news (external)

Palo Alto school district, Palantir partner to teach coding

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Thu, 2015-01-08 01:01

by Elena Kadvany, Palo Alto Weekly

A rainy evening during finals week, after school got out for the day, eight Palo Alto high school students sat enraptured in a downtown office building, listening to software engineer Brandon Burr of Palantir talk about using his company’s software as a means to combat homelessness. The mini high-tech lecture ended, and the room fell silent as the students bent over laptops sitting on desks in front of them, returning to websites they’ve been building for several weeks with the guidance of Palantir employees.

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Preparing Students for Competency-Based Hiring

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Thu, 2015-01-08 00:26

Stacey Clawson, EDUCAUSE, Jan 07, 2015

Get ready for this. The days of the transcript (if it was used at all) as a basis for hiring is about to change. Competencies, rather than transcripts or credentials, will become the hiring standard of the future (or - I should add - something like competencies (for a variety of reasons)). Stacey Clawson, writing for the Gates Foundation, writes, "Competency-based programs offer the potential to go beyond a limited view of higher education, giving students the opportunity to develop and practice the skills needed for a meaningful career, life, and citizenship." We can see the writing on the wall: "An easy-to-adopt, integrated infrastructure designed for institutions that serve the new student majority - older, part-time, lower income, and distance learners - is needed to help scale competency-based programs." She is thinking of the institutions, but my focus is on learners and employers. How will they access their competency definitions? How will these be presented in hiring decisions? An institutional infrastructure served or hosted by providers will be insufficient. I'm not sure the Gates Foundation understands this, though. Image: How to Manage a Camel.

[Link] [Comment]

The Underlying Barrier to Education Reform

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Thu, 2015-01-08 00:26

Matt Crosslin, EduGeek Journal, Jan 07, 2015

I just want to keep the conversation rolling here with this post from Matt Crosslin on Dave Cormier's recent posts about motivation and educational reform (I have a half-written contribution but it took a back seat to my year in pictures post). "We’ re still critiquing education based on the problem of education in 1870 that Cormier explains in his post linked above," says Crosslin, "but not based on where the world is today. We say that our schools are not modern, but then we say that our educational systems are failing because 'students can’ t regurgitate factoids on a test or in a paper.'" But who does he mean by "we"? Not me. There's a presumption in this whole debate of a single agency - but there are multiple people and multiple agendas (that's the point of my half-written rejoinder). Image via Jon Andrews, Engagement: not motivation, nor conformity.

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2014 Reflections on Gamification for Learning

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Thu, 2015-01-08 00:26

Karl Kapp, Kapp Notes, Jan 07, 2015

Interesting article on the progress and prospects for gamification in learning. Karl Kap begins by outlining some disagreements in the definition - does it require, for example, the addition of digital game elements, or (as Kapp prefers) are the design affordances enough? He notes that gamification has not spread as rapidly as predicted (it's at 5 - 10 percent, not 40). And, of course, it continues to have its detractors - "the concept is also obvious from several posts around the web talking about how learning should not be 'fun' and it should be serious and authentic," he writes. I think, though, that the discussion is hindered by the fuzziness of the concept. Simply adding public points for right answers on a quiz is (in a sense) gamification, but is it something worth doing? On the other hand, having a hands-on simulation of neurosurgery adds a lot of fun to the learning, but is it gamification?

[Link] [Comment]

Producing Infopics

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Thu, 2015-01-08 00:26

Tony Vincent, Learning in Hand, Jan 07, 2015

An 'infopic' is what we used to call a 'slide', I guess. Basically it's the representation of an idea using graphics and words in a single image. Actually, that reminds me more of a LOLcat. No matter, whatever they are called, they're a useful teaching tool - not so much for presenting, though I use them for that, but especially for learning. This post refers to Jonathan Nalder "He does some incredibly artistic iPhonography,  and he  shares infopics from conferences he attends." The post illustrates several infopic applications, including Mextures, Skitch, and Pic Collage.

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Open Digital Pedagogy = Critical Pedagogy

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Thu, 2015-01-08 00:26

Jody R. Rosen, Maura A. Smale, Hybrid Pedagogy, Jan 07, 2015

So of course the first question that springs to mind is whether the equation stated in the title stands. Let's hear the argument: it is tacitly agreed that "when instructors talk about their pedagogy, it should be outside of earshot of the students they instruct [but] Open digital platforms can break these implicit rules to make spaces for joint inquiry among all members of the college community in the spirit of Freirian ideals of critical pedagogy." Why is this important? "Students do not realize what working within an open system means, and do not understand that they have the authority — and the responsibility — to develop content for the platform, and the platform itself, to shape their college community." This accords with my own experience as well. You have to not only be open but be known to be open.

