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Digital habitus

Learning with 'e's - Hace 13 horas 49 segs
The writings of philosopher and anthropologist Pierre Bourdieu focus predominantly upon the power structures and dynamics of society, and highlight the importance of cultural capital. Cultural capital can be described as the human assets each of us owns, including our intellect, our personal navigation of society and its artefacts, our cultural awareness and even our sense of style and the manner in which we present ourselves in public. Whereas capital (in a monetary sense) is the accumulation of the fruits of labour, cultural capital is the accretion of all that has been learnt through immersion within a specific culture. Education has been described as the social transmission of this learning to younger generations. Cultural capital is premised upon shared symbolism, acting as the social glue that binds a specific society together.

One of Bourdieu's better known constructs of cultural capital is habitus - the process through which the activities of everyday life shape and order our values and expectations. Habitus is a useful explanation of the way we live our daily lives, including the habits we acquire, and the manner in which we conduct our behaviours.

So what of our habitual use of digital media? What are the effects of our fearsome fascination with mobile phones, our predilection to video games, our inexorable gravitation toward social media? Do these constitute a digital habitus? When we observe our digital representations, our lives portrayed on screen, and our ideas played out in a virtual simulacrum of reality, what do we see? Does the digital trail we leave online represent any part of our real lives? Does our digital presence accurately represent any aspect of the self? In the view of Jean Baudrillard, a simulacrum is a copy that has no original. This is representative of the manner in which we habituate into digital media, believing that we are laying down versions of our thoughts and behaviour from real life. In fact, it is possible that the digital versions of ourselves that exist online are in fact original and have never previously existed. We shape our technology and then it shapes us, suggests Marshall McLuhan. If this is the case, then our simulacra might indeed represent new and emerging versions of ourselves, versions that would be impossible or improbable without the affordances of our technologies.

This discourse is highly relevant in the context of education. Such questions can relate specifically to both the nefarious use of technology, including cyberbullying, sexting, illegal hacking and trolling - and to more appropriate uses, including the creating, repurposing and sharing of content and the use of technology to connect and build new communities. They also speak to us of the means through which schooling has been used to convey to each successive generation the values, belief systems and behaviours of those preceding. Might the digital habitus explain a significant interruption of that age-old transmission process? Exactly how the use of digital media might influence the emergence of new social identities and the acquisition of digital literacies is a subject in need of deeper exploration. As ever, your thoughts and comments are very welcome.

Photo by Steve H on Flickr

Digital habitus 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

Carnegie Mellon Wins Grant for Technology-Enhanced Learning in the Humanities

Campus Technology - 19 Diciembre, 2014 - 23:05
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded a five-year, $2 million grant to Carnegie Mellon University to train graduate students and faculty to use technology-enhanced learning for education in the humanities.

Innovative Learning Spaces Affect Student Attitudes at Ball State

Campus Technology - 19 Diciembre, 2014 - 22:54
An experiment in redesigning learning spaces at Ball State shows that students are more engaged in a different environment, even if the findings about academic performance are ambivalent.

Hack Education Weekly News

Hack Education - 19 Diciembre, 2014 - 21:31

Education Law and Politics

132 children and 9 staff died in a Pakistani Taliban attack on an army-run school in Peshawar – the “deadliest single attack in the group’s history.” (Globally, terrorist attacks on schools are on the rise.) "“I am heartbroken by this senseless and coldblooded act of terror,” said Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, who was the target of an assassination attempt by the Pakistani Taliban in 2012.

This year cannot end soon enough.

The Department of Education released its college ratings framework. Sorta. “The plan, the product of more than a year of discussion and debate, is less a proposal than a progress report—an update on metrics the department is considering using in its system,” reports The Chronicle of Higher Education. More via Inside Higher Ed.

The Obama Administration made a surprise announcement on Wednesday that it plans to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba. Many travel restrictions between the US and Cuba will be lifted as well.

In a Facebook status update, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush announced he’s “decided to actively explore the possibility of running for President of the United States.” Cue lots of articles about how his education policies will or will not help or hurt him.

The ACLU has filed a federal lawsuit against Missouri’s Ferguson-Florissant School District (the district from which Michael Brown graduated, “charging the district’s electoral system is locking African-Americans out of the political process.”

According to an Inspector General audit of how it handles student loans, the Department of Education lacks “a coordinated plan for preventing borrowers from defaulting.”

