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The Great Adaptive Learning Experiment

Campus Technology - 16 Abril, 2014 - 21:07
Higher ed institutions around the globe are exploring the potential of adaptive technology to revolutionize the way students learn.

Phasing out certificates of free courseware completion

OLDaily - 16 Abril, 2014 - 20:12

Sebastian Thrun, Udacity Blog, April 17, 2014

The commercialization of MOOCs continues: "effective May 16, we will stop offering free non-identity-verified certificates." The funny part is that they say students are demanding this.

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Categorías: General

Small Private Colleges Are in Deep Trouble (as They Should Be)

OLDaily - 16 Abril, 2014 - 19:30

Jordan Weissmann, Slate, April 17, 2014

While this is termed as "a small brush fire, clearing out some of the unhealthier institutions in higher ed" the credit default warnings being issued against small colleges may be the harbinger of something more widespread. The article suggests, "because they don’ t have much in the way of endowments, they tend to charge high tuition, and leave undergraduates saddled with debts that simply might not be worthwhile." These problems aren't unique to small private colleges, though.

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Categorías: General

California Institution Taps Unicon for Sakai Services

Campus Technology - 16 Abril, 2014 - 18:41
California's Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising is enlisting open source services company Unicon to support its Sakai learning management system.

Smart Technologies Unveils Interactive Flat Panel

Campus Technology - 16 Abril, 2014 - 18:12
Smart Technologies has introduced the Smart Board 6065, the first model in a new line of interactive flat panels for education.

Learning as dialogue

Learning with 'e's - 16 Abril, 2014 - 17:39
Many of the earlier learning theories place the learner in splendid isolation. From the neo-behaviourist theories of Thorndike, Watson and Skinner, we were led to believe that learners respond to stimuli and make associations between the two, and that these links represent learning. This passive, reductionist explanation of learning prompted a number of pedagogical strategies, including reinforcement of behaviour, punishment and reward, and the introduction of teaching machines with their instructional texts, structured assessment of learning and remedial loops. Later, Piaget, Inhelder and others were responsible for introducing a cognitive version of learning theory which held that children were 'solo scientists' who constructed their own meaning through exploration of their environment. This prompted new approaches in schools that included discovery learning and progressive curricula that neatly reflected Piaget's stages of cognitive development model. And yet these theories paid scant attention to the social contexts within which learning occurs.

It was not until social theories such as Vygotsky's social constructivist model were introduced that education as a whole began to capitalise on the dialogic power of learning. Indeed, the Zone of Proximal Development and other social pedagogy models were largely unheard of in the West before the 1970s. Vygotsky's writings were ideologically repressed by those opposed to their Soviet Socialist provenance. Once Vygotskiian influences began to pervade classroom practice, teachers were quick to seize on the power of dialogue as a strategy. The ancient Socratic forms of education - where teachers questioned learners and where learning became a conversation - experienced a revival. Participatory and collaborative forms of education soon followed, as student centred approaches to education were adopted across all sectors of education. Behaviouristic, passive forms of learning fell out of favour, although vestiges of these didactic practices still remain.

Dialogue has proved time and again to be a very powerful aspect of learning. Ask yourself - how much have you learnt through conversations when compared to reading books? Learning through dialectical processes that lead to synthesis of disparate ideas or opposing perspectives turns out to be a strong foundation for successful critical thinking. Our ideas in isolation have limited power and reach. Our ideas, when shared, modified, repurposed and amplified, have a value that pertains to entire communities of interest. Extensive conversations with others within one's community of practice are now easier than ever, thanks to social media such as social networks, wikis and blogs. How much we can learn from each other is now moderated by the extent of our personal learning networks, rather than the boundaries of our classroom walls. Each of the pedagogies featured above has clearly played its role in the evolution of our school systems, but dialogic forms of pedagogy, in whatever format they occur, are the most influential in promoting long lasting educational impact.    

Photo source

Learning as dialogue 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

European Competition 2.0 for best practices in EdTech

Open Education Europa RSS - 16 Abril, 2014 - 16:56

The European Competition 2.0 asks teachers and educators to share the creative and effective ways they are using online resources or applications in their teaching practice.

