news (external)

Writing an online, open textbook: is it worth it?

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Mon, 2015-07-06 01:48
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Tony Bates, online learning and distance education resources, Jul 05, 2015

The answer, unsurprisingly, was "yes" (though you have to read a fair way into the article to see this). The interesting bits, though, concern the function of PressBooks as a way to write an open textbook (the good: it was relatively easy to use; the bad: persistent hacking attacks, and exporting images into the various formats. Also, despite Tony Bates's credentials, professors still didn't want their students citing it because it wasn't peer reviewed (I have this issue as well, made all the more difficult because I don't write typical journal articles that peer reviewers like). But still, as Bates writes, "I was able to go from initial idea to final publication of the book in 15 months. I have had a publisher take that long from handover of the final draft to publishing. For a book of this kind, quick publishing is important otherwise it starts to look  out of date, even if the main foundations do not change." Also worth noting:  the cost of producing the book was $80 - $130K.

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Working in Blackboard

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Mon, 2015-07-06 01:48
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Jenny Mackness, Jul 05, 2015

Once many years ago I authored a course on introductory ethics in Blackboard. It was a good course; sadly I've lost all the content. Anyhow, what I remember was that I had to insert my own links from page to page, writing the code myself, to give students an intuitive flow from one page to the next in the environment. It is this sort of attitude I think that characterizes Jenny Mackness's post on working in Blackboard today. Sure, she writes, there are a lot of restrictions. But what do you tell people who have to work in the system? "We have to recognise what the positives of working within an LMS might be," she argues, "acknowledge the constraints, keep an open mind, be willing to experiment (and fail sometimes) and look for ways to overcome the constraints."

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Why character development in education might not be such a good idea

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Mon, 2015-07-06 01:48
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Nick Hassey, Think Tank Review, Jul 05, 2015

"This is something I often ponder," writes Doug Belshaw in his newsletter. "I've been discussing it recently with friends and family recently, too. 'Character education' or 'grit', however, is a very right-wing concept taken down pretty well in this response to a recent Demos report." The report essentially asserts that there is no scientific basis for promoting character or 'grit' - either is is an inherent personal trait resistant to enhancement by education, or it is irrelevant in educational outcomes. We don't know. But more, to my mind, appeals to 'grit' are code for saying someone's culture (or race, or religion) makes them constitutionally resistant to education, which is a pernicious position at best (and flat out false at worst).

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Prior Learning Assessments Done Right

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Mon, 2015-07-06 01:48
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Michael Feldstein, e-Literate, Jul 05, 2015

Longish article about prior learning assessment (PLA) at Empire State College, "everything to do with the kind of humane and truly personal education that we should be talking about when we throw around phrases like 'personalized education.'" The focus is on PLA for women of colour; according to Feldstein "PLA (is) more impactful than average for women and people of color... By recognizing that they have, in fact, already acquired college-level skills and knowledge, PLA helps them get past the insults to their self-image and dignity and helps them to envision themselves as successful college graduates."

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Internationalen Weltbevölkerungstag am 11.07.2015

Gesundheitsberichterstattung - Mon, 2015-07-06 00:00
Ausgewählte Informationen zum Internationalen Weltbevölkerungstag am 11.07.2015
Categories: Science News

The Social-Network Illusion That Tricks Your Mind

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Sun, 2015-07-05 19:48
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MIT Technology review, Jul 05, 2015

The subhead is this: "Network scientists have discovered how social networks can create the illusion that something is common when it is actually rare." It depends on the number of connections. Three people might own motorcycles, but if they're loners, it might seem like nobody owns motorcycles. But if they're really well connected, it might seem like everybody owns motorcycles. It's called "the majority illusion", and as the authors say, "the majority illusion can be used to trick the population into believing something that is not true." Here's the full paper.

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HOTS for Bloom’s, part 1

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Sun, 2015-07-05 19:48
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Kathy Schrock, Discovery Education Network, Jul 05, 2015

When you use an acronym in your title you have some obligation to define it in the article, but that doesn't happen here, so I did some  searching to determine that 'HOTS' means 'Higher Order Thinking Skills' (presumably 'LOTS' means 'lower order thinking skills). This article relating HOTS to  Bloom's Taxonomy (and Bloom's revised) gives some pause for thought, which is useful. But the meaning of 'higher order' bothers me. Verbs related to 'creating' are counted as HOTS. But ants create. Beavers create. Birds create. Are they capable of higher order thinking? We can find similar examples of lower-order thinkers such as cats and raccoons 'analyzing' and 'evaluating'.  Are these even 'skills'? My first thought on reading the acronym was that they were 'strategies'. So while this characterization seems natural at first blush, something else is going on.

