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Photos from Armenia and Georgia

OLDaily - 10 Noviembre, 2014 - 16:13

Stephen Downes, Flickr, Nov 10, 2014

I've been in the  Caucasus region for the last week or so. Here are photos from Armenia and Georgia: Sevan Lake, Armenia;  Khor Virap Monastery and Mt. Ararat, Armenia; Tbilisi, Georgia;  Geghard Monastery and Garni Temple, Armenia; Yerevan, Armenia.

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Categorías: General

Why Google wants to replace Gmail

OLDaily - 10 Noviembre, 2014 - 16:13

Mike Elgan, Computer World, Nov 10, 2014

One of the values of traditional email and RSS is that you choose exactly what you want to see; if there is filtering and organizing, you do it yourself. This runs against the Google business model, which selects these resources for you (and charges customers for premium placement in those listings). So - argues this article - the release of Google's Inbox means they are working toward the end of regular email.

Mike Elgan writes, "Google exists to mediate the unmediated. That's what it does. That's what the company's search tool does: It mediates our relationship with the Internet. That's why Google killed Google Reader, for example. Subscribing to an RSS feed and having an RSS reader deliver 100% of what the user signed up for in an orderly, linear and predictable and reliable fashion is a pointless business for Google. It's also why I believe Google will kill Gmail as soon as it comes up with a mediated alternative everyone loves"

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Categorías: General

The Disconnect: Do we really have a skills shortage? Or just a communication problem

OLDaily - 10 Noviembre, 2014 - 16:13

Jessica Barrett, Calgary Herald, Nov 10, 2014

Our  LPSS program is intended in part to address the skills shortage. But suppose it doesn't really exist. "We have not seen wages spike in response to a labour shortage, as would be dictated by the law of supply and demand." Maybe not, but many businesses are not viable if wages spike. Additionally, informal agreements often exist among employers about wage rates. So this data does not entail the conclusion that there is no skills gap. But suppose this is the case; what's happening instead? "We have a problem, not necessarily with the skills, but with how one describes the skills... Digital gatekeepers have none of the leeway inherent in an in-person exchange." Well if that were true it's the same as a shortage, so we should still expect a spike in wages. But what happens instead is that companies make do without. No doubt better algorithms would help (and we'll probably see a follow-up article in a few months that just such a process is being marketed by the main commentators in this article). But going back to the days of the personal interview is not an option.

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Categorías: General

Academic citation practices need to be modernized so that all references are digital and lead to full texts

OLDaily - 10 Noviembre, 2014 - 16:13

Patrick Dunleavy, LSE Blog, Nov 10, 2014

I have long been frustrated in academic research by the lack of URLs referencing the cite papers. This article argues for a change in practice to the effect that all papers would directly link to the papers they cite. I have less faith in the author in the utility of the DOI system for legacy content - these are just as often broken as others, as publishers and universities change the URLs of papers and do not update the registry. I also like the idea of 'source quotes' to ease searching for relevant passages: "Source quotes replacing page references do not have to be memorable, nor must they be especially salient bits of text, nor very long ."

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Categorías: General

Harvard secretly photographed students to study attendance

OLDaily - 10 Noviembre, 2014 - 16:13

Matt Rocheleau, Boston Globe, Nov 10, 2014

The lede captures it nicely: "Harvard University has revealed that it secretly photographed some 2,000 students in 10 lecture halls last spring as part of a study of classroom attendance, an admission that prompted criticism from faculty and students who said the research was an invasion of privacy." We are drifting toward a surveillance society, even in (especially in?) academic environments. And institutions should know better apparently don't.

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Categorías: General

The times, they are (always) a-changin’

OLDaily - 10 Noviembre, 2014 - 16:13

Melonie Fullick, University Affairs, Nov 10, 2014

Melonie Fullick argues that calls for universities to change are misrepresenting the complexity (and reality) of change in the system. "Universities already have changed, over the decades and centuries. It’ s just that they’ ve never changed enough for the present moment... I’ d say the question is not whether universities will change – since this is ongoing – but what those changes will look like, how they will happen, and whose needs they will serve best." Interesting article with some valid points.

