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Thinking, language and memory

Learning with 'e's - Hace 19 horas 39 mins
I've had several conversations with my students in the past few weeks about how Vygotskiian theory informs our understanding of learning. But social constructivist theory, particularly Vygotsky's socio-cultural focus, extends greatly beyond the concept of ZPD - the zone of proximal development - that most people are familar with. Whilst this is an important explanation of how we learn, we limit our understanding if we focus exclusively on this aspect of the theory. Vygotsky also believed that language development was important for higher order thinking.

Recently, while exploring learning and memory with my students, I gave one of my groups the task to think about their earliest memories. The students came up with recollections of their memories in early childhood, usually from when they were two or three years old. This would have been around the time when they were developing language, extending their lexicons. Many of the memories my students reported were not particularly happy - feelings of nausea, getting lost, being scared. Others told of their interaction with various objects and how it made them feel. In short, many of the first memories they reported had emotions attached.

My own earliest recollection was a conversation I had with my grandmother about naming my small army of teddy bears when I was about 3 years old. I had given them all the same name, and remember being quite upset when she told me they each had to have different names. I believe I recalled it because I was able to articulate it and I speculate that perhaps children do not recall events before a certain age because they have insufficient language to describe them. When children interact with tools and objects, how much can they remember of these events, if they have not developed their language sufficiently to describe and therefore consolidate these memories? It seems to me that to express our emotions or relate what has happened to us, we need language. It also seems clear that recalling memories involves thinking. But how much do our memories depend on the development of language?

Vygotsky held some strong opinions about this question and proposed strong connections between language and intelligence. He bemoaned the problems that have arisen when speech and thought have been studied as though they had no influence on each other. The two, he believed, have a 'dialectical unity' and are the 'very essence of complex human behaviour.' In his seminal book Mind and Society, he argues that the development of speech has great importance to thinking when there is interaction with objects and tools. When children discover the relationship between signs and their meaning, something significant happens - higher order processes occur. Whether memory begins to crystallise as language develops is open to debate.

It led me to wondering if this could be applied in education? Teachers need to consider reinforcing memory and recall by encouraging students to develop richer language around their learning. They might use a mix of symbolic multimedia content that incorporates text, images and speech to create and represent ideas and concepts, to promote reflection. This is one reason why I believe blogging is such an important tool to support thinking and learning. Blogging and other creative forms of writing have a rich language capability that can support better memory and recall, particularly if the technology is used as a mind tool to extend language. I welcome any comments on these ideas.

Vygotsky, L. S. (1978) Mind and Society: The Development of Higher Psychological Processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. pp 23-24.

Photo by Anders Sandberg on Flickr

Thinking, language and memory by Steve Wheeler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.Posted by Steve Wheeler from Learning with e's

A ‘starter’ bibliography on MOOCs

Tony Bates - 21 Noviembre, 2014 - 23:56

Image: ©, 2014

For the increasing number of students doing Masters’ dissertations or Ph.D’s on MOOCs I have collected together for convenience all the references made in my chapter on MOOCs for my open textbook, ‘Teaching in a Digital World.’ However, there are many other publications – this cannot be considered a comprehensive list. Also note the date of this blog post: anything published after this will not be here, unless you let me know about it.

In return, I would really appreciate other suggestions for references that you have found to be valuable or influential. I’m now less interested in ‘opinion pieces’ but I am looking for more papers that reflect actual experience or research on MOOCs.

Balfour, S. P. (2013). Assessing writing in MOOCs: Automated essay scoring and calibrated peer review. Research & Practice in Assessment, Vol. 8.

Bates, A. (1985) Broadcasting in Education: An Evaluation London: Constables

Bates, A. and Sangrà, A. (2011) Managing Technology in Higher Education San Francisco: Jossey-Bass/John Wiley and Co

Bates, T. (2012) What’s right and what’s wrong with Coursera-style MOOCs Online Learning and Distance Education Resources, August 5

Bayne, S. (2014) Teaching, Research and the More-than-Human in Digital Education Oxford UK: EDEN Research Workshop (keynote: no printed record available)

Book, P. (2103) ACE as Academic Credit Reviewer–Adjustment, Accommodation, and Acceptance WCET Learn, July 25

Chauhan, A. (2014) Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCS): Emerging Trends in Assessment and Accreditation Digital Education Review, No. 25

Christensen, C. (2010) Disrupting Class, Expanded Edition: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns New York: McGraw-Hill

Christensen, C. and Eyring, H. (2011), The Innovative University: Changing the DNA of Higher Education, New York, New York, USA: John Wiley & Sons,

Christensen, C. and Weise, M. (2014) MOOCs disruption is only beginning, The Boston Globe, May 9

Collins, E. (2013) SJSU Plus Augmented Online Learning Environment Pilot Project Report San Jose CA: The Research and Planning Group for California Colleges

Colvin, K. et al. (2014) Learning an Introductory Physics MOOC: All Cohorts Learn Equally, Including On-Campus Class, IRRODL, Vol. 15, No. 4

