news (external)

Fact checkers use this method to spot sketchy info

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Sun, 2017-10-29 18:40

Carrie Spector, Futurity, Oct 29, 2017

This post summarizes a Stanford History Education Group (SHEG) report suggesting that fact-checkers more reliably assess article than professional hostorians and Stanford students. The assumptions going in were absurd: "“Historians sleuth for a living... Evaluating sources is absolutely essential to their professional practice. And Stanford students are our digital future. We expected them to be experts.” Anyhow, the fact-checkers used this one weird trick: checking other sources. "The fact checkers read laterally, meaning they would quickly scan a website in question but then open a series of additional browser tabs, seeking context and perspective from other sites. In contrast, the authors write, historians and students read vertically, meaning they would stay within the original website in question to evaluate its reliability." 

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IMS Global Learning Consortium Introduces LTI Advantage

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Sun, 2017-10-29 16:59

Press Release, IMS Global, Oct 29, 2017

The press release doesn't really tell you what it is, but Blackboard Blog summarizes it as follows: "LTI Advantage is essentially a package of extensions that includes, at a minimum, LTI 1.1 link launching, Names and Role Provisioning Services, Deep Linking, and the soon-to-be released Assignments and Grades Services that build on the core LTI standard (LTI 1.1 and higher)." So: neat. Here's the overview page at IMS.

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CC and ME

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Sun, 2017-10-29 14:44

Helen DeWaard, Five Flames 4 Learning, Oct 29, 2017

Helen DeWaard writes, "After viewing the conversations between David Wiley and George Siemens for the #OpenEdMOOC (Week 2 Part 1Part 2 and Part 3) it becomes clear as mud that copyright and Creative Commons licensing has an impact on my work as an educator." I don't think that was the intend of the course (though I confess that the result of my own conversations withDavid Wiley has also been to leave things clear as mud). DeWaard writes, "I’ve crafted a video (AKGTC and CC) to encourage teachers and students to use and apply CC attribution and licensing to their creative works." Fair enough, though I'm not a fan of littering my work with advertisements for Creative Commons. Doug Peterson responds with thoughts about his own approach to licensing. He also points to a case of overzealous enforcement.

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The Three Fundamental Moments of Podcast's Crazy Rise

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Sun, 2017-10-29 14:32

Nicholas Quah, Wired, Oct 29, 2017

Doc Searls is quite right to complain about this article in Wired ostensibly about the history of podcasting. It fails, as he notes, to mention Adam Curry aand Dave Winer, and seems to get the relation between "podcast" and "RSS feed" backwards  - a podcast is an RSS feed (one that contains references to MP3s as enclosurfes), so it doesn't make sense to talk about "the first mainstream podcast to have an RSS feed". My own contribution, 2003's Ed Radio, has even been excised from the Wikipedia page, but I've long since gotten used to that. I am enjoying the renaissance of podcasting, but wish professional magazine writers would preserve some semblance of accuracy in reporting.

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The importance of compression when learning maths

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Sun, 2017-10-29 12:23

Maggie Hos-McGrane, Tech Transformation, Oct 29, 2017

This reads to me like pseudoscience. "The process of compression happens because the brain is a highly complex organ with many things to control, and it can focus on only a few uncompressed ideas at one time." Yet it comes, apparently, from Jo Boaler, a Professor of Mathematics Education at Stanford University. Maggie Hos-McGrane expands on the thoeory: "The brain can only compress concepts and not rules - hence students who learn the rules have to struggle to hold onto them - they are unable to be compressed, organized and filed away for later use." This doesn't make sense to me. The brain is not a computer. I'm open to the possibility that I'm wrong here, but I really doubt it.

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Governments need to ensure rules are followed in education

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Sun, 2017-10-29 12:17

Manos Antoninis, World Education Blog, Oct 29, 2017

The varying systems of education around the world place more or less stress on goovernments. The private sector is often touted as a viable approach when governments cannot afford to provide services, but "when governments relinquish control of education to private providers, it is equally if not more important that standards be in place to regulate their work." These expenditures, and this overhead, is often not calculated into the cost of the private system to governments and families. And often, it doesn't work. "The very first step of accrediting schools in the first place is often cumbersome, prone to corruption, and therefore slow, leaving many operating without meeting even minimum safety and infrastructure standards."

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What Is Success and Failure in Schooling?

