news (external)

Digital guru Larry Johnson says mobile devices will revolutionise education

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Sun, 2015-06-07 02:02

by Tim Dodd, AFR

Teaching is not sufficiently valued in higher education and universities should be creating more professional pathways for academics who are talented teachers, according to US digital education expert Larry Johnson. Dr Johnson, who heads the non-profit think tank New Media Consortium (NMC), said universities “need to give priority to hire people who are not just discipline experts but also pedagogical experts”. “Any department needs to have people who are really good teachers as well as people who are really good researchers,” he said.

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High school students graduate with dual degrees

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Sun, 2015-06-07 02:01

by The Southern

It always good to get a head start. That’s case for five graduating seniors in Southern Illinois this spring. Christopher senior Courtney Young and four seniors from Vienna High School  recently graduated from their respective high schools while also getting a degree from a community college. Overall, Vienna’s Class of 2015 completed nearly 2,000 credit hours toward college degrees through the dual credit/enrollment partnership with the local community colleges. These hours have been earned not only through dual credit offerings at the high school, but also by students attending classes at the college, both online and at the colleges’ campuses.

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How an artificial language from 1887 is finding new life online

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Sat, 2015-06-06 02:09

By Sam Dean, the Verge

Like its vastly more successful digital cousins — C++, HTML, Python — Esperanto is an artificial language, designed to have perfectly regular grammar, with none of the messy exceptions of natural tongues. But it is supremely easy to learn, like a puzzle piece formed to fit into the human brain. The internet, though, has been a mixed blessing for Esperanto. While providing a place for Esperantists to convene without the hassle of traveling to conventions or local club meetings, some Esperantists believe those meatspace meet ups were what held the community together. The Esperanto Society of New York has 214 members on Facebook, but only eight of them showed up for the meeting. The shift to the web, meanwhile, has been haphazard, consisting mostly of message boards, listservs, and scattered blogs. A website called Lernu! — Esperanto for the imperative “learn!” — is the center of the Esperanto internet, with online classes and an active forum.

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Dustin Hoffman’s online acting class: What it’s like to learn from the master

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Sat, 2015-06-06 02:05

by ADAM LUSHER, the Independent

Newly launched by a pair of San Francisco technology entrepreneurs, it promises “the best online education in the world, from the best people in the world”. You can learn writing with James Patterson, best- selling author of the Alex Cross detective novels. Coming soon are photography with Annie Leibovitz and performance with pop star Usher. And most eye-popping of all there is “Dustin Hoffman teaches acting”: “In his first ever online class, the two-time Academy Award-winning star of The Graduate, Tootsie and Rain Man teaches you everything he’s learned during his 50-year career.”

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Remote-Proctoring Helps Curb Cheating in Online Classes

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Sat, 2015-06-06 02:02

By JOSHUA LIM, THE Columbus Dispatch

In a study of 635 undergraduates and graduates from a mid-size university in Appalachia, two researchers at Marshall University in Huntington, W.Va., found that 32.1 percent admitted to cheating in a live class, while 32.7 percent admitted to cheating in an online class at some point while in college. The research also found that students taking online courses were more prone to have someone else give them answers during a test or quiz. To curb online cheating, some universities have partnered with companies that specialize in online-exam monitoring such as ProctorU.

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Rethinking Education: Towards a global common good?

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Fri, 2015-06-05 21:48

UNESCO, Jun 05, 2015

Four major themes from this report from UNESCO describing education as a "common good":

  • Education is not the only force to sustainable development, but it is one of the most important ones
  • We need to keep the human element of education (things like culture, society, inclusiveness) and not just the utilitarian aspects
  • We need more flexible methods of delivering and validating learning in a complex employment environment
  • Knowledge and learning are not just public goods (ie., provided by the public) but are common goods, ie "necessary for the realization of the fundamental rights of all people."

"If education is seen as this deliberate and organized process of learning, then any discussion about it can no longer be focused solely on the process of acquiring (and validating) knowledge. We must consider not only how knowledge is acquired and validated, but also how access to it is often controlled and, therefore, how access to it can be made commonly available." 85 page PDF. Good stuff.


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Objections to the OECD's AHELO

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Fri, 2015-06-05 21:48

Inside Higher Ed, Jun 05, 2015

One major condition for measuring things like educational outcomes is measuring the right thing. Colleges and universities are arguing that OECD does not do this. “ The AHELO (Assessment of Higher Education Learning Outcomes)  approach fundamentally misconstrues the purpose of learning outcomes, which should be to allow institutions to determine and define what they expect students will achieve and to measure whether they have been successful in doing so. AHELO, which attempts to standardize outcomes and use them as a way to evaluate the performance of different institutions, is deeply flawed,” states the joint letter dated May 7 from ACE (American Council on Education) and Universities Canada.