Daniel, J. (2012) Making sense of MOOCs: Musings in a maze of myth, paradox and possibility Seoul: Korean National Open University

Dillenbourg, P. (ed.) (1999) Collaborative-learning: Cognitive and Computational Approaches. Oxford: Elsevier

Dillenbourg, P. (2014) MOOCs: Two Years Later, Oxford UK: EDEN Research Workshop (keynote: no printed record available)

Downes, S. (2012) Massively Open Online Courses are here to stay, Stephen’s Web, July 20

Downes, S. (2014) The MOOC of One, Valencia, Spain, March 10

Engle, W. (2104) UBC MOOC Pilot: Design and Delivery Vancouver BC: University of British Columbia

Falchikov, N. and Goldfinch, J. (2000) Student Peer Assessment in Higher Education: A Meta-Analysis Comparing Peer and Teacher Marks Review of Educational Research, Vol. 70, No. 3

Firmin, R. et al. (2014) Case study: using MOOCs for conventional college coursework Distance Education, Vol. 35, No. 2

Friedland, T. (2013) Revolution hits the universities, New York Times, January 26

Harasim, L. (2012) Learning Theory and Online Technologies New York/London: Routledge

Haynie, D. (2014). State Department hosts ‘MOOC Camp’ for online learners. US News,January 20

Hernandez, R. et al. (2014) Promoting engagement in MOOCs through social collaboration Oxford UK: Proceedings of the 8th EDEN Research Workshop

Hill, P. (2012) Four Barriers that MOOCs Must Overcome to Build a Sustainable Model e-Literate, July 24

Ho, A. et al. (2014) HarvardX and MITx: The First Year of Open Online Courses Fall 2012-Summer 2013 (HarvardX and MITx Working Paper No. 1), January 21

Hollands, F. and Tirthali, D. (2014) MOOCs: Expectations and Reality New York: Columbia University Teachers’ College, Center for Benefit-Cost Studies of Education

Hülsmann, T. (2003) Costs without camouflage: a cost analysis of Oldenburg University’s  two graduate certificate programs offered  as part of the online Master of Distance Education (MDE): a case study, in Bernath, U. and Rubin, E., (eds.) Reflections on Teaching in an Online Program: A Case Study Oldenburg, Germany: Bibliothecks-und Informationssystem der Carl von Ossietsky Universität Oldenburg

Jaschik, S. (2013) MOOC Mess, Inside Higher Education, February 4

Knox, J. (2014) Digital culture clash: ‘massive’ education in the e-Learning and Digital Cultures Distance Education, Vol. 35, No. 2

Kop, R. (2011) The Challenges to Connectivist Learning on Open Online Networks: Learning Experiences during a Massive Open Online Course International Review of Research into Open and Distance Learning, Vol. 12, No. 3

Lave, J. and Wenger, E. (1991). Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Lyotard, J-J. (1979) La Condition postmoderne: rapport sur le savoir: Paris: Minuit

Mackness, J. (2013) cMOOCs and xMOOCs – key differences, Jenny Mackness, October 22

Milligan, C., Littlejohn, A. and Margaryan, A. (2013) Patterns of engagement in connectivist MOOCs, Merlot Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, Vol. 9, No. 2

Piech, C., Huang, J., Chen, Z., Do, C., Ng, A., & Koller, D. (2013). Tuned models of peer assessment in MOOCs. Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University.

Rumble, G. (2001) The costs and costing of networked learning, Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, Vol. 5, No. 2

Suen, H. (2104) Peer assessment for massive open online courses (MOOCs) International Review of Research into Open and Distance Learning, Vol. 15, No. 3

Tapscott, D. (undated) The transformation of education

University of Ottawa (2013) Report of the e-Learning Working Group Ottawa ON: The University of Ottawa

van Zundert, M., Sluijsmans, D., van Merriënboer, J. (2010). Effective peer assessment processes: Research findings and future directions. Learning and Instruction, 20, 270-279

Watters, A. (2012) Top 10 Ed-Tech Trends of 2012: MOOCs Hack Education, December 3

Yousef, A. et al. (2014) MOOCs: A Review of the State-of-the-Art Proceedings of 6th International Conference on Computer Supported Education – CSEDU 2014, Barcelona, Spain

WCET14 Student Panel: What do students think of online education?

e-Literate - 21 Noviembre, 2014 - 22:37

Yesterday at the WCET14 conference in Portland I had the opportunity along with Pat James to moderate a student panel.[1] I have been trying to encourage conference organizers to include more opportunities to let students speak for themselves – becoming real people with real stories rather than nameless aggregations of assumptions. WCET stepped up with this session. And my new favorite tweet[2]:

@kuriousmind @lukedowden @wcet_info @PhilOnEdTech Best. Panel. Ever. Massively insightful experience.

— Matthew L Prineas (@mprineas) November 20, 2014

As I called out in my introduction, we talk about students, we characterize students, we listen to others talk about students, but we don’t do a good job in edtech talking with students.  There is no way that a student panel can be representative of all students, even for a single program or campus[3]. We’re not looking for statistical answers, but we can hear stories and gain understanding.

