news (external)

Online Ed Skepticism and Self-Sufficiency: Survey of Faculty Views on Technology

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Wed, 2014-10-29 11:57

By Carl Straumsheim, Inside Higher Ed

Gallup surveyed 2,799 faculty members and 288 academic technology administrators this August and September on issues identified by Inside Higher Ed. Virtually all faculty members and technology administrators say meaningful student-teacher interaction is a hallmark of a quality online education, and that it is missing from most online courses. A majority of faculty members with online teaching experience still say those courses produce results inferior to in-person courses.

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Use of Synchronous Virtual Classrooms: Why, Who, and How?

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Wed, 2014-10-29 01:07

by Florence Martin & Michele A. Parker, JOLT

Virtual classrooms allow students and instructors to communicate synchronously using features such as audio, video, text chat, interactive whiteboard, and application sharing. The purpose of the study reported in this paper was to identify why instructors adopt synchronous virtual classrooms and how they use them after their adoption. An electronic survey was administered asking instructors from various institutions to describe their experience adopting a synchronous virtual classroom in either a blended or online course. In describing their reasons for adopting the technology, respondents most frequently cited institutional resource availability, increasing social presence, enhancing student learning, and the availability of technology. Along with audio chat, the features that most influenced the adoption of virtual classrooms and were used most frequently by respondents were the ability to archive conference sessions, see participants through webcams, and use text-based chat interfaces.

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More Mooc Developers Disrupt Business Education With Paid-For Courses

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Wed, 2014-10-29 01:06

by Seb Murray, Business Because

Coursera became the latest learning technology company to expand further into the fee-paying market with a series of programs similar to Moocs – massive online open courses – that are disrupting the business education market. Coursera launched 18 new Specializations last week – a sequence of online courses that students study through distance learning, an addition to the first batch announced in January. Significantly, the tech company will allow students to complete a real-life project and purchase a certificate to show to prospective employers. This move into vocational learning further encroaches into the territory of business schools, which already have to compete with Moocs in business-related subjects. Coursera rival edX announced plans to launch a series of short paid-for executive courses earlier this month that have been developed by leading universities.

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Wake Forest Ending the Traditional MBA

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Wed, 2014-10-29 01:02

By Kaitlin Mulhere, Inside Higher Ed

After five years of declining enrollment in its traditional M.B.A. program, Wake Forest University is shifting gears to focus on an area where it sees greater demand — those M.B.A. seekers who want to earn a paycheck while studying. Starting next year, Wake Forest will no longer accept applications for a traditional, daytime M.B.A. program at its Winston-Salem campus. In the past five years, enrollment in the university’s traditional M.B.A. program has dropped from 123 to 98. At the same time, enrollment in the M.B.A. for working professionals program — which offers year-round evening and weekend classes — has grown from 242 to 304. The number of online and hybrid MBA degrees has grown in the past several years, and so has wider acceptance of such programs. Some top business schools now offer online programs in addition to their traditional programs. Many business schools have also launched or grown their programs for part-timers.

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Geese - Wed, 2014-10-29 01:00
Categories: Cartoons, Science News

What I’ve learned in my first week of a dual-layer MOOC (DALMOOC)

elearnspace by George Siemens - Tue, 2014-10-28 19:53

This last week we launched our open course on Data, Analytics, and Learning on edX. The course is structured in a dual layer model, an approach that Matt Crosslin has nicely articulated. We have 20,000 registered students, with 32% having actually logged in and taken part in the course. 180 countries are represented, with the top being US, India, and UK, representing 25%, 11%, and 4% of students.

I’ve run numerous MOOCs over the past six years. I’ve used a range of platforms, including Moodle, D2L, Canvas, Drupal, Downes’ gRSShopper, and others. In the process, I’ve used roughly any tool I can get my hands on, including Second Life, Twitter, Facebook, G+, Netvibes, blogs, Wikispaces, Diigo, and so on. The largest group of learners in a course that i have run is ~5,000. The current course on edX is unique in the number of learners involved and in the dual-layer approach. Our goal was to enable learners to select either a formal structured pathway and a self-directed “learner in control” pathway.

I’m biased toward learners owning their own content and owning the spaces where they learn. My reason is simple: knowledge institutions mirror the architecture of knowledge in the era in which they exist. Today, knowledge is diverse, messy, partial, complex, and rapidly changing. What learners need today is not instructivism but rather a process of personal sensemaking and wayfinding where they learn to identify what is important, what matters, and what can be ignored. Most courses assume that the instructor and designer should sensemake for learners. The instructor chooses the important pieces, sets it in a structured path, and feeds content to learners. Essentially, in this model, we take away the sweet spot of learning. Making sense of topic areas through social and exploratory processes is the heart of learning needs in complex knowledge environments.