Interest Area:  Training & Work Learning & Society

European Competition 2.0 for best practices in EdTech

Open Education Europa RSS - 16 Abril, 2014 - 16:56

The European Competition 2.0 asks teachers and educators to share the creative and effective ways they are using online resources or applications in their teaching practice.

Interest Area:  Training & Work Learning & Society

Totara releases Seedlings to the community, cutting edge features though not “suitable for production”

Moodle News - 16 Abril, 2014 - 15:30
Totara LMS has announced that it will be releasing a full featured version of it’s Moodle distribution which includes all Totara features in addition to those that are merely experimental....

The Intersection of Learning Analytics and Openness

Campus Technology - 16 Abril, 2014 - 14:47
As institutions put more stock in learning analytics, campus technology leaders explore how a culture of openness could make the difference between success or failure for the rising technology.

Webinar: Course Quality and Moodle: Exploring Best Practices 4/24 @ 2 PM EST

Moodle News - 16 Abril, 2014 - 14:40
Moodlerooms and Campus Technology are promoting a free webinar for Moodlers to discuss Course Quality and Moodle. The webinar will focus on the experience of course developers at the Adler School of...

5 Key Barriers to Educational Technology Adoption in the Developing World

Educational Technology Debate - 16 Abril, 2014 - 13:53

Educational technology will continue to be implemented incrementally in many parts of the developing world. More rapid uptake and success are unlikely to occur unless five items are addressed – power, Internet connectivity and bandwidth, quality teacher training, respect and better pay for teachers, and the sustainability of implementations.

1. Electrical Power

It is a fact: you need power to run technological devices and until power is widely available, reliable, and affordable for many in Africa and elsewhere, educational technology uptake will be slow.  About 70% of those living in sub-Saharan Africa do not have easy access to electrical power. Even if people could not afford to purchase various electronic gadgets, access to power as noted above, would improve their lives because they would be able to read after dark and would be healthier as they would not be exposed to fumes caused by burning fossil fuels and plant matter.

While conducting an extensive workshop for an international organization at the African Medical and Research Foundation (AMREF) in Kenya, we discussed how we could minimize the cost of delivering distance educational materials. One suggestion that was well-received was to reduce the size of the print, therefore less ink and paper would be used. On the surface the suggestion was brilliant until I closed the window blinds, and said, let’s take a print module with an 8 or 10-point font and see how easy it would be to read via a kerosene lamp and a candle. Material containing small-point fonts and serifs were difficult or impossible to read under low light conditions. Thus, one may save ink and paper by using these fonts, but the materials would be unreadable 12 hours each day when it is dark in many tropical countries.

Sometimes recommendations made from afar sound ideal, until implemented in a particular environment. When funding agencies indicate that they are willing to support educational technology initiatives, they should also consider how power will be provided to these devices; solar power and batteries being one option. Since China has made major investments in Africa and Southeast Asia, perhaps along with its extensive mining and road building projects it will add power-generation to its list of initiatives.

On June 30, 2013, in Cape Town, President Obama announced Power Africa – an initiative to double the number of people who will be able to access electricity on that continent. Initially, the project will focus on increasing electrical capacity in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria, and Tanzania. That is a good start, but what about the rest of Africa?

2. Internet Connectivity

The potential to increase Internet connectivity has risen substantially during the last four years due to the laying and planned installation of marine telecommunication cables. However, countries that are land-locked such as Chad and those that seem to show limited business demand for Internet services, such as Eritrea and Sierra Leone, are likely to experience difficulty increasing Internet access and bandwidth in the near future.

The challenge for all countries in the developing world is delivering the last “mile” of connectivity to homes for a reasonable cost. In addition, the bandwidth must be capable of carrying compressed videos so that citizens can have access to the wide variety of educational materials available in a video format and be able to exchange reasonable quality photographs and video clips. Increased Internet accessibility and increased bandwidth are unlikely to occur without commitment by governments and the involvement of private enterprise such as the mobile phone operators. In time perhaps, broadband access to the Internet will be considered a basic human right.