From Buzzfeed’s Molly Hensley-Clancy, “Whistleblower Suit Alleges For-Profit College Tricked Veterans Into Debt.”

York, Pennsylvania is poised to turn all its public schools into charter schools, run by the for-profit charter chain Charter Schools USA.

The Salter Schools, a for-profit chain in Massachusetts, has settled with the state’s attorney general, Martha Coakley, over allegations of misrepresented job-placement rates and deceptive student recruitment,” reports Inside Higher Ed.

A US District Court judge signed a settlement this week involving families of students “who claimed their children were unlawfully sent to emergency rooms as a form of discipline, in violation of their federally protected civil rights.” As a result of the settlement, the New York City schools will no longer call 911 to deal with disciplinary issues.

LAUSD superintendent Ramon Cortines is asking California state education officials for “a delay in using the results of the 2014–15 Smarter Balanced computerized test as means of measuring academic growth next year.”


“What Are MOOCs Good For?” asks the MIT Technology Review, but forgets to list “good for ed-tech clickbait” as one of the answers.

Top 2014 LinkedIn Skills That Tie Back to Top Coursera Courses

3 more schools have joined the digital learning consortium Unizin: Ohio State University, Penn State University and the University of Iowa.

“The American Council on Education on Monday announced that 25 colleges have agreed to accept all or most transfer credit from students who have completed courses from a council-created pool of 100 low-cost online courses,” reports Inside Higher Ed.

ITT Technical Institute is expanding into the K–12 online charter school market. What could go wrong.

Meanwhile on Campus

Oh look. LAUSD students can start to take their iPads home. I’m struck by this comment about the students getting their devices home safely: “School Police Chief Jose Santome estimated it would take 80 more officers to scale up the patrols to the district’s 800 campuses.”

Virginia teen “Austin Martin, 18, was charged with possessing firearms on school property and released on a $1,500 bond.” Officers found “four loaded guns, several knives and more than 600 rounds of ammunition” in his car and arrested him. Police say he was super cooperative and didn’t actually plan to hurt anyone. And that’s what white privilege looks like, folks.

UC Berkeley began notifying approximately 1600 people people week that “that their personal information may have been hacked by an individual or individuals who gained access to servers and databases in the campus’s Real Estate Division.”

Cardboard cutouts of black people were hung in effigy around the UC Berkeley campus last weekend. An anonymous group says they’re responsible for the “art.”

Some 60 students who participated in a “die in” to protest police brutality at Boston College will be subject to “disciplinary action.”

From Newsweek: “Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, is facing a $7,500 charge covering the cost of local police overtime after students staged a demonstration protesting—wait for it—police brutality and racism.”

Augustana College has barred access to its WiFi network to the anonymous messaging app Yik Yak.

Professors at Colgate University took to Yik Yak in a campaign to “ bring some positivity to digital communications on the campus.” Eric Stoller has more on the professors’ efforts.

The women’s college Barnard is weighing admitting transgender students.

Spelman College has suspended an endowed chair named for Bill Cosby and his wife, in the wake of numerous allegations that Cosby had drugged and assaulted women.

Bryan Alexander looks at the “queen sacrifice” at the University of New Orleans.

Johns Hopkins University accidentally sent hundreds of acceptance letters to students that the school had actually rejected. Oops.

The for-profit Career Education Corp is selling Le Cordon Bleu, its chain of culinary schools.

Lots of chatter about US schools scrapping foreign language instruction – following the lead of the Success Academy Charter School chain – even though there are many benefits to being bilingual.

Go, School Sports Team!

More and more athletes are wearing “I Can’t Breathe” t-shirts to draw attention to police brutality. Following the discovery of the effigies hung on their campus, the UC Berkeley women’s basketball team showed up to their game last weekend wearing t-shirts honoring Black people lynched and killed by police. Their coach said, “As student-athletes at Cal, our young women have a voice and a platform, and they chose to use it today.”

The Michigan State Legislature has passed a bill banning student athlete unions.

“The University of Texas’ flagship campus will open a sports-leadership center that will help coaches instill strong character in high-school players and teach college athletes how to manage their money better,” reports The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Speaking of managing money well, according to Sports Illustrated, the University of Michigan has reportedly offered Jim Harbaugh, head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, a six-year $48 million contract to become its head football coach.

Via The Chronicle: “At Top Athletics Programs, Students Often Major in Eligibility.” About one-third of the football players on the UO and FSU teams are majoring in “social sciences,” an interdisciplinary liberal arts degree.

