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A Neo-Institutionalist Approach to Understanding Drivers of Quality Assurance in ODL: The Case of the Open University of Mauritius
As the authors write, "OUs aim to break the 'iron triangle' of access, cost, and quality that constrains traditional universities... through the division of labour, specialization, and the economies of scale created by media and technology." But while access and cost are relatively easy to measure, quality is moire difficult. So this article focuses on various quality measures, and in particular, ISO9001, which while accepted at the Open University of Mauritius (OUM), remained with "no formal quality assurance framework in place." This article discusses the measures taken from an institutional perspective to redress that with an emphasis on the institutional drivers motivating a quality framework.Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
This article (19 page PDF) employs Neuhauser's (2004) online course design maturity model (OCDMM) (17 page PDF) in an assessment of the University of South Africa (UNISA) as it transitions from an open distance learning (ODL) to open distance e-learning (ODeL). Now 15 years old, the model needed to be updated to reflect current conditions. The original five Key Process Areas (KPA) were replaced with three: use of LMS; use of learning technological tools and applications; and online assessment via LMS. Responses using the new KPAs were gathered across each of the new model's five levels. Obviously this revision seems to me to be far too focused on the LMS, even if it does include the use of other technologies. And lost are elements of the original model, such as personalization, socialization, and interactivity (which maybe they could have addressed through a fourth KPA headed 'presence'). Image Pretoria News.Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
In 2012 China undertook a transformation from the previous generation of open universities - known as Radio and Television Universities (RTVU) to a model based on this mandate: "The open universities are the main force for building public service platforms for continuing education, providing services to the whole society, building a convenient, flexible and personalized ICT-based learning environment for learners, and facilitating the construction of Lifelong learning system and learning society." This article (20 page PDF) overviews that transformation, including the new institutions' new emphasis on open educational resources (OER), qualifications and a credit bank system, and issues and challenges being faced by the system today.Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
This article (15 page PDF) is a good way to open IRRODL's special issue on open and distance universities (ODU) even if it is based on only eight interviews of instructors from two open universities. The article revolves around three themes: "a) openness: excessive openness and a lost sense of mission; b) technological innovation: moving online and long-lasting resistance, and c) teaching: transactional interactions and feelings of loneliness." In this it manages to capture the tension on ODU today: "The people who started this university purposely went out to find every radical thinker they could find... a bunch of rebels. They are my age or older, they are on the way out." Everybody else, it seems, is becoming an ODU. What makes these institutions distinct? Or needed at all? Image: NPR.Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
Education changes attitudes, as some claim. But it doesn't change minds. And that's OK. In this detailed and well-written article, ethics professor Evan Mandery writes that "During my career, only one student has ever reported to me a significant, lasting change in their attitudes." This despite a course designed to push them on those attitudes. But more importantly, “The value is that you can staunchly disagree with someone, but also humanize the person... It was more to learn about each other than to change people’s minds.” This article is a great Sunday morning read, and you should make sure you make the time for it.Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
Bryanm Alexander has been engaged in a series of posts on the future of higher education and climate change. Posts so far cover campus populations, campus facilities, the academic mission, and campus and the off campus world, wherein he quotes a a Second Nature report (33 page PDF) as saying campuses "can serve as ‘hubs’ in their local communities for creating, testing, and disseminating knowledge about regional climate projections and adaptation strategies." This is a role they should be serving (but have often ignored) in general. Anyhow, the topic of climate change is obviously timely, and it serves as a helpful reminder that projections of the future of anything need to take into account the wider world and what we're doing to it.Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
Steve Wheeler recognizes that the word 'tribe' "can be a contentious term" but in this series of posts he goes ahead and uses it anyway. He could just as easily have used the terms 'culture' and 'family' and his arguments and evidence could be the same. There is certainly cultural sharing and cultural grouping on the web - a quick breeze through TikTok provides ample evidence of that. But the meaning inherent in the word 'tribe' suggests a much more organized social structure (or, at least, should) including leadership, decision-making processes, common values and religion, physical or geographical integrity, and more.Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
One tent in particular caught my attention, and I stopped with my Dad to have a look. There was a large kiosk in the centre of the tent called 'The Knowledge Machine' with a notice on the outside that read: "Ask me any question, and I will answer." I wanted to try this, so my father paid a few coins and I took a sheet of paper from the table and wrote my question. I wrote: 'Who was the oldest man in the world?' folded the paper and slipped it into the slot. A few seconds later a note appeared from the slot. On it was typed: John Mosely Turner, 15 June 1856 – 21 March 1968, 111 years, 280 days. At the time, he was the oldest man to have lived, so the answer was correct.