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Categorías: General

Kuali, Ariah and Apereo: Emerging ed tech debate on open source license types

e-Literate - 10 Noviembre, 2014 - 15:13

With the annual Kuali conference – Kuali Days – starting today in Indianapolis, the big topic should be the August decision to move from a community source to a professional open source model, moving key development to a commercial entity, the newly-formed KualiCo. Now there will be two new announcements for the community to discuss, both centering on a esoteric license choice that could have far-reaching implications. Both the announcement of the Ariah Group as a new organization to support Kuali products and the statement from the Apereo Foundation center on the difference between Apache-style and AGPL licenses.

AGPL and Vendor Protection

Kuali previously licensed its open source code as Educational Community License (ECL), a derivative of the standard Apache license that is designed to be permissive in terms of allowing organizations to contribute modified open source code while mixing with code with different licenses – including proprietary. This license is ‘permissive’ in the sense that the derived, remixed code may be licensed in different manners. It is generally thought that this license type gives the most flexibility for developing a community of contributors.

With the August pivot to Kuali 2.0 / KualiCo, the decision was made to fork and relicense any Kuali code that moves to KualiCo to use the Affero General Public License (AGPL), a derivative of the original GPL license and a form of “copyleft” licensing that allows derivative works but requires the derivatives to use the same license. Ideally the idea is to ensure that open source code remains open. No commercial entity can create derivative works and license with different terms.

The problem is when you have asymmetric AGPL licenses – where the copyright holder such as KualiCo does not have the same restrictions as all other users or developers of the code. Kuali has already announced that the multi-tenant cloud-hosting code to be developed by KualiCo will be proprietary and not open source. As the copyright holder, this is their right. Any school or Kuali vendor, however, that develops its own multi-tenant cloud-hosting code would have to share this code back with KualiCo as open source. If you want to understand how this choice might create vendor lock-in, even using an open source license, go read Charles Severance’s post.

To their credit, the Kuali Foundation and KualiCo are very open about the intention of this license change, as described at Inside Higher Ed from a month ago.

[Barry] Walsh, who has been dubbed the “father of Kuali,” issued that proclamation after a back-and-forth with higher education consultant Phil Hill, who during an early morning session asked the Kuali leadership to clarify which parts of the company’s software would remain open source.

The short answer: everything — from the student information system to library management software — but the one thing institutions that download the software for free won’t be able to do is provide multi-tenant support (in other words, one instance of the software accessed by multiple groups of users, a feature large university systems may find attractive). To unlock that feature, colleges and universities need to pay KualiCo to host the software in the cloud, which is one way the company intends to make money.

“I’ll be very blunt here,” Walsh said. “It’s a commercial protection — that’s all it is.”

My post clarifying this interaction can be found here.

Enter Ariah Group

On Friday of last week, the newly formed Ariah Group sent out an email announcing a new support option for Kuali products.

Strong interest has been expressed in continuing to provide open source support for Kuali®products therefore The Ariah Group, a new nonprofit entity, has been established for those who wish to continue and enhance that original open source vision.

We invite you to join us. The community is open to participants of all kinds with a focus on making open source more accessible. The goal will be to deliver quality open source products for Finance, Human Resources, Student, Library, Research, and Continuity Planning. The Ariah Group will collaborate to offer innovative new products to enhance the suite and support the community. All products will remain open source and use the Apache License, Version 2.0 ( for new contributions. A number of institutions and commercial vendors will be announcing their support in the coming days and weeks.

To join or learn more visit The Ariah Group at

Who is the Ariah Group? While details are scarce, this new organization seems to be based on 2 – 3 current and former Kuali vendors. As can be seen from their incomplete website, the details have not been worked out. The group has identified an Executive Director, based on an email exchange I had with the company.

