterns in language emerge from meaningful recurrent interaction among language users. Language learning: Humans are senssitive to the frequency of linguistic features they are exposed to which is reflected in their language drvelopment. So structures latent in language usage make language usable. Eg. Goldberg (2004) L1 - mothers (% of tokens) proportional to children (% of tokens). Eg verb locative. ('go') Verb object locative ('put'). VOO ('give').(MacWhinney 1995). It's not behaviousism - it's not a 100% match - but clearly the mother's use is leading the child's use. Second language acquisition (or development). Language processing in all domains is sensitive to frequency of usage. But exposure is not enough. Learners need to experience language as a dynamic system, molding and using it to adapt to the current situation. But language emerges 'upwards' in the sense that innovative language-using patterns emerge from a person using the language interactively. It's a socio-cognitive process. Think of the phenomenon of 'emergence from exemplars' Eg. examples of fuzzy images of Tiananmen Square, Brandenburg Gate, Mt. Fuji, or the great Pagoda. Corinne Vionnet - compiles them from many different photos. The image, the view, etc., is 'socially negotiated' - we are around that spot, but no two people are in the same spot. We all have our own language resources, they're overlapping, but they're ann unique as well. Larsen-Freeman and Cameron (2008) - the cognitive process are inextricably interwoven with their experiences in the sopcial and physical world. The context of language is socially constructed and negotiated on a moment to moment basis. This counters the tendency to portray learner language as being an incomplete and deficient version of the native speaker language. But is is also important that this implicit process be accompanied by explicit guidance in noticing and practicing features of the target language, especially where L1 operates differently from L2. But how can we cooperate with the natural processes as defined by nature, just as we don't want to build a wall against the rising tides? If we think about fractal patterns, we're going to think about iterations. So how about designing activities where language-using patterns as defined by context of use, in keeping with learners' goals, are iteracted - not repeated, not the same thing, but similar. Eg. as a model - 36 views of Mt. Fuji - under the wave off Kanagawa. Sanjurokkei. Complex systems are built up through iterations. They encounter and use the patterns repeatedly. But not repetition. navigating the tension between convention and iteration. Eg. a text. read. Then do a cloze analysis. Remove a few words. And teach adaptation. What is learned in one context needs to be used in another. Take what they know and (not 'transfer') transform it. How can we teach adaptation? Take their present system and mold it to a new context. Maybe Earl Stevick's idea of technemes. Change the conditions slightly for completing a task - eg. change the time allowed, etc. Same task, use the 4-3-2 technique. (Tell a story in 4 minutes, in 3 minutes, in 2 minutes - forces them to be more fluent, they extend their usage of lexical items, etc). Also - bilinguals' languages are nit separate and complete, but create a repertoire emerging out of local practices. Use bilibgualism as a resource. We are, after all, teachers of learners, not only teachers of language. Eg: allow a student to read a text in their own language first, or provide many opportunities for low-stakes writing in any language they wish. Eg June 2015 - Juan Pelipe Herrera - mixture of english and spanish. Also, create multilingual spaces (Helot, 2014), where students are not silences because they cannot use their L1. And finally, assess earners' progress in a self-referential way, not against some idealized target, but looking at what the learner is doing over time. It's not about conformity to uniformity. Through iteration and adaptation learners find the balance, and heelp all of us along the way. [Link] [Comment]

