news (external)

Recent high school grads flocking to nontraditional pathways

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Fri, 2016-07-08 02:07

by eCampus News

The eldest Obama daughter is choosing to take a gap year for self-directed learning experiences—a nontraditional pathway that the New York Times says is becoming an increasingly popular option among recent high school grads. But that’s not the only non-traditional pathway to postsecondary education that’s popular among the young folk these days, say three education organizations. According to a recent brief from Coding Dojo (a coding bootcamp), Noodle (an ed website aimed at helping parents and students make better learning decisions), and UnCollege (a program aimed to equip young adults with skills to succeed both personally and professionally post-high school), there are three distinctive nontraditional pathways students seem most inclined to pursue…and for good reason.

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An effective e-learning tool

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Fri, 2016-07-08 02:05

by Alice Mani, Deccan Herald

Conventional teaching tools have changed dramatically over the past several decades. Schools have gone from blackboards and chalk to whiteboards with dry erase markers — and in some places, from textbooks to laptops that place a wide range of up-to-date information at students’ fingertips. One of the latest developments in the education world is the growing use of YouTube, the popular video sharing website where any user can upload and share videos of every possible kind. The first thing that many people associate with YouTube is that it is an easy and convenient way to view music videos, television or movie clips. Meanwhile, it is also becoming clear that YouTube has much more potential than that.

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Software, Classroom Management Top Interests Among Educators for Online Professional Learning

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Fri, 2016-07-08 02:03

By Michael Hart, Campus Technology

Educators typically take advantage of online professional learning (PL) opportunities because they are personally interested in finding out more about subjects; they’re most interested in learning about software and digital resources and classroom management; and they’re more likely to take advantage if they’ve been teaching for less than 20 years. Those are some of most significant findings of the 2016 Vision K-20 Survey, released each year by the Software & Information Industry Association’s (SIIA) Education Technology Industry Network (ETIN). This year’s survey focused on why and how educators — all the way from kindergarten through the college and university level — participate in online professional development.

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Gnome Ann - Fri, 2016-07-08 02:00
Categories: Cartoons, Science News


OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Thu, 2016-07-07 23:08

Clark Aldrich, Jul 07, 2016

A few years ago we invited Clark Aldrich into the Chande 11 online course, where he talked about simulations for learning. Over the years he has created and collected a variety of these under the heading 'short sims' and the slogan 'simple educational simulations work better." He  explains that short sims provide a richer experience. They "can present complex processes for students to perform, remembering past decisions." They "can put students in social situations with many possible options." Try one here.

[Link] [Comment]

University websites: The so-so, the bad, and the egregious

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Thu, 2016-07-07 23:08

Melonie Fullick, University Affairs, Jul 07, 2016

It's a pretty easy way to write a story: ask the Twitterverse a question, and then write about the responses. Of course you have to have a Twitterverse to make this work (my network of some 8500 followers is probably too small) and your qquestion has to touch a nerve. And this question touched a nerve: "why are university websites often terrible?" The article lists a number of common deficiencies (such as bad menus) and the oft-observed fact that "site structure reflects what the institution thinks is important, not what site users actually want to know." As well, there is a "conflation of promotional and informational material and approaches." But does this really get to the question of why they are so bad? Not really. Image: XKCD.

[Link] [Comment]

Participant association and emergent curriculum in a MOOC: can the community be the curriculum?

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Thu, 2016-07-07 23:08

Frances Bell, Jenny Mackness, Mariana Funes, Research in Learning Technology, Jul 07, 2016

I'm totally agreed with this: "We propose the use of networking approaches that enable negotiation and exchange to encourage heterogeneity rather than emergent definition of community." The authors describe the progression of community in a MOOC in different social network services. They note that the number of participating drops, but the participation increases, with the result that a small group of people dominates discussion. This group (I would argue) is the 'group' that I have talked about that introduces negative influences in a learning to environment, that ‘ warm glow’ communitarian notion of community... as a shared meaning".

This has significant implications to the question "can the community be the curriculum?" Does, in other words, community define praxis, values, thinking abilities and intended actions? It shouldn't, I think. Diversity is more important.  The authors write, "Tensions between the lack of agreed objectives, minimal curriculum and the need to form community impacted on the experiences of learners. This may have been an intentional element in the course design, yet from a theoretical perspective Rhizomatic Learning is intended to encourage heterogeneity rather than convergence to the discourse acceptable to the most active participants amongst hundreds."

