I have long believed we should adopt what amounts to a 3.5 day week - that is, 28 hours. This allows us to have what amounts to 7-day coverage of any position with two staff, with the work divided between them. It allows for 7-day use of facilities and resources. And, best of all, it addresses the issue of unemployment head on with the recognition that people are far more productive that they were when the 40-hour week was first implemented. I'm not sure, though, that the political will exists to return to workers a fair share of that increased productivity. Maybe something like this is the start of that.
Sometimes I don't agree with Daniel Lemire at all - this post on the culture of envy, for example, is wrong in so many ways - but in this post he nails it. Expertise isn't simply inherited, and isn't acquired overnight; while it does require some predisposition, it is primarily the result of practice, and not just any practice, but reasonably guided and reflective practice. "As far as we know," he writes, "if you are a world-class surgeon or programmer, you have had to work hard for many years." Results are not guaranteed; this is a necessary condition, not a sufficient condition.
When I read that robots are "unable to discern meaning" my first thought is to wonder what the critic thinks it is for a human to discern meaning. Yes, you can fool computers with nonsense - but you can also fool human referees of academic journals with nonsense as well. And - interestingly - it seems that it is becoming less and less easy to fool the computers, while humans remain as fallible as ever. So infallibility is not a criterion for being able to discern meaning.
This article suggests that computers may be better markers because they create a 'disinhibition effect' among students. "A non-judgmental computer may motivate students to try, to fail and to improve more than almost any human." But this isn't a criterion either - indeed, the author would not recommend allowing a computer to give grades. So what, then, is it to 'discern meaning' - and correspondingly, what is it to 'demonstrate meaning'.
I've discussed this in the past. Most writers believe that meaning (and truth) are based in representations, and that learning is essentially the creation (or construction) of these representations in the mind. So demonstration of meaning is a demonstration of the presentation and use of those representations. But this leaves the discernment criteria unfulfilled. Discerning is, I argue, a process of recognition. And computers can and do perform quite well at recognition tasks.
The author, Brandon Busteed, is executive director of education at Gallup. He argues that there should be a tighter commection between education and the economy to create what we calls the educonomy. The article is largely about how education is failing the economy:
"no correlation between the grades and test scores of its employees and their success on the job"
"we’ re more likely to see kids with entrepreneurial talent diagnosed as underperforming troublemakers"
"seven in 10 K-12 teachers are not engaged in their work (69%)"
All very well, but is increased involvement of the commercial sector in education likely to change this? Busteed calls for "paid and unpaid internships to high school and college students" and for ways to engage teachers and instructors. That sounds good for business - it gives them cheap labour (think of the adjunct professor model applies across the economy). But it's very bad for students and workers, who are already underpaid. Here's a better plan: hire people at full wages, then take steps to enable access to learning while on the job. Oh, but that might cost the commercial sector money. My take: if the economy is not willing to pay the freight, there's no good reason to integrate education and economy.
I still maintain that it's easier to select for what you do want rather than to filter for what you don't want. But a centralized system, I think, can only attempt the latter. It doesn't help when the business model of the service provider involves sending you unwanted advertising messages. Anyhow, this is an interesting article about Twitter's Botmaker anti-spam system (and how it will be used to send you advertising).
Good article on microlearning, especially the list of "forms of micro-learning can be used to create a ubiquitous learning environment" at the bottom. "Microlearning deals with relatively small learning units and short-term learning activities.... the term is used in the domain of elearning and related fields in the sense of a new paradigmatic perspective on learning processes in mediated environments on micro levels."
I'm not yet ready to make the leap to Google's Chromebox and Chromebase but my recent experience with a Windows 8 debacle (downloaded videos that refused to play because I was not online) pushes me away from Mocrosoft and back into thinking there may be alternatives. "The Chromebase is a all-in-one monitor/cpu that comes with a keyboard laid out like the Chromebook with the special keys, and a mouse. The Chromebox is just the box, with a mounting bracket. It also has a notebook lock slot to help prevent 'walking'."
According to Wired, "Google is allegedly working on a free, open access platform for the research, collaboration and publishing of peer-reviewed scientific journals." Kent Anderson responds, "I recommend that you read the entire article. As a piece of journalism, though, it is irresponsible. You can see the author straining to make a story out of whispers. There is nothing to report here." What makes the rumour plausible is that it's the sort of thing Google would do, and if it desired, could do. That should set every academic publisher atremble.