Advice for David Campbell, Chief Economist

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Mon, 2015-11-02 05:09 (Stephen Downes), Half an Hour, Nov 01, 2015 The province has just announced that it is appointing David W. Campbell it's "chief economist". Campbell discusses the appointment here. Regular readers know I have responded to Campbell frequently in these pages. Just before his appointment (or maybe on knowing he will have it) Campbell posted an "economic development magnum opus", outlining the key planks of his development philosophy. I take this opportunity to reply to them
We must move from a financial program-centric to an opportunities approach to economic development Everyone is in favour of supporting opportunities as opposed to merely giving out money, but the devil is in the details. What does it mean to "support an opportunity" other than providing money? Yes, there are policy changes that can be made, but the bulk of support is still financial. Does it mean "picking winners"? I think that with solid value propositions there's no harm in that - but it's urgent that such a program doesn't devolve into cronyism, or into giving the same old enterprises more money. But I offer qualified support to this approach, provided the mechanisms are open and transparent. We need to implement an ROTI model (return on taxpayer investment) – all investments in economic development should be able to demonstrate a return on the taxpayers’ investment. I used to tell people around here that "we're all in the tourism business", because people don't just see the main attractions when they come here, they see (and touch, and talk to) everything. In the same way, we're "all" in the economic development business. Every investment the province makes - from schools built out in the countryside to a local arena to a resort lodge at Larry's Gulch - has an economic development impact. But not everything demonstrates ROI to the taxpayer, nor should it. Our schools, for example, are crucial to economic development - people will not move here if they cannot ensure a quality education for their children. But any attempt to represent their ROI is a bit facetious; we would build them no matter what. Conversely, things that seem to generate ROTI might in the larger picture be disastrous. Fracking and uranium mining might fit into that category. They might generate incolme, but they might make the province a place that nobody wants to live. The economy is a complex system. No individual element's ROI can be calculated. The contribution of one depends on the existence of, and the contributions of, the others. So we really have to be careful about using a one-off calculation like ROTI. We need to turbocharge the workforce – Less worry on short term interprovincial migration and more concern for long term impact on business investment decisions arising from a tight labour market. We have to stop the whole harangue about "bringing our children home". We're not some outport economy; we want to be part of a modern technological society, and that means migration. People want to move, they want to follow opportunities, they want to experience new lifestyles. We are lucky that our children can grow and develop in most any province or country in the world. Many societies cannot offer that opportunity. So, conversely, we need to become attractive to new migration, to people who have never lived in New Brunswick before (like me!) and people who have never lived in Canada before. We are so used to depicting the province as an economic basket case, but to many people around the world, this is a land of opportunity. And we need to start thinking innovatively when planning to attract these people. Consider settlers' grants: we will grant you title to land if you settle on it for ten years and develop it into viable enterprise. In the long run, that creates far more return than simply giving the forestry rights away for free to some large company that hides its profits in offshore accounts. We need to target high growth potential entrepreneurs (HGPEs) not just our current small business fetish – we need to create the environment for these HGPEs – not just small business owners/lifestyle businesses. I frankly have seen little evidence of a "small business fetish" in recent years. From my perspective the bulk of attention and investment has been to subsidize large local incumbents who don't need the money. Having said that, I don't disagree in principle with the strategy, though I believe it has to be based on creating a sustainable value proposition for these companies, and not merely in cobbling together a short term incentives package. We've seen enough cases where a company will locate in the province only for so long as the subsidies persist, only to pull up stakes when the government largess ends. We want to be an environment where it is easy for small businesses to enter and exit the business playing field – we want to encourage lots of local competition and dynamic local markets. This ties closely to an urbanization strategy. And frankly, even in tiny New Brunswick, it is expensive to start an enterprise. We need actual markets - places where new businesses and start, compete, and flourish or fail on a dime.But our craft markets have become a monopoly, our malls and main streets too expensive to operate in for long, our farmers' markets small, fragmented, and mostly closed. We have few innovation centres, few places where someone can make a go of it. The only real wayt to succeed in the province is to know someone who can get you a government grant that will sustain you long enough to get on your feet. That's not the way to do it. But our growth strategies need to be focused on those entrepreneurs that want to use NB as a base to build a global business. Then we need direct flights to Europe. Even if they show net losses over the years. We need cheaper energy. We need (and have just obtained) access to global-bandwidth internet. We need, in other words, to be connected to these markets. I used to tell people that, from a global perspective, New Brunswick is centrally located. We're the last mainland nexus on the western side linking North America and Europe. We should be taking advantage of that. We need to focus on attracting investment – particularly investment that fosters product or services export growth. Yes, but again we have to be careful. Investment expects a return. There's no problem with that, unless we are the source of that return. Investment based on extracting wealth from the local economy isn't helpful in the long run. We need investment that attracts income into the region. Investment based on global services, export income, or some such thing. That was