I was still wondering how this had been achieved (there were no accessible computers in 1972 and the Web was almost 20 years in the future) when my father wrote another note saying 'Wrong answer - the oldest man ever to have lived was Methuselah, who in the Bible lived to be 969 years old.' He folded the note and inserted it into the slot.
There was another pause, and then a typed reply emerged. It read: 'Methuselah falsified his birth records to dodge the draft'. We both laughed at the humour. Clearly, what was inside the kiosk wasn't a machine, but a couple of guys (probably US servicemen from the style of response) having a lot of fun as they sifted through dictionaries, encyclopaedias and other tomes of knowledge to respond to any questions the public posted through the slot.
Recalling that story from my youth led me to think about John Searle and his Chinese Room thought experiment. In it, Searle postulates that a man is locked inside a kiosk, and there is a slot in the kiosk through which questions are posted, in Chinese. The man has no knowledge of how to read the symbols or understand the language. What he does have available are detailed instructions about how to process the symbols and respond with other Chinese symbols. His task is to take each question and respond appropriately in Chinese.
Those outside believe that a native Chinese speaker is inside the kiosk. In effect they believe that the kiosk contains a 'mind' that can comprehensively process morphographic, syntactic and semantic - and perhaps even cultural elements - of Chinese. What they don't realise is that the process involves no knowledge of Chinese at all - just an operator systematically following a list of instructions to achieve convincing results. This is also the basic principle of the Turing test - are you talking to a computer or to another human? Ultimately, the test determines whether a computer can be considered 'intelligent'. The Turing test is the measure of the extent to which machine intelligence can mimic human intelligence through complex pattern matching.
We've come a long way since 1972. Today, search engines and similar technologies can achieve results instantaneously, whether it is answering simple knowledge-based questions about the oldest man in the world, or more complex problems such as translating one language accurately into another. What's more they are delivered directly to our devices, wherever we are, at any time of the day or night. All we need to do is ask. The answers seem intelligent, and we are comfortable conversing with technology to the point that we entrust it with our daily quest for knowledge. A lot of artificial intelligence is built into the search algorithms and natural language processing it employs. And yet we are still a long way from the point where we can converse with technology as we would another human. If we could, would it be desirable? I wonder how far down the artificial intelligence road we have travelled to the point we see a computer spontaneously responding with humour?
The knowledge machine by Steve Wheeler was written in Plymouth, England and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.Posted by Steve Wheeler from Learning with e's
This article points to a massive surge in the number of article pre-print platforms (illustrated) and asks how more traditional journals can survive. The authors write that "Our interviews with authors indicate that early and fast dissemination is the primary motive behind preprint posting. In addition, the increased scope for feedback seems to be highly valued, with much of this interaction taking place via Twitter and email, rather than via direct comments on preprint servers." Also free access. Let's not forget free access. Anyhow, journals can respond, they say, by beating them, joining them, or waiting them out. None of these is likely to be successful, in my view.Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
Back in pre-history - thirty years ago, say - software designers wanted to make their work available for free, but commercial companies would take it, make a small change (maybe), and call it their own, charging money for it. Open source licensing changed all that, because vendors couldn't simply cash in on someone's work to create an entirely closed and proprietary version of it. But all that was before the cloud and software as a service. And so open source designers are facing the same problem they did in pre-history: a company like Amazon comes along, takes an open source database, and builds a closed and proprietary service out of it, and contributes nothing back to the original project. That's why, according to this article, a number of open source companies changed their licensing this year. They feel they're being taken advantage of. And they're right.Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