Data centre and IT infrastructure specialists Onyx Group have been awarded a place on the telecommunications framework, a service from Jisc, to supply IT connectivity solutions for the UK education and research sector.
This comes just weeks after being confirmed as official cloud computing suppliers to the UK public sector through the G-Cloud 5 framework.
As experts in the connectivity field, Onyx Group were one of the first providers of business-to-business broadband in the UK upon their inception back in 1994. Onyx already possess a rich portfolio of higher education clients such as Heriot Watt and Newcastle University and are looking to expand further into the market by making their services available via the framework.
As one of only 18 companies approved by the framework in the UK, Onyx Group will now be able to offer education bodies a range of connectivity solutions in a simplified and more cost-effective way. Procured on behalf of UK education and research, companies are now able to purchase a range of connectivity services from Onyx via the framework without having to go through the lengthy procurement process.
Neil Stephenson, chief executive at Onyx Group, stated:
“Being awarded a place on the framework is testament to the high quality service delivered by our team over the last two decades.
With our network ranked in the top 1% of connected networks worldwide and powering our robust wholly-owned national infrastructure, we are perfectly placed to provide education bodies with a resilient and secure solution."
The telecommunications framework agreement enables the purchase of transmission services including leased circuits, wide area ethernet and xDSL. Billed under managed transmission, the framework may be used by higher and further education purchasing consortia, specialist colleges and research council establishments in the UK.
“Onyx Group is committed to helping research and education bodies benefit from high speed, reliable internet connectivity and the framework makes it possible for us to offer these solutions in a faster and more cost-effective manner”
“Having passed the tough and rigorous assessment process carried out by Jisc, institutions can purchase services confident that they are working with the very best.”
Steve Kennett, head of operational services, Janet: a part of Jisc, said:
“the partnership between Onyx and Jisc will continue to support our vision for the UK to be the most digitally advanced education and research nation in the world. Working with trusted partners like Onyx ensures Jisc maintains value and quality for our sector”
They bring much expertise to the strategic leadership of Jisc and are welcome additions to the Jisc board. The expertise we have on, and oversight exercised by, the board is crucial to Jisc’s governance model and the determination of our strategic direction and priorities to sustain digital advantage for UK education and research.
David, since his appointment to the University of Greenwich in 2011, has been working to ensure quality and raise standards. He is widely published on computer mapping and geographic information systems and has almost 20 years of experience of working in the IT industry, experience he will bring to Jisc in his new role. He said:
"I am very pleased to be joining Jisc at this important stage in its evolution. Jisc member organisations have much to contribute to the development of technology and are avid users of new and existing tools and technologies. I hope that I can introduce some of my experiences from the academic and commercial worlds into Jisc's strategic activities."
Anne is an internationally respected thinker on data-intensive research and the future of data curation. She has been chief information officer at the University of Oxford since 2012, having joined the university in 2005 to set up the e-Research Centre.
She has previously worked with Jisc on Neurohub a project which supported neuroscientists to efficiently and effectively use existing e-infrastructure. She said:
"I am delighted to join the Jisc board. As a community, we have been fortunate to enjoy the benefits of Jisc for over 20 years and I looking forward to working with Jisc and the board through this time of transition. We are all facing challenges in higher education institutions as we embrace digital technologies making the services of Jisc of even greater importance."
“I am very much looking forward to working with Anne and David and welcome them to Jisc. Their roles will be key in overseeing the change and continuing development of Jisc to ensure it makes its crucial contribution to the UK higher education, further education and skills sectors efficiently and effectively.”
The Networking People (TNP) and Jisc are pleased to announce TNP’s appointment to the nationwide telecommunications framework, a service from Jisc.
This will bringing innovative high-capacity connectivity to further education (FE) and higher education (HE) institutions and research organisations across the UK. This provides these organisations flexibility with access to TNP’s range of innovative and cost-effective point-to-point wide-area network solutions.
The new framework began on 20 June and runs for four years until 19 June 2018. Split into two lots – namely, managed transmission services and dark fibre – it may be used by further and higher education purchasing consortia, specialist colleges and research council establishments in the UK. The framework enables the purchase of transmission services including leased circuits, dark fibre, wide-area Ethernet and xDSL.
“We’re committed to providing our community with the best value services to suit business needs,”
said Steve Kennett, head of operational services at Janet: a part of Jisc.
“Our framework makes it possible for the research and education community to save time and money when purchasing a range of transmission services. There’s no need for customers to go through the procurement process unless they wish to run a competition between suppliers that we have shortlisted and evaluated. Imagine the time that saves.”