Though I am biased toward learner-in-control, I do recognize the value of formal instruction, particularly when the topic area is new to a learner. Even then, I would like to see rapid transitions from content provision to having learners create artifacts that reflect their understanding. These artifacts can be images, audio, video, simulations, blog posts, or any other resource that can be created and shared with other learners. Learning transparently is an act of teaching.

My reflections after week one of DALMOOC:

1. The first few weeks are identical to any other MOOC I’ve run. It’s chaos. Learners are unsure about how to position themselves in relation to the content and the interaction spaces. This is a critical sensemaking and wayfinding process. In a MOOC, we not only learn content, but we also learn the metcognitive processes and digital space markers that enable us to be active participants. This can be stressful for learners.

2. Learners really, really like content. I view content to be as much a by-product of the learning process as a pre-requisite. Lectures can be helpful in framing a topic. What is important though, is that learners create artifacts. An artifact represents how we understand something and then allows others to provide us feedback and shape, fact-check, and refine our thinking (have a look at a Private Universe – a detailed account of what happens when students only answer questions we ask rather than create artifacts that reflect how they understand a topic area).

3. There seems to be a growing number of professional learners in formal platforms (edX & Coursera). These learners have clear goals, want a certificate, and have expectations of the experience. In one forum interaction of DALMOOC, a learner mentioned that he/she had taken 30 MOOCs and this one was the most disorienting. Another learner said this was the worst MOOC that they had ever taken. Early MOOCs were easy to run because expectations hadn’t normalized. It’s different now. Learners engage with MOOCs with views of what should be happening and are comparing courses to what they’ve taken recently. The standards of quality content are higher than they were in the past.

4. The most important learning shift is not yet happening. Learning in complex knowledge environments requires navigating distributed spaces (wayfinding), acting with partial information, sensemaking, and becoming comfortable without reading everything. This shift is difficult – it’s as much a world view shift as a learning task, as much about our identity as the learning content. It’s not easy and it’s unsettling and frustrating.

5. Learners act differently in different spaces. If you are in the course, skim the edX discussions. Then log into ProSolo. Skim the interactions there. Do the same with social media (our G+ and Facebook pages as well as the #DALMOOC twitter timeline). The tools and spaces are linked here. The conversation in edX, when discussing the course, is ~60% critical. In Prosolo, it’s largely positive. I find the negative comments in edX about structure a bit confusing as I view choices as giving learners the ability to be where they want to be rather than where designers and instructors force them to be. I chuckled at Matt’s tweet:

Interesting how some people will look through all of the options in #dalmooc, find the one they don't like, and then complain about it

— Matt Crosslin (@grandeped) October 28, 2014

6. We need to get better at on-boarding learners to engage in digital distributed spaces. My comments above reflect real experiences of learners who are finding the course format confusing. It’s not sufficient to say “well, what you really need is a world-view shift”. As designers, we have to support and guide that transition. We are not doing that well enough. Even though early Hangouts that we did in the course emphasized learner autonomy and the importance of developing a personal digital identity that is under the control of the individual learner, this message is understood through practice not to proclamation. It’s a challenging proposition: a learner understands the design intentions of the course by engaging in the activities but these activities are confusing because they do not understand the design intentions.

7. Technology glitches are tough. We are using a number of new tools in DALMOOC, including Carolyn Rose’s Bazaar and Quick Helper, a visual syllabus, Prosolo, assignment bank, and so on. We’ve had some glitches with most of those, as can be expected in a new tool being scaled to a large number of users. Learners may forgive a glitch or two. But each additional glitch or tool creates additional stress. A few learners have said “I feel like a guinea pig” and “I feel like I’m just beta testing software” and “I feel like a rat in a maze”. We need some tolerance for failure during experimentation. There is a line though where even the most committed learners feel overwhelmed.

8. Learners use discussion forums for different reasons. I’ve generally used them for discussion. Learners in edX use them for a range of reasons including quick search/help, venting, and as a way of orienting to the course. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen much in MOOC forums about social relationship formation. MOOC providers have done a bad job of building learner profiles. I can’t get to know my peers in edX or Coursera. This is an issue. Distributed social media improves this, but the social connectedness in edX forums is almost non-existent.

Overall, the first ten days of DALMOOC have provided an excellent learning experience for me. I’ve included a short presentation below on Sensemaking and Wayfinding Information Model (SWIM) that focuses on how learners engage in and navigate open learning spaces, largely reflective of the experiences of learners in this MOOC.

Empfänger/-innen von Hilfe zum Lebensunterhalt

Gesundheitsberichterstattung - Tue, 2014-10-28 07:00

Die im Informationssystem eingespeicherten gestaltbaren Tabellen aus dem Bereich "Sozialhilfestatistik - Empfänger/innen von Hilfe zum Lebensunterhalt" des Statistischen Bundesamtes wurden um das Jahr 2013 ergänzt.