The only vendor that I can confirm is part of Ariah is Moderas, the former Kuali Commercial Affiliate that was removed as an official vendor in September (left or kicked out, depending on which side you believe; I’d say it was a mutual decision). I talked to Chris Thompson, co-founder of Moderas, who said that he understood the business rationale for the move to the Professional Open Source model but had a problem with the community aspects. The Kuali Foundation made a business decision to adopt AGPL and shift development to KualiCo, which makes sense in his telling, but the decision did not include real involvement from the Kuali Community. Chris sees that the situation has changed Kuali from a collaborative to a competitive environment, with KualiCo holding most of the cards.

This is the type of thinking behind the Ariah Group announcement – going back to the future. As described on the website:

We’ve been asked if we’re “branching the code” as we’ve discussed founding Ariah and our response has been that we feel that in fact the Kuali Foundation is branching with their new structure that includes a commercial entity who will set the development priorities and code standards that may deviate from the current Java technology stack in use. At Ariah our members will set the priorities as it was and as it should be in any truly open source environment. Java will always be our technology stack as we understand the burden that changing could cause a massive impact to our members.

This is an attempt to maintain some of the previous Kuali model including an Apache license (very close to ECL) and the same technology stack. But this approach raises two questions: How serious is this group (including whether they are planning to raise investment capital)? And why would Ariah expect to succeed when Kuali was unable to deliver on this model?

While this move by Ariah would have to be considered high risk, at least in its current form without funding secured or details worked out, it adds a new set of risks for Kuali itself as the Kuali Days conference begins. Kuali is in a critical period where the Foundation is seeking to get partner institutions to sign agreements to support KualiCo, contributing both cash and project staff. Based on input from multiple sources, only the University of Maryland has already signed a Memo of Understanding and agreed to this move for the Kuali Student project. Will the Ariah Group announcement cause schools to either reconsider upcoming decisions or even to just delay decisions. Will the Kuali project functional councils be influenced by this announcement on whether to move to the AGPL license.

I contacted Brad Wheeler, chair of the Kuali Foundation board, who added this comment:

Unlike many proprietary software models, Kuali was established with and continues with a software model that has always enabled institutional prerogative. Nothing new here.

Apereo Statement

In a separate but related announcement, this morning the Apereo Foundation (parent organization for Sakai, uPortal and other educational open source projects) released a statement on open source licenses.

Apereo supports the general ideas behind “copyleft” and believes that free software should stay free. However, Apereo is more interested in promoting widespread adoption and collaboration around its projects, and copyleft licenses can be a barrier to this. Specifically, the required reciprocity of copyleft licenses (like the GPL and AGPL) is viewed negatively by many potential adopters and contributors. Apereo also has a number of symbiotic relationships with other open source communities and projects with Apache-style licensing that would be hurt by copyleft licensing.

Apereo strongly encourages anyone who improves upon an Apereo project to contribute those changes back to the community. Contributing is mutually beneficial since the community gets a better project and the contributor does not have to maintain a diverging codebase. Apereo project governance bodies that feel licensing under the GPL or AGPL is necessary in their context can request permission from the Licensing & Intellectual Property Committee and the Apereo Foundation Board of Directors to select this copyleft approach to outbound licensing.

Apereo believes that the reciprocity in a copyleft open source software project should be symmetrical for everyone, specifically that all individuals and organizations involved should share any derivative works as defined in the selected outbound license. Apereo sponsored projects that adopt a copyleft approach to outbound licensing will be required to maintain fully symmetric reciprocity for all parties, including Apereo itself.