the strength of McKenna's approach - people complained about the low wages, but mostly didn't notice the fact that the call centres were bringing money from outside the province into it. But I think you get this... We spend way too much of our effort trying to squeeze more investment out of the local business community. Between PNB, ACOA, CBDCs, local agencies, NRC, NBIF, etc. we have somewhere in the range of 300-350 people working in economic development in New Brunswick – not a single one located out in the actual world where the trade, investment and immigrant opportunities actually exist. Right. Our people need to be out there, bringing opportunity back home (where, hopefully, there is receptive capacity to build on it). You've just described my current job. We need to break New Brunswick’s culture of apathy... New Brunswickers need to believe their province can change, can address its big challenges and can become a younger, multicultural, growing and dynamic place that is developing growth industries Break the Irvings and you'll break the apathy. I know that this sounds extreme. But the reason there is apathy in this province is that the only people who ever seem to benefit from growth and development are the Irvings. Moreover, any enterprise that seeks to rise up in (or move into) the province must contend with Irving monopolies. It means that if they engage in any area of business that the Irvings consider their own - and there are many - they must face down the weight of Irving sanctions. It is a huge weight hung around our collective neck and it prevents any real efforts at diversification - or, for that matter, democracy. We need to fully engage local government and local community and business leaders in our economic development efforts. I agree with this. This entails a culture of openness and transparency, an end to croneyism and patronage, the development of policy and investments that make sense on the federal level and on the local level. It entails, in other words, a complete change from top to bottom in the way government does business in the province. I don't know whether we're up to it. But I do agree that it's make-or-break time. We need to be able to develop our natural resources in a sustainable and responsible fashion. I think we'll find that in the not-too-distant future a dependence on fossil fuels will be viewed as a liability, and not a strength. Even as we rush to enable exports to Europe in response to short-term geopolitical considerations, Europe is rushing to become independent of fossil fuels, hence becoming fully free of Russian and Middle-Eastern politics. They will no more welcome new sources from Canada than they do from Putin or from the Sheiks. And then there's global warming, and the damage our current government's indifference to it is doing to our global reputation. When I travel abroad, people ask me, "what has happened to Canada?" Short-term gain here means long term pain. New Brunswick does have natural resources, but they are not the sort of resources people think of when they think of energy and mining. The abundant rainfall and the temperate climate are assets not to be dismissed lightly. We need an urban growth agenda. If you go back to the 1950s until today, rural population growth in New Brunswick was fairly similar to the rest of the country (modest increase). It was urban growth where we lagged substantially. Here again I agree, but with an asterisk. And the asterisk is this: we have to stop developing suburbs, and start developing cities. And we have to do this in a way that makes these cities dynamic and interesting places to live. In the last decades we have gone backwards. Our cities are not livable - these days they're unbearable. Pedestrians have to walk along main roads; our sidewalks are choked in snow while some special suburbs (like Royal Oaks) get special treatment. The summer is little better; our sidewalks are tiny and broken, our transit systems ineffective, our parks being converted to big box malls. And there's no means to change this because there's little or no urban representation in government. Our city wards and provincial ridings are splinters, each with the small sharp end some part of the urban core, and the larger part a suburban and rural population. Without a voice, people who live in the cities cannot shape policy. We need to focus on innovation – across the spectrum. ... I want to bring back the “living lab” vision for New Brunswick. I'd love to see this. In my early days in the province I met with people from Service NB, NBSS, the schools and the universities. Not the spark has gone out of their eyes as inflexible and centrally controlled governance has gradually ground them down. The province would do well to set them free, to encourage diversity and innovation across the system, even if it steps on a few well-connected toes. When messaging we need to target our audiences. Almost all stories in the national media relating to New Brunswick are negative. Business leaders, immigrants and other key groups see these stories. We need to change the national narrative. Fine. But the only way to change the narrative is to change the facts. We are the Greece of Canada. A tiny number of people control the province, extracting wealth from it, and putting nothing back in to support growth and development. Our people are depicted as lazy, but in fact they cannot succeed without connections and cronyism. We have abundant resources, but they are sold for a fraction of their value. We grant large tax breaks to companies who don't need it, and who make promises that are soon broken. The problem with New Brunswick does not lie in the people of New Brunswick, nor in the stories that are being told about the province. It lies in the leadership, which has been an utter disaster for the last decade, a leadership that lies to the people to get elected and sells its soul to the highest bidder within a few months of the polls. These problems exist not only at the provincial level but at the local levels as well, where it is sometimes difficult to believe that key elements of city governance have not been bought and paid for by special interests to wrest personal profit from the public purse. We have a chance with a new government to change that. I can't say I feel confident that it will change, but the mandate is yet early and perhaps this government has more backbone that we've yet seen. It's easy for a government to stand up to the people and say it will cut services or raise taxes. It is much harder for a government to stand up to major corporations and interests and to say it will govern in the interests of the people and for the future prosperity of the province. [Link] [Comment]