Categories: Science News

The new digital workplace: How enterprises are preparing for the future of work

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Tue, 2014-10-28 01:26

Dion Hinchcliffe, ZD Net, Oct 27, 2014

The educational workplace, like all others, will continue to change dramatically as the information revolution marches on. Essentially, the next wave of change in the enterprise will bring it to something like par with what people today have at home: "mart mobile devices, jam-packed app stores, wearables of every description, a constellation of game-changing sharing economy services ala Uber and Airbnb." This will have sweeping changes on the ground, accoridng to the author: "New modes of collaboration; changes in how we structure our organizations because of digital networks; new ways of developing and managing workforces and talent;   the collaborative economy as a new core business model; upgrades to the digital workplace to reflect the complexity and ubiquity of tech."

[Link] [Comment]

Take away the descriptors

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Tue, 2014-10-28 01:26

Pam Hook, Artichoke, Oct 27, 2014

This is a fun project. "Nine notable offenders have agreed to have a go at stripping the jargon from the following educational terms... take a popular educational expression (captured in 2 words and a hyphen) and simplify it by writing 1000 words about it."

[Link] [Comment]

Editorial: Online learning and a look at quality

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Tue, 2014-10-28 01:02

by the Southeast Missourian

The Internet has changed many things over the years. From online banking and bill paying, to entertainment options, to how you may be reading this editorial, digital devices, though not without flaws, can benefit us. Online education offers many individuals a better opportunity to take college coursework, fitting it between working and family responsibilities. But it’s equally as important that quality be at the forefront. Dr. Allen Gathman, associate dean of online learning, said the university is using a peer-review process via Quality Matters standards. Faculty members go through the training and then can evaluate the classes to make sure they are meeting the needs of students to help them achieve outcomes designed for the class. We hope the training helps the university continue to improve the courses, offering students the benefit of easier access. Gathman is hopeful that the training will help reduce the course drop rate, which is higher than face-to-face courses.

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Problem: Teachers Better at Using Tech than Digital Native Students

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Mon, 2014-10-27 22:26

Dian Schaffhauser, T.H.E. Journal, Oct 27, 2014

One of the problems with a term like 'better than' is that it is context-free. Even when pinned down to some extent, as in the headline "Teachers Better at Using Tech than Digital Native Students", we still don't know what is meant by 'better', and the end result is nonsense. This is exaggerated when you select as your representative teachers "early adopters to integrate technology in labs and physical experiments, hands-on activities, field trips and data collection" and you judge them on "how to use these technologies to solve sophisticated thinking problems." To conclude from this that teachers are "better at using tech" is empty and fruitless. Teachers are more adept at some things - deep thinking, say. Students are better at other things - pattern recognition, perhaps, or twitch-games maybe. Any wider generalization (and, indeed, even the two or three I just posited) are either wrong or meaningless.

[Link] [Comment]

Training the Trainers for Linked Data

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Mon, 2014-10-27 19:26

Seth van Hooland, Ruben Verborgh, International Conference on Dublin Core, Metadata Applications DC-2014, Oct 27, 2014

I'm very much a linked-data kind of person; it suits the way I think far more than documents or even things like index cards. That's probably no real surprise to people. This post takes that way of thinking and expands it into a tutorial for practitioners. It's a set of slides (117 page PDF) that defines linked data, explains the advantages, and provides practical guidance in its application through four major steps: clean your metadata, reconcile with authoritative sources, enrich your metadata, share on the (open) web. There's a wealth of resources in this for those who look, for example, references to a number of data-cleaning tools (slide 21) or named entity extraction (NEW) (slide 57). And there is a really good discussion of representational state transfer (REST) in the second half of the deck. See also The 1:1 Principle of Linked Data, by Richard J. Urban.  See more from the same conference.

[Link] [Comment]

Stop Being So Positive

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Mon, 2014-10-27 19:26

Gabriele Oettingen, Harvard Business Review, Oct 27, 2014

Although it addresses an important point, the title is very misleading. The study cited in the article (Future thought and behaviour change) is actually pretty interesting, but it divides future thoughts (ie., thoughts about the future) into 'fantasies' and 'beliefs'. The former are forms of wishful thinking, not based in rehearsal or past performance. The latter are based on experience and practice. And as the author says, "empirical research reliably finds that high expectations of success and and optimistic beliefs indeed foster motivation and successful performance." There are good grounds for expecting specific forms of 'positive thinking' to work. For example, "teaching mental contrasting of feasible desired future outcomes would result in better academic performance than teaching students to only think positively about the respective future."