From the HR Department

Arizona State University is demanding its full-time non-tenure-track writing instructors teach five writing classes a term – up from the current four course teaching load – without an increase in pay. I cannot fathom how you can possibly provide quality writing instruction at that level. Hell, I’m not sure how you can provide mediocre writing instruction at that level, unless you plan to outsource all grading to teaching machines.

Meanwhile, regents have approved a $95,000 pay increase for ASU President Michael Crow, who’ll now make almost $900,000 a year.

E-Literate reports that Gary Lang, Blackboard’s SVP of Product Development, has resigned.

1.2 million American teachers aren’t covered by Social Security.”

Teach For America could miss recruitment mark by more than 25 percent.”

“Nine out of 10 New York City teachers received one of the top two rankings in the first year of a new evaluation system that was hailed as a better way of assessing how they perform, according to figures released on Tuesday” (according to The New York Times).

Via Inside Higher Ed: “The United Auto Workers, acting on behalf of teaching assistants and research assistants at Columbia University and the New School, has asked the National Labor Relations Board to hold elections on bids by the UAW to represent the T.A.s and R.A.s.”

Marquette University has suspended associate professor of political science John McAdams, pending an investigation into a controversial blog post he wrote about a teaching assistant. Inside Higher Ed has more details.

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer wouldn’t hire Gwyneth Paltrow as a Yahoo Food contributor because the actress doesn’t have a college degree. Mean girls.

Upgrades and Downgrades

Pearson says it’s “Preparing for a Renaissance in Assessment.” Whee.

The New York Magazine ran an unbelievable story on Monday about a Stuyvesant High School senior named Mohammed Islam who reported had made $72 million investing in the stock market. Turns out Islam has actually made $0.

The Class of 2015 – the writers whose work will enter the public domain * next year. (* Except in the US, where nothing will enter the public domain.)

George Kroner offers a “Year in Review: Top LMS Developments of 2014.”

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary picked “culture” as its word of the year.

Lots of Elf on the Shelf panic this week, including rumors that the toy was first created by the NSA.

Re/Code looks at “Who Is Behind After School, the Anonymous App Taking Over American High Schools.” (The app has been pulled from the app store multiple times after it was used to threaten school violence.)

Pro tip: it’s probably not a good time to describe your startup as “Uber for Tutors,” what with all the sexual assaults and shadiness of the “ride-sharing” company.

“The Freedom of Information Act gives members of the public, including journalists, the ability to request documents from the government and organizations we support with our tax dollars. But at least one startup is trying to use it to harvest email addresses of current students at public universities.” Motherboard’s Adrianne Jeffries reports that Campus Job has filed some 18 FOIA requests for students’ email addresses.

Desmos has rolled out a new activity, Polygraph, to help student build their math vocabulary.

The New York Times writes about efforts to give low-income students in NYC eye exams and glasses.

Lego is reissuing its sets of female scientists working in laboratories, which were so popular when they went on sale this summer that they immediately sold out.

iRobot Launches Roomba-Based Robot Platform for STEM Ed.”

Flickr has removed CC-licensed photos from its Wall Art program following outcry and confusion about Yahoo’s plans to make money off of the users on its platform.

David Wiley has publishedAn Open Education Reader, a collection of readings on open education with commentary created by students in my graduate course Introduction to Open Education taught at Brigham Young University, Fall 2014.”

The online presentation-sharing tool Slide Bureau is shutting down on December 24. (According to its website, it marketed the tool to teachers. Frankly, I’d never heard of it before.)

Vibewrite (formerly Lernstift), maker of a pen that vibrated when you held it incorrectly, is bankrupt. The company had raised over €1 million from investors and crowdfunding. (It had just raised €560,000 three months ago apparently. So congrats on that burn rate, guys.)


Norman Ray Bridwell, author of the Clifford the Big Red Dog series, passed away last Friday.

Funding and Acquisitions

NewSchools Venture Fund has invested $100,000 into the education unconference Edcamp Foundation. “How Will Edcamp Change with a New Executive Director and $100,000?” asks Edsurge. More startups hawking their wares at these events would be my guess.

Clever has raised $30 million in funding from Lightspeed Venture Partners, GSV Capital, Peter Thiel, and Sequoia Capital. This brings to $43.3 million total investment raised by the company that helps get facilitate the movement of student data between apps and student information systems.

Helix Education is putting its competency-based LMS up for sale. Details via E-Literate.

