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The Power of Detentions

OLDaily - 27 Enero, 2015 - 12:15

Sam LeDeaux, Connected Principals, Jan 27, 2015

It is worth noting that detention is essentially prison for students. However, note:
- there is no trial
- there is no defence or representation
- there is no appeal
- (probably) rich kids still get off (The Breakfast Club notwithstanding)
It is worth pondering what the real lessons are being learned when detentions are given out.

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Categorías: General

Networking (and novelty) as criteria for media selection

Tony Bates - 27 Enero, 2015 - 01:27

UBC’s Math Exam Wiki (click on image to go to web page)

Almost there! This section covers the ‘N’ in the SECTIONS model for the chapter on media selection for my online open textbook, Teaching in a Digital Age.

Networking and novelty

These are two quite different factors influencing media selection, of which networking is by far the most important.


This is a relatively new addition to the SECTIONS model and aims to take into account the potential of social media and open education. In essence, an increasingly important question that needs to be asked when selecting media is:

  • how important is it to enable learners to network beyond a course, with others such as subject specialists, professionals in the field, and relevant people in the community? Can the course, or student learning, benefit from such external connections?

If the answer to this is an affirmative, then this will affect what media to use, and in particular will suggest the use of social media such as blogs, wikis, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google Hangout.

There are at least five different ways social media are influencing course design:

  • as an addition to credit-based online software/technology
  • credit course design using only social media
  • student generated learning resources
  • self-managed learning groups
  • instructor-led open educational resources.
Supplementing ‘standard’ learning technologies

Some instructors are combining social media for external networking with ‘standard’ institutional technologies such as a learning management system. The LMS, which is password protected and available only to the instructor and other enrolled students, allows for ‘safe’ communication within the course. The use of social media allows for connections with the external world (contributions can still be screened by the course blog or wiki administrator by monitoring and approving contributions.)

For instance, a course on Middle Eastern politics could have an internal discussion forum focused on relating current events directly to the themes and issues that are the focus of the course, but students may manage their own, public wiki that encourages contributions from Middle East scholars and students, and indeed anyone from the general public. Comments may end up being moved into and out of the more closed class discussion forum as a result.

Exclusive use of social media for credit courses

Other instructors are moving altogether away from ‘standard’ institutional technology such as learning management systems and lecture capture into the use of social media for managing the whole course. For instance, UBC’s course ETEC 522 uses WordPress, YouTube videos and podcasts for instructor and student contributions to the course. Indeed the choice of social media on this course changes every year, depending on the focus of the course, and new developments in social media. Jon Beasley-Murray at UBC built a whole course around students creating a high level (featured-article) Wikipedia entry on Latin American literature (Latin American literature WikiProject – see Beasley-Murray, 2008).

Student generated learning resources

This is a particularly interesting development where students themselves use social media to create resources to help other students. For instance, graduate math students at UBC have created the Math Exam/Education Resources wiki, which provides ‘past exams with fully worked-out and reviewed solutions, video lectures & pencasts by topic‘. Such sites are open to anyone needing help in their studying, not just UBC students.

Self-managed learning groups

cMOOCs are an obvious example of self-managed learning groups using social media such as webinars, blogs and wikis.

Instructor-led open educational resources

YouTube in particular is becoming increasingly popular for instructors to use their knowledge to create resources available to anyone. The best example is still the Khan Academy, but there are many other examples.

Once again, the decision to ‘open up’ teaching is as much a philosophical or value decision as a technology decision, but the technology is now there to encourage and enable this philosophy.


Novelty is a two-edged sword. ‘Innovation in teaching’ will certainly bring rewards these days as institutions jostle for position as innovative institutions.  It is often easier to get funding for new uses of technology than funding to sustain older but successful technologies. Although podcasts combined with a learning management system can be a very low-cost but highly effective teaching medium if good design is used, they are not sexy. It will usually be easier to get support for much more costly and spectacular technologies such as xMOOCs or virtual reality.

On the other hand, there is much risk in being too early into a new technology. Software may not be fully tested and reliable, or the company supporting the new technology may go bankrupt. Students are not guinea pigs, and reliable and sustainable service is more important to them than the glitz and glamour of untried technology. Thus it is better to be at the leading edge, just behind the first wave of innovation, rather than at the bleeding edge.