Those seeking further information on copyleft licensing, including potential pitfalls of asymmetric application, should read chapter 11 of the “Copyleft and the GNU General Public License: A Comprehensive Tutorial and Guide – Integrating the GPL into Business Practices”. This can be found at –

While Kuali would appear to be one of the triggers for this statement, there are other educational changes to consider such as the Open edX change from AGPL to Apache (reverse of Kuali) for its XBlock code. From the edX blog post describing this change:

The XBlock API will only succeed to the extent that it is widely adopted, and we are committed to encouraging broad adoption by anyone interested in using it. For that reason, we’re changing the license on the XBlock API from AGPL to Apache 2.0.

The Apache license is permissive: it lets adopters and extenders do what they want with their changes. They can release them under a copyleft license like AGPL, or a permissive license like Apache, or even keep them closed-source.

Methods Matter

I’ll be interested to see any news or outcomes from the Kuali Days conference, and these two announcements should affect the license discussions at the conference. What I have found interesting is that in most of my conversations with Kuali community people ,even for those who are disillusioned, they seem to think the KualiCo creation makes some sense. The real frustration and pushback has been on how decisions are made, how decisions have been communicated, and how the AGPL license choice will affect the community.

It’s too early to tell if the Ariah Group will have any significant impact on the Kuali community or not, but the issue of license types should have a growing importance in educational technology discussions moving forward.

The post Kuali, Ariah and Apereo: Emerging ed tech debate on open source license types appeared first on e-Literate.

Moodle 2.8 is available now!

Moodle News - 10 Noviembre, 2014 - 14:55
Right on schedule Moodle 2.8, the latest release for the community is now available. Download it here: Read the official release announcement here, Twice a year, in May...

Columbia Launches Hybrid Learning Initiative

Campus Technology - 10 Noviembre, 2014 - 14:35
Columbia University has asked faculty members for proposals to incorporate hybrid learning into their classrooms.

U Arizona Engineers Intend To Tighten Wi-Fi

Campus Technology - 10 Noviembre, 2014 - 14:30
A University of Arizona research project hopes to figure out how to stop the eavesdropping that can take place in wireless transmissions.

Publicación del número 43

RED. Revista de Educación a Distancia. - 10 Noviembre, 2014 - 09:36
El próximo día 15 de Noviembre aparece el número 43 de nuestra revista con el siguiente sumario. Podrán encontrarla en su dirección habitual
Revista de Educación a Distancia
Publicación en línea. Murcia (España). Año XIII. Número 43. 15 de Noviembre de 2014.


La evaluación formativa por pares en línea como apoyo para la enseñanza de la expresión escrita persuasivaMaría Jesús Vera-CazorlaResumenEl presente trabajo describe una experiencia de innovación educativa en el ámbito universitario. Su objetivo de esta experiencia era introducir el trabajo colaborativo en línea como una herramienta para apoyar la enseñanza presenciar y analizar el uso de la evaluación formativa entre pares como herramienta para mejorar los resultados del ensayo de opinión en la asignatura de inglés, una asignatura obligatoria cuatrimestral del segundo curso del grado en Lenguas Modernas. Aunque el número de alumnos que se presentaron voluntarios en este primer año no fue muy elevado, los resultados indican que la evaluación formativa por pares mejora la calidad de los ensayos de opinión de los alumnos y ayuda a que éstos entiendan y asimilen mejor las características formales de este tipo de composición escrita.Texto completo en formato PDF

¿Cómo se dispone a los docentes para futuras prácticas con tecnologías? Análisis sobre la inclusión tecnológica en cursos de formaciónGuadalupe Alvarez y Lourdes MoránResumenEl objetivo del estudio es analizar una serie de experiencias formativas con tecnologías que se plantean a los docentes en formación inicial o continua. El corpus, analizado siguiendo los principios de la Teoría Fundamentada, está formado por diferentes cursos de formación docente. A partir del trabajo con este corpus, se construyeron categorías que permitieron generar la caracterización de los cursos en función de los diferentes grados de inclusión de las TIC en sus propuestas de enseñanza. Consideramos que el análisis de estas experiencias resulta central puesto que podría tener una gran influencia en las futuras prácticas docentes como diseñadores, realizadores y desarrolladores de propuestas de enseñanza de calidad con TIC.Texto completo en formato PDF

