I've heard this argument a lot, and here it is again: "All the evidence I know suggests that MOOC learners are typically well-educated, more affluent from the developed world, and male." OK, let's suppose that's true (it might not be). So what? First, MOOCs nonetheless provide more access than previously to people without access to education (mostly for people outside the United States, which is why they don't show up in the US-only statistics cited here). And second, it is true of pretty much all really useful things (like, say, the internet itself) that the first users are well-educated white males. That fact does not make the thing less useful. Consider another example: money. Most of it is in the hands of well-educated white males. But it doesn't follow that it would not be useful (even more useful, actually) in the hands of non-educated, non-white non-males. Image: E-learning Consortium.
The medical profession is taken as the standard-bearer for evidence-based learning theory, and the model here is large-scale trials with control groups and carefully measured interventions. The presumption in medicine (and so to for the corresponding education theorists) is that people are physiologically the same. Sure, there are variations in height, weight, and gender, etc. But where it really matters, at the biological and chemical level, there is no significant difference between people. Except... there is. "Do you reach for Tylenol or Advil? Most people have a preference because they have learned over time that one works better than the other at relieving their pain. This type of variability from person to person is true for nearly every medication." That's why we have doctors who work individually with patients when considering prescriptions and treatments.
This University of Manchester 'academic phrasebank' was sent to me almost a week ago now, and I've been reading through it, mulling it, and trying to pin down why I find it so unsatisfactory. And it's not simply that it's a 'how-to' guide instructing students in the arcane are of obfuscation. It's because it substitutes the rote use of formulae and phrases for actual knowledge of linguistic structure and clarity of expression. It's like old-school mathematics, which is based on memorizing rather than comprehension. For example, there's a section on quantification. The phrasebank throws a list of phrases at readers. It is grammatically incorrect ("Over half..."). It is imprecise ("The average of 12 observations..."). It is passive ("... has experienced an 89% increase ..."). It doesn't indicate anywhere what a quantification is, and what it is of. It's a guide for people who don't understand what they're trying to say and how to say it, and it substitutes formula for clarity. Such is so much of learning today. Image: Mobogenie.
Following from yesterday's discussion of science in Canada, we have today this post from Lee Smolin in Maclean's. Essentially, the advice is to focus on emerging leaders in promising domains overlooked by other institutions, to invest heavily in them, and to give them free reign, rewarding discoveries rather than citations or publications. I'm sure many scientists would nod in agreement. But it's the 'big man' theory of science, focused on rewarding a few stars (mostly just for being stars) and in my view it places at risk the overall scientific infrastructure in the country. The purpose of science isn't only to focus in this way. And you can't simply buy this focus from abroad, as Smolin suggests, you have to grow it at home, creating the field where emerging leaders can arise and promising international candidates can land. Science depends not on its stars (there's always a 'star') but on broad-based community support for science.
Tony Bates reports on the British Columbia open textbook project. Here's the bottom line: "BCcampus estimates that as of 24 November, 2015, the project has resulted in estimated savings for students of between $927,200 and $1,204,762. The calculation is based on 9,275 students across the 19 participating institutions who have adopted open textbooks." When we look at the total number of students in the system across Canada, the potential for savings from open textbooks becomes staggering. And this does not include the number of people outside the system who could benefit from free access to textbooks. You can find the open textbooks on the BCcampus OpenEd website.
This is a nice set of short videos posted on YouTube explaining common concepts in science and physics. I was directed to this series by following the link to Why it isn't Faster to Fly West from a post on Kottke. It's a pretty smooth marketing channel. I also watched the next video in the series, How to Get into Space, featuring drawings from XKCD's Randall Munroe. I liked the completeness; not only does it explain rockets (in the ten-hundred words most frequently used), it also talks about what you have to do to become an astronaut and have other people allow you to go to space. If we could actually get ourselves organized (and there's no reason to believe that we won't, eventually) videos like these could and will form an important part of learning (not, learning will not consist of sitting in front of a computer watching eight hours of these).