DeVry Education Group has acquired the Brazilian bar exam test prep company Damásio.


According to research by the University of Chicago Crime Lab, a summer jobs program for teens in Chicago significantly reduced violent crime arrests.

According to UNICEF, some 5 million children in Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia aren’t in school because of Ebola.

Teens are smoking fewer cigarettes. They are smoking more e-cigarettes.

According to data from DonorsChoose, 41% of projects posted to the site this past year came from teachers who work in the “highest poverty” schools. Books remain one of the most often requested classroom items.

The latest panic over the so-called “skills shortage”: apparently we’re not teaching kids “big data skills” in schools.

A Georgia Institute of Technology study has found that confusion over copyright has “chilling effects” on online creative publishing.

From Vox: “Kids in the US do a lot of pointless homework, in 2 charts.” From The Atlantic: “Where Teens Have the Most Homework.”

Most US kids lack sleep. News at 11.

Image credits: Moyan Brenn

Strict Finitism and Transhumanism

OLDaily - 19 Diciembre, 2014 - 20:11

Peter Rothman, Humanity+, Dec 19, 2014

I have a very unhappy  relationship with the concept of infinity. I maintain that I can't comprehend infinity, and infinity insists on inserting itself into my cognition. This impacts what I think about pretty much everything (including, even, what I mean when I say 'everything'). For me, the pragmatic question is that, if infinity is in any sense 'real', then it may be impossible to 'grow' or 'develop' cognitive processes that rely on it. This has a direct impact on what I can (or want to) say about learning and cognition - for example, a network process that does not have 'infinity' somehow built in will be incapable of performing 'real' mathematics or other cognitive functions. My own thought is that the concept of infinity is a convenient fiction - there are no 'real' infinities, and a system of reasoning (such as mathematics) that produces one is to that extent also a convenient fiction. To get a sense of the sort of debate I have in mind here, read this article.

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Categorías: General

The Internet Is a Zoo: The Ideal Length of Everything Online

OLDaily - 19 Diciembre, 2014 - 20:11

Mark Uzunian, SumAll, Dec 19, 2014

I don't link to infographics. That's one key message I want people to take from this post. So please don't send me infographics to link to. Having said that, this post is a link to an infographic, because this one actually occupied my attention for a couple of minutes, and presented some useful information that appears to be  data-backed (you'll have to scroll down past the advertorial content (which is why I don't link to infographics)). So what is it? Basically, it lists the 'ideal' length for everything from tweets to Facebook messages to blog posts. The numbers feel right to me (which is how I evaluate even the most carefully researched data). P.S. if you're going to do infographics, the least you could do is animate them, as Eleanor Lutz does with her beautiful images.

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Categorías: General

PAR Framework, Starfish Retention Partner To Identify At-Risk Students

Campus Technology - 19 Diciembre, 2014 - 19:53
PAR Framework has partnered with Starfish Retention Solutions to integrate its Predictions of Academic Risk services with the Starfish Enterprise Success Platform.


Arran de pupitre - 19 Diciembre, 2014 - 13:30

Després de cinc mesos de vacances, per gener crec que podré tenir la força suficient com per tornar a les trinxeres. Els que em coneixeu sabeu que ho trobo molt a faltar, i ja frisso. No volia fer-ho sense abans donar les gràcies a la família, al munt d'amics, companys, alumnes, ex-alumnes i pares que ho han fet possibe. Disculpeu que no en faci la llista, seria massa llarga i em sabria molt de greu deixar-me algú. Gràcies. Moltes gràcies.  De tot cor.

Deixeu-me però que sí faci un agraïment especial a tot el personal de l'hospital Sant Andreu de Manresa. A la Fàtima, la fisioterapeuta que ha estat la principal 'culpable' de la meva recuperació juntament amb la Imma (terapeuta ocupacional i psicòloga). Quina sort, la de caure a les seves mans!
Però també a la Sara, al Pere, la Silvia, la Isabel i la resta de l'equip de fisios. El personal d'imfermeria i auxiliars, el Mohamed, la Màrcia, la Raquel... En tots aquests 5 mesos no he rebut més que professionalitat, atencions i afecte. Ni una mala cara, ni una queixa,   cap paraula fora de lloc.  Un bany de professionalitat exemplar i  reconfortant. Finalment, un record,els meus millors desitjos i molts ànims als companys que encara estan lluitant per refer-se dels sotracs que han patit.