Situación actual de las pizarras digitales interactivas en las aulas de primariaPurificación Toledo Morales y José Manuel Sánchez GarcíaResumenLas pizarras digitales interactivas (PDI) son una innovación que en los últimos años ha ganado considerable presencia en las aulas de nuestro país.  El objetivo principal de este estudio es investigar las percepciones que estudiantes y docentes de educación primaria tienen del uso de la PDI en el aula, así como los problemas a los que se enfrentan. Los hallazgos confirman que estudiantes y docentes aprueban el uso de esta nueva tecnología en la educación, siendo su uso mayor en la enseñanza de matemáticas, lengua y conocimiento del medio. El estudio muestra que los estudiantes creen que la PDI es efectiva en la mejora de diversos aspectos de su aprendizaje. La actitud positiva del docente hacia el uso de las nuevas tecnologías en la enseñanza juega un papel importante en la ejecución y el éxito del uso de la PDI. Por último, inferimos que las PDI no se emplean en todo su potencial.Texto completo en formato PDF

Las cibercomunidades de aprendizaje (cCA) en la formación del profesoradoIñaki Murua Anzola, María Luz Cacheiro González y Domingo J. Gallego GilResumen.-Si bien las comunidades han existido desde que el hombre lo es, con la presencia y la influencia de las redes telemáticas las oportunidades se multiplican al superarse los límites espacio-temporales. Estos agregados sociales que surgen cuando personas de intereses similares se encuentran en el ciberespacio, ofrecen posibilidades para aprender “con” y “de” otros, a lo largo del continuum entre la educación formal, la no formal y la informal.En este estudio, parte de una investigación más amplia basada en el método Delphi, se pretende delimitar conceptualmente y caracterizar las cibercomunidades de aprendizaje (cCA) para la formación del profesorado –desde una concepción más cercana a la propuesta de comunidades de práctica que al movimiento de comunidades de aprendizaje–, distinguir los principios y estrategias que constituyen las bases de una cCA así como las herramientas y funcionalidades que favorecen el nacimiento y la vida de las mismas.Texto completo en formato PDF

Ingreso a la Universidad en modalidad a distancia. El papel de aspectos motivacionales y cognitivos en la configuración de logros académicos
Analía C. Chiecher, Paola V. Paoloni y Cecilia R. FiccoResumenEl artículo estudia las relaciones entre motivación, cognición y rendimiento académico en contextos de educación a distancia mediados tecnológicamente. Si bien las relaciones entre estas variables ya han sido analizadas en el marco de contextos presenciales, se considera pertinente una nueva consideración en el marco de contextos de aprendizaje diferentes.Participaron del estudio 83 alumnos ingresantes en Carreras de la Facultad de Ciencias Económicas (Universidad Nacional de Río Cuarto) dictadas en modalidad a distancia; de ellos, 25 lograron regularizar una asignatura clave del primer año en tanto que los restantes 58 no lo consiguieron. Para la recolección de datos se utilizó un cuestionario estandarizado, cuyo objetivo apunta a evaluar perfiles motivacionales y cognitivos de los estudiantes. Los resultados mostraron mejores puntuaciones en el grupo de más alto rendimiento, con diferencias estadísticamente significativas en las escalas relativas a orientación motivacional intrínseca, valoración de las tareas, pensamiento crítico, autorregulación, manejo del tiempo y ambiente de estudio, regulación del esfuerzo y aprendizaje con pares.La discusión de resultados retoma la perspectiva situada de la motivación y cognición, enfatizando la importancia de intervenir desde el contexto con la finalidad de favorecer la motivación y el uso de estrategias por parte de estudiantes que aprenden a distancia.
Texto completo en formato PDF