These four students were either working adults (and I’m including a stay-at-home mom in this category) taking undergraduate online programs. They were quite well-spoken and self-aware, which made for a great conversation that included comments that might surprise some on faculty-student interaction potential:

A very surprising (to me) comment on class size:

And specific feedback on what doesn’t work well in online courses:

To help with viewing of the panel, here are the primary questions / topics of discussion:

The whole student panel is available on the Mediasite platform:

Thanks to the help of the Mediasite folks, I have also uploaded a Youtube video of the full panel:

Click here to view the embedded video.

  1. Pat is the executive director of the California Community College Online Education Initiative (OEI) – see her blog here for program updates.
  2. I’m not above #shameless.
  3. As can be seen from this monochromatic panel, which might make sense for Portland demographics but not from a nationwide perspective.

The post WCET14 Student Panel: What do students think of online education? appeared first on e-Literate.

Hack Education Weekly News: Feminist Hacker Barbie

Hack Education - 21 Noviembre, 2014 - 22:31

Education Law and Politics

President Obama took executive action on immigration reform this week, offering limited legal status (a temporary reprieve from deportation, that is) to up to five million of the country’s 11.4 million undocumented immigrants. The Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Ed examine the potential impact on higher ed; The Huffington Post has a look at the impact at the K–12 level.

The White House also hosted superintendents this week to sign a “Future Ready” pledge, promising to buy more digital stuff from textbook publishers and tech companies and telecoms. Because future.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has proposed a major financial boost to the E-rate program, increasing its cap by $1.5 billion. That’ll bring the total earmarked for the fund, which helps support and subsidize public schools’ and libraries’ network and telecom costs, to $3.9 million.

The FTC has reached a $200,000 settlement with TRUSTe over deceptive labels and promises. The company purports to certify that companies handle data safely. But nope. So yeah. Just because that ed-tech company proudly displays a TRUSTe seal doesn’t mean your data is safe; it means that they paid for the seal.

Senator Tom Harkin is set to retire in a few weeks. But he’s just released his proposal to revise the Higher Education Act. Inside Higher Ed has more on the legislation, which will likely go nowhere. Because Congress.

Certain-to-be-a-Republican-Presidential-candidate Jeb Bush made comments about education this week as he delivered the keynote at his education group’s 2014 National Summit on Education Reform.

The Department of Education and the Minneapolis Public School District have reached an agreement after an investigation which “revealed that black students in grades K–12 were significantly overrepresented in the district’s disciplinary actions.”

“Worried about facing national ridicule if a Satanic group is allowed to give out coloring books to children, the Orange County School Board moved Thursday toward preventing any outside group from distributing religious materials on campus.” Ha. Since when is Florida concerned about facing national ridicule?!

LAUSD’s board has voted to add ethnic studies to the district curriculum. It’s part of a larger effort to make ethnic studies a required class for graduation.

LAUSD has argued that a middle schooler can consent to sex with a teacher. The case involves a 14 year old student and her 28 year old student. The district, which is being sued by the girl’s family for negligence, says that the girl bears some responsibility. Wow. Fuck you, LAUSD.

Colleges and universities have received most of the scrutiny about how they’ve mishandled sexual assault cases. But the Department of Education is also investigating 24 elementary and secondary schools of violating Title IX by mishandling these sorts of incidents.

LAUSD and the Zombie iPad Contract

Back from the dead! LAUSD has not canceled all its contract with Apple and Pearson apparently, and the district will spend $22 million to buy 20,000 iPads just in time for spring standardized testing season. But this time around, instead of spending $504 per device, the district will pay $552 per iPad. Niiiiiiiiiiice.


Last week Coursera announced free verified certificates for veterans; this week, it’s free verified certificates for teachers. Thanks Obama, for taking such a strong stance against for-profit higher ed.

Not to miss out on the PR opportunity, edX is also offering free certificates for teacher training.

Coursera is bringing data to teaching. Because data dashboards “help instructors understand their learners and make informed decisions.” Education has, up until now, never had a way for instructors to understand learners, I guess.

What went wrong with the online education for-profit K12 Inc.? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

How Online Education Can Save Conservatism.” Shudder.

Elsewhere in “Openness”

Creative Commons has released its State of the Commons report. “Sharing is winning. In 2015, we’ll pass one billion Creative Commons–licensed works.”

The K–12 OER Collaborative, supported by 11 states, has released an RFP seeking OER materials to cover math and language arts at the K–12 level. As districts are poised to spend some $8 billion to buy new CCSS-aligned textbooks, the hope is to offer an alternative that not just saves money but that can be localized, shared, and remixed.

The Gates Foundation has adopted an open access policy “that enables the unrestricted access and reuse of all peer-reviewed published research funded, in whole or in part, by the foundation, including any underlying data sets.”

According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, open education has a publicity problem.