Sembla mentida que te n'hagi de passar una de ben grossa per recordar-te quines coses són més importants a la vida. Dono gràcies per haver-me-les recordat. Després de tot plegat, crec que he crescut com a persona i espero ser capaç de projectar tot el que m'ha ensenyat l'experiència per ser millor mestre. He après a lluitar com no havia lluitat mai, he apres a aturar el rellotge,  he après a prioritzar, a controlar més els meus sentiments...

L'ictus m'ha enfortit. Per sort aquesta vegada n'he sortit invictus.

Estic acabant de redactar la meva 'crònica d'una avaria'. Quan acabi la compartiré aqui mateix.

Categorías: General


Educación flexible y abierta - 19 Diciembre, 2014 - 10:07

PÉDAGOGIE ET INNOVATIONDepuis deux décennies, le terme « innovation » fait flores. De plus en plus de produits ou de techniques se prétendent « innovantes » alors qu’ils ne sont souvent que des gadgets  anecdotiques, d’une importance secondaire, parfois même sans grand intérêt technologique. Dans le domaine de la pédagogie, le terme « innovation », est souvent proféré...- See more at:

See it on, via Educación flexible y abierta

A depiction of space-time-action analysis (STA) in six slides — plus an addendum of revelatory quotes

OLDaily - 19 Diciembre, 2014 - 08:07

David Ronfeldt, Visions from Two Theories, Dec 19, 2014

in computer science we have 'frameworks', which are sets of applications and methods that allow us to do things. In theory, as well, we have frameworks, and these perform similar functions conceptually. I'm not a big fan of them in either realm, but I get their value. The current post discusses aspects of the Space-Time-Action framework. David Ronfeldt writes, "all three circles — space, time, and action — are treated as independent but interactive variables, roughly equal in size and location, with complex overlaps.... It makes 'thinking and doing' — not vague 'action' — the dependent variable. And as I’ ve argued in various writings, it’ s a more accurate way to depict and assess cognition."

Personally, I don't think we have a clear idea of what either space nor time are. The precision of the measurements and the abstraction of language lull us into thinking we comprehend them. But even the simplest of questions about them befuddle us. Questions like: do space and time end? Are they quantuum in nature? Do they change as our perception of them changes? For foundational principles of cognition, they really are quite fuzzy.

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Categorías: General

Great Firewall of China

OLDaily - 19 Diciembre, 2014 - 08:07

Terry Anderson, Virtual Canuck, Dec 19, 2014

Terry Anderson writes about some unexpected issues with IRRODL, the online journal he founded. While browsing in China he discovered that it did not run smoothly at all. "Google Translate (banned). Further investigation found that we used Google analytics, google API’ s that are built into the Open Journal System we use and one other Google service – on each page view!" The Chinese government is concerned about the expansion of American media, just as we are in Canada, writes Anderson. It would be better if they adopted more open practices to help their own scholars and researchers.

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Categorías: General

Flickr removes CC-licensed photos from Wall Art program

OLDaily - 19 Diciembre, 2014 - 08:07

Ryan Merkley, Creative Commons, Dec 19, 2014

I can't say that I'm surprised there was an outcry, and I hope people now understand what the CC-by license allows. The Creative Commons blog states, "Our vision is one where content of all kinds is freely available for use under simple terms, where the permissions are clear to everyone. If that doesn’ t happen, creators can feel misled or cheated, and users are left uncertain if they can use the commons as a source of raw material." I would content that this is exactly what happened, and that the promotion of the CC-b y license as somehow "more free" fostered exactly this sort of misunderstanding.

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Categorías: General

Khan Academy founder has two big ideas for overhauling higher education in the sciences

OLDaily - 19 Diciembre, 2014 - 08:07

Gregory Ferenstein, Venture Beat, Dec 19, 2014

So let's have fun talking about why these would never work: "Sal Khan has a few ideas for how to radically overhaul higher education. First, create a universal degree that’ s comparable to a Stanford degree, and second, transform the college transcript into a portfolio of things that students have actually created." OK, to be fair, I think that he does point to some things that are broken in today's system of education related to articulation and credentials. But I don't think anyone (except Khan) believes there should be a single standard degree, much less a Stanford degree. And a moment's reflection will reveal the search and intelligence problem that results when grades are replaced with portfolios; how will an employer find what was formerly a BA from a slew of portfolios? The discouraging thing is that the business press and VCs take this level of thinking seriously.