Notes from ELI 2015 Riyadh - Day One

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Mon, 2015-11-02 05:09 (Stephen Downes), Half an Hour, Nov 01, 2015 Rob Kadel
The Untapped Potential for eLearning Pearson Research & amp; Innovation Network / University of Colorado Denver - learning to think laterally, or to think divergently (think outside the box) - instead of thinking of one answer, thinking of many possible answers - example: alternative ways to commute to work - Research & amp; Innovation Network (Pearson) - Kimberly O'Malley, head - turning ideas into useful and usable innovation networks - various centres for different projects - accomoplishments: collaborative games, essay scoring algoritms, etc - Student success - what does it mean? - beyond school - Oxford Economics survey 2011 - skills most in demand: - interpersonal and communication skills - digital - agile thinking - global operating skills - CEOs valued these, but said most employees today do not have these skills - we can reach this, but have to look at the world students live in today - The current environment - tech in schools - two speeds: full steaam ahead, or, what do we do now? - we need to meet students in their own space, in the technology they already use - Personalized Learning - Howard Gardner: individuation, pluralization - individuation: each student taught in ways that are comfortable - pluralization: anytung being taught should be taught in several ways (to reach more students) - in a practical snese - not just 1:1 computing - students and teachers customize learning objectives and strategies for work - rigorous curriculum framework - relevant assessment, teachers as facilitators - SAMR model of technology integration - It takes a village: components of education transformation - leadership: establish vision, lead by example, - policy: align with outcoms - curriculum and assessment - in alignment with each other, must ensure students gain essential knowledge and 21st c skills - digital tech - tools and data to support personalization - sustinable resourcing - develop resources at scale - research and evaluation - Purposful planning - getting to goals - eg. 'all studnets must achieve success in mathematics before graduation' - need to clearly define what these thinsg are - Goals & gt; Objectives & gt; Activities & gt; Tasks (hierarchal structure) - if you can measure the tasks, you can measure all the way up - the task level is the easiest to measure - eg. Pearson's MathXL - importance of verbs (action words) - use Bloom's digital taxonomy (HOTS to LOTS) - the full-steam ahead approach is not purposeful - need to map out all learning tasks beforehand (example, school with Chromebooks couldn't read MS Word documents) - ensure that adequate staff are assigned to each task - ensure that budgets are accurate - that you can measure the success of your program - Learning outcomes and efficacy - it isn't enough to merely be good, you have to do good (ie., you have to show you are good) - Pearson - has taken a strong effort to measure our products and our services (video clip from Pearson CEO) (but no, this isn't an advertisement for Pearson, he assures us) - "return on investment in human capital" - measuring the tasks = measuring efficacy - Challenges in the Gulf region - infrastructure - are all schools and all users connected? - leadership - are leaders supporting and demonstrating effective technology use? - language - more than half of websites that exist are in English - how to maintain rich heritage of Arabic language - but how to teach them all English - digital literacy - students need basic understanding of how to use devices - not just mobile phones, can you work with computers, eg., save and send a file - professional development for teachers Q& amp;A - Q: will tech in the education field cut out labour, the way it has in other fields - A: I don't think it will replace teachers - there is the danger or potential that it will replace teachers, but that's not the way we want to go - want to keep teachers as facilitators - Q: you talk about an outcome-based theory, based on tasks, which is a classical theory around for years - but do you do tasks first, or goals first? - A: just a way of redefining the way we have thought of education in the past - it is very difficult to measure goals, but it is possible to measure the outcomes - Q: what about social media - A: replicate them in the 'walled garden' -- or experiment with tools (but they don't always work) - Q: knowledge is non-reductive? - A: it depemds on the language we use - 'what does it really mean'? Olaf Zawacki-RichterThe development of online distance education and media usage behavior in higher education - traditional students - 1950s - male, - C.A.Wedemeyer 1981 - increasing diversity in university, beginning of open university, open admissions - University of London 1826 "beginning" of open university, distance learning - 1889 - sample of advertisement describing correspondance study - so correspondance education is closely linked to the development of the postal system in Europe - South Arica - UNISA - The open learning movement - begins in the 1960s - list: OU (1969), Athabasca (1970), FernUniversitat (1974) - some very large ones - China, Turkey - new open universities - Nigeria, Malaysia - UMUC - development of online distance education - more open universities - Russia - traditional campuses - eg. Penn State - 'world campus' Institutional Structures - Oldenberg University, Germany - need organizational structure to "manage this process in a profeessional way" - Centre for Lifelong Learning (C3L) - Structure of the blended learning program: - independent study phase - 1st cintact session - online projevt work - 2nd contact session - project portfolios Instructional design model: ADDIE - emohasis on first phase, evry important - need to know prior knowledge, media preferences Media usage behavious in Education - does the net generation now arrive at the university? - very few empirical studies supporting the claims of Tapscott, Presnky, etc - so what are these studients doing? Research questions: wat do they use, what is their value, informal media, etc? - exploratory study - data in 2012 - big 276 question survey, 2,339 students fro German universities - 99% have access to broadband, 38% use internet 4-6 hours per day - media typology (Grosch and Gidion) - acceptance rates llfdifferent tools and rechnologies - second Life - dead last on the list - cluster analysis - 5 groups: - ubiquitous web services, email, LMS - provuided by uni - eg. online library - cooperation & amp; entertainment - comouter conference, social netwirks, iTines - external web 2.0 toos, blogs, skype - exotic applications - 2nd life, Twitter - not used much for learning - high acceptance by traditional studnets just a few, eg. email, non-traditional students use a wide range of tools - gap between demand and supply of e-learning, significantly higher demand for e-learning among non-trad - media usage typology - entertainment - 51% - periphrial - 20% - advanced - 20% - instrumental - 7% - Implications: - developed authoring tool for courses for tablets - iAcademy - C3LLO - mobile LMS - mostly for communications - no relationship between age and media usage - very high acceptance for LMS and print-based materials - the university should not imitate informal social networks Richard L. Edwards Executive Director, iLearn Research, Ball State UniversityIncreasing Student Success through Online Learning, Learning Analytics, and Learner-Centered Practices - student success - students maximizing their abilities - online education joins: online learning, learning analytcs, and learning processes - from minister of education: "less teaching, more learning" - more learning = more effective teachning Student Success - formal vs informal learning - learning anytime, anywhere - learning how to learn - lifelong learning Areas of broad agreement at #ELI_2015 - we have the technology to make online learning effective - the demand for online education is growing rapidly - 21st century learners were born into a digitally connected workd - there will continue to be waves of innivation in e-learning Claim: students are leading us into the "postmodality" er - online learning is no longer a novelty - meeting the needs of these students will require institutional ecosystems Thomas Cavanaugh, 2012, Educause Premise #1 - success in online learning requires an ecosystem - can't focus on student success in isolation from, eg: - faculty development, eLearning support, 3rd party support, IT support, admin & amp; services - "we have educated them in terms of their whole mind and body" - clubs, sports, etc - we have to replicate that in online learning - Ball State's iLearn Premise #2 - eLearning mindstes andd our cultures of learning affect how we develop our online programs - institutions that take risks succeed, institutions thta take a step back do not succeed - success is possible, but you first have to believe that onlin innovation is what you want to do - "You have to believe" - Drector of iLearn - chief moral officer: - foster continuous learning among faculty and staff - encourage critical and creative thinking, new solutions, etc - turn research into practice, support pilot projects, fail fast - build a culture of assessment to identify successes and failures "we no longer can talk about what constitutes great teaching without evidence" - disruptive innovative - elewarning has that potential, but it won't be destructive - educate more of your citizens at a lower cost - continbuous evolution - the more we talk about teaching and learning and the less about technology the more success you will have Premise #3 - anticipate great change - what is going to change the most? education, work, or society? - I would say all of them are going to change a lot - the drivers are deep changes in the nature of work - the jobs 20 years from now aren't the jobs of today Overview of iearn Research Projects - new forms of content delivery - open educational resources - learning analytics - gamification - flipped intsruction - enhancing student engagement Slide: Support :: learner Centred Practices Engagement :: Blended and Online Learning Feedback :: Learning Analytics (Research-based model :: Action Research Projects) Analytics - student in the centre - types of anaytics, stakeholders, data quality and transfers, potentiql bottlenecks, scale of analytics - speed of anaytics - small data: descriptive; big data: predictive 3 Takeaways - Adopt best practices for learners (7 principles of good practice - Chickering and Gamson 1987) - what are the practices great students do - eg. self-regulation - eg. Ball State MOOC to give students better skills - note-taking, study skills, historical thinking, writing skills - help students develop their metacogntive skills - learning how to learn - most of your existing tools can be reourposed to support this - eg our HITS project - eg. pretest for foundational skills, then fix deficiencies - eg. write metacognitive questions to be answered each week - identify misunderstandings and confusions - based on data from online course - students responses result in just-in-time changes - start small pilot projects, see how it works in your ecosystem, and evaluate outcomes - collqborate with faculty and staff - strategic coordination - teaching is teaching; learning is learning Q: should we be building one platform for the whole country, o multiple platforms? A: I tend to favour one platform, because of support costs, but prefer a flexible and customizable approach - one platform for all is just good business sense Q: suggestion to use MOOCs not to teach a course, but to teach the skills hey need - but how do we make sure students use them? A: we're going to require the prep-MOOC for every student that gets a deficiency grade at the mid-term [Link] [Comment]