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Gesundheitsberichterstattung - Wed, 2015-01-07 23:00

Die im Informationssystem eingespeicherten gestaltbaren Tabellen aus dem Bereich der "Hochschulstatistik" des Statistischen Bundesamtes wurden um das Jahr 2013 ergänzt.

Categories: Science News

The Internet of Things: Sizing up the opportunity

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Wed, 2015-01-07 21:26

, Mark Patel, Harald Bauer, Jan Veira, McKinsey, Jan 07, 2015

You've probably heard of the Internet of Things. As this report notes, it "refers to the networking of physical objects through the use of embedded sensors, actuators, and other devices that can collect or transmit information about the objects." There's tremendous potential, but serious privacy implications (do you want to report to your insurance company every detail about where and how you drive your car?). So how soon will it hit and how big will it be? As far as I can judge, soon, and big. Developer kits are already available, and devices (like Nest) are emerging. First-generation chips are available and existing specs like WiFi and Bluetooth allow them to connect. The McKinsey report concludes, "The sector may be on the cusp of unit growth similar to the surge it experienced with the smartphone— and perhaps an even greater jump."

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US News Releases the 2015 Best Online College Rankings

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Wed, 2015-01-07 11:00

by US News

Altogether, more than 1,200 distance education degree programs are cataloged in the searchable directory, up from 996 the previous year. All programs more than a year old with at least 10 students enrolled are ranked. The primary audience for these online program rankings and the detailed program profiles is working adults – often in their 30s or 40s – who may not have the flexibility to leave the workforce to take classes during the day but still wish to obtain commensurate education, skills and credentials to boost their careers. Prospective students can use the rankings to gauge program quality, and use the searchable directory to explore additional information on such factors as tuition, program offerings and online services offered to enrolled students.  Follow the link below to the newly-released online rankings!

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Sense of community in a blended technology integration course: A design-based research study

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

by J. Buckley Harrison, Richard E. West; IRRODL

This design-based research study explored whether sense of community was maintained while flexibility in the course was increased through an adoption of a unique blended learning model. Data collected in this study show a significant drop in the sense of connectedness score from a mean of 50.8 out of 66 to a mean of 39.68 in the first iteration. The score then began to gradually increase, reaching 50.65 in the third iteration. Results indicate that transitioning to a blended learning environment may be a suitable option to increase flexibility while maintaining a sense of community in a project-based course. Future research into specific aspects of course design such as maturity of design, age-level of participants, and context would further develop understanding in this area.

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How online technology is changing the way the world learns

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Wed, 2015-01-07 01:01

by C.P. Gopinathan and K. Ramachandran, Firstpost

Indian higher education is at an inflexion point. Several forces from within and outside are hitting the entire sector. These forces including cost, technology and new sets of demanding learners, are forcing education providers to re-look at existing models of education delivery. The questions is will the existing brick and mortar, infrastructure-led higher education system be able to meet the rising new demands or cope with the large scale changes. With each passing moment, it is clear they cannot. More than any other force, technology today is a large force multiplier, that possesses the ability to answer the most critical questions around the same issues of access, equity, excellence and affordability today, unlike, even the recent past.

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Kix - Wed, 2015-01-07 01:00
Categories: Cartoons, Science News

Strap on Your Doggles. The YouShow Engine is Revving Up.

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Wed, 2015-01-07 00:26

Alan Levine, CogDogBlog, Jan 06, 2015

"The You Show is running," reports Alan Levine. "The YouShow is a fork if you will of Open DS106 meaning it is a connected course featuring people doing work in individual web sites, aggregating together, and cross connecting via twitter." Follow the  #YouShow15 hashtag to keep up.

[Link] [Comment]

No Discernible Growth in US Higher Ed Online Learning

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Wed, 2015-01-07 00:26

Phil Hill, e-Literate, Jan 06, 2015

So, this is interesting. According to Phil Hill, "Based on the official Department of Education / NCES new IPEDS data for Fall 2013 term, for the first time there has been no discernible growth in postsecondary students taking at least one online course in the US." Now there is of course considerable room for growth outside that one metric. But if this has stalled, one wonders what else is happening. Possibly it reflects lower overall enrolment. Or possibly it represents a shift in private institutions back to in-person education 9which would be their market differentiator over time). Or perhaps it reflect the impact of informal online on traditional learning.