[Link] [Comment]

The Modern Workplace Learning Landscape: it’s more than telling people what to learn

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Mon, 2014-10-27 16:26

Jane Hart, Learning in the Modern Social Workplace, Oct 27, 2014

Short overview article with a useful diagram touching on all aspects of workplace learning. The key message: "A L& D department that only focuses on Directed Learning is simply a Training Dept. The L& D Dept of the future will need to support learning in all its forms. But to do this it will need to shake off its command-and-control training mindset, and it will need to develop new roles, activities and new skills." I'm sure the diagram (or versions of it) will populate dozens of slide shows in the future.

[Link] [Comment]

Research information management systems - a new service category?

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Mon, 2014-10-27 16:26

Lorcan Dempsey, Lorcan Dempsey's Weblog, Oct 27, 2014

The aim of research information management (RIM) is "is to synchronize data across parts of the university, reducing the burden to all involved of collecting and managing data about the research process. An outcome is to provide greater visibility onto institutional research activity." I'm not sure it's a new category per se but it's cl;early an important institutional function (and in a best-case scenario supports open access). Anyhow, the article has a lot of good links to resources, including RIM standards: "two are especially relevant here:CERIF (Common European Research Information Format) from EuroCRIS, which provides a format for exchange of data between RIM systems, and the Casrai dictionary. CASRAI is the Consortia Advancing Standards in Research Administration Information."

[Link] [Comment]

Teacher resistance against school reform: reflecting an inconvenient truth

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Mon, 2014-10-27 16:26

Ewald Terhart, School Leadership & Management, Oct 27, 2014

This is a really interesting article. It considers at length the nature and causes of teacher hostility toward educational reform, especially that reform imposed from the outside. "Innovation and change impulses are at best used as long as they fit or can be adapted to the beliefs, attitudes and needs of teacher culture in general and the needs and problems of each single teacher in particular. This process of transforming or adapting change impulses from the outside sometimes even disfigures or distorts the impulse." This is why in my own practice I have attempted to describe and implement (what might be called) reform outside the traditional academic milieu, with the idea that it can and will be transferred by teachers and professors into their own practice once (and once once) it is seen to be useful.

[Link] [Comment]

MOOC Research Literature Browser

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Mon, 2014-10-27 13:26

Katy Jordan, MOOC Research Literature Browser, Oct 27, 2014

Katy Jordan  has compiled an impressive list of MOOC research on this page. And even though her blog posts are  suspended she's still adding new papers to it. My only complaint is that there seems to be no way to create an RSS feed from it (even  feed43 will not work) (she's using Google spreadsheets).

[Link] [Comment]

Research about cMOOCs

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Mon, 2014-10-27 13:26

Heli Nurmi, Heli connecting ideas, Oct 27, 2014

Heli Nurmi summarizes the article Participants’ Perceptions of Learning and Networking in Connectivist MOOCs, written by Mohsen Saadatmand and Kristiina Kumpulainen. "The results show that participation in MOOCs challenges learners to develop self-organization, self-motivation, and a reasonable amount of technological proficiency to manage the abundance of resources and the more open format. Participants in cMOOCs use an array of technologies and various networking skills. The nature of cMOOCs requires students to assume active roles, in a spirit of openness, to shape activities and collaborate in goal achievement." As she points out, though, the self-selecting nature of the survey would tend to favour such results.

[Link] [Comment]

New Evidence: Deeper Learning Improves Student Outcomes

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Mon, 2014-10-27 13:26

Bob Lenz, Edutopia, Oct 27, 2014

It could be the new face of the 'core content' lobby group, or it could be a genuine move forward in education reform. Unfortunately, I'm not sure whether I can trust the source. The concept of 'deeper learning' is "to focus on the set of skills and knowledge that reinforce each other and together promote rigorous and deeper learning. These include:

  • Mastery of core academic content
  • Critical thinking and problem-solving
  • Working collaboratively in groups
  • Communicating clearly and effectively
  • Learning how to learn."

According to this article, "a new study by the American Institutes for Research ... investigated whether schools in the Deeper Learning Network achieve better student outcomes than local comparison schools, and found that the answer is yes." I remain sceptical: not of the idea that critical thinking and learning how to learn improve learning outcomes, but whether they need to be conflated with the other three.

[Link] [Comment]

What Your Students Really Need to Know About Digital Citizenship

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Mon, 2014-10-27 13:26

Vicky Davis, Edutopia, Oct 27, 2014

I would probably address the subject a bit differently (my take on citizenship is more about proactive engagement rather than the 9-Ps of protection) but this article is a good quick take on the idea, and certainly a good starting point to make you think about some issues. For example, what constitutes privacy in public places? Should you really blur license plates? What about using geolocation? Is online content really "a 'digital tattoo' that is almost impossible to erase?" See also the  five minute film festival teaching digital citizenship, also from Edutopia.

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