OER Business Models - A Debate

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Mon, 2015-11-02 05:09 (Stephen Downes), Half an Hour, Nov 01, 2015 This is a summary of a debate including four participants, listed below, at OER2014. Errors and omissions are still my own.
What is your mission in OER and what is your business model? David Harris - OpenStax It's really about access, providing access to the highest quality OERs possible. A whole suite of products beyond the textbook. We've created an ecosystem around learning materials. This ecosystem is the core of our business. Eg. we might partner with John Wiley & amp; sones. We works with multiple partners to provide more options and choice for our partners. Lisa Petrides - IKSME Our mission is about maximizing all of these open access tools that enable breakthroughs in teaching and learning. We build tools, develop capacity, support the OER Commons library, etc. There are two main components to the business model: first, the R& amp;D side, and second, the service department, that offers services around the capacity-building piece, showing people how to organize and use their content. The core is, how does it impact the learner? David Wiley - Lumen Two-fold mission: save students money and improve student success. We have a particular focus on at-risk students, so especially the community college. The business model is based on helping faculty make the transition from commercial to open textbooks. Any course that we provide support for we charge a per-enrollment fee. All the content is CC-licensed content, and the platform is open source as well. Gary Lopez - MITE / Ed-Ready Our mission is to improve access to everyone. The goal of the inrov project is to make sure online K-12 content is available to every person at no cost. The business model supports business and mission goals. In addition tot he content, there is a membership component, whgich supports both goals. Reactions: To Gary: if your're not a member of the community, what are your rights of access? Gary: if you're an individual you have full rights to use and re-use. We focus on institutions - if you're an institution, we ask that you join our membership. What does it mean to be sustainable? Lisa - ISKME is a non-profit. It's very much of a Linux model - the content itself should forever be free and open. Access is always available. It's different from what Gary talked about - it means that any wrap-around services are going to be another type of service, eg., we might to an LTI or API integration, or a workflow process - some such thing. The key to being sustainable is to always ask, how do we keep that part (the core part) free? Gary - there a fundamental difference between for-profits and non-profits in their goals. In for-profits the business goals are financials, and officers have a responsibility to achieving financial goals. Unless there's a special arrangements to make supporting OERs the goal, the financial responsibility always rises to the top. When a non-profit is set up, the mission is the goal. David - sustainability is critical to us, especially if you are on the producing side of OER, and especially if you think it has to be a market-based solution, which means it has to be of high quality. I think it is irresponsible of a non-profit to assume you will be given philanthropy. As you move toward sustainability you get greater independence and greater opportunity to pursue strategies that support the mission. As a non-profit we don't have the overhead that for-profits need to generate, so we can produce at a lower cost. David Wiley - what's my ongoing ability to continue to meet my goals? For Lumen it means being able to continute to partner with institutions and continue to drop the price to zero, and be able to look beyond the grant. Reactions: Lisa - the two people beside me came from the publishing side. What was that like? Gary: I dodn't copme from publishing; I was faculty. My company got purchased by Harcourt. You don't have a cost of money. You can go into markets more aggressively. Davis Harris: we started out pro-market, but then it became just about the shareholders, which I didn't like. To provide the greatest access, we have to think about marketplace solutions. Lisa: let's look at this. What's been working in open food has been from the bottom-up. But we are still working from a top-down perspective (eg., responding to concerns raised by publishers). David Wiley: we became for-profit to maximize our ability to succeed, eg., we can partner with institutions, and we can get more traditional investment as well, so we don't have to rely on grants. The quality issue Dave prings up is interesting; hostorically nobody talked about quality - it was always some proxy for quality. What's the only actual condition? Whether kids learn from it. So we don't get distracted by how glossy it is. David Harris: you are misinterpreting what really counts as quality. Eg. there are review boards, etc. Gary: we're gathering data, that data has to do with efficacy, whether people succeed. It was before that the issue of whether people were actually learning never came into the equation (with commercial publishers). Lisa: so 'sustainability' in OERs is about learning. Ho do you define OER, and why do yopur think your busineess is OER? Gary: we don't think about the definition of OER. We're focused on our mission to provide access to quality education for evertone. Whether or not something falls within the definition is secondary. David Harris: I don't think it matters what I think it is, that's defined by the license we use. We use the CC-by license, which is critically important, because it provides freedom to the end user. We use this to sell the concept to academics. They realize they can publish derivative versions, for example. David Wiley: I'm on the other end of the scale; I obsess about it. There's a two-part - there has to be free and unfettered access to the resource; and I have to have free and perpetual ability to engage in the 5R activities. As a matter of contract, any school we work with, the license says the work we produce has tp be OER. Lisa: how we define OER is that it isn't a thing, it is a practice; it includes content and curation and quality and rigor and standards and change in teaching practice. When we say we are in the business of OErs it is about free and open access to the world's knowledge. It's in the last few years we've really understood our role as a public library; we're not serving an institution. The other thing about OER Commons is we aggregate all of the licenses into four buckets. David Harris: we have to be careful as a community because over the next 12-18 months we will see more and more 'openwashing' by major publishers, because OER is establishing a brand identity. And questions about who should be producing it? Gary: anyone who want to. Who shouldn't? David Wiley: to Lisa, if the category becomes so broad, it's difficult to know what we're ftalking about. Eg. open pedagogy is different from OER. Lisa: our open speaker used the work 'ecosystem'. You cna't just have the seed: you need the market, and the water. It has to be inclusive of the whole piece. Otherwise you have ssomething disjointed and not sustainable. Eg. if you have contenbt and nobody uses it, how is it that we have OER? It can't just be about this thing. David Wiley: but each of the parts of the econsystem has a name, the ecosystem is 'open education'. Gary: but it does show that just creating them and putting them out there has no value. You have to maintain them, have version control, etc. That's hard. Q3. What does it mean to say we're giving the seeds away for free, but not the water, etc? Lisa: well that'\s why we say it's a whole ecosystem. As opposed to the strategy of building this part, then that part, etc. If you build the whole thing at once, that's sustainable. David Harris: yes, but we thionk we don't have to build the whole ecosystem ourselves. If you are going to build the whole system, you can't have everything free, all the time. You are going to need revenue. Gary: lets get back to access and equity. Free access doesn't mean anything if you don't get back to the mission, which is to help people succeed. So there need to be measures you can measure to show that you can attain that. We should all be thinking about the mission. We don't have to build it all ourselves. We're all working in different ways, but united in purpose. David Wiley: it's like the whole approach to OERs in the early days was like we set up a table with seeds, and said, here are free seeds, we've solved world hunger. Then we argued a lot about what the boxes look like, And we're learninging we have to add more support. David Harris: but we're also learned that equity doesn't mean it always has to be free. Gary: books are expensive because they're expensive to create. That's not free, and we have to find ways to pay for it, to bring the price down but not scrimp on the value we create. David Wiley: it would be interesting to see what are all the steps involved in producing high quality materials. It would be interesting what