[Link] [Comment]

Digital Reality

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Thu, 2016-07-07 23:08

Neil Gershenfeld, Edge, Jul 07, 2016

There are some really interesting and important bits in this article, mostly near the beginning (it rambles quite a bit). Let me highlight them:

- first is that with a few small pieces you can make almost anything. "There are twenty amino acids. With those twenty amino acids you make the motors in the molecular muscles in my arm, you make the light sensors in my eye, you make my neural synapses."

- second, you're not designing for the outcome. "The twenty amino acids don't encode light sensors, or motors. They’ re very basic properties like hydrophobic or hydrophilic."

- third, what these small parts do is essentially to digitize reality. "Digitizing fabrication in the deep sense means that with about twenty building blocks— conducting, insulating, semiconducting, magnetic, dielectric— you can assemble them to create modern technology."

- fourth, what digitizing does is to eliminate error in replication. "The heart of it isn't ones and zeroes, it's the threshold property— the exponential scaling, the exponential reduction in error."

You see - it looks like a representational system, but we haven't created representations, we have merely substituted one physical medium for another, so it isn't the signs that are important. It's not a physical symbol system, it's just a physical system that reduces errors. "Computer science is one of the worst things to happen to computers or to science because,  unlike physics, it has arbitrarily segregated the notion that computing happens in an alien world."

[Link] [Comment]

Mental Models I Find Repeatedly Useful

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Thu, 2016-07-07 13:59

Gabriel Weinberg, Medium, Jul 07, 2016

I'm familiar with all of these 'mental models' so I can't simply dismiss them. But they strike me as a contemporary folk-psychological understanding of the world, representing a loose collection of context-free truisms rather than a comprehensive understanding. As with any list of principles it faces what can be known as the 'selection problem' - which principle applies now? How do I know that this principle, rather than that, will apply? Even more, what principles are missing - I can think of a whole list of truisms from carpentry and building that aren't here ('measure twice, cut once', 'use two thin coats, not one thick coat', etc). Yes, it's a useful toolkit, but a carpenter has an understanding that goes beyond the tools. This, not the tools, makes a carpenter. See also Farnham Street, Creating a Latticework of Mental Models. Also Tren Griffen, Charlie Munger and Mental Models.

[Link] [Comment]

The Internet of Things: Riding the Wave in Higher Education

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Thu, 2016-07-07 02:10

by Itai Asseo, et al, EDUCAUSE Review

Predictions for the growth of the IoT vary considerably: some experts forecast that about 20 billion devices will be connected by 2020; others put the number closer to 40 or 50 billion; and some even foresee as many as 100+ billion connected devices by that time. Regardless of the exact number of devices, spending in this market is expected to increase substantially, with the International Data Corporation (IDC) calculating that the worldwide market for IoT solutions will reach $7.1 trillion in four years. Clearly, the hardware, networking, software, analytics, and device/component vendors are embracing the IoT.1 What does all this mean for colleges and universities? Considering the key role being played by vendors in this market, we decided to ask some industry leaders in higher education a few questions.

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The new e-Learning paradigm

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Thu, 2016-07-07 02:05

by Jonathan Jackson, FinFeed

The rise of learning management systems and e-Learning for use in business shows no signs of abating. Statistics highlight the adoption of e-learning methodology will only become stronger in the coming years. It is estimated that between the years 2015 and 2020, the LMS market will grow by about 180%, with an estimate of growth from $4.07 billion in 2015 to $11.34 billion in 2020, roughly an annual growth rate of 22.8%. While LMS (learning management systems) and eLearning isn’t new, technological capabilities have made eLearning more accessible.

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An Advocate of Deep Learning and Digital Leadership

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Thu, 2016-07-07 02:02

by Juliette Powell, Strategy+Business

Andrew Ng, chief scientist of Baidu Research, sees artificial intelligence as part of a larger socially valuable endeavor, says deep learning is a new take on ideas that have been around for decades. People first began experimenting with artificial neural networks, loosely inspired by the brain, years ago. But only recently have we had the computing power, data, and expertise to create networks that learn a hierarchy of concepts in an emergent manner without guidance or design by a human programmer. [These deep learning networks] can help extract patterns from, and make sense of, the complex data inside today’s organizations. Several years ago, we saw deep learning beginning to work really well compared with more traditional AI approaches. Older generations of AI algorithms didn’t know what to do with all the data we now have.

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DERN 2016 Survey

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Wed, 2016-07-06 19:54

Distance Education Research Network, Jul 06, 2016

Following the retirement of Helen Galatis, ACER Research Fellow, who has curated Australia's Digital Education Research Network (DERN) newsletter since 2012, and maintained the research reviews following Dr Gerald White's retirement., DERN (Distance Education Research Network) services are being reviewed. For those who use DERN a survey is available to allow you to provide your feedback.