Meanwhile on Campus

A Rape on Campus: A Brutal Assault and Struggle for Justice at UVA

Parents have been sent home “what to do in case of an emergency” notes. But in the St. Louis area, the fear-mongering isn’t about bad weather. It’s about the results of the grand jury investigation of Darren Wilson, the police officer who killed the teenaged Michael Brown this summer. St. Louis schools will apparently get a 3 hour advanced notice of the decision.

Three people were shot at the Florida State University Library.

Meanwhile, an assistant principal in Polk County, Florida staged a live shooter drill in which police went classroom to classroom with their guns drawn. “…The school resource officer involved in the drill was carrying a loaded Glock .45-caliber pistol, while a patrol officer was holding an AR–15 rifle, though it was not loaded. Some students became terrified and ducked for cover.” Terrified?! Are you serious?!

An elementary school in Los Alamitos will let parents pay $100 to buy their kids a week free of homework. Because the public school system in America is sooooo damn equitable.

University of Maryland University College will stay a public university, says its president.

Some 43 students in a “Sports, Ethics, and Religion” class at Yale have been accused of academic dishonesty. Apparently, they cheated with clickers. In an ethics class.

The University of California Board of Regents has voted to raise tuition by up to 27% by 2020. Governor Jerry Brown and pretty much every public school student (and their parents?) oppose the hike.

Students have ended their sit-in at Syracuse University. More details on their demands via Inside Higher Ed.

Students at BYU are campaigning to change the campus’s ban on beards. Heads up, BYU students! Kin Lane will be visiting you next month. Enlist him in your battle!

Looks like some 5000 students have been affected by the disaster that is LAUSD’s multimillion dollar new student information system.

Not to let LAUSD’s student information system get all the laughs, New York City says it’s dumping the system it spent $95 million on. Joel Klein, now touting how great his ed reform efforts were in his new book, oversaw the development of the ARIS system. The company he now works for, News Corp’s Amplify, has been overseeing the program since. Heckuva job.

Incidentally, NYC schools aren’t buying Amplify tablets either. They’re going with Google Chromebooks.

Via The Atlantic: “The backlash against no-excuses discipline in high school.”

Go, School Sports Team!

A Florida State University football player, P. J. Williams, was in an accident, driving his car into the path of an oncoming vehicle. He fled the scene. “Mr. Williams, driving with a suspended license, had been given a break by the Tallahassee police, who initially labeled the accident a hit and run, a criminal act, but later decided to issue Mr. Williams only two traffic tickets. Afterward, the case did not show up in the city’s public online database of police calls — a technical error, the police said.”

The NCAA has released documents relating to its sanctions of the Penn State and the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal. More via Inside Higher Ed.

Oregon State University will review its response to a 1998 report that football players gang raped a woman. No charges were ever filed.

“A math instructor at Weber State University completed coursework for five football players, including a final exam,” reports Inside Higher Ed.

27 college football coaches make more than $3 million a year. Only 27.

From the HR Department

“Did the California Institute of Technology ignore faculty reports that an Israeli spy might be working at a campus-controlled research facility so as not to jeopardize an $8 billion National Aeronautics and Space Administration contract?” A whistleblower lawsuit says yes.

By Sarah Kendzior: “Professors Making $10,000 a Year? Academia Is Becoming a Profession Only the Elite Can Afford

The Yale Medical School has removed, effective immediately, Dr. Michael Simons as director of its Cardiovascular Research Center after an investigation into sexual harassment allegations.

Steven Salaita is suing the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign for violating open records laws. The lawsuit is related to the university’s decision to withdraw its job offer to Salaita, following pro-Palestinian comments he made on social media.

Upgrades and Downgrades

Some folks were excited when Mattel said it was going to make a computer engineer Barbie. And why wouldn’t they be. The doll has such a great track record of strong messages for smart girls. Messages like “Math is hard. Let’;s go shopping.” This week, Barbie came out with a new book, I Can Be A Computer Engineer, published by Random House (owned by Pearson). I’d say OMG DO NOT BUY THIS BOOK, but apparently Mattel has already pulled it from store shelves. See, Barbie has a pink computer. She can’t program. She breaks things. She recruits two guys to help her write the code because she only good at “creating design ideas.” She infects Skipper’s computer with a virus, who then gets so mad – I mean, she’s lost her homework because she didn’t create a backup! – that she gets into a pillow fight with Barbie.

Thankfully, the Internet has given us Feminist Hacker Barbie.

…Sitting behind her, Computer Engineer Brianna looked sad. "I should have donated more money to App Camp for Girls."

— Brianna Wu aka LW3 (@Spacekatgal) November 18, 2014

Disney plus Hour of Code. Because we’re supposed to believe that Disney's Frozen princesses offer a better role model for girls to learn computer science than Mattel, I guess.

From the BBC: “Ayan Qureshi is now a Microsoft Certified Professional after passing the tech giant’s exam when he was just five years old.”