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Sun, 2017-10-29 12:02

Larry Cuban, Oct 29, 2017

Three part series (part one, part two, part three) that ought to be called "What are success and failure in learning?" The first part looks at different definitoons of success and failure in business and the military. You can skip this part. The second part talks about "success" in hospitals (about which I don't think Americans are in a position to judge) and begins the discussion of schools. It comes together in the third part. "If only policymakers, practitioners, and parents agreed upon what 'success' and 'failure' mean for schooling," he writes. This is in my view the single reason why most education reserach is futile. There are different points of division: what counts as success accordubg to left or right; measures of success applied to all or some (usually lower-class) schools; and the changing mission of tax-supported schools. 

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Reasons to be blogging ... 1 2 3....

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Sun, 2017-10-29 09:21

Steve Wheeler, Learning With es, Oct 29, 2017

This is a short set of five reasons why regular blogging is a good professional practice. I can attest to them. When I'm blogging I'm at my best - it forces me to keep current and focus my thoughts. I'm less concerned about cultivating community than Wheeler mostly because I want people to create and join their own communities. 

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UMD launches immersive media innovation ecosystem

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Sun, 2017-10-29 02:08

University to develop MAVRIC, a regional hub for immersive media technology. From catching Pokémon in the real world to donning a virtual reality headset to see and feel what it was like to scale the Berlin Wall before its fall, advancements in immersive media have set the stage for the next digital revolution. The University of Maryland will take part in this revolution with the launch of the Mixed/Augmented/Virtual Reality Innovation Center, called MAVRIC, which has been awarded a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration (EDA). “The project promises to make our entire region a national hot spot for immersive media development,” said University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh. “It will become an economic and technological boon to Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.”

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Institutions embracing social media’s potential

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Sun, 2017-10-29 02:05

by Autumn A. Arnett, Education Dive

Communications and outreach offices are beginning to see the value of “paying to play” in the digital landscape, a recent analysis by University Business says. Many offices have been embracing paid search optimization for awhile, but now officials are realizing there’s value in paying for social media ads as well; a recent survey found 47% of high school seniors, 55% of juniors and 61% of sophomores and 33% of parents of high schoolers clicked on a search, display or social media ad for a college. The best investment, the article says, is to re-target those who have already self-identified as prospective students, since they are most likely to click the ads.

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Digital Learning: Education and Skills in the Digital Age

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Sun, 2017-10-29 02:01

by the Rand Corporation

The report gives an overview of an expert consultation on the role and future of education and skills in the digital world. It looks at which skills are important and necessary to undertake the different types of jobs available, and what skills we need to be thinking of developing now and in the future. It explores how we ensure that people are not left out of the digital age and have access to education on digital skills. It looks at how we think about formal education and how our thinking needs to evolve with the increasing adoption of digital tools and technologies, particularly among the younger generation. The report proposes a preliminary framework to ensure an inclusive education in an increasingly digital world and suggests roles for different stakeholders to ensure that this becomes a reality.

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Democracy, data, and intelligence

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Sat, 2017-10-28 22:37

Harold Jarche, Oct 29, 2017

There are two parts to this post. The first is the statement of the problem: "Social media platforms may extend global participation and can be a force for better understanding but often emotions trump reason in an online world of constant outrage..., as these tribal forces are extended by the internet, we see a reversal of democracy into tyranny under populist demagogues." The second is the proposed solution: "open democratic structures enable transparent design which yields humanity-centred progress which continues to serve democracy." I see something like this as possibly necessary, but certainly not sufficient. Openness is only one attribute of a successful society. When we describe "democratic structures" we need to be clear that we mean more than just voting.

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5 Lessons from Implementing Personal Learning

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Sat, 2017-10-28 22:37

Matt Doyle, Education Week, Oct 28, 2017

I'm thinking this is "personalized learning" because although efforts are made to accommodate the individual, all students still learn the same lessons and are expected to achieve the same outcomes. That said, here are the five lessons (excerpted and quoted):

  • learn more about who an individual student is today 
  • design "personal on-ramps" to content
  • a unique construct can be created that best fits each student's needs
  • creation of a culture of student agency at every level
  • use a variety of intervention tools early and continuously

What strikes me about this approach is how labour-intensive it is. Sure, this can be accomplished if you remove a lot of the traditional overhead in teaching, from doing the paperwork to delivering instruction to marking tests. But the bulk of the individualization is still being done by hand by the teacher.

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The playbook for reimagining Higher Education

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Sat, 2017-10-28 18:56

Patrick Brothers, Medium, Oct 28, 2017

This article tells us very little about this new initiative. Minerva is a startup 'university'. The "curriculum focuses on 'practical knowledge'. It "uses a novel technology platform to deliver small seminars in real time; and it offers a hybrid residential model where students live together, rotating through seven cities around the world (San Francisco, Seoul, Hyderabad, Berlin, Buenos Aires, London, Taipei)." The post describes a just-launched book about the initiative, which is unfortunately not open access. But to me, the really interesting thing isn't in the article at all: the book is co-edited by Stephen M. Kosslyn, yes, that Stephen Kosslyn, the cognitive psychologist who wrote the book on mental imagery, and much more besides. So maybe there's something to this project after all.