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Does Harvard Need Your Money?

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Fri, 2015-06-05 18:48

Kellie Woodhouse, Inside Higher Ed, Jun 05, 2015

All I will say about this issue is that this is yet another example why essential public services such as health and education should be funded publicly by governments through taxation, rather than funded privately by individuals through charity. Taxation not only ensures to a greater degree that revenues are collected fairly, it also ensures to a greater degree that revenues are spent more fairly.

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Questions for the University of Guelph on its trademark of OpenEd

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Fri, 2015-06-05 18:48

Brian Lamb, Abject, Jun 05, 2015

Why oh why would the University of Guelph feel the need to trademark the term 'OpenEd'? Why would any trademark office give it to them? This especially when the 'OpenEd' conferences have been held for years in various locations, last in Canada in 2009. Ironically, when I  spoke at it in 2004, this was exactly the sort of thing I warned about. And as Brian Lamb notes, that the University of Guelph doesn't even seem to know anything about the concept. "Looking at the University of Guelph’ s Open Learning and Educational Support website, I could find no mention of open educational resources, open textbooks, open pedagogies, open source, open access, open licensing, etc… So perhaps you were unaware of the existence of an “ open education” community, one that frequently uses “ open ed” as an abbreviation, or for functions such as URLs, or as a Twitter hashtag. Were you indeed unaware that “ open ed” was a thing? If so, when did you become aware of it?" Of course, since I  spoke in Guelph in 2005, some people there should be aware. See also Clint Lalonde, who gives a  detailed account of the dispute.

[Link] [Comment]

Reflections on the Closure of Yahoo Pipes

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Fri, 2015-06-05 18:48

Tony Hirst, OUseful Info, Jun 05, 2015

I haven't used  Yahoo Pipes in a long time, mostly because I can get  IFTTT to do much of the same thing more quickly, and I can do the rest with my own software. But as Tony Hirst writes, the shut-down of Yahoo Pipes signifies a change in the nature of the web. We're drifting one peck at a time from openness and interactivity to a number of large and locked-down domains accessible only via specialized APIs. He writes, "At the time as the data flows become more controlled, the only way to access them comes through code. Non-coders are disenfranchised and the lightweight, open protocols that non-coding programming tools can work most effectively with become harder to justify. When Pipes first appeared, it seemed as if the geeks were interested in building tools that increased opportunities to engage in programming the web, using the web. And now we have Facebook. Tap, tap, peck, peck, click, click, Like. Ooh shiny… Tap, tap, peck, peck… "

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A Personal API

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Fri, 2015-06-05 18:48

Jim Groom, bavatuesdays, Jun 05, 2015

This part of a wider conversation around the idea of "a domain of one's own", a concept Jim Groom has been talking about for a number of years now. An API of one's own extends the idea, embracing the concept of data connectivity along with that of a personal server. As he suggests, though, actually implementing the idea can get "a bit hairy" because you can no longer lock down the sort of data structures students want to use. Of course, from my perspective, this is a feature, not a bug.

[Link] [Comment]

Tricky GCSE maths exam sees pupils take to Twitter

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Fri, 2015-06-05 15:48

BBC News, Jun 05, 2015

I was interested enough in this problem that I Googled to see what  the question was, thought about it, and when I didn't solve it in ten seconds or so, looked up the answer. Would I have solved it? Yeah, eventually. But what this question tells me is the difference between learning some mathematics and thinking mathematically. If you've just memorized some formulae, you're going to be thrown off by the two parts of the question. But if your approach to probabilities is to automatically set up the (correct) formula, you can actually solve this in your head in a couple of seconds. Can you show that (6/n)*(5/n-1)=1/3 means (n^2)-n-90=0? Sure, easily.

[Link] [Comment]

Towards the Post-Privacy Library?

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Fri, 2015-06-05 15:48

Eric Hellman, Go To Hellman, Jun 05, 2015

Suppose I read about having a baby or stealing uranium at my local library. I'm not going to be plagued with advertisements for diapers or probing questions from the security agency. But in the online library of the future, this all changes. People are very interested in what you're reading. Sometimes it's for the puerile purpose of selling you stuff, while in other cases it has to do with the much more adult concerns of state and security. Either way, the question of what you can do in a free society has been changed. And this has direct implications on learning. See more in American Libraries on digital futures.