Harvard Researchers Build $10 Robot That Can Teach Kids to Code

Pearson’s “charitable wing,” the Pearson Foundation, will be closing its doors at the end of the year. The organization has come under intense scrutiny for how much of a division really exists between it and its parent company. Last year, the organization paid an almost $8 million settlement to the state of New York over accusations that its actions were really funneling money to the for-profit Pearson. Shocking, I know. The Gates Foundation recently gave the foundation $3 million to develop curricula for the Common Core. I’m curious what’ll happen to the projects that the foundation supported. And, of course, the content and the student data.

Politico says that “The PARCC consortium was supposed to have decided by now whether to approve Pearson’s plan to use computer algorithms, rather than human beings, to grade student essays on Common Core exams in the coming years. But that deadline appears to have been postponed — and both PARCC and Pearson are tight-lipped about why.”

Oh noes! Early adopters of Google Glass are “losing faith,” says Reuters! Never fear. I bet there will be dozens of sessions at ISTE about how to integrate these silly, spendy surveillance devices into your instructional practices.

The New York Times investigates the behaviorist behavior tracking app Class Dojo for privacy concerns. In response to the NYT story, Class Dojo says it has now adopted a data deletion policy and will only keep students’ behavioral records for one year. But it’s keeping the Skinnerism, I reckon.

Facebook is apparently testing a “business product” – collaboration tools for work something something data-mining all aspects of your life professional and personal something something. Really looking forward to the Facebook for education version too.

Oh. LOL. Look at that. Summit Public Schools, a Silicon Valley charter school chain, is working with Facebook on just that. More details on what Edsurge calls a “personalized learning platform.”

Also via Edsurge: San Quentin inmates learn to code.

Smart Technologies has a new interactive whiteboard that you can write on with dry erase markers. Holy shit, slow down with the innovation, guys. You’re making the rest of the industry look bad.

Ernst & Young has named Josh Coates, CEO of Instructure, the “EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ 2014 National Technology Award winner.”

More standardized testing! [Inside Higher Ed looks](Aspiring Minds) at the Indian skills-testing company Aspiring Minds and its attempts to break into the US market. (It’s partnered with edX.)

From Inside Higher Ed: “Rafter, the course content provider that spawned from the textbook rental company BookRenter, on Wednesday announced a new service that ties textbook costs to tuition and automatically delivers course materials upon registration. The service, known as Rafter360, enables faculty members to select the course materials they intend to use in their courses, which are then delivered to students either digitally or shipped to homes or campus bookstores for pickup and returned at the end of the course.” So I guess there’s no looking for used copies or cheaper copies, no sharing copies, just forcing students to buy textbooks. Sounds great. For Rafter.

The Hamilton Project’s newly-released student debt calculator includes information about college majors and projected earnings.

Twitter says it now indexes every public tweet since 2006. The blog post announcing the news, which makes no mention of the company’s original plans to outsource this work to the Library of Congress, has lots of technical details about the tech under the hood.

From Techcrunch: “LinkedIn Sharpens Education Focus: Self-Serve Widget Lets Users Add Certifications While On Other Sites.” Nothing says “disruptive innovation” in education like “self-service certification widgets,” man.

Funding and Acquisitions

The non-profit ECMC Group is buying 56 Corinthian College campuses and will reportedly keep the WyoTech and Everest campuses (and brands) intact. The organization, which services student loans – do not let that “non-profit” label fool you that its some sort of noble organization here – will pay $24 million for the campuses. Great insight and great questions from “Dean Dad.”

Pluralsight has paid $75 million for Smarterer, a company that offers multiple choice quizzes to assess employees’ skills. But there is no ed-tech bubble.

Craftsy, which The New York Times describes as a blend of YouTube and Etsy and “a platform for people who want to dive deeper into the world of arts and crafts mastery via online video courses,” has raised $50 million. The company has raised $106 million total, totally highlighting what a grassroots movement this whole “maker” thing is.

Uversity (formerly known as Inigral) has raised $660,000 in funding. This brings to $11.4 million the total raised for the “student engagement platform” (formerly Facebook app). New investors this time around include Learn Capital, where Uversity founder Michael Staton is now a partner.

Programming bootcamp Bloc has raised $6 million in funding from Shasta Ventures. This brings to $8.3 million the total raised by the company. Its classes cost between $4000 and $5000, says Edsurge.

Galvanize Inc, a company that runs various software development training programs, has acquired Zipfian Academy, a “data science boot camp.” Zipfian’s 12-week long bootcamp costs $16,000 – ya know, because college is too damn expensive.

The Wall Street Journal headline: “Kik Raises $38 Million to Battle Snapchat for Teens.” The messaging platform has now raised $65.8 million total.


According to a study by Augenblick, Palaich and Associates, a Denver education research firm, “Colorado state government and school districts spend up to $78 million a year on testing, and some kind of standardized testing takes place during every week of the school year.”

According to a study by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, 26% of college students are raising children. Single mothers make up 43% of these student parents.

According to a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research, “preschoolers whose parents received text messages with brief tips on reading to their children or helping them sound out letters and words performed better on literacy tests than children whose parents did not receive such messages.” Sounds legit.

According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, college enrollment has gone up since 2008, but the percentage of students who’ve graduated has gone down.