Chris Wade, commercial director at TNP, said:
“This agreement further demonstrates TNP’s real commitment to the public sector and to education in particular. Users of the framework will be able to benefit directly from our experience in designing, building and supporting higher education based networks. In addition to cost effective leased line solutions, TNP offers the ability for customers to own their own infrastructure, reducing operating costs and leveraging existing investment with the option of using alternative technologies.
We allow much greater flexibility and long-term sustainability, which we know is sorely needed in the education sector. We’re thrilled to have received this recognition on a national scale, validating TNP as a major player within the UK education sector.”
The Wellcome Library and Jisc today announce nine partner institutions whose holdings will be digitised and added to the UK Medical Heritage Library, an online resource for the history of medicine and related sciences.
Approximately 15 million pages of printed books and pamphlets from all ten partners will be digitised over a period of two years and will be made freely available to researchers and the public under an open licence. By pooling their collections the partners will create a comprehensive online library. The content will be available on multiple platforms to broaden access, including the Internet Archive, the Wellcome Library and Jisc Historic Books.
The project's focus is on books and pamphlets from the 19th century that are on the subject of medicine or its related disciplines. This will include works relating to the medical sciences, consumer health, sport and fitness, as well as different kinds of medical practice, from phrenology to hydrotherapy.
Works on food and nutrition will also feature: around 1400 cookery books from the University of Leeds are among those lined up for digitisation. They, along with works from the other partner institutions, will be transported to the Wellcome Library in London where a team from the Internet Archive will undertake the digitisation work. The project will build on the success of the US-based Medical Heritage Library consortium, of which the Wellcome Library is a part, which has already digitised over 50 000 books and pamphlets.
Simon Chaplin, Head of the Wellcome Library, said:
"We are pleased that these nine institutions have chosen to add their valuable collections to the Medical Heritage Library. As well as our partners Jisc and Research Libraries UK, we will be working closely with our Academic Advisory Group to produce an online resource that is both a repository for a superb wealth of content and an effective research tool for a broad range of users."
Peter Findlay, digital portfolio manager, Jisc, said:
"We are delighted that the Wellcome Library team has been able to identify such valuable collections, which will be digitised to a high standard, freed from the confines of their original format and made openly available for teaching, learning and research. By working closely with the partner institutions to build the UK Medical Heritage Library, we are converting books into searchable data so that users can explore every aspect of 19th-century medicine and develop new insights into this period of unprecedented medical discovery."
The UK MHL initiative started in 2013 when the Wellcome Library embarked on a project with the Internet Archive to digitise their collection of 19th-century medical books. The project was extended earlier in 2014 with the support of Jisc and the Higher Education Funding Council for England. It was co-designed with Research Libraries UK and is informed by an Academic Advisory Group to ensure that the best collections are included.
For the Wellcome Library this forms part of a larger ambition to digitise and make freely available over 50 million pages of historical medical books, archives, manuscripts and journals by 2020.
AAAS and Jisc are pleased to announce an agreement which will give researchers, teachers and learners free access to over 100 years of peer-reviewed scientific news, commentary and cutting-edge research.
The Science Classic archive will be available to staff and students in UK higher and further education and the research councils.
Founded in the late 19th century on $10,000 of seed money from the American inventor Thomas Edison, Science is now the largest paid circulation peer-reviewed general-science journal. The archive runs from its 1880 foundation until the online version was launched in 1997 and includes historically significant articles on the human genome, breast and colon cancer genes, and the Bose-Einstein condensate in physics.
Lorraine Estelle, executive director digital resources, Jisc and divisional CEO Jisc Collections said:
“With this agreement Jisc is pleased to be able to make more high quality research available free of charge to researchers, teachers and learners in UK universities and colleges. This purchase will save institutions money and increase the ability of institutions to provide their users with the best materials for research, teaching and learning.
It also adds to the significant investment that Jisc has already made in journal archives for UK institutions over the last decade, adding over 160,000 articles to a collection of over 3.75million articles already purchased on behalf of institutions.”
Beth Rosner, the publisher of Science, said:
“We are very pleased to provide researchers in the United Kingdom with access to the Science Classic archive, which delivers peer-reviewed scientific research and commentary from 1880 until 1996. Our partnership with Jisc will help advance the research capabilities at UK institutions of higher and further education by providing full-text access to this prestigious source of research knowledge.”
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 [...]