Producción y visibilidad de las revistas en educación sobre la web 2.0 en educación secundariaCristina Torres PascualResumenEl presente trabajo es un análisis bibliométrico para identificar la producción y visibilidad de las investigaciones sobre la web 2.0 en educación secundaria, a partir de la base de datos ERIC e ISOC. La población analizada consta de 86 artículos publicados en 32 revistas. El campo más estudiado es la tecnología web 2.0. La revista más productiva es Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education y las revistas con mayor repercusión son Computers & Education y British Journal of Educational Technology.Texto completo en formato PDF
Valoración del rendimiento académico de los alumnos de la Facultad de Educación de la UVA (Segovia) en el primer año de de implantación de grado.José María Arribas EstebaranzResumenEl objetivo de este trabajo es doble. Uno: analizar y valorar el rendimiento académico en función de distintas variables -asignatura, profesor, especialidad, convocatoria y género del alumno y del profesor.- de los alumnos de primer curso del Grado de Maestro de las especialidades de Educación Primaria e Infantil en el primer año de implantación de Grado- en la Facultad de Educación de la Universidad de Valladolid (Campus de Segovia). Dos: Inferir de dicho análisis, si las calificaciones obtenidas por los alumnos son manifestación fidedigna del grado de consecución de las competencias generales y específicas y de los resultados de aprendizaje expresados en las memorias de dichas titulaciones.No se observan diferencias significativas en el rendimiento académico de los alumnos en cuanto a la especialidad o el género de los alumnos y profesores; sin embargo, el hecho de que sí existan diferencias significativas en el rendimiento académico de los alumnos en aquellas asignaturas impartidas por distintos profesores, más allá de lo esperable por esta circunstancia y dada la aleatoriedad en la distribución de los grupos, pone a nuestro juicio, en entredicho la representatividad de las calificaciones como manifestación fidedigna de los aprendizajes adquiridos por los estudiantes, prevaleciendo la subjetividad de los criterios de evaluación y calificación del profesor por encima de los contenidos y/o criterios normativamente estipulados.
Texto completo en formato PDF

Test informatizados y su contribución a la acción evaluativa en educación Carlos Rodríguez Garcés, Marlene Muñoz Sepúlveda y Víctor Castillo Riquelme
Resumen.-El sistema educativo nacional no sólo evidencia debilidades en su capacidad para instalar competencias cognitivas y procedimentales en su alumnado, sino que también en la calidad de sus sistemas evaluativos. Si bien evaluar es una tarea engorrosa y compleja para el profesorado, los Test Informatizados proporcionan una poderosa herramienta para mejorar en pertinencia, validez y rigor en la acción evaluativa. Los Test Informatizados son aplicaciones versátiles y amigables, que no sólo facilitan la tarea del docente al evaluar, sino que al permitir usar ítems calibrados y de métrica probada hace más objetiva y justa la certificación del dominio de la competencia, incorporando los nuevos aportes de la teoría de respuesta al ítem. Por ello, realizar acciones de apropiación tecnológica puede tributar fuertemente al mejoramiento de los niveles de eficiencia y calidad del proceso educativo en general.Texto completo en formato PDF
Implementación del e-learning en la enseñanza del modelo “Proceso de Atención de Enfermería” para la formación universitaria.María Elena García PuigResumenSe ha detectado la necesidad de implementar el e-learning en la formación universitaria de enfermería. Para ello, esta investigación aplica el diseño instruccional al proceso de aprendizaje de un modelo profesional del cuidado, cuyo centro son las competencias a desarrollar por el estudiante. A partir de éstas se ha secuenciado el conocimiento a través de la Teoría de la Elaboración y la Técnica de Análisis de los Contenidos. Así mismo, en base a estos elementos se ha diseñado una serie de tareas teniendo en consideración la Técnica de Análisis de las Tareas y el Método de Simplificación de las Condiciones (SCM).Por otro lado, se ha diseñado y creado un objeto de aprendizaje a través del patrón EASA del software GLO Maker. Además en el planteamiento y diseño de la instrucción se ha tenido en consideración los cinco principios de David Merril. Todo ello orientado a un aprendizaje constructivista y una modalidad de enseñanza instruccional virtual.
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Fall of the Banner Ad: The Monster That Swallowed the Web

