When friends at the University of Alberta told me about their upcoming Dino 101 MOOC, I was enthusiastic. "It's going to draw a million people," I said. It went on to draw considerably fewer, still a success, but nothing like what it could have been. What happened? The course that was produced was formal, stuffy and academic - designed, almost, to repel interest in dinosaurs, not cultivate it. And that is the sort of mistake institutions in general have been making with MOOCs, writes Ryan Craig in this article. They're targeting them to older professionals, when they should instead be targeting them to a younger audience. "While no institution needs to hurry up to produce MOOCs with DisneyCollectorBR or even Justin Bieber, universities should view MOOCs as an important channel for reaching prospective students around the world, and target content accordingly."
One of the things I've learned over the years is to resist letting positions I hold be defined by their opponents. One of those positions happens to be socialism, and while it is true it has evolved over the years, it nonetheless resembles nothing like what is discussed by Evgeny Morozov in this column for the Guardian, or by Kevin Kelly in the 2009 article Morozov is responding to. Morozov warns that Silicon Valley's promise to bridge "the gap in consumption inequality" will ring hollow: "we might be forced to sell our cars and default on our mortgages, but we would never lose access to Spotify and Google." Perhaps when Morozov is discussing socialism he should look up the phrase "means of production". Inequality is the symptom of wider structural issues in society, a natural consequence of a system based on hoarding, and something socialists seek to redress, but socialism is (despite years of caricature in the American press) about making everybody the same. I would add that even the image attached to the article perpetuates the same misinformation - Obama isn't in any way socialist, and should not be represented as such.
So this sounds so unlike Europe, but maybe I'm just naive: "There is a new generation of kids startups focused on platform, tools and adtech fuelled by a broader structural shift in the sector. Occasionally referred to as ‘ kidtech’ , they are tackling opportunities in the kids market that are worth billions of dollars in the adult sector." The tenor of the argument is that the U.S. Children’ s Online Privacy and Protection Act (COPPA) prohibits behavioural online advertising, and that this is being adopted by Europe, creating a spending gap that is being addressed by, well, what? Advertgising? Kidtech? "Already kids brands are doubling and tripling their digital ad spend for 2015 and it seems highly likely that kids digital ad market will be a $2 billion space inside two years driven by the availability of kid-safe platforms..." It seems to me that if they're loaded with advertisements, they're not exactly kid safe. But like I say, maybe I'm naive.
Sam Chaltain is gaining traction for some ideas that will be familiar to readers of this newsletter (plus one about school buses that is new to me). From his newsletter: "What if... we started to design schools in ways that imagined young people moving more like a murmuration of Starlings than, say, a regiment of soldiers? What if, in order to reimagine schooling, we got specific about all the things we have always done that we will need to hold onto - and all the things we must let go of in order to make space for something new? And what if, instead of viewing a thing like a school bus as merely a vehicle for transporting children to and from school, we viewed it (as one community has done) as an essential link in the chain of our overall effort to support the needs of children?"
If you are like me, you will say that the dress is blue (with black trim). But if you are like Andrea and the other half of the internet, you will say the dress is white, with gold trim. Why is this significant? Typically we think we mean the same thing with simple words like 'blue' and 'white'. But in fact, our prior experiences shape the meaning of every word, to the point where we literally see different things when we see the same image. This is why no single model can define a theory of education. Each of us sees the world differently, which means each of us needs unique educational support. More on the blue dress: Daily Beast, Wired, CBS News, Washington Post, National Post, Independent.
This is why economists, and especially Harvard economists, have such a poor reputation. Arguing against the New York Times, Greg Mankiw maintaines that high textbook prices are justified because, if prices are too high, a competitor (like, say, the New York Times) could enter the market and undercut prices. Well, of course, this is happening, with free and open content textbooks, because prices aretoo high. But what we are finding, as Economic Logic observes, is that the textbook market is not an open market. It is "remarkably difficult for a new publisher to enter the market" and existing prices "really looks like (open or tacit) collusion among publishers." Even more to the point, though, is his presumption that textbooks must be published by a profit-driven publishing company. If, say, textbooks were deemed a public good, and offered by the government at substantially lower cost, why would this not be the most viable option? Via Fred M Beshears, by email.
I will admit that I was both surprised and pleased by the decision in the United States to support net neutrality, "preserving an open Internet by prohibiting broadband providers from blocking or slowing content that flows across their pipes." In this article Tim Wu - who coined the term 'net neutrality' in the first place - explains why we were wrong to expect the decision would go the other way. But I caution against celebrations too early, and not simply because the cable and telecom companies will start court cases to overturn the ruling. The FCC has merely decided to regulate the internet, and these regulations, over time, could erode net neutrality, condemning it to a death by a thousand cuts.