Questions for consideration
  1. How important is it to enable learners to network beyond a course, with others such as subject specialists, professionals in the field, and relevant people in the community? Can the course, or student learning, benefit from such external connections?
  2. If this is important, what’s the best way to do this? Use social media exclusively? Integrate it with other standard course technology? Delegate responsibility for its design and/or administration to students or learners?
  3. What rewards am I likely to get for using new technology in my teaching? Will use of a new technology be the only innovation, or can I also change my way of teaching with this technology to get better results?
  4. What are the risks in using this technology?

1. I am looking for an example of using social media to supplement ‘standard’ institutional technologies (I made up the Middle East politics example). Any suggestions that are openly accessible (at least the social media parts) will be most welcome.

2. Is it really worth including novelty as a criterion?

3. Any other comments on this section

Next up

The last part of the SECTIONS model: speed and security.

Autonomy and Value in Social and Workplace Learning

OLDaily - 27 Enero, 2015 - 00:12

Charles Jennings, Learning Performance, Jan 26, 2015

"The ‘ Jennings & Reid-Dodick C-Curve’ ," writes Charles Jennings, "was developed in the early stages of an L& D transformation for a Global FTSE100 company more than a decade ago." It describes a curve that travels backwards from more autonomy to less autonomy, creation of standards and controls, and gradual re-autonomy. I think it's pleasing to many managers and trainers, who appreciate the move toward steps 2 and 3 (and imagine the progression to autonomy in step 4 can happen after they retire). But despite this weakness, it reinforces the idea that value is tied to autonomy. You can only go so far with control (and not as far as depicted in the model). For real value, people need to interact and make decisions on their own at the point where problems, issues or opportunities are directly confronted.

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Categorías: General

At Davos, Technology CEOs Discuss The Digital Economy

OLDaily - 27 Enero, 2015 - 00:12

Amie Colquhoun, Don Tapscott, Jan 26, 2015

Don Tapscott reports from Davos, where they're learned that we need alternative energy sources, that we have to deal with global warming, and that education matters. Of course, they say lots of things (publicly) at Davos. "For the first time in history, economic growth is not generating a meaningful number of new jobs. Factor in the hangover from the financial collapse of 2008 and we’ re witnessing youth unemployment levels across the western world from 15 to 60 percent. But panelists said that this was a temporary problem and not a structural problem." I disagree.  Half the world's wealth is in the hands of a tiny minority. That's a structural problem, and  it explains today's youth are unemployed instead of solving energy problems, addressing global warming, and benefiting from a free and global education system. See also this  earlier Tapscott article on Davos 2015.

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Categorías: General

Asian education points to the power of partnership

OLDaily - 27 Enero, 2015 - 00:12

Dominic Collard, Pearson, Jan 26, 2015

Half the world lives in Asia and yet some writers can't resit talking about it as though it were a single entity. Of course, the real purpose of this post is to promote something else: "It will be by seizing the opportunities that technology is offering; by partnering with organisations outside the school gates, that education will be transformed." When I look at the partnerships schools have undertaken in the past - with publishers, for example, the phrase "mutual benefit" doesn't spring to mind." The words "exploitation" and "predatory" do. And the writing in this post makes Asia seem more like a place to be colonized than partnered. But hey, maybe I'm wrong this time. Maybe they will leave as much value as they take from these new Asian markets. We'll see.

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Categorías: General

'We All Felt Trapped'

OLDaily - 27 Enero, 2015 - 00:12

Carl Straumsheim, Inside Higher Ed, Jan 26, 2015

"In all of drama and comedy there is no figure more laughable as a rich man who does not know what he is doing," writes Paul Mason. He's writing about the elites in Europe who have no understanding of why austerity failed in Greece (hint: rich people there still pay no tax). But he may as well been talking about the moguls at MIT, who can't comprehend what went wrong in the case of Walter Lewin. A couple quotes, at least, had me thinking this way. "I would call it an unprecedented area," said Erin Buzuvis, director of the Center for Gender and Sexuality Studies at Western New England University. "There isn’ t even a lot of precedent for online harassment in general." Um, what? “ We have never in the academic profession -- never, never -- in a collective way looked at the threat posed by professors,” (Billie Wright) Dziech (a professor of English at the University of Cincinnati) said. Because, you know, those in power would never behave badly.

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Categorías: General

Why organisational issues are critical for media selection

Tony Bates - 27 Enero, 2015 - 00:06

Figure 9.7.1 Learning Environments self-service video recording studio, Baillieu Library, University of Melbourne
Image: © University of Melbourne, 2014

I’m getting to the end of my chapter on media selection, based on the SECTIONS model. I discuss the ‘O’ for organisational issues briefly. This section is pretty obvious to most readers of this blog, but it needs to be said (or written).