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Categorías: General

Tech Industry Rallies Around Microsoft in Data Privacy Battle With US

OLDaily - 19 Diciembre, 2014 - 08:07

Katherine Noyes, E-Commerce Times, Dec 19, 2014

It's not only the North Koreans who want to view your private data and email E-Commerce Times is reporting on a case pitting Microsoft against the U.S. government. A number of organizations have come to MS's aid after "a case challenging a U.S. government search warrant for Microsoft customer data stored on a server based in Ireland." This is by no means the first case where American judges have found that the jurisdiction of the American government extends into other countries. Microsoft's Brad Smith argues, "We believe that when one government wants to obtain email that is stored in another country, it needs to do so in a manner that respects existing domestic and international laws." The U.S. government's "unilateral use of a search warrant to reach email in another country puts both fundamental privacy rights and cordial international relations at risk." Just ask Sony, which is having similar problems with a foreign government.

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Categorías: General

What the Sony hacks reveal about the news industry

OLDaily - 19 Diciembre, 2014 - 08:07

David Uberti, Columbia Journalism Review, Dec 19, 2014

If traditional newspapers won't cover the Sony leaks, then Gawker and Buzzfeed will. And if Gawker and Buzzfeed won't, then someone else will step forward. This changes the role of journalists in a manner that might be instructive to educators: "The new role of journalists, for better or for worse, isn’ t as gatekeepers, but interpreters: If they don’ t parse it, others without the experience, credentials, or mindfulness toward protecting personal information certainly will." I would feel more sorry for Sony weren't for its decades-long history of user-hostile business practices, up to and including the famous  rootkit incident, in which Sony hacked their customers' computers. I do feel more sorry for Seth Rogan, though I don't like his movies a lot.

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Categorías: General

The Case for Group Work

OLDaily - 19 Diciembre, 2014 - 08:07

Matt Acevedo, Blackboard Blog, Dec 19, 2014

Count me as being among those with no fondness for group work. Matt Acevedo writes, "We all know the why: group members don’ t contribute equitably. There’ s invariably that one driven person who does most of the work, a few folks who contribute just enough to get by, and the one slacker who no one hears from until the day before the big project is due." So what is the case for group work? Acevedo argues, "It is crucial that we (educators) also design and facilitate experiences that mimic the real-world context in which our students will one day operate." Maybe so - but by experiences of groups in learning are very different from groups in the real world.  then groups should be designed very differently. People from different professions (or programs) should be brought together, for example. Group governance should also resemble real-world experiences. And they should, as Merrill argues, be "engaged in solving real-world problems."

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Categorías: General

New Hampshire Signs Up for Ed Reciprocity Program

Campus Technology - 19 Diciembre, 2014 - 00:35
New Hampshire has become the 18th state to sign on for a program intended to make it easier for students to take online courses from schools in other states.

Top Ed-Tech Trends of 2014: Social Justice

Hack Education - 19 Diciembre, 2014 - 00:28

Part 9 in my Top 10 Trends of 2014 series

Education is the civil rights issue of our time,” you’ll often hear politicians and education reform types say.

I maintain that civil rights remain the civil rights issue of our time. When we see, for example, the Supreme Court overturn part of the Voting Rights Act, when we see rampant police violence against marginalized groups, when we see backlash against affirmative action and against Title IX protections, when we see rampant discrimination – institutionalized – in people’s daily lives, we need to admit: there are things that the “education gospel cannot fix.”

This year marked the 60th anniversary of the landmark Brown v Board of Education Supreme Court decision. And yet, public schools in the United States remain deeply segregated and are systematically becoming even more so.

So when you look back on 2014 – on a school year in which for the first time “minority” students are the majority of public school students, all while less than 20% of their teachers are people of color, on a year that saw unemployment for recent Black college graduates hit a rate more than double that of all college graduates – it’s really, really hard to see education as the vehicle for civil rights. And too often, education been an institution engaged in quite the opposite, playing a key role in exclusion, not to mention in incarceration.

The school-to-prison pipeline did gain some attention this year (hopefully we’re on the path to shutting it down), with the Obama Administration issuing guidelines in January recommending “public school officials use law enforcement only as a last resort for disciplining students, a response to a rise in zero-tolerance policies that have disproportionately increased the number of arrests, suspensions and expulsions of minority students for even minor, nonviolent offenses.” In March, the US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights released civil rights data compiled from all 97,000+ public schools in the country. Among the findings, “Black students represent 18% of preschool enrollment but 42% of students suspended.” And this, from earlier this month: “Data from the Office for Civil Rights at the United States Department of Education show that from 2011 to 2012, black girls in public elementary and secondary schools nationwide were suspended at a rate of 12 percent, compared with a rate of just 2 percent for white girls, and more than girls of any other race or ethnicity.”