OLDaily - 9 Noviembre, 2014 - 16:06

Harhad Manjoo, New York Times, Nov 09, 2014

The internet was originally a military and academic network designed for the free sharing of information and communications. As it began to be opened in the 1990s to allow commercial participation there was significant opposition to the introduction of advertising to the environment. These fears turned out to be well-founded, in my opinion, as much of what is bad about the web today can be traced back to the need to pursue clicks over content. I remember these first banner ads from Wired as I was a longtime member of the Wired online forums (called 'Hotwired Threads'). Today I am reading that sponsored posts  are providing significant returns for advertisers. This next great retreat from meaningful content and communication will be equally harmful. Me need so much to be able to move beyond advertising, but the commercial interest is pervasive, and nobody seems to know how to escape the trap we set for ourselves 20 years ago.

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Categorías: General

Connectivism and Composition: Toward a Networked Classroom

OLDaily - 9 Noviembre, 2014 - 16:06

Jason Tham, Weblog, Nov 09, 2014

Based on the slides this looks like an interesting talk, capturing the core ideas of connectivism. I also like seeing someone else with a proper presentation page, one including slides, audio, and eventually, a transcript. My only significant criticism would be the obligatory invocation of collaboration, which is quite unnecessary and misses some core points of connectivism. Collaboration is about everybody working for a single objective, while in connectivism people work on diverse objectives, interacting and cooperating on points of mutual interest.

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Categorías: General

Knowmad Society

OLDaily - 9 Noviembre, 2014 - 16:06

John W. Moravec, Education Futures, Nov 09, 2014

Good diagram, overall. I don't know where it comes from, exactly; I found it on Facebook. I'm not sure how "not restricted by age" is a 'skill'. I would say "shares" rather than "invites sharing". I would say "cooperates and communicates" rather than "collaborates". I would say "investigates new technologies" rather than "purposively..." (dropping the 'purposively' to reflect the idea of exploration over dedication to specific outcomes). I would say 'disregards hierarchy' or 'eschews authority' or some such thing rather than 'thrives in flat networks'.

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Categorías: General

A review of MOOCs and their assessment tools

Tony Bates - 9 Noviembre, 2014 - 03:08

What kind of MOOC?

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

For the record, Amit Chauhan, from Florida State University, has reviewed the emerging trends in MOOC assessments and their application in supporting student learning and achievement.

Holy proliferating MOOCs!

He starts with a taxonomy of MOOC instructional models, as follows:

  • cMOOCs
  • xMOOCs
  • BOOCs (a big open online course) – only one example, by a professor from Indiana University with a grant from Google, is given which appears to be a cross between an xMOOC and a cMOOC and had 500 participants.
  • DOCCs (distributed open collaborative course): this involved 17 universities sharing and adapting the same basic MOOC
  • LOOC (little open online course): as well as 15-20 tuition-paying campus-based students, the courses also allow a limited number of non-registered students to also take the course, but also paying a fee. Three examples are given, all from New England.
  • MOORs (massive open online research): again just one example is given, from UC San Diego, which seems to be a mix of video-based lecturers and student research projects guided by the instructors
  • SPOCs (small, private, online courses): the example given is from Harvard Law School, which pre-selected 500 students from over 4,000 applicants, who take the same video-delivered lectures as on-campus students enrolled at Harvard
  • SMOCs: (synchronous massive open online courses): live lectures from the University of Texas offered to campus-based students are also available synchronously to non-enrolled students for a fee of $550. Again, just one example.

MOOC assessment models and emerging technologies

Chauhan describes ‘several emerging tools and technologies that are being leveraged to assess learning outcomes in a MOOC. These technologies can also be utilized to design and develop a MOOC with built-in features to measure learning outcomes.’