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This Doctor Diagnosed His Own Cancer with an iPhone Ultrasound

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Sat, 2017-10-28 16:56

Antonio Regalado, MIT Technology Review, Oct 28, 2017

I think that when the author writes "“Now we think it’s an individual purchase” and "anyone can afford it" they're living in a different economic reality than 99% of the world. But it is nonetheless true that the 2500 CAD device is a lot cheaper and more portable than any alternative, even if it will only appeal to the gold-plated iPhone X set. And it points the ay to devices that help you manage your own health (and by implication, your own education) on an ongoing and convenient basis. Now, what would be really great would be a cure for whatever the device detects.

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Dr. Chuck on Inclusive Programming, Online Instructor Involvement and Coursera’s Paywall

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Sat, 2017-10-28 16:44

Tina Nazerian, EdSurge, Oct 28, 2017

By "inclusive programming" the article means "teaching programming to everybody". By "online instructor involvement" it means face-to-face meetings with students in courses (made more difficult in MOOCs). By "Coursera's paywall" it means Charles Severance's strategy to redirect students to his home page if they complain about the paywall. It ends with what is actually a neat idea: "to connect with students is through “Teach Out” events, like an upcoming one he’s doing with Douglas Van Houweling. Severance said it will be 'very live and agile' and will 'only be a week.'" This article does not appear to be paid placement, but with EdSurge you never know. 

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Is blockchain the answer to higher ed’s cybersecurity problems?

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Sat, 2017-10-28 02:08


The implications for the industry are huge: using blockchain means we can now offer credentials that are unhackable and unfakeable. It also means that we can help remove the stigma for employers when interviewing candidates with certifications from lesser-known or non-traditional institutions. Not everyone can graduate from an Ivy-League school (or a traditional college or university, for that matter), and rarely does anyone take the same road to educational and professional achievement. With blockchain verification, we can help the world place their trust in a sound technology, rather than relying on preconceived notions on how or when something should be learned. Businesses constantly weigh risk: financial, reputational, economic or competitor-related. In an age where reputation and trust mean everything, verifying an individual’s educational attainment is both consequential for the legitimacy of online learning, and the future of the workforce.

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What the future holds for AR and VR

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Sat, 2017-10-28 02:07

by Mike O’Brien, ClickZ

There are still have some obstacles facing VR and AR before they achieve critical mass, such as the bulkiness of the hardware and the expense, both for the people creating content and consuming it. There are also some misconceptions about the technology that marketers need to keep in mind. “Some people thought it would become a daily habit of all users to put on a headset every day. But they overlooked what you’re actually asking somebody to do: Tune out the entire rest of the world and give their undivided attention to the VR experience,” says Alex Krawitz, SVP of Content Development at Firstborn, a digital agency which has created immersive VR experiences for brands like Mountain Dew and Patrón. “Compare that to mobile or any other screen, where it’s pretty easy to multitask.”  “My sense is that next year, we’re going to start seeing a really slow ramp-up and then it’s going to be a hockey stick,” she says. “Mark Zuckerberg wants to get a billion people in VR. That Facebook is so committed to make this happen gives me a lot of hope.”

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Online textbook service saving college students hundreds of dollars

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Sat, 2017-10-28 02:02

by Matt Stewart, Fox4KC

The price of going to college continues to rise, but there is a movement nationwide to reduce some of the costs. It’s called the Open Textbook Library, and it’s saving students hundreds of dollars every year. Instead of having students spend $300 on one hardcover textbook for one class, they can now get many of their class materials online for free. Students going to UMKC, Mizzou, KU and many other local colleges have access to the Open Textbook Library. All a student needs to do is search for their textbook on the website and download it to their computer.

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Sorting Algorithms Visualized

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Fri, 2017-10-27 21:43

morolin, Imgur, Oct 27, 2017

This is a really nice use of graphics to demonstrate concepts. You can see different sorting algorithms (bubble, cocktail shaker, insertion, shell, comb, etc.) applied to the sorting of coloured squares (each colour has its own numerical value, so it's easy). This allows you to get a visual sense of what the algorithms do and also to compare the methods. At the end of the post the different algorithms are raced against each other. It's Imgur, so the comments are mostly rude, but there was one nice link to a set of videos showing the same algorithms with both colours and sound. These all have different properties - some are faster, some use less memory, some are optimal for certain sorts of data. 

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