The SECTIONS model: Organizational Issues Institutional readiness for teaching with technology

One of the critical issues that will influence the selection of media by teachers and instructors is

  • the way the institution structures teaching activities,
  • the instructional and technology services already in place,
  • the support for media and technology use that their institution provides.

If an institution is organised around a set number of classroom periods every day, and the use of physical classrooms, the teachers are likely to focus mainly on classroom delivery. As Mackenzie was quoted in Section 9.1: ‘Teachers have always made the best of whatever they’ve got at hand, but it’s what we have to work with. Teachers make due.’ The reverse is equally true. If the school or university does not support a particular technology, instructors quite understandably won’t use it. Even if the technology is in place, such as a learning management system or a video production facility, if an instructor is not trained or oriented to its use and potential, then it will either be underused or not used at all.

Most institutions that have successfully introduced media and technology for teaching on a large scale have recognized the need for professional support for faculty, by providing instructional designers, media designers and IT support staff to support teaching and learning. Some institutions also provide funding for innovative teaching projects.

A major implication of using technology is the need to reorganize and restructure the teaching and technology support services in order to exploit and use the technology efficiently. Too often technology is merely added on to an existing structure and way of doing things. Reorganization and restructuring is disruptive and costly in the short-term, but usually essential for successful implementation of technology-based teaching (see Bates and Sangrà, 2011, for a full discussion of management strategies for supporting the use of technology for teaching in higher education).

Thus there is often a bias towards those technologies that can be introduced with the minimum of organizational change, although these may not be the technologies that would have maximum impact on learning. These organizational challenges are extremely difficult, and are often major reasons for the slow implementation of new technology.

Media design principles

As stated in Section 9.5.1, many factors can influence the effectiveness of media in teaching. One of the most important is the design of the media experience. Any medium can be used well or badly. Poor lighting and in particular poor audio can ruin an otherwise effective use of video. A rambling, incoherent podcast may contain excellent academic material but is likely to fail as a teaching experience. So quality in terms of media production matters. This does not mean necessarily though that you need expensive productions.

Perhaps the most  valuable research relevant to quality media production has been done by Richard Mayer, of the University of California at Santa Barbara. He has conducted nearly 100 studies in the development of his principles for multimedia design (Mayer, 2009). Staff at the University of British Columbia have combined Mayer’s findings with Robert Talbert’s experience from developing a series of successful screencasts on mathematics, into a set of practical design guidelines for multimedia production.

Talbert’s key design principles are:

  • Keep it Simple: Focus on one idea at a time.
  • Keep it Short: Keep videos to a length 5-6 minutes max. to maximize attention.
  • Keep it Real: Model the decision making and problem solving processes of expert learners.
  • Keep it Good: Be intentional about planning the video. Strive to produce the best video and audio quality possible.

The UBC guidelines also integrate the implications of cognitive load theory, into three strategies:

  • reduce extraneous processing
  • manage essential processing
  • foster generative processing

Using these principles the UBC site provides a matrix that links these principles to a range of learning effects, with examples. These are ideal guidelines for anyone thinking of moving into using media for the first time. The topic of the design of media for teaching is worth a whole book on its own, but more detailed guidelines for audio and video production can be found in Koumi (2006) and O’Donoghue (2011).

The key point here is that although it is now possible for teachers and instructors to produce reasonably good quality audio and video on their own, it will always benefit from the input of professionals in media production.

Work with professionals

Even those experienced in using media for teaching and learning would be wise to work with professional media producers when creating any of the media discussed in this chapter (with the possible exception of social media). Indeed, it is usually useful if not essential to work also with an instructional designer to determine before too much work is done which media are likely to be the most appropriate. It is important for the choice of technology to be driven by educational goals, rather than starting with a particular medium or technology in mind.

There are several reasons for working with professionals:

  • they understand the technology and as a result will enable you to develop a better product more quickly than working alone;
  • two heads are better than one. Working collaboratively will result in new and better ideas about how you could be using the medium;
  • instructional designers and professional media producers will usually be familiar with project management and budgeting for media production, enabling resources to be developed in time and on budget. This is important as it is easy for teachers or instructors to get sucked into spending far more time than necessary on producing media.
Questions for consideration

1. How much and what kind of help can I get from the institution in choosing and using media for teaching? Is help easily accessible? How good is the help? Do they have the media professionalism I will need? Are they up to date in the use of new technologies for teaching?