  • learning analytics on MIT’s 6.002x, Circuits and Electronics. This is a report of the study by Breslow et al. (2013) of the use of learning analytics to study participants’ behaviour on the course to identify factors influencing student performance.
  • personal learning networks on PLENK 2010: this cMOOC is actually about personal learning networks and encouraged participants to use a variety of tools to develop their own personal learning networks
  • mobile learning on MobiMOOC, another connectivist MOOC. The learners in MobiMOOC utilized mobile technologies for accessing course content, knowledge creation and sharing within the network. Data were collected from participant discussion forums and hashtag analysis to track participant behaviour
  • digital badges have been used in several MOOCs to reward successful completion of an end of course test, participation in discussion forums, or in peer review activities
  • adaptive assessment:  assessments based on Item Response Theory (IRT) are designed to automatically adapt to student learning and ability to measure learner performance and learning outcomes. The tests include different difficulty levels and based on the response of the learner to each test item, the difficulty level decreases or increases to match learner ability and potential. No example of actual use of IRT in MOOCs was given.
  • automated assessments: Chauhan describes two automated assessment tools, Automated Essay Scoring (AES) and Calibrated Peer Review™ (CPR), that are really automated tools for assessing and giving feedback on writing skills. One study on their use in MOOCs (Balfour, 2013) is cited.
  • recognition of prior learning: I think Chauhan is suggesting that institutions offering RPL can/should include MOOCs in student RPL portfolios.

Chauhan concludes:

Assessment in a MOOC does not necessarily have to be about course completion.  Learners can be assessed on time-on-task; learner-course component interaction; and a certification of the specific skills and knowledge gained from a MOOC….. Ultimately, the satisfaction gained from completing the course can be potential indicator of good learning experiences.

Alice in MOOCland

Chauhan describes the increasing variation of instructional methods now associated with the generic term ‘MOOC’, to the point where one has to ask whether the term has any consistent meaning. It’s difficult to see how a SPOC for instance differs from a typical online credit course, except perhaps in that it uses a recorded lecture rather than a learning management system or VLE. The only common factor in these variations is that the course is being offered to some non-registered students, but then if they have to pay a $500 fee, surely that’s a registered student? If a course is neither massive, nor open, nor free, how can it be a MOOC?

Further, if MOOC participants are taking exactly the same course and tests as registered students, will the institution award them credit for it and admit them to the institution? If not, why not? It seems that some institutions really haven’t thought this through. I’d like to know what Registrar’s make of all this.

At some point, institutions will need to develop a clearer, more consistent strategy for open learning, in terms of how it can best be provided, how it calibrates with formal learning, and how open learning can be accommodated within the fiscal constraints of the institution, and then where MOOCs might fit with the strategy. It seems that a lot of institutions – or rather instructors – are going into open learning buttock-backwards.

More disturbing for me though is the argument Chauhan makes for assessing everything except what participants learn from MOOCs. With the exception of automated tests, all these tools do is describe all kinds of behaviour except for learning. These tools may be useful for identifying factors that influence learning, on a post hoc rationalization, but you need to be able to measure the learning in the first place, unless you see MOOCs as some cruel form of entertainment. I have no problem with trying to satisfy students, I have no problem with MOOCs as un-assessed non-formal education, but if you try to assess participants, at the end of the day it’s what they learn that matters. MOOCs need better tools for measuring learning, but I didn’t see any described in this article.


Balfour, S. P. (2013). Assessing writing in MOOCs: Automated Essay Scoring and Calibrated Peer review. Research & Practice in Assessment, Vol. 8, No. 1

Breslow, L., Pritchard, D. E., DeBoer, J., Stump, G. S., Ho, A. D., & Seaton, D. T. (2013). Studying learning in the worldwide classroom: Research into edx’s first mooc. Research & Practice in Assessment, 8, 13-25.