[Link] [Comment]

Manifesto 15

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Tue, 2015-01-06 18:26

Various authors, Jan 06, 2015

This document has been circulating around the Twittersphere, and while I won't be signing it I think it's worth sharing. Why won't I be signing it? Well, mostly, because I don't really see it as a manifesto, properly so-called. Slogans like "the future is already here – it’ s just not very evenly distributed" and "kids are people too" are both old and overused, and more importantly, do not represent any sort of call to action.

[Link] [Comment]

Here's What Some Teens Are Using Instead Of Snapchat And Instagram To Share Pictures In Class

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Tue, 2015-01-06 18:26

Maya Kosoff, Business Insider, Jan 06, 2015

This article advertises describes AirDrop, an application for Apple iPhones. The underlying technology is  overtaking Near-Field Communications (NFC) and depends on a combination of Bluetooth and Wifi but is Mac-only. An equivalent, AirDroid, exists for Android phones. As phones are increasingly able to function as wireless hotspots we will see more applications like this that allow direct peer-to-peer sharing.  Similar applications also exist for the other phones, and  InstaShare is multi-platform, but unfortunately is adware. Another option is SendAnywhere, which has received rave reviews. Because the peer-to-peer sharing is encrypted and does not use any public internet services, it is undetectable by service providers; the only way to discover illegal file sharing to to monitor the devices directly, which I think most people would oppose. So we're in for another round of (albeit slower-moving) file sharing, which this time might be unstoppable.

[Link] [Comment]

Academic Journals: The Most Profitable Obsolete Technology in History

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Tue, 2015-01-06 15:25

Jason Schmitt, Huffington Post, Jan 06, 2015

According to this article, academic journals are out of date and overpriced. "A better approach to academic publishing is to cut out the whole notion of publishing. We don't really need journals as traditionally conceived. The primary role of traditional journals is to provide peer review and for that you don't need a physical journal--you just need an editorial board and an editorial process." Sure, there's an expense - but it's hard to imagine it equalling the millions of dollars institutions pay to publishers every year.

[Link] [Comment]

Universities offering MOOCs doubled in 2014

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Tue, 2015-01-06 01:05

By Keith Button, Education Dive

In 2014, the number of massive open online courses offered rose to 2,400 and universities offering MOOCs rose to more than 400, or double that of 2013, EdSurge reported.  Coursera offers the most MOOCs, twice as many as the No. 2 provider, edX, which has nearly 400 courses. But Coursera’s market share shrunk to one-third in 2014 from nearly half in 2013. The top three MOOC subjects were the same in 2014 as in 2013: humanities, computer science and programming, and business and management.

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2014 Recap: U.S. Universities Continue Their March Toward Irrelevance

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Tue, 2015-01-06 01:02
by  - Tom Lindsay, Forbes The year 2014 was a discouraging one for American higher education. Over the last twelve months, too many universities have been squandering what has been up until now their greatest source of support—the public’s respect and loyalty. A 2012 national Pew survey finds that 57 percent of prospective college students no longer believe a college degree is worth the cost. As traditional higher education recedes into irrelevance—financially, academically, and morally—alternative methods of higher education are beginning to rise. Some community colleges are beginning to offer four-year degrees, and at a much lower price than traditional four-year schools charge. Also, according to the Babson Survey Research Group, which has tracked online learning over the past decade, “the rate of growth in online enrollments is ten times that of the rate in all higher education.” Share on Facebook var button = document.getElementById('facebook_share_link_13107') || document.getElementById('facebook_share_icon_13107') || document.getElementById('facebook_share_both_13107') || document.getElementById('facebook_share_button_13107'); if (button) { button.onclick = function(e) { var url = this.href.replace(/share\.php/, 'sharer.php');,'sharer','toolbar=0,status=0,width=626,height=436'); return false; } if ( === 'facebook_share_button_13107') { button.onmouseover = function(){'#fff'; = '#295582'; = '#3b5998'; } button.onmouseout = function(){ = '#3b5998'; = '#d8dfea'; = '#fff'; } } }

The 3 Best New Breaks for College Students in 2014

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Tue, 2015-01-06 01:01

by Kim Clark, Time

If you know the material in, say, Econ 101, should it matter whether you learned it sitting in a lecture, by taking a free online course, or by reading the books? More well-regarded schools are saying it shouldn’t—and that could help bring down the cost of getting a degree. The University of Wisconsin system now makes it possible to earn a bachelor’s by taking tests or submitting portfolios of your work. The University of Michigan, the University of Texas system, and Purdue are also launching “competency-based” degrees. In the first year of UW’s program, one ambitious student aced enough tests to earn 33 credits in three months, at a cost of only $2,250.

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