Join the EDEN Community (video invitation) in the inspiring city of Barcelona to share your research, projects and practice at the 2015 EDEN Annual Conference - #EDEN15. Networking and interactivity, sharing and discussion will be core aspects of the conference experience, focusing on what you can learn from and with your peers.
In collaboration with:
Universitat Oberta de Catalunya
Magical and innovative - Barcelona, the City of Marvels:
EDEN congratulates Markku Markkula, a distinguished EDEN member since 2004, who has been elected President of the European Committee of Regions (CoR). Markku Markkula is a former member of of the Finnish Parliament, Chairman of the Espoo City Planning Board in Finland and an Advisor at Aalto University in Finland with a focus and expertise on European Union research, innovation and education policy affairs.
On 15-16 January, EDEN President Antonio Teixeira hosted a meeting in Lisbon at the Universidade Aberta with with EADTU President and Dutch Open University Rector Anja Oskamp. The co-operation of the two leading European associations in open, distance and e-learning has entered a new phase since last year and the Presidents' meetings became regular. The consultations about the European policies and actual developments will result activities with benefits for the membership of both EDEN and EADTU in 2015.
The European Journal of Open, Distance and E-Learning – EURODL is an open-access peer-reviewed learned journal on distance and e-learning distributed on the Internet and indexed by ERIC, DOAJ, Cabells, EBSCO. The newly published full articles are:
Digiskills Teachers' Good Practice Videos, TALOE Webinars, CARER+ Final Conference, Open Discovery Space Summer School, LACE Learn Live events, many more news: read about latest research findings, newsletters and valuable events related to e-learning practices and applied ICT supported learning here. Currently running projects here.
Today, Universities UK published its report on ‘Efficiency, effectiveness and value for money’, which looks at the efficiencies and cost savings that have been achieved by UK higher education in the last few years, and sets out the agenda going forward.
Jisc’s Phil Richards, chief innovation officer and Hugh Look, head of strategic support unit, attended the official launch which was hosted by Professor Sir Ian Diamond, chair of UUK’s Efficiency Task Group and principal and vice-chancellor of the university of Aberdeen.
In this podcast, Phil and Hugh talk about the work Jisc is doing to promote shared service, improve quality and lower costs for the whole sector.
Research has revealed a sharp rise in the number of students using social media to stay in touch with tutors at college and university, with 40% of students now using social as their primary means of communication with lecturers.
Facebook is the most popular form of communication, followed by Twitter and WhatsApp, and a startling 12% of those students using social channels to stay in touch use Snapchat.
Jisc conducted a study into the use of technology in higher and further education to mark the launch of the Jisc Digital Festival, which is helping those delivering education in the UK to be at the forefront of technology practice.
The study also found that more than a quarter (28%) of students use their smartphones to draft essays, while 30% use tablet computers when studying. It also revealed that when it comes to choosing where to study, students are taking technology facilities into account, with 45% of students saying technology played a part in their choice of university or college.
“With increased fees and greater competition for a job after graduation, students are choosing their Universities very carefully now, and rightly so,”
"Institutions need to make sure they’re providing the best possible tech facilities, and communicating with students over channels those students are already using.
At Jisc, we’re helping universities to use the best technology in the most cost effective way, so the UK higher education sector can maintain its reputation as being among the best in the world.”
The Jisc Digital Festival takes place on March 9–10 at the ICC in Birmingham. Attendees will be able to see examples of how new technologies such as augmented reality and 3D animation can be used in the lecture hall or classroom.
There will also be debates on internet security for students, universities and colleges and speakers during the event including internet giant Google.
Jisc today welcomes the publication of the Universities UK (UUK) report ‘Efficiency, effectiveness and value for money’, which highlights how the UK higher education (HE) sector is balancing cost savings with raising the quality of teaching and learning through technology.
The report looks at how the community is benefiting from shared services to achieve significant efficiencies. It identifies higher education as the UK’s largest cost sharing group, thanks to Jisc, which is creating up to £2 million a year for the charity’s customers. It says:
"The potential for shared services to play a critical role in improving quality and distributing and lowering costs has long been acknowledged by the higher education sector. Sector-owned shared services such as Jisc, UCAS, the Janet network and numerous local and regional collaborations demonstrate this."
Martyn Harrow, Jisc chief executive says:
“We face an immense challenge in the UK’s education system: how to harness the power of digital technology while at the same time juggling squeezed budgets.
“As the education and research sector’s body for excellence in digital technology, Jisc works tirelessly to make sure that each penny of investment in IT is put to good use, and that these benefits can be made available to the whole community. We want every single university to profit from digital technology now and in the future.”
The money generated through the cost sharing group is on top of the other benefits Jisc provides to universities annually – an estimated £259 million in cost savings and cost avoidance, and in excess of £100 million in productivity gains.