happens when we pull out some of the steps and see whether there is a difference in equity. David Harris: faculty would demand full evidence. That gets into scale. How many of those conversations could we have? Gary: I think we can always come back to an economic argument to suppoort it. Lisa: I think we should have an equivalent of true cost accounting for this. David Harris: I don't think it will be looking at the efficacy of learning systems. But learning systems are not inexpensive to develop. What is the impact of an open license on a sustainable business model? David Wiley: two different ways: open licenses completely enable everything we do, because the licenses create the infracture that supports everything we do. On the other hand, because we have this licensing requirement, then putting that license in a contract (and being willing to walk away when it's not there) helps us snowball the value we can provide every time we work with somebody. Gary: David is sport on. But th impact is, any license will limit therange of business models that are possible. So a business model limited by an open license means not restricting usage of the system to people with buying power. And if usage is not so limited, then it opens up other models - by selling services, by selling secondary materials such as advertising, etc. You need to build the business model first, then craft the license. Lisa: our business model depends on having etachers and institutions, etc., to actually work with on these projects. The license acts as a conduit to make this happen. Because without the license we wouldn't have the users. As nice as it is to have big government initiatives, the majority of people have actually created their own kind of license that meets their needs. That's why we've created this mapping into four buckets. One is a free-for-all, another is a remix-and-share, another is share, and another is read-the-fine-print. Davoid Harris: i agree, you need a common set of licenses sso you have a common language. Gary's system would create a proliferation of licenses, you meet business needs, but not learning needs. people were concered about CC-by licenses, because you lose control. But these concerns were misplaced. I have seen very little profiteering from it. And on the positive side we have 30 ecosystem partners. It may be called an open license, I call it an innovation license. Gary: yes, there would be a lot of versions. But the question is, how it impacts sustainability. If there are limited numbers of license, there are limited ways to create sustainability. That's what we're doing. A lot of what we have is CC-by, but other stuff has a different license. This was never going to be a debate. Business modles speak for themselves, they either work or they don't. David Wiley: on license proliferation, even within Creative Commons, we have some Legos, we have some Duplos, we have some knockoffs that don't fit either. At the end of the day we have some questions about whether the different licenses actually fit. There's a finite amount of time and effort we can undertake to make them fit together. David Harris: David is correct. If there were mnore standardization around a common license, there would be more activity, more remixing. Gary: Let's get back to mission. If our mission is to help people learn, we can get stuck in a rut on this. There are many ways to help people. How do you forsee your business models disrupting existing business models? David Harris: we've disrupted the higher ed publishing industry in the folloing ways: from day one, all students have access to the learning materials; second, we have lowered costs even when open licenses are not used, because there is a ripple effectof lower costs; and third we are leveling the plaaying field of non-standard producers. We are breaking barriers down. Forth, OER can be blended now, because of OpenStax materialss - people take small pieces and embed them in online learning envrionments. We are supporters of open data; publishers were previously very closed with their data. Lisa: aside from the cost, etc., the role of what you teach and how you teach is often determined in a top-down way, especially in K-12, but we are actually empowering teachers to take back control of the professionalism of their own practice; they leave and take the practices back to their classrooms and we get calls from boards saying "what's going on?" Also, in some ways as a field, we went to far too quickly gto try to define what sustainability was. David Wiley: i don't like to use the 'd' word. I don't think we're there yet. I think in some ways we're starting to be annoying to publishers. But I don't think we've broken open the market yet. Once we take a billion dollars oout of the market then we'll be there. Where there has been some stuff going on is this intuition that 'you get what you pay for' - this is opening up some efficacy reserach conversations. I would cite John Hilton's work is more exhaustive on OERs than all the peer-reviewed work on the efficacy of pearson's work. Gary: we actually may have crossed over this year, and disruption many have happened. Eg. math product - the system has been adopted by states like Montana, Utaha, Hawaii, nd more. And we've been adopted by hundreds of schools. So what does Ed-Ready disrupt? It eliminates texts, tuitions and time involved in math remediation. And the efficacy is bringing people from secondary to post-secondary at an unrepcedented rate. And those who are using Ed-Ready are remixing it. In Montana there are some 400 versions of it. And we are really upsetting Pearson. David Harris: it doesn't take 30-40% market share to impact publihers. 10% works. Gary: that depends on the market. It is true in the book market, but not the assessment market. David Wiley: one strategy we've had is not to go after individual courses, but to go aafter entire degree programs. When you can flip the entire degree program, now as a student I can actually budget for it. We've now pulled a third of the cost out of a degree program. Gary: what we're seeing is not opnly are we displaying high-stakes texts, we're creating pathways. We find ourselves being adopted by a college, and then being adpated by their feeder systems. The uptake by feeders systems has been breathtaking. Lisa: I love and applaude these efforts, eg., the high stakes test alteratives. But what does it mean to ahve the market. We're still doing ecucation pretty much the way we were. It still costs money. I'm still looking to see what's possible in this market. What does it look like to have the corner store? What does it look like to have the seed exchange? We need a way to see what it could look like the other way. Gary: we're beginning to see this. We're beginning to see what it looks like when people build things that meet their own needs. We're not just seeing people build more stuff. We're seeing people build stuff that works better. Eg. to supporrt personal learning. We're coming up against some of the real tenets of pub,lic education which is not working. Closing Statements Gary: I'm delighted we're analyzing and re-examining our mission. Also, though, we should be looking at how to rebuild the connectedness in the community. Perhaps that's because it seems like we're competing with each other. But we don't see that this is so; we're competing with pearson and the commercial publishers. So I hope this will be the start of a clear commitment to OER and to one another. Lisa: pne one hand we're not competing in a traditional way, but at the same time I think some of our ideas and how we're going about them might be in conflict with others, but that's still OK, but we suffer from the milquetoast that we're all one big happy family - let's have more disagreement. Some people day "don't put a crack in what we're doing" but i think we should be innovative, have arguments - competition does push us forward. David Harris. First, please recommend OpenStax to others. Now, there was a Gates report - there is great opportunity for OERs. But our market size is 3-4%. So we are an irritant. There is a debate of whether we focus on supply or demand. But of course we need to do both. Yes we need supply. But just building it is not enough. We need to build the tools. The goal is to get to 10% of the market - if we do, we can win the market. If we work together we can do it. DavidWiley. So, amen and hallaluja to everything else that has been said. Don't make seeds and put them on the table. Pick a problem and go try to solve that problem. Pick developmental math and go try to solve that problem. Pick something concrete and go fix it. If it's concrete enough you'll know that you've fixed it. Everyone on this panel - we've picked a problem. Who is feeling pain, how can we fix this pain, then we went and solved it. Closing points: - over the next year or so, there will be ways to continue this conversation - eg.Creative Commons business model project (Lumen learning - ) - we don't all have to agree on things, it's good to have polite disagreements (Oscar Wilde - "friends stab you in the front") - applause please [Link] [Comment]