[Link] [Comment]

Google Partners With Udacity To Launch Android Development Nanodegree

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Fri, 2015-06-05 02:11

by Frederic Lardinois, Tech Crunch

At its I/O developer conference in San Francisco, Google today announced that it has partnered with Udacity to launch a six-course Android development nanodegree. The idea here is to help developers learn how to write apps for Google’s mobile operating system “the right way” up to the point where they could potentially be hired by Google itself. Just like Udacity’s other degree programs, students can watch all of the video content for free, but if they want to get a certificate and access to teaching assistants, they will have to pay a fee, which is $200 per month for this course.

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Comparisons of Online Versus Traditional Education Miss The Point

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Fri, 2015-06-05 02:05

By Charles Dull, Evolllution

Think about it like this: Online was never meant to replace traditional education. This changes the way we consider arguments for alternative/new modalities and the selection criteria a student might use, rather than identifying a better modality (the ostensible point of the research). Instead, the research question could become, “What are the benefits of each modality?” We should research effective learning design decoupled from the modality discussion. The question of why the modality was selected, the nature of economic or environmental conditions of the student at the time of selection should be the driving force behind this kind of research. If online is the unique modality that permits a student to attend college, then in this case, online is the better modality.

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Online ‘Mindset’ Interventions Help Students do Better in School

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Fri, 2015-06-05 02:02

by Clifton Parker, Tomorrow’s Professor

Stanford researchers say that brief online interventions can raise student achievement at low cost.Stanford researchers have found that brief web-based interventions with high school students can produce big results in their schoolwork and their appreciation of a positive, purposeful mindset. “Two interventions, each lasting about 45 minutes and delivered online, raised achievement in a large and diverse group of underperforming students over an academic semester,” wrote Gregory Walton, an assistant professor of psychology at Stanford, along with his colleagues. In the United States, a debate exists over how to raise student achievement, especially among those who struggle in the classroom. Now, the Stanford researchers say that it may be possible, through brief, online interventions, to improve not only the academic achievement of vast numbers of students but their future lives as well – at extremely affordable costs.

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Beer - Fri, 2015-06-05 02:00
Categories: Cartoons, Science News

E-books: Histories, trajectories, futures

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Thu, 2015-06-04 21:47

Michael M. Widdersheim, First Monday, Jun 04, 2015

"Commercial e-books are a product of history that resulted from concerted efforts by the publishing industry to control products and customers," writes Michael M. Widdersheim. "The book publishing industry sought to find a way to reduce production and shipping costs, avoid overproduction, reduce storage costs, increase revenue, maintain scarcity, and lower risk." And they have been largely successful, prevented from monopolizing the industry only by e-book vendors, such as Amazon. But they still have their niche: "E-books will likely continue to intersect with the education industry, whose interest in the student surveillance economy calls for control and prediction — exactly what that the data-capturing potential of e-books offers."

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How to Fix a Racist Frat

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Thu, 2015-06-04 12:46

Kate Dries, Jezebel, Jun 04, 2015

This story (a must read!) is about racist American fraternities, but its themes are limited to neither racism nor the United States. "Racism among Southern Greek organizations— or in Greek organizations across America, or American organizations in general— comes down to people; people who want power, people who want their lives to stay the same, people who let a group mentality corrupt their lives. To get anything to change, you’ d have to get thousands of college kids to band together and demand it— college kids who, by nature of their designation, are only inclined to care about their community in a whole-hearted way for a brief period of time. 'It’ s all tribal, it’ s all pageantry. It’ s people trying to freeze-dry cultural aspects of their life,' Greg told me. It’ s working." I've  written about this before, at length. But schools and educators love their groups.

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Large-Scale, Government- Supported Educational Tablet Initiatives

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Thu, 2015-06-04 12:46

Rana M. Tamim, Eugene Borokhovski, David Pickup, Robert M. Bernard, Commonwealth of Learning, Jun 04, 2015

This report is "a systematic review of current government-supported tablet initiatives around the world was conducted to understand their origins, underlying principles, financial and organisational models, and expected outcomes." The bulk of the report is a country-by-country survey of tablet initiatives. Comparisons were drawn regarding motivating factors, cost and finances, and educational impact. The results so far, write the authors, are encouraging but not conclusive. "The majority of the initiatives were launched in a hasty and uncalculated manner, similar to the uncritical enthusiasm that surrounded the One Laptop per Child initiatives." This has impacted the literature available for review and the quality of the data from which to draw conclusions.

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