[Link] [Comment]

Amazon Inspire Removes Some Content Over Copyright Issues

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Wed, 2016-07-06 19:54

Natasha Singer, New York Times, Jul 06, 2016

I wonder how much of this is genuine concern and how much of it is a campaign of fear, uncertainty and doubt. True, some materials were  genuine infringements and removed from Amazon's OER site. On the other hand the service runs squarely against the business model of sites like, described by the NY Times (accurately) as "a rival instructional resources site where educators offer lesson plans they have created." For the most part, resource sharimng among teachers is free and unfettered (and one wonders how many open resources have found they way into teacherspayteachers content). But when open content sharing is commercialized, as it is on Amazon, suddenly the standards rise. As soon as someone slaps a copyright on some material, whether justified or not, all instances of that material are called into question.

[Link] [Comment]

32 Animated Videos by Wireless Philosophy Teach You the Essentials of Critical Thinking

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Wed, 2016-07-06 19:54

Dan Colman, Open Culture, Jul 06, 2016

There's a book on critical thinking in me somewhere trying to get out. But in the mean time people will have to make do with the many resources already available on the internet, for example, this set of videos on the fundamentals of critical thinking. Where I think traditional critical thinking goes wrong is that it is mostly based on formal reasoning methodologies. These are important, but our thinking and reason encompass far more.

[Link] [Comment]

Campaign for America’s Future: Are Public Schools and Private Equity a Bad Mix?

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Wed, 2016-07-06 19:54

Jeff Bryant, National Education Policy Centre, Jul 06, 2016

The short answer to this question in that, yes, they are a bad mix. They offer choice, but "these publicly financed arrangements come with great risks, however, due to the high failure rates of charter schools." Additionally, there is the danger of loss of control of the school system. "Charter schools, for instance, are  fundamentally less democratic  than public schools... a system in which charter school real estate and operations are controlled by private equity takes control out of the community." See also the New York Times, When you dial 911 and Wall Street answers. Image: Eton, from geograph. See also SpinWatch: The final frontier for privatisation: schools.

[Link] [Comment]

Blended Learning MBAs: Don’t Give Up Your Day Job

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Wed, 2016-07-06 02:09

By Vanessa Ellingham, Find-MBA

MBA programs that blend online learning with face-to-face teaching are enabling students to pursue an MBA without hindering work or family commitments. For the working professional, pursuing an MBA can be complicated. Not everybody can afford to take one or two years off of work. There are a lot of purely online MBA programs out there, but many feel that it’s harder to develop critical skills like leadership from behind a computer. But there’s an alternative: Blended—or “hybrid—MBA programs typically combine a mix of online teaching using an online forum and video conferencing, independent study and in-house classes where students and lecturers can get to know each other face-to-face. And these aren’t just watered-down versions of classroom-based MBAs. “IE’s blended methodology does not seek to simplify the MBA courses in an online environment, but rather leverage the Internet to promote and enable in-depth discussions,” says Soledad Santos, associate director of admissions at Spain’s IE Business School, which offers a blended program called the “Global MBA.”

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Harvard launches free online course on world religions

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Wed, 2016-07-06 02:05

BY TALI FOLKINS, Anglican Journal

Anyone interested in world religions can now learn about them for free, from Harvard professors, after the launch of an online course series earlier this year. Since February, Harvard has been offering “World Religions Through Their Scriptures,” a set of six mini-courses or “modules” on major religions delivered over the Internet, and led by five religion specialists from Harvard and one from Wellesley College. The series can be taken free of charge, although students who want to receive certificates of completion must pay $50 (U.S.) per module. There are six modules, on religious literacy; Christianity; Buddhism; Islam; Hinduism and Judaism. Each religion is studied primarily through its scriptures.

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Excelsior Teams with Private Partner for Low-Cost Online Courses

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Wed, 2016-07-06 02:03

By Joshua Bolkan, Campus Technology

Excelsior College has teamed with a private partner to create a low-cost alternative pathway to college credit. The partnership, with Cengage Learning, is centered on a collection of self-paced digital courses featuring integrated diagnostics and formative assessments. The partnership will also feature a summative assessment created by the school’s Center for Educational Measurement. “The program, which will be delivered online via the Learning Objects Difference Engine platform, will initially focus on two degree pathways — an associate’s in criminal justice, and an MBA, with plans to expand to other subjects and degrees in the near future,” according to a news release. “Students will have access to each digital course and its college credit exam for one low price and, upon successful completion, will earn college credit from Excelsior College, for use towards a degree program at Excelsior or for transfer to any accredited institution accepting such transfer credit.

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Juno - Wed, 2016-07-06 02:00
Categories: Cartoons, Science News


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