Tens of thousands of unaccompanied children from Central and South America arrived at the US border this year, seeking asylum here. The response from Americans was incredibly ugly. President Obama took executive action on immigration reform in November, 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. Again, the response from some: panic, vitriol, a concern about money, not people.

In 2014, affluent kids continued to do well. As they do. According to the AP, “Wealthier parents have been stepping up education spending so aggressively that they’re widening the nation’s wealth gap.” (Bonus: a school fundraiser that let parents buy their kids out of having to do homework. The price: $100.)

Speaking of affluence, the College Board, facilitators of the SAT and the AP exams, claimed this year that by partnering with Khan Academy) for free SAT test prep, they were going to be able to neatly wipe away some of the socioeconomic problems that the test has faced – that is, that scores are correlated to wealth.

The College Board also issued a statement this year “on behalf of itself and the Educational Testing Service, apologizing for a T-shirt that was made and sold by high school and college teachers who gathered in June to grade Advancement Placement exams in world history. Those who grade the exams have a tradition of creating a T-shirt, but this year’s version offended many Asian Americans who were at the event.” The shirt was straight-up racist.

But the College Board’s AP curriculum was defended by students in the Jefferson County (Colorado) school district, who staged protests over a district proposal to review the AP curriculum so as to be sure it would “promote patriotism, respect for authority and free enterprise and to guard against educational materials that ’encourage or condone civil disorder.’” The College Board said that it would not accept AP credits from those who fiddled with the curriculum, prompting the district’s Latino students to point out how access to AP classes and credits is an important equity issue.

So is education “the new civil rights movement” as ed-reformers want us to think? Hell, is it even a vehicle for civil rights? Or is it a vehicle for something else?

I mean, you have to wonder when a “teaching experiment” in a high poverty school in Detroit involves placing 100 kindergarteners into one classroom. Or when a group of white teachers show up wearing NYPD t-shirts in response to protests about the NYPD’s killing of an unarmed Black man.

Are schools a safe place for all students? 2014 suggested otherwise: The Department of Education released a list of 55 institutions it was investigating over their handling of sexual assault on campus. 23 K–12 school districts are also under investigation. When facing legal challenges for negligence in sexual assault cases, many schools blamed the victims. (Or worse. Much worse.)

There were over 40 school shootings in the US, and around the world terrorist attacks on schools are on the rise. Campus police officers are increasingly becoming militarized. (Scrutiny prompted the Los Angeles School District Police Department to return three grenade launchers, but it said it would keep 61 rifles and a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected armored vehicle.)

Are schools a safe place for educators? Employment became more and more precarious this year with concerted, legal attacks on tenure for public school teachers in New York and California and with attacks on academic freedom, most notably perhaps when the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign’s rescinded its job offer to professor Steven Salaita after he tweeted his support for Palestine. What protections do tenure really offer? Racist campus policing practices affected professors as well as students.

Are schools a safe place to work? What is that work? The work of teaching? Learning? Research? Sports? Who profits from this work?

And how is technology – education technology – changing all of this?

Read the rest of this 4000+ word post here. Image credits: Rose Colored Photo.

Helix Education puts their competency-based LMS up for sale

e-Literate - 19 Diciembre, 2014 - 00:05

Back in September I wrote about the Helix LMS providing an excellent view into competency-based education and how learning platforms would need to be designed differently for this mode. The traditional LMS – based on a traditional model using grades, seat time and synchronous cohort of students – is not easily adapted to serve CBE needs such as the following:

  1. Explicit learning outcomes with respect to the required skills and concomitant proficiency (standards for assessment)
  2. A flexible time frame to master these skills
  3. A variety of instructional activities to facilitate learning
  4. Criterion-referenced testing of the required outcomes
  5. Certification based on demonstrated learning outcomes
  6. Adaptable programs to ensure optimum learner guidance

In a surprise move, Helix Education is putting the LMS up for sale. Helix Education provided e-Literate the following statement to explain the changes, at least from a press release perspective.