Mother Canada and Mother Russia

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Mon, 2015-11-02 05:09 (Stephen Downes), Half an Hour, Nov 01, 2015 The current government plans to deface some pristine Cape Breton wilderness with a 'Mother Canada' monument. Here's the proposal. Here's some coverage of opposition. A photo below:
What I find a bit puzzling is why Canada's conservative government - the same government that wants to erect a 'victims of communism' memorial in Ottawa - would want to emulate a series of Soviet-era monuments. Here's the 1960s era 'Mother Armenia' statue in Yerevan: Here's Mother Georgia, in Tblisi: Mother Russia, in Volgograd (formerly Stalingrad): Mother Motherland, in Kiev. Hero City, Minsk: Mother Latvia: Freedom Monument (Mother Pest?) Budapest. And this one I photographed in Riga, Latvia: Don't get me wrong; I love every one of these statues. But they speak to a view of the world we more commonly associate with an all-embracing state. It seems an odd choice of design for the Harper Conservatives. The one thing the 'Mother Canada' proposal does not have in common with the other statues: the other statues are designed to be seen. This statue is designed to be installed in one of the most remote wilderness regions of Canada. It's an odd choice. [Link] [Comment]

Harvard Provost Lauds EdX, But Questions Its Financial Sustainability

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Mon, 2015-11-02 01:10

By MEG P. BERNHARD and MARIEL A. KLEIN, Harvard Crimson

Provost Alan M. Garber ’76 reiterated the challenges of sustaining edX’s current financial model in a document released Friday and pointed to potential areas where the non-profit virtual education platform could improve, such as developing mobile platforms and accommodating students from different backgrounds. The 33-page “white paper” summarizes edX’s three-year history after its initial founding by Harvard and MIT and emphasizes the company’s three main goals: to improve on-campus learning, expand college-level course offerings to the world, and conduct research on learner behavior. Garber, though, projected that the current models for funding HarvardX—Harvard’s branch of the massive open online course provider—are unsustainable, given the high cost of generating online material and the time investment of professors producing the online courses.