I enjoyed this article as it grapples with the question of how to close the discussion of political or controversial topics in a classroom. Two major schools of thought are presented: the idea of deliberative democracy, which aims to use rational debate to reach a consensus, and agonism, which allows that people may remain on different sides even after the discussion. The author appears to advocate a middle position, hegemony, which allows one side to win (if you will) while accepting that there will be another side that did not prevail on this day. A good object lesson for how to handle such debates as adults. There are good side-discussions on the role of rationality and identity in such discussions, and how to decide what points of view ought to be excluded from any such discussion. Image: an Interview with Chantal Mouffe.Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
There's a lot of stuff in this report (32 page PDF) talking about what non-degree credentials (NDC) are, why they're needed (TLDR: because not enough full degrees are being granted, and states need another way to meet their goals), and why a determination of NDC quality is essential. Eventually (p.13) we get to the definition (paraphrased): a quality NDC is student focused; supports equitable credential attainment; is supported by valid, reliable, and transparent information; allows flexibility in operationalizing the definition; and is the outcome of a public process to determine which credentials are quality credentials. We then get an additional definition of "the criteria that constitute quality" (paraphrased): substantial job opportunities as-sociated with the credential, competencies that align with expected job opportunities, evidence of employment and earnings outcomes after obtaining the credential; and stackability to additional education or training. This IMO is a very narrow definition of quality. Too narrow. Via eCampus News. Thanks to John H. Steitz for the suggestion.Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
This is from a couple weeks ago, but it's a good concept and worth sharing. "Open Competency Models are a set of competency models being made available under a Creative Commons license. They are meant to change over time, while people engaged in the discipline add skills from their profiles that reflect their experience and while organizations continue to customize the models so as to capture their differentiated approach." According to Steven Forth, "Ibbaka-TeamFit will be contributing a series of Open Competency Models to its communities over the coming year." Which of course immediately makes me think of the need for an open competencies repository (or data store).Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
I'm passing this along because it's interesting to see what Henry Jenkins is up to these days, but not without warning of platitudes and flatitudes in the content overall. The post is a summary of the highlights of the 2019 Connected Learning Summit, held at the University of California, Irvine earlier this month (nothing to see at the link; I include it for completeness) including videos of the aforementioned Jenkins, two other keynotes, and 14 of the short 'Ignite' talks.Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
This study offers a useful and important counterweight to studies focused on U.S.-based MOOCs. "The most well-known for-profit MOOC providers are used for widening participation," writes Sarah Lambert, "but they are certainly not the whole picture." From the abstract: "In contrast to the existing literature, this study found that there was a flourishing of multi-lingual and Languages other than English (LOTE) programs and those addressing regional socio-economic disadvantage." Interestingly, "the review also found that the legal status of the learning materials (copyright or openly licenced) was of little consequence so long as it was free to the end user." And, "What seemed to matter most was the intentional and collaborative design for disadvantaged cohorts."Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
The Knowledge Exchange has published its first book with contributions from Jisc and other experts in the field of Open Scholarship. The book - Open Scholarship and the Need for Collective Action - aims to better understand challenges to make scholarship more open.
The authors look at the stakeholders and their interactions and networks, concluding that collective action approaches and establishment of a supportive infrastructure are key for a successful transition to Open Scholarship.
The publication was created through the 'booksprint' method, a way of writing a book collaboratively in only a short period of time.
Frank Manista, European open science manager and representing Jisc at the Knowledge Exchange said:
“We’re pleased that Jisc, and specifically Neil Jacobs, has been a part of this ground-breaking book that has come to fruition through collaboration and support from European institutions and experts. It works to paint a more comprehensive picture of how to realise the full potential of openness.”
The book addresses various perspectives offered in the Knowledge Exchange Open Scholarship Framework which was created in 2017 to highlight the changes occurring in scholarly communications.
The Knowledge Exchange is a partnership that brings together six key national organisations within Europe; CSC in Finland, CNRS in France, SURF in the Netherlands, Jisc in the UK, DFG in Germany and DAFSHE in Denmark. They aim to develop infrastructure and services to enable the use of digital technologies to improve higher education and research.