2. Is there possible funding available to ‘buy me out’ for a semester and/or to fund a teaching assistant so I can concentrate on designing a new course or revising an existing course? Is there funding for media production?

3. To what extent will I have to follow ‘standard’ technologies, practices and procedures, such as using a learning management system, or lecture capture system, or will I be encouraged and supported to try something new?

4. Are there already suitable media resources freely available that I can use in my teaching, rather than creating everything from scratch? Can I get help from the library for instance in identifying these resources and dealing with any copyright issues?

If the answers are negative for each of these questions, you would be wise to set very modest goals initially for using media and technology. Nevertheless the good news is that it is increasingly easy to create and manage your own media such as web sites, blogs, wikis, podcasts and even simple video production. Furthermore students themselves are often capable and interested in participating or helping with creating learning resources, if given the chance. And above all, there is an increasing amount of really good educational media coming available for free use for educational purposes.

Feedback, please

1. Is there anything I have missed about the influence of organizational factors on media selection?

2. Is there anything you disagree with in this section?

3. I have struggled with how to handle media design in this book. It is a huge topic, and has been well covered by Mayer, Koumi and O’Donoghue (see below for references). My reason for including it here is that I strongly believe that if instructors are going to design media, they should work with media professionals and/or instructional designers. At the same time I am aware that it is becoming increasingly easier for instructors (and students) to create their own digital resources. However, when this happens the results are often disappointing in terms of media quality. But does this affect the quality of the learning? As always, it all depends. Experience helps a great deal. What are your views on this? Should faculty be encouraged to be do-it-yourself media producers, or should they work with media professionals? Under what circumstances should faculty do their own media production? Your feedback on this would be really helpful.

Up next

Networking and novelty.


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

Koumi, J. (2006). Designing video and multimedia for open and flexible learning. London: Routledge.

Mayer, R. E. (2009). Multimedia learning (2nd ed). New York: Cambridge University Press.

O’Donoghue, M. (2014) Producing video for teaching and Learning New York: Routledge

OrcaTV Launches Campus Life Channel Platform

Campus Technology - 26 Enero, 2015 - 22:13
OrcaTV, a digital media company focused on higher education, has launched a media platform designed to help students, faculty and staff stay in touch with campus news with a campus life channel.

U Michigan Launches Residential MOOC on Healthcare Policy

Campus Technology - 26 Enero, 2015 - 21:01
The University of Michigan has launched its first residential MOOC with more than 800 undergraduate, graduate and professional students signing up in its first week.

Portable Videoconferencing for Under $500

Campus Technology - 26 Enero, 2015 - 19:43
Logitech is introducing the ConferenceCam Connect, a portable all-in-one videoconferencing device that costs less than some office chairs.

Separating Education Research from Marketing

Hack Education - 26 Enero, 2015 - 18:35

A version of this article first appeared on Educating Modern Learners

There's so much hype about education products and services, many of these claiming to have scientific research to back them up. Perhaps the best example of this is the "brain training" industry, which presents itself as scientific fact. Not so fast, said a group of psychology and neuroscience professors, issuing a statement clarifying that there really is little evidence to substantiate claims about "neuroplasticity" made by the makers of "brain based games." This raises lots of questions about how school leaders can wade through the marketing spin and assess what's science and what's PR.

Brain-Based Buzzwords

One of the most read articles published on Educating Modern Learners was one of its first: "Should You Build a Brain-Based School?" by Randolph-Macon College psychology professor Cedar Riener. Putting a damper on some of the wild claims about "brain-based schooling," Riener's main argument: "Can neuroscience improve educational practice? The answer to this is a qualified yes, but far less than most people think."

You'd think, based on all the headlines and advertising promising "brain training," that the answer to Riener's question would in fact be a resounding yes. "Brain training" is big business. There are any number of products and services and guides available that say they can help you improve your memory and retention and boost your "neuroplasticity."" Lumos Labs, the company behind Lumosity, has raised over $67 million in venture capital, for example, and according to one industry analyst, the market for braining training is expected to reach $6 billion by 2020. And increasingly, these products, along with their theories about how the brain works and their claims about "scientific research," are creeping into the classroom.

That's why a statement released by the Stanford Center for Longevity and the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, signed by over 70 psychology and neuroscience professors, is so important. ("A Consensus on the Brain Training Industry from the Scientific Community" is available here.) In it, they write, "To date, there is little evidence that playing brain games improves underlying broad cognitive abilities, or that it enables one to better navigate a complex realm of everyday life."