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Penn State researchers awarded funding for online learning innovations

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Sun, 2015-07-05 02:09

by COIL, Penn State University

Penn State’s Center for Online Innovation in Learning (COIL) has announced it will fund seven new projects through its Research Initiation Grant program. The goal of the grant program is to provide seed money for Penn State researchers to gather preliminary evidence in the hope of pursuing external funding for larger studies that enhance teaching and learning through online innovation.

http://news.psu.edu/story/361406/2015/06/25/research/penn-state-researchers-awarded-funding-online-learning-innovations

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MU to offer military discount for online classes

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Sun, 2015-07-05 02:05

By ROGER MCKINNEY, Columbia Tribune

The University of Missouri has established a 10 percent tuition discount for online courses available to current military members, veterans and their spouses and children. The discount applies to base tuition for a maximum of 150 hours of undergraduate credits and 75 hours of graduate credits through Mizzou Online. Recipients must be seeking a degree. Those who qualify for the award must maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA to remain eligible. The discount was created because many veterans have exhausted their military educational benefits or don’t qualify for full coverage, MU officials said. MU Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin said during a Wednesday news conference that the tuition discount will improve access to higher education.

http://www.columbiatribune.com/news/education/mu-to-offer-military-discount-for-online-classes/article_b455cd73-16ea-544d-b9e6-db4218a4f3e8.html

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5 Essential Steps to Building Community for Your Online Course

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Sun, 2015-07-05 02:02

by Kunal Chawla, EdSurge

Learning online can be a very lonely process. You sit with your computer, working for the most part in a quarantined digital island, unaware of your peers and their struggles in the course. In this post I want to highlight some ways of connecting online students and creating a vibrant learning community. Here are some ideas I have tried while making courses on Python Programming and iPhone App Development with Udacity.

https://www.edsurge.com/n/2015-06-24-5-essential-steps-to-building-community-for-your-online-course

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Students’ Mobile Learning Practices in Higher Education: A Multi-Year Study

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Sat, 2015-07-04 02:09

by Baiyun Chen, et al; EDUCAUSE Review

Two university-wide surveys about students’ mobile technology ownership and learning practices show that mobile device ownership is high and continues to increase among students. Students and instructors need technical, logistical, and pedagogical support for integrating mobile devices and apps in formal and informal learning environments. Continuous support and targeted training resources at the University of Central Florida have produced positive changes in students’ mobile learning practices.

http://www.educause.edu/ero/article/students-mobile-learning-practices-higher-education-multi-year-study

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Bringing the Social Back to MOOCs

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Sat, 2015-07-04 02:05

by Todd Bryant, EDUCAUSE Review

Various existing learning environments could scale to MOOC size and benefit learners by adding the social elements now missing, from citizen science to simulations, games, virtual reality, and augmented reality. In a recent report from HarvardX and MITx, participant growth was found to be linear, meaning that while the exponential growth appears to have ended, the user base is growing despite the backlash. Major platforms continue to find support for further course development and expanded partnerships: EdX recently announced a partnership with the Smithsonian and Microsoft to offer additional courses, and Coursera has partnered with Google and Instagram. For MOOCs to be considered valued spaces for learning, they need to adopt aspects of the earlier connectivist MOOCs (cMOOCs) and reintroduce social elements.

http://www.educause.edu/ero/article/bringing-social-back-moocs

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Six Trajectories for Digital Technology in Higher Education

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Sat, 2015-07-04 02:02

by Malcolm Brown, EDUCAUSE Review

When we consider the future roles of digital technology in higher education, it is often helpful to think in terms of trajectories rather than predictions. Predictions are remarkably fragile things. Any unforeseen factor will render the prediction false or off-target, and as those variables increase, so too does the likelihood that the prediction will fail. Predictions also tend to be projections of the current and the known, ornamented with something that provides a futuristic hue. In the case of digital technology, given the acceleration of change—enabled by the very things whose course we are trying to predict—the conundrum of predictions may be at its most acute. It is thus more practical to work with trajectories. With a trajectory, we know where something is headed, but we cannot say—or we refrain from guessing—where it will end.