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An Open Letter to Sherry Turkle On MOOCs and Online Learning

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Mon, 2015-11-02 01:04

by Joshua Kim, Inside Higher Ed

(ed note: In this thought-filled posting, Josh Kim addresses issues related to the new book. These issues are relevant much more broadly.) In Reclaiming Conversation, you make the mistake of characterizing MOOCs as interchangeable with online education. This mistake is distressingly common amongst journalists, but in a book as influential as Reclaiming Conversation I find the conflation of these two educational methods to be particularly troublesome. The only thing that MOOCs and traditional online education share is a common enabling set of technologies – the internet and the phone. MOOCs contain two attributes that put them in a separate category to traditional online learning. First, they are built for scale. Second, they are built to be open. Traditional online courses are designed neither for scale or for openness. Traditional online courses are built around a model of a private community, one consisting of an educator and a limited number of students.

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Colleges study successful students

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Mon, 2015-11-02 01:02

by Lekan Oguntoyinbo, University Business

For decades, colleges and universities have used big data to track high-risk students and intervene as needed. Now a growing number of institutions are using data tools to track and analyze another group: successful students. It is a radically different approach that many campus administrators believe will help them understand what makes students successful—developing a profile of success that can be used to help keep vulnerable students focused and ensure positive outcomes for all. One example: If the most successful students use the library or computer lab frequently, interventions for at-risk students could involve strongly encouraging them to take advantage of these resources.

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Salvage - Mon, 2015-11-02 01:00
Categories: Cartoons, Science News

GKV, KG 2-Statistik

Gesundheitsberichterstattung - Sun, 2015-11-01 23:00

Die im Informationssystem eingespeicherten gestaltbaren Tabellen aus der "KG 2-Statistik (gesetzliche Krankenversicherung: u.a. Leistungsfälle und -zeiten von Arbeitsunfähigkeit, Krankengeld, -hausbehandlung, häuslicher Krankenpflege, Leistungsfälle bei Schwanger- und Mutterschaft)" des Bundesministeriums für Gesundheit wurden um das Jahr 2014 ergänzt.

Categories: Science News

Magen-Darm-Tag am 07.11.2015 Motto: Die Bauchspeicheldrüse - das Organ im Mittelpunkt

Gesundheitsberichterstattung - Sun, 2015-11-01 23:00
Ausgewählte Informationen zum Magen-Darm-Tag am 07.11.2015
Motto: Die Bauchspeicheldrüse - das Organ im Mittelpunkt
Categories: Science News

How Michigan Ross Can Give 500000 Alumni Free or Half-Price Executive Education And Still Make Money

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Sun, 2015-11-01 01:10

by Adam Gordon, Forbes

The University of Michigan Ross School of Business on October 12 announced free lifetime open-enrolment executive education for all its degree alumni, a business model inflection that raises interesting issues in strategic cannibalization, and which threatens the status quo of both MBA and wider short-course leadership development industries. The “Alumni Advantage” offer means UM graduates have lifelong free access to executive education, in Ann Arbor, in Hong Kong, Malaysia, India, and online. Non-Ross UM alumni are eligible for half-price.

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Coursera, Udacity And The Future of Credentials

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Sun, 2015-11-01 01:04

by Ryan Craig, Forbes

There are two critical science projects underway in higher education. First and most important is figuring out how to use technology to significantly improve developmental/remedial education. This is related to about a thousand things currently happening in K-12 education. The answer will undoubtedly involve adaptive learning and gamification, and perhaps immersive learning as well. This science project is at the top of everybody’s list. The second science project, and the one I spend a lot of time thinking about, is how to use technology to develop and deliver shorter, less expensive, 100% digital (and therefore accessible) postsecondary programs that lead to credentials that employers will recognize and value. The answer – if there is one – will be critical to the future of colleges and universities. One might go as far to say that whoever solves this science project merits a badge. Two high-profile companies are pursuing a badge-based future: Coursera and Udacity.

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10 EdTech Companies You Need To Know About

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Sun, 2015-11-01 01:02

by Ilya Pozin, Forbes

Many of the world’s top universities have embraced Massive Open Online Courses (known as MOOCs). In some districts, tablets have become an essential school supply, thanks to new software that turns them into powerful classroom tools. Meanwhile, the implementation of computer-administered common core testing forced many schools to modernize, whether they wanted to or not. The technology behind these innovations has come from a host of companies, ranging from billion-dollar tech unicorns to small outfits founded by school teachers. What unites them is their shared vision that education, one of the industries most resistant to change, can benefit from technological innovation. Together, they have coalesced into a sector known as EdTech, which has become one of the hottest spaces in Silicon Valley and beyond.

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