In summary: We object to the claim that brain games offer consumers a scientifically grounded avenue to reduce or reverse cognitive decline when there is no compelling scientific evidence to date that they do. The promise of a magic bullet detracts from the best evidence to date, which is that cognitive health in old age reflects the long-term effects of healthy, engaged lifestyles. In the judgment of the signatories, exaggerated and misleading claims exploit the anxiety of older adults about impending cognitive decline. We encourage continued careful research and validation in this field.

According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, the professors' concern isn't simply that research claims are distorted in order to sell "brain-based" products; it's that some of their peers have financial relationships with these companies - financial stakes, for example, or paid research gigs. "'There's a conflict of interest there,' said Randall W. Engle, a psychology professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology who has conducted several studies debunking brain-training claims. 'It gives me the concern, when I read their papers: Is this the consultant for Lumosity talking, or is this the objective scientist talking?'"

Evaluating Education Research

Of course, "the promise of a magic bullet" isn't something made just by the brain-training industry. Nor is this the first or only example of a cherry-picking of scientific research in order to sell a product or service or promote a particular political agenda. In fact, all this is (sadly) pretty par for the course in education (although in fairness, education is hardly alone here.)

As education technology increases in adoption, it's likely that we're poised to see more of this too, as companies rely on the association with "technology" and "science."

So, what are some of the things we should look for when we hear scientific research touted?

First, look to see if the research is peer reviewed. White papers are typically self-published for marketing purposes. That's quite different than findings that are published in scholarly journals. These often (not always) go through rigorous peer view by other experts in the field. But even then, it's worth examining that research closely. Who are the researchers involved? Are they academics? Are they industry researchers? Is there any financial conflict of interest?

Take a look at the research design. "Controlled experiments" are often tough to do in education, particularly in "real world" situations like the classroom. (Students are rarely "randomly assigned" to teachers, for example.) Look at the sample size. Are the findings "statistically significant"? Are they generalizable to the population at large? Examine what's actually being measured. Do the research findings match what others have found or the larger body of research on the topic? Is the research replicable?

Third, read the journal article — not just the summary, and not just journalists' interpretation of the results. Remember the research that gets published is often that which has some positive effect. "We didn't really find anything" — a null result — doesn't make for much of a journal article. And it certainly doesn't make good headlines or marketing copy.

Finally, be skeptical when you hear the word "proof." When, for example, brain training companies tout "proven results,"" it's likely that's a phrase written by the marketing department, not by a scientist or researcher.

ABP Primaria. Trabajamos juntos para construir y regalar juguetes

El REA para Primaria "Todo se mueve" lleva a los alumnos a dar un paso más dentro de la dinámica de aprendizaje por proyectos.

Los chicos y chicas de Primaria se enfrentan a un auténtico desafío: construir garajes de juguete para donar a otras clases de su colegio.

Por tanto; dan un nuevo sentido a lo que hacen en el aula. Desarrollan un proyecto de aula para aprender y compartir los conocimientos y crean productos útiles para otras personas.

"Todo se mueve" es un REA para Primaria del Proyecto EDIA, creado con eXeLearning y basado en metodología ABP que incluye además principios del aprendizaje servicio.

Free Collaboration Platform Updated with Student Workload Estimates

Campus Technology - 26 Enero, 2015 - 16:59
The latest release of Chalkup includes improvements to the user interface, a course calendar and a way for students to estimate their workload.

Minnesota School Knocked by Data Breach

Campus Technology - 26 Enero, 2015 - 16:49
Metropolitan found out about the breach when it was contacted by a "private information sharing community of trusted research and higher education partners."

Moodle Mobile Plugin for Moodle helps you design courses for mobile consumption

Moodle News - 26 Enero, 2015 - 16:30
Juan Leyva has released a new plugin for Moodle which provides Availability Conditions dependent on whether users are using the Moodle Mobile App to access courses. According to the description, With...

Students Vie To Over-Engineer in 2015 Rube Goldberg Machine Contest

Campus Technology - 26 Enero, 2015 - 16:18
The winning team used a giant gumball machine, a tennis ball, a falling hammer, a bowling ball, a fry pan, tubes and tracks and lightbulbs, a tiny boxing glove and a plastic shark, along with multiple other accessories, all as the most elaborate scheme possible for zipping up a zipper.

#LearnMoodle Week 3 kicks off and focuses on Assessments

Moodle News - 26 Enero, 2015 - 15:00
Mary Cooch and Helen Foster kicked this week of #LearnMoodle off and the focus is all on assessments. Participants this week are asked to create both a quiz and assignment in their practice courses...