3. Training and Professional Development

Electrical power, Internet bandwidth, and electrical devices may all be present, but teachers need to know how to use them effectively. Teachers who have been brought up in a world with limited technology can find it difficult to use technology to engage and support learning. Whatever training and professional development opportunities that are provided to teachers must be long enough for them to grasp the concepts behind teaching with technology, to have hands-on experience using the technology, and to revise or develop one lesson that they can use when they return to their classroom or online environment.

Sessions should be held to help teachers locate, adapt, and translate open educational resources (OERs) for their learners. Based on my experience in countries such as Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, translating materials into the local language and having interpreters present may require additional resources and/or reduce the amount of content that can be given in a specified time. But at the end of the training session, a greater number of participants have increased knowledge and are better able to apply what they have learned. Teachers need quality pre-service training, but they also need on-going training and support from mentors.

Government bodies or funding agencies often talk about the need to foster a quality learning environment, but then provide funding for a large number of people to receive minimal training within a short period of time. Their focus seems to be on quantity not quality. Perhaps, when funds are limited, a more effective approach would be to give solid training to a few and have each commit to provide training to three others and so forth – a pyramid approach.

One of the initial failings of much publicized large-scale technological interventions such as the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) Project was the lack of training and support provided to teachers. (Though OLPC may have failed in some ways, the initiative spurred the development of affordable, mini computers for education and the discussion of the criteria to judge the success of educational technology implementation projects.)

However, it must be recognized that in many developing countries there is a shortage of qualified teachers; thus, efforts are placed on quantity not quality. Perhaps massive open online courses (MOOCs) are the answer, but not in the form that is prevalent today as current MOOCs tend to appeal to people who are already well-educated and have access to adequate Internet bandwidth to view well-crafted videos. For those in developing countries, MOOCs may need to be more localized, more practical, and require less bandwidth than those offered elsewhere.

The videos may need to be shorter or consist of several self-contained but inter-related segments. The MOOCs may also need to be part of a blended learning environment that fosters the development of local learning communities so that learners can obtain the face-to-face contact that is part of their rich-cultural heritage.

4. Value Teachers

Teachers should be valued more, yet in many places they are not. Being paid a proper living wage relative to others in an area is part of it, but the other is respect for the profession. People cannot focus on teaching if they must hold several part-time jobs in order to support themselves and their families. Teachers should be looked upon as cornerstones of the society as upon them rests the responsibility of educating the next generation.

Thus, the best minds need to be attracted to teaching. People who genuinely care about helping others need to be attracted to teaching. Yet, some teachers I meet in emerging nations think of teaching as something to do rather than something they want to do. They think of filling heads with content rather that engaging students to solve problems and encouraging them to view the world from different perspectives.

Today, one needs teachers who are willing to try new methods and technology, and willing to fail as they strive to improve themselves. Trying, failing, and succeeding is what learning is all about.

5. Sustainability

The outcome of any educational technology project in the developing world must have at least two aspects. First, how does the technology or instructional method improve learning and second, how will the technology or method be sustained once initial funding has ended? I personally know a few educational professionals who get excited by the latest trends – currently, the use of tablets or MOOCs.

When I ask them about sustainability, they raise their eyebrows and wonder why I am not focused on the potential merits of a new device or method. Why am I not exciting by the possibilities? I am. But experience has demonstrated over and over that glitzy technology is initially very appealing and accompanied by exaggerated claims of being a “dragon slayer” or a solution to all that ails the educational system; but if it cannot be supported and maintained, it becomes a sophisticated paper weight.

New instructional methods that cannot be sustained frustrate those who spent considerable time to learn them only to find that they can’t maintain them. Resources and time are lost. Developing countries do not have resources to lose or time to waste.

Yes, the implementation of educational technology could facilitate and support effective teaching and learning, but there are many challenges involved in implementing technology in developing countries (see Recurring Issues Encountered by Distance Educators in Developing and Emerging Nations and Developing and Deploying OERs in sub-Saharan Africa: Building on the Present).

We can talk as much as we want about various educational technologies and their potential, but until the above issues are addressed in a significant manner, educational progress will be slow in some parts of the world.