According to a report by Express Scripts, “in 2012 about one in 54 youngsters ages 6 through 17 covered by private insurance was taking at least two psychotropic medications — a rise of 44 percent in four years.”

Apple has released a report on “iPad in Education Results.”

Renaissance Learning, maker of the Accelerated Reading program, has released a report on “What Kids Are Reading: And Why It Matters.” Remember kids, it matters that you ask good, critical questions when you read corporate PR disguised as research.

From Vox: “82% of Americans want Congress to make student loans cheaper, but it’s a bad idea.”


RIP Leslie Feinberg. Stone Butch Blues was one of the most powerful and, for me personally, politically transformative books I’ve ever read.

Image credits: Feminist Hacker Barbie

Why MOOCs are only part of the answer for higher education

Tony Bates - 21 Noviembre, 2014 - 22:05

Formal education is the necessary launchpad for successful MOOCs

OK, except for the next post, which will be a list of publications on MOOCs for graduate students studying the topic, and a scenario for a ‘good’ MOOC, this will be my last post on MOOCs for a while.

This is the conclusion to my chapter on MOOCs for my open textbook, ‘Teaching in a Digital Age‘. This whole chapter is now published here. There will be a scenario illustrating what I define as a ‘good’ MOOC to go with this conclusion. Here is the extract:

The importance of context and design

I am frequently categorised as a major critic of MOOCs, which is somewhat surprising since I have been a longtime advocate of online learning. In fact I do believe MOOCs are an important development, and under certain circumstances they can be of tremendous value in education.

But as always in education, context is important. There is not one but many different markets and needs for education. A student leaving high school at eighteen has very different needs and will want to learn in a very different context from a 35 year old employed engineer with a family who needs some management education. Similarly a 65 year old man struggling to cope with his wife’s early onset of Alzheimers and desperate for help is in a totally different situation to either the high school student or the engineer. When designing educational programs, it has to be horses for courses. There is no single silver bullet or solution for every one of these various contexts.

Secondly, as with all forms of education, how MOOCs are designed matters a great deal. If they are designed inappropriately, in the sense of not developing the knowledge and skills needed by a particular learner in a particular context, then they have little or no value for that learner. However, designed differently and a MOOC may well meet that learner’s needs.

The potential of cMOOCs

So let me be more specific. cMOOCs have the most potential, because lifelong learning will become increasingly important, and the power of bringing a mix of already well educated and knowledgeable people from around the world to work with other committed and enthusiastic learners on common problems or areas of interest could truly revolutionise not just education, but the world in general.

However, cMOOCs at present are unable to do this, because they lack organisation and do not apply what is already known about how online groups work best. Once we learn these lessons and apply them, though, cMOOCs can be a tremendous tool for tackling some of the great challenges we face in the areas of global health, climate change, civil rights, and other ‘good civil ventures.’  The beauty of a cMOOC is that they involve not just the people who have the will and the power to make changes, but cMOOCs give every participant the power to define and solve the problems being tackled.

But socially transformative MOOCs will almost certainly benefit from the resources of strong institutions to provide initial impetus, simple to use software, overall structure, organization and co-ordination within the MOOC, and some essential human resources for supporting the MOOC when running. At the same time, it does not have to be an educational institution. It could be a Public Health Authority, or a broadcasting organization, or an international charity, or a consortium of organisations with a common interest. Also, of course, we need to recognise the danger that even cMOOCs  could be manipulated by corporate or government  interests. Finally, I don’t see cMOOCs as being a replacement for formal education, but as a rocket that needs formal education as its launch pad.

The limitations of xMOOCs

The real threat of xMOOCs is to the very large face-to-face lecture classes found in many universities at the undergraduate level. MOOCs, at a cost of around $20-$50 a student, are a more effective way of replacing such lectures. They are more interactive and permanent so students can go over the materials many times. I have heard MOOC instructors argue that their MOOCs are better than their classroom lectures. They put more care and effort into them.

However, we should question why we are teaching in this way on campus. Content is now freely available anywhere on the Internet – including MOOCs. What is needed is information management: how to identify the knowledge you need, how to evaluate it, how to apply it. MOOCs do not do that. They pre-select and package the information. My big concern with xMOOCs is their limitation, as currently designed, for developing the higher order intellectual skills needed in a digital world. Unfortunately, xMOOCs are taking the least appropriate design model for developing 21st century skills from on-campus teaching,  and moving this inappropriate design model online. Just because the lectures come from elite universities does not necessarily mean that learners will develop high level intellectual skills, even though the content is of the highest quality. More importantly, with MOOCs, relatively few students succeed, in terms of assessment, and those that do are tested mainly on comprehension and limited application of knowledge.