http://www.educause.edu/ero/article/six-trajectories-digital-technology-higher-education

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New ADL #mLearning Design Reference model: adjust to your needs

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Fri, 2015-07-03 19:40
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Inge de Waard, Ignatia Webs, Jul 03, 2015

Inge de Waard reports that Peter Berking, lead of the MoTIF project, has released the newly adapted mLearning Design Reference model, and is now inviting us all to have a look at the reference model, and adapt it to our own needs." The  MoTIF project (Mobile Training Implementation Framework) is an  ADL initiative currently focused on a model that "embodies and integrates mobile learning constraints and best practices at the fundamental level of the design process itself,  leading the ISD to consider using alternative learning approaches, unique mobile device capabilities, and leveraging context and usage patterns of users in ways that desktop  DL and classroom learning do not usually address."

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Universities push for higher fees

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Fri, 2015-07-03 19:40
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Sean Coughlan, BBC News, Jul 03, 2015

British universities are learning very well what North American universities have known for some time, that it is easier to convince governments to increase fees paid by students than it is to increase direct government expenditures. Any old excuse will do. 'These changes should be made now to ensure universities can continue to provide high quality education that meets the needs of students,' she (Janet Beer, vice-president of Universities UK) said." Yeah. 'Quality'.

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Dutch boycott of Elsevier – a game changer?

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Fri, 2015-07-03 16:39


Danny Kingsley, Unlocking Research, Jul 03, 2015

According to this article, "Koen Becking,  chairman of the Executive Board of Tilburg University  who has been  negotiating with scientific publishers about an open access policy on  behalf of Dutch universities with his colleague Gerard Meijer,  announced  a  plan to start boycotting Elsevier." The Dutch have been attempting to negotiate open access, where content would be "born free" with no barriers or subscription fees, but have not been able to to come close to an agreement with Elsevier.

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4 Features to Look for in a 21st Century LMS

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Fri, 2015-07-03 02:10

By Dian Schaffhauser, THE Journal

It’s a sure bet that every program calling itself an LMS these days offers the course-management basics: providing a way for students to submit assignments and for teachers to run online discussions and deliver announcements. But those were the same features LMS users wanted a decade ago, and they pale in comparison to what users are looking for now: An intuitive interface that mimics consumer social networks; Collaboration that goes far beyond standard teacher-student communication; Assessments with analytics responsive enough to drive instruction for that day, week or month; and The capacity to provide a structure for organizing digital learning resources and sharing them locally and broadly.

http://thejournal.com/articles/2015/06/10/4-features-to-look-for-in-a-21st-century-lms.aspx

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Three ways to help online students succeed

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Fri, 2015-07-03 02:04

By Laura Devaney, eCampus News

A recent survey of 28,000 students yielded three specific factors that could influence online academic performance, with many stakeholders saying online student success really depends on effective learning design. Based on the survey results and statistically valid samples, Eduventures issued three recommendatdions to help institutions focus on online student success.

1. Align online courses with objective design standards to improve performance

2. Launch a pre- and post-design quality assurance process to ensure objectives and expectations inform every aspect of the student experience

3. Optimize the use of a learning management system to enhance the student experience

http://www.ecampusnews.com/top-news/online-student-success-382/

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8 open source platforms for IT consideration

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Fri, 2015-07-03 02:03

By Meris Stansbury, eCampus News

Usually, the higher-ed industry has a reputation as being one of the slowest adopters of new technology. But when it comes to open source software (OSS), campus IT departments are ahead of other industry and consumer tech adoption curves, says Scott Wilson, service manager of OSS Watch at the University of Oxford. “On the face of it, higher education has been relatively quick to realize the benefits, notes Wilson. “Over 50 percent of higher education institutions use open source, both on the server and on the desktop. And one of the great open source success stories in higher education is the Moodle Virtual Learning Environment (VLE).”

http://www.ecampusnews.com/top-news/open-source-campus-767/

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Tamagotchi Hive

xkcd.com - Fri, 2015-07-03 02:00
Categories: Cartoons, Science News

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