Clayton R. Wright, International Education Consultant, Canada

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Choose your silo (or, Why are we partying like it’s 1999?)

OLDaily - 16 Abril, 2014 - 12:30

Doug Belshaw, April 16, 2014

Even in 1999 things were more open than they are in mobile computing today. Right now, it feels more like the days of AOL and Compuserv - completely separate (and expensive) information silos. "It’ s nothing new," writes Doug Belshaw. "The  Agricultural Revolution in England 250 years ago provides another example. Here, common land was literally ‘ enclosed’ for private profit. The people on the land protested, but rapacious capitalists forced legislation through by way of ties with the government." We need to resist, writes Belshaw. "As users, let's not be seduced by 'free' as in 'free beer' but actively fight for 'free' as in 'liberty'." And let's support 'open', not as in 'for business' but as in 'doors'.

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Categorías: General

Time to retire from online learning?

OLDaily - 16 Abril, 2014 - 12:02

Tony Bates, online learning, distance edcuation resources, April 16, 2014

Tony Bates is calling it a career. "After 45 years continuously working in online and distance education," he writes, "I’ ve certainly earned the right to stop." Among other reasons, he is upset about MOOCs - not the concept, but the hubris and nonsense - "Having ignored online learning for nearly 20 years, Stanford, MIT and Harvard had to re-invent online learning in their own image to maintain their perceived superiority in all things higher educational." Bates will continue to write and continue the blog, but most activities will end. I think it's fitting to say here that his contribution has been significant and that if I'm granted another 20 years in the business (I'm 55 to his 75) the impact of his work will certainly be felt in my own.

See also: D'Arcy Norman.

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Categorías: General

Stand Up and Be Counted

OLDaily - 16 Abril, 2014 - 11:46

Carl Straumsheim, Inside Higher Ed, April 16, 2014

So, how is this going to work? Maryland has issued a letter telling distance education providers to students in the state to stand up and be counted. "Higher education institutions offering fully online education to Maryland residents must submit an application to register with the Maryland Higher Education Commission,” the letter reads. If you reply, then Maryland demands you "pay an annual registration fee of $1,000 and a bond valued at five times the average cost of tuition." But what if they don't - what if the provider is from Finland, or India, or Canada? I would resist such a demand to the full limit of the law - because compliance would mean a flood of demands for registration from thousands of jurisdictions around the world. Google or Microsoft can handle that and simply pass on the cost. The rest of us can't. So, what then? Would Maryland start blocking illegal online learning, the way the U.S. blocks casinos and Turkey blocks YouTube? There's no good end-game in that scenario.

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Categorías: General

Mis lecturas para estas vacaciones…

e-aprendizaje - 16 Abril, 2014 - 09:01

Esta semana he decidido hacer un descanso para desintoxicarme de mi adición digital, así es que este artículo lleva varios días escrito y estaba programado para que se publicara exactamente hoy miércoles a las 9:01 de la mañana.

En este momento, de hecho, ya llevaré bastante avanzadas mis lecturas vacacionales, que me gustaría compartir contigo.

El primero es una reciente publicación de la Editorial UOC, una introducción a la curación de contenidos coescrita por Los Content Curators, es decir Javier Guallar y Javier Leiva-Aguilera, probablemente dos de los tipos que más saben sobre este tema en España. El libro lleva por título El Content Curator.

El segundo es Educar en la era planetaria, de Edgar Morin, Emilio Roger Ciurana y Raúl Domingo Motta, y es fruto de la evaluación de las experiencias de formación y debate realizadas por la Cátedra UNESCO “Edgar Morin” para el Pensamiento Complejo. Esta publicación está disponible para descarga gratuita en la página web de Edgar Morin.

Por último un cómic que me regaló Fernando Trujillo hace un par de meses: Julian Assange, de la Ética Hacker a Wikileaks, una biografía ilustrada de uno de los hackers más famosos de esta última década.

Prometo reseñas a la vuelta de vacaciones.

Y por cierto, ¿tú que vas a leer estos días? ¿Nos dejas tus recomendaciones en los comentarios?