We can and have done much better in terms of skills for a digital age with other pedagogical approaches on campus, such as problem- or inquiry-based learning, and with online learning using more constructivist approaches in online credit courses, but these alternative methods to lectures do not scale so easily. The interaction between an expert and a novice still remains critical for developing deep understanding, transformative learning resulting in the learner seeing the world differently, and for developing high levels of evidence-based critical thinking, evaluation of complex alternatives, and high level decision-making. Computer technology to date is extremely poor at enabling this kind of learning to develop. This is why credit-based classroom and online learning still aim to have a relatively low instructor:student ratio and still need to focus a great deal on interaction between instructor and students.

I have no problem however with xMOOCs as a form of continuing education or as a source of open educational materials that can be part of a broader educational offering. They can be a valuable supplement to campus-based education. It is when the claim is made that they can replace both conventional education or the current design of online credit programs when I become really concerned. As a form of continuing education, low completion rates and the lack of formal credit is not of great significance. However, completion rates and quality assessment DO matter if MOOCs are being seen as a substitute or a replacement for formal education, even classroom lectures.

Undermining the public higher education system?

The real danger is that if we are not vigilant, MOOCs will undermine what is admittedly an expensive public higher education system. If elite universities can deliver MOOCs for free, why do we need crappy state universities? The risk is a sharply divided two tier system, with a relatively small number of elite universities catering to the rich and privileged, and developing the knowledge and skills that will provide rich rewards, and the masses going to MOOC-delivered courses with state universities providing minimal and low cost learner support for such courses. This would be both a social and economic disaster, because it would fail to produce enough learners with the high-level skills that are going to be needed for good jobs in the the coming years – unless you believe that automation will remove all decently paid jobs except for a tiny elite (bring on the Hunger Games).

It should be noted that even for credit-based online programs, content accounts for less than 15 per cent of the total cost over five years; the main costs required to ensure high quality outcomes and high rates of completion are spent on learner support, providing the learning that matters most. The kind of MOOCs being promoted by politicians and the media fail spectacularly to do this. We do need to be careful that the open education movement in general, and MOOCs in particular, are not used as a stick by those in the United States and elsewhere who are deliberately trying to undermine public education for ideological and commercial reasons. Open content, OERs and MOOCs do not automatically lead to open access to high quality credentials for everyone. In the end, a well-funded public higher education system remains the best way to assure access to higher education for the majority of the population.

Having said that, there is enormous scope for improvements within that system. MOOCs, open education and new media offer promising ways to bring about some much needed improvements. However, that means building on what we already know from the use of credit based online learning, from prior experience in open and distance learning, and designing courses and programs in a variety of ways appropriate to the wide range of learning needs. MOOCs can be one important part of that environment, but not a replacement for other forms of educational provision that meet different needs.

Key Takeaways

1. MOOCs are forcing every higher education institution to think carefully both about its strategy for online teaching and its approach to open education.

2. MOOCs are not the only form of online learning or of open educational resources. It is important to look at the strengths and weaknesses of MOOCs within the overall context of online learning and open-ness.

3. There are considerable differences in the design of MOOCs, reflecting different purposes and philosophies.

4. MOOCs are at still a relatively early stage of maturity. As their strengths and weaknesses become clearer, and as experience in improving their design grows, they are likely to occupy a significant niche within the higher education learning environment.

5. There are still major structural limitations in MOOCs for developing deep or transformative learning, or for developing the high level knowledge and skills needed in a digital age.

6. MOOCs could well replace some forms of traditional teaching (such as large lecture classes). However, MOOCs are more likely to remain an important supplement or alternative to other conventional education methods. They are not on their own a solution to the high cost of higher education, although MOOCs are and will continue to be an important factor in forcing change.

7. Perhaps the greatest value of MOOCs in the future will be for providing a means for tackling large global problems through community action.


I am now trying to finish Chapter 6, on design models. I will be writing about (a) personal learning environments and (b) flexible design models based on sound educational design principles.

As always, I welcome comments on either this final section on MOOCs, or on the Chapter as a whole. You can use either the comment page here or the one at the end of the Chapter.

Use of Moodle to support fundraisers leads to Award

Moodle News - 21 Noviembre, 2014 - 14:50
Barnardo’s, one of the UK’s leading children’s charities was honored recently by the Charity Learning Consortium for their novel and effective use of Moodle to train fundraisers and...

For some students, virtual labs replace hands-on science experiments

Educación flexible y abierta - 21 Noviembre, 2014 - 09:13

Cal State L.A. biology students are breeding fruit flies to learn how mutations, such as white eyes or curved wings, are passed to future generations. On other campuses, subjects on treadmills are monitored for changes in blood pressure and heart rate.

See it on, via Educación flexible y abierta

Make Learning Personal

Educación flexible y abierta - 21 Noviembre, 2014 - 09:04

Join Barbara Bray and Kathleen McClaskey, authors of the book, 'Make Learning Personal,' as they share research and pedagogy behind the term 'Personalized Learning,' along with examples, anecdotes, and stories from the classroom. Explore the differences in personalization, differentiation, and individualization and learn strategies for using the 'Stages of Personalized Learning' as a process in your classroom.