Mostly I think that the 'maker movement' is about publicity for Make magazine, but let's go with this. Jay Silver writes "The maker movement is not about the stuff we can make, it’ s about the meaning we can make." I'm in agreement with the idea that new technologies enable "a direct superdemocracy of creation without permission." I'll even accept that "the strength of multiple representations of truth is celebrated as being even more true." But I don't think that you "make" meaning, no more than you "make" truth or "make" relevance. To say we "make meaning" is to confuse an act of creation with an act of perception. The former is expressive, directed outward, while the latter is receptive, directed inward. Related: Seymour Papert and Idit Harel in Situating Constructionism.
Let's take it as a given that "Canada... lags its international peers in training graduates in areas geared for boosting innovation. Those fields include science, engineering and mathematics" and that "Canada has likely missed out on billions of dollars because its innovation economy has shown zero growth for three decades." How do you fix this? Not simply by educating people in science, engineering and mathematics, because basic research does not by itself drive innovation. And these graduates will mostly get jobs with US-based multinationals, and if they do any real development, it will be through their US or European offices. And you can't drive innovation by directing funds toward 'Canadian' companies for 'research', because as we saw over the last ten years, they'll take the money and still not invest in research.
The best made-in-Canada (and stay-in-Canada) innovation is based on spinoffs from funded academic research that is supplemented with business innovation support and services. Instead of simply taking the R& D and giving it to a well-connected company, it is better to help the people who developed it bring it to market. The problem is, the people who really benefit from that are the people who created the innovation, and the people who are employed by them, and not the well-connected incumbent business and political interests. So it's an uphill battle getting the funding and support in place.
D4Learning spans across disciplines and levels of education. It was seeking papers reporting research work, academic or business case studies, papers describing advanced prototypes, systems, tools and techniques and general survey papers indicating future directions.
EDEN is pleased to announce, that the D4Learning 2015 - Open Classroom Conference Best Paper Award goes to:
We are happy to announce that Elsebeth Korsgaard Sorensen is joining the EDEN Network of Academics and Professionals Steering Committee. Read more about the Network of Academics and Professionals here.
EDEN has extended its quality and excellence recognition with the launch of open badges aiming at helping colleagues within the EDEN Network to communicate their achievements and skills acquired via their participation in EDEN activities. The EDEN Open Classroom Conferences in 2015 are the first EDEN events where participants and speakers are awarded with the EDEN Open Badges.
Within many further and higher education institutions there exists a wide-ranging group of libraries, archives and collections. The digitisation of their assets for the purposes of teaching, learning and research is a sophisticated activity.
But digitisation is only the first step, with the effective delivery of those assets being the second. Matt Faber, digital media adviser at Jisc give us his top tips for making your resources discoverable. Read his original blog.
We’re inviting digital practitioners and managers to join us at Digifest 2016 at the ICC in Birmingham on 2-3 March. Conrad, who attended the event for the first time last year, explains the excitement around the event and gives attendees his tips on making the most of the experience.
Networkshop attendee Jill Bell, network manager at the University of Bradford, explains how our longest-running conference series offers such a valuable experience to attendees.
Network managers and technical system and security specialists from the UK research and education community are invited to join us at Networkshop44 which takes place between 22-24 March at the University of Manchester. Jill, who has attended the event more than a dozen time, tells us it’s the perfect opportunity to share experiences and learn about the latest developments.
In the recent article “Simulating Learning Networks in a Higher Education Blogosphere – At Scale“, Fridolin Wild and Steinn Sigurdarson introduce into a simulation model built from the iCamp trial data and educational model assumption: they wanted to see what would happen, if trials are scaled up an order of magnitude. The simulation results are [...]
One year after we succesfully went through iCamp project’s last official review, we are wirting down a new post for wellcoming a new version of our Handbook. This is the time for its Spanish version, issued by Win-Win Consultores, with the financial support of the Spanish Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Turism under its “avanza2” [...]
The iCamp partner AGH – the University of Science and Technology in Krakow, Poland, has published recently a Polish version of the iCamp handbook on how to use social software in education. Please click here to get the electronic version.
Since the iCamp experience was very successful in making use of new media for cross-cultural collaboration iCamp competes for the MEDEA Awards, respecively in the European Collaboration Award.
Let’s keep our fingers crossed!
We now received the final review report where our external reviewers commend us on our excellent work and our valuable contribution to European research in Technology Enhanced Learning.
Here are some quotes from the report, which can also be downloaded:
… In the opinion of the reviewers the products and outcomes of the project are of considerable [...]