As well as cost savings the report shows Jisc customers and users to benefit from access to world class infrastructure, such as the Janet network – which provides high capacity, resilient connectivity between UK universities and overseas – and the Jisc shared data centre, the UK’s first dedicated centre for education and research.
Jisc’s work on open data was also praised for helping universities meet the changing landscape. One key area identified was Jisc’s negotiation with publishers on both journal subscription licenses and article processing charge (APC) payments in order to offset the impact.
In addition, the report reflects on the pressures for universities to show their worth, saying "principles of transparency, openness and accountability dictate that there needs to be a greater emphasis on value for money in the future.” To this end it highlights a joint project by Jisc and the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) to develop a new business intelligence shared service for universities, which will give a wide range of staff access to quality-assured data sets and analysis tools that will help them to make informed business decisions.
With annual expenditure of £27.9 billion, the UK HE sector generates £73 billion a year for the national economy and is responsible for over £10 billion in export earnings and supporting more than 700,000 jobs.
“In financial terms, UK higher education is a major player. The continued health of the sector is therefore critical to supporting the nation’s burgeoning economy and ensuring that we remain a global leader.”
To extend the UK’s value agenda in HE, UUK and Jisc set up the Efficiency Exchange in 2011 in response to the Diamond Review. It is designed to help the HE sector discover and share ideas, good practice and resources to create smarter, stronger universities. Jisc regularly contributes advice and guidance on its activities, for example, recent pieces on equipment sharing and technology-enhanced learning.
At last November's Times Higher Education Awards, we sponsored the eagerly contested Outstanding ICT Initiative of the Year category, which celebrates the use of innovative and strategic digital technologies. The winner was the Open University's OpenScience Laboratory, and in this podcast, laboratory director Nicholas Braithwaite tells us about what it does and what it means for students' and researchers' learning experience.
New major release of free open source federated identity solution adds user consent capability and support for Central Authentication Service protocol.
The research and education community is set to benefit from an upgrade to a free open source software system that will help them better deliver access and identity management services.
The Shibboleth Consortium — a collaborative group of international research and education organisations — has released version 3 of the Shibboleth identity provider, its free open source software that enables secure web single sign-on. Institutions are able to use the software to enable learners and researchers to safely access library resources, databases and collaboration tools using only one log-in, doing away with the need to set up new accounts as they move between locations.
Developed following extensive consultation with the community, the new release offers significant functional and security enhancements, including user consent and on-demand metadata lookup. It also supports the Central Authentication Service (CAS), the internationally-recognised single sign-on protocol used by many universities and research organisations.
Shibboleth is among the world’s most widely deployed federated identity solutions, providing single sign-on capabilities and individual access to protected online resources, in a privacy-preserving manner.
The Shibboleth Consortium funds the ongoing development, support and maintenance of the software, keeping every component of the Shibboleth system free to use. The two principal members are Internet2 in the US and Jisc in the UK. Jisc also acts as consortium operator, managing the day-to-day running of the group.
Shelton Waggener, senior vice president at Internet2 and chair of the consortium board, said:
“This new release comes with many new features requested by the broad international community that uses Shibboleth to make informed access decisions and protect their online resources. We are grateful for the tremendous collaboration in developing this important new release.”
Josh Howlett, head of trust and identity at Jisc, said:
“Seamless and secure access to systems and services is paramount to the continued health of the education and research sector, which makes Shibboleth a vital tool in delivering effective access and identity management services.
The latest release has been developed for the community, by the community, listening to their feedback to ensure the software truly meets their needs, both now and in the future. We will continue to work with the consortium to ensure this remains to be the case.”
The new features and functionality include:
User notification, including the ability to present an individual with a list of the attributes the service is requesting that allows them to confirm that they wish to proceed. Permissions can be granted directly through the browser, so there is no need to set up and manage a database. Such mechanisms can also help organisations to meet regulations, for example, requirements for user notification under EU law
Support for CAS protocol, enabling organisations to use just one identity provider software package for transactions with both on-campus CAS, and on- and off-campus Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) protected services
Ability to support multiple algorithms for signing and encryption simultaneously, allowing organisations to increase the security of their transactions without compromising compatibility with older systems
Built-in next generation federation features such as the emerging Metadata Query Protocol, which is replacing the need to compile ever-larger metadata aggregates through on-demand metadata lookup
Support for internationalising user interface and error messages
Originally released in 2003, the growth of cloud services has led to an increase in the deployment of Shibboleth worldwide as a core component of campus identity and access management.
Shibboleth version 3 will come to replace previous versions. The consortium urges deployers to plan their upgrade now to take advantage of the security and functional improvements and ensure they are fully compliant before the discontinuation of support for Version 2.4, expected later this year.
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 [...]