With a goal of delivering World Class technologies and services, a change we are making is with Helix LMS. After thoughtful analysis and discussion, we have decided to divest (sell) Helix LMS. We believe that the best way for Helix to have a positive impact on Higher Education is to:

  • Be fully committed and invest properly in core “upstream” technologies and services that help institutions aggregate, analyze and act upon data to improve their ability to find, enroll and retain students and ensure their success
  • Continue to build and share our thought leadership around TEACH – program selection, instructional design and faculty engagement for CBE, on-campus, online and hybrid delivery modes.
  • Be LMS neutral and support whichever platform our clients prefer. In fact, we already have experience in building CBE courses in the top three LMS solutions.

There are three aspects of this announcement that are quite interesting to me.

Reversal of Rebranding

Part of the surprise is that Helix rebranded the company based on their acquisition of the LMS – this was not just a simple acquisition of a learning platform – and just over a year after this event Helix Education is reversing course, selling the Helix LMS and going LMS-neutral. From the earlier blog post [emphasis added]:

In 2008 Altius Education, started by Paul Freedman, worked with Tiffin University to create a new entity called Ivy Bridge College. The goal of Ivy Bridge was to help students get associate degrees and then transfer to a four-year program. Altius developed the Helix LMS specifically for this mission. All was fine until the regional accrediting agency shut down Ivy Bridge with only three months notice.

The end result was that Altius sold the LMS and much of the engineering team to Datamark in 2013. Datamark is an educational services firm with a focus on leveraging data. With the acquisition of the Helix technology, Datamark could expand into the teaching and learning process, leading them to rebrand as Helix Education – a sign of the centrality of the LMS to the company’s strategy. Think of Helix Education now as an OSP (a la carte services that don’t require tuition revenue sharing) with an emphasis on CBE programs.

Something must have changed in their perception of the market to cause this change in direction. My guess is that they are getting pushback from schools who insist on keeping their institutional LMS, even with the new CBE programs. Helix states they have worked with “top three LMS solutions”, but as seen in the demo (read the first post for more details), capabilities such as embedding learning outcomes throughout a course and providing a flexible time frame work well outside the core design assumptions of a traditional LMS. I have yet to see an elegant design for CBE with a traditional LMS. I’m open to being convinced otherwise, but count me as skeptical.

Upstream is Profitable

The general move sounds like the main component is the moving “upstream” element. To be more accurate, it’s more a matter of staying “upstream” and choosing to not move downstream. It’s difficult, and not always profitable, to deal with implementing academic programs. Elements built on enrollment and retention are quite honestly much more profitable. Witness the recent sale of the enrollment consulting firm Royall & Company for $850 million.

The Helix statement describes their TEACH focus as one of thought leadership. To me this sounds like the core business will be on enrollment, retention and data analysis while they focus academic efforts not on direct implementation products and services, but on white papers and presentations.

Meaning for Market

Helix Education was not the only company building CBE-specific learning platforms to replace the traditional LMS. FlatWorld Knowledge built a platform that is being used at Brandman University. LoudCloud Systems built a new CBE platform FASTrak – and they already have a traditional LMS (albeit one designed with a modern architecture). Perhaps most significantly, the CBE pioneers Western Governors University and Southern New Hampshire University’s College for America (CfA) built custom platforms based on CRM technology (i.e. Salesforce) based on their determination that the traditional LMS market did not suit their specific needs. CfA even spun off their learning platform as a new company – Motivis Learning.

If Helix Education is feeling the pressure to be LMS-neutral, does that mean that these other companies are or will be facing the same? Or, is Helix Education’s decision really based on company profitability and capabilities that are unique to their specific situation?

The other side of the market effect will be determined by which company buys the Helix LMS. Will a financial buyer (e.g. private equity) choose to create a standalone CBE platform company? Will a traditional LMS company buy the Helix LMS to broaden their reach in the quickly-growing CBE space (350 programs in development in the US)? Or will an online service provider and partial competitor of Helix Education buy the LMS? It will be interesting to see which companies bid on this product line and who wins.


If I find out more about what this change in direction means for Helix Education or for competency-based programs in general, I’ll share in future posts.

The post Helix Education puts their competency-based LMS up for sale appeared first on e-Literate.

Online University Adopts Business Simulator for MBA Students

Campus Technology - 18 Diciembre, 2014 - 23:13
Northcentral University, a fully online graduate school, has adopted a new business simulation tool for the capstone courses of all its MBA programs and specializations.