See it on, via Educación flexible y abierta

Admissions Officers Check Social Media Pages, Students Don't Care

Campus Technology - 20 Noviembre, 2014 - 21:47
Two surveys find respondents saying admissions officers are more likely to check applicants' social media activity but that students aren't worried about what they'll find.

Research: People Ignore Security Warnings through Habit

Campus Technology - 20 Noviembre, 2014 - 20:29
An experiment at Brigham Young University in Provo found that users "routinely ignore security warnings."

University of Alberta Taps IBM Streaming Analytics Software for Climate Change Research

Campus Technology - 20 Noviembre, 2014 - 18:57
Advanced analytics software from IBM is providing researchers at the University of Alberta in Canada a real-time view of carbon's impact on the environment.

Kuka Unveils Robotics Certificate Program

Campus Technology - 20 Noviembre, 2014 - 18:45
Kuka Robotics has Unveiled a program designed to help high schools, community colleges, universities and vocational schools offer a certificate based on robotics, Kuka Official Robotics Education.

EdX Launching MOOCs with Free Certificates for Teacher Training and AP Prep

Campus Technology - 20 Noviembre, 2014 - 17:59
MOOC nonprofit edX has signed on for ConnectED, the White House's program to connect "99 percent" of America's students to broadband and high-speed wireless in schools and libraries and improve the skills of teachers through the use of technology.

More Thinking about the Open Education Infrastructure

iterating toward openness - 20 Noviembre, 2014 - 17:37

#OpenEd14, the 11th annual Open Education Conference, has given me the opportunity to do some additional thinking about the Open Education Infrastructure. Unfortunately, thinking about infrastructure inexorably leads to creating diagrams.

Because I’m hosting the conference I don’t time to write an extensive commentary now. Let me just say that people often ask, “What would people do if an open education infrastructure existed?” The primary answer is engage in open pedagogy. OER and the other components of the open education infrastructure are means, not ends. The end goal of the infrastructure, of course, is supporting better teaching and learning.

A secondary answer is that the open education infrastructure provides people with new (and previously impossible) opportunities to create and experiment with open sustainability models or open business models.

More on this soon.

Winners and Losers in the Future of Canada’s Universities

OLDaily - 20 Noviembre, 2014 - 17:11

Ross Paul, Academica, Nov 20, 2014

Ross Paul warns that Canadian universities will have to adapt or perish in this article for Academica Group. He is a  former university president who served at Athabasca universty for a time while I was there. He writes, " while some institutions are well positioned to maintain such standards, others will be able to do so only with significant and substantial changes to their missions, mandates and modes of operation."

[Link] [Comment]
Categorías: General

xAPI Statement Generator based on the ADL xAPIWrapper

OLDaily - 20 Noviembre, 2014 - 17:11

Ellen, The Design Space, Nov 20, 2014

This is a tool designed to help developers code for xAPI "ased on the ADL xAPI Wrapper. This will first show you the statement you are sending, then sends the statement to the LRS. When it gets a response, it shows the ADL xAPI Wrapper. javascript call used to send the statement. Ultimately it will generate statements for all the different Object types."

[Link] [Comment]
Categorías: General

OER, Publishers, and a True Market (That Might Not Happen)

iterating toward openness - 20 Noviembre, 2014 - 17:07

It’s widely understood that while faculty select the textbooks their students use, faculty neither pay for nor use textbooks. The fact that faculty don’t have to pay for the books they select is reflected by the data in the recent Babson survey showing that less than 3% of faculty feel that cost is an important factor to consider when selecting instructional materials. The fact that faculty don’t use (or even read) the textbooks they assign students is reflected in the countless student comments on end of course review forms each year complaining that the content of faculty lectures are frequently unrelated to the content of assigned textbook readings. But – while faculty frequently don’t use the textbooks, they almost always use the materials that publishers give them (for free) when they adopt a textbook – test item banks, presentation slides, video clips, etc.

Although I’m not yet persuaded that this will happen, there is an interesting future possibility here. As more and more faculty adopt OER, publishers will lose their ability to subsidize the creation of free faculty materials (like test item banks) through profits from textbook sales to students. This creates the interesting possibility that, as increasing proportions of students use OER, publishers might scale back their creation of textbooks and scale up their production of supplementary materials which they sell directly to faculty. This would create a true “market” in materials where the people who are choosing the product are also the ones who are paying for and using the product. There would be competition, and market forces, and a reason for publishers to innovate. Imagine if publishers had to change from persuading faculty to make a choice, to convincing faculty to make a purchase. Ah yes, an actual market. That would be interesting indeed.

It probably won’t happen, but it’s interesting to think about.

Building Mobile Apps for Faculty

Campus Technology - 20 Noviembre, 2014 - 17:00
The University of Wisconsin-Madison's application development team meets faculty mobile app needs by working collaboratively, managing goals and expectations, and emphasizing transparency.

Last Chance to Support #MoodleisOrange

Moodle News - 20 Noviembre, 2014 - 15:57
Today the #MoodleisOrange campaign ends and you won’t be able to purchase a sweet Moodle tshirt or hoodie any longer. While you can donate anytime to, the official capital campaign...