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On the Question of Validity in Learning Analytics

OLDaily - 20 Octubre, 2014 - 02:54
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Adam Cooper, CETIS Blogs, Oct 19, 2014

So your learning analytics have produced a result. How do you know you should rely on it? As Adam Cooper writes in this post, there are two dimensions of assessment of analytics results: reliability (or, how closely focused the results are on a single value), and validity (or, how closely the results are to the correct result). Note, he writes, that mere predictive accuracy is not enough to establish validity. How does the prediction compare to a random result? How many false positives and false negatives were there? The prediction could be accurate, in other words, but lucky. But more, we need to ask whether the tool could ever be used in practise and whether the results generalize or are reproducible.

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Categorías: General

What students learned from an MIT physics MOOC

Tony Bates - 20 Octubre, 2014 - 01:19

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

Why this paper?

I don’t normally review individual journal articles, but I am making an exception in this case for several reasons:

  • it is the only research publication I have seen that attempts to measure actual learning from a MOOC in a quantitative manner (if you know of other publications, please let me know)
  • as you’d expect from MIT, the research is well conducted, within the parameters of a quasi-experimental design
  • the paper indicates, in line with many other comparisons between modes of delivery, that the conditions which are associated with the context of teaching are more important than just the mode of delivery
  • I was having to read this paper carefully for my book on ‘Teaching in a Digital Age’, but for reasons of space I would not be able to go into detail on this paper for my book, so I might as well share my full analysis with you.
What was the course?

8.MReV – Mechanics ReView, an introduction to Newtonian Mechanics, is the online version of a similar course offered on campus in the spring for MIT students who failed the Introductory Newtonian Mechanics in the fall. In other words, it is based on a second-chance course for MIT-based campus students.

The online version was offered in the summer semester as a free, open access course through edX and was aimed particularly at high school physics teachers but also to anyone else interested. The course consisted of the following components:

  • an online eText, especially designed for the course
  • reference materials both inside the course and outside the course (e.g., Google, Wikipedia, or a textbook)
  • an online discussion area/forum
  • mainly multiple-choice online tests and ‘quizzes’, interspersed on a weekly basis throughout the course.

Approximately 17,000 people signed-up for 8.MReV. Most dropped out with no sign of commitment to the course; only 1,500 students were “passing” or on-track to earn a certificate after the second assignment. Most of those completing less than 50% of the homework and quiz problems dropped out during the course and did not take the post-test, so the analysis included only the 1,080 students who attempted more than 50% of the questions in the course. 1,030 students earned certificates.

Thus the study measured only the learning of the most successful online students (in terms of completing the online course).

Methodology (summary)

The study measured primarily ‘conceptual’ learning, based mainly on multiple-choice questions demanding a student response that generally can be judged right or wrong. Students were given a pre-test before the course and a post-test at the end of the course.

Two methods to test learning were used: a comparison between each student’s pre-test and post-test score to measure the learning gain during the course; and an analysis based on Item Response Theory (IRT) which does not show absolute learning (as measured by pre-post testing), but rather improvement relative to “class average.”

Because of the large size of the MOOC participants included in the study, the researchers were able to analyse performance between various ‘cohorts’ within the MOOC participants such as:

  • physics teachers
  • not physics teachers
  • physics background
  • no physics background
  • college math
  • no math
  • post-graduate qualification
  • bachelor degree
  • no more than high school

Lastly, the scores of the MOOC participants were compared with the scores of those taking the on-campus version of the course, which had the following features:

  • four hours of instruction in which staff interacted with small groups of students (a flipped classroom) each week,
  • staff office hours,
  • help from fellow students,
  • available physics tutors,
  • MIT library
Main results (summary)
  • gains in knowledge for the MOOC group were generally higher than those found in traditional, lecture-based classes and lower than (but closer to) those found in ‘interactive’ classes, but this result is hedged around with some considerable qualifications (‘more studies on MOOCs need to be done to confirm this’.)
  • in spite of the extra instruction that the on-campus students had, there was no evidence of positive, weekly relative improvement of the on-campus students compared with our online students. (Indeed, if my reading of Figure 5 in the paper is correct, the on-campus students did considerably worse).
  • there was no evidence within the MOOC group that cohorts with low initial ability learned less than the other cohorts
Conclusions

This is a valuable research report, carefully conducted and cautiously interpreted by the authors. However, for these reasons, it is really important not to jump to conclusions. In particular, the authors’ own caution at the end of the paper should be noted:

It is … important to note the many gross differences between 8.MReV and on-campus education. Our self-selected online students are interested in learning, considerably older, and generally have many more years of college education than the on-campus freshmen with whom they have been compared. The on-campus students are taking a required course that most have failed to pass in a previous attempt. Moreover, there are more dropouts in the online course … and these dropouts may well be students learning less than those who remained. The pre- and posttest analysis is further blurred by the fact that the MOOC students could consult resources before answering, and, in fact, did consult within course resources significantly more during the posttest than in the pretest.

To this I would add that the design of this MOOC was somewhat different to many other xMOOCs in that it was based on online texts specially designed for the MOOC, and not on video lectures.

I’m still not sure from reading the paper how much students actually learned from the MOOC. About 1,000 who finished the course got a certificate, but it is difficult to interpret the gain in knowledge. The statistical measurement of an average gain of 0.3 doesn’t mean a lot. There is some mention of the difference being between a B and a B+, but I have probably misinterpreted that. If it is the case, though, I certainly would expect students taking a 13 week course to do much better than that. It would have been more helpful to have graded students on the pre-test then compared those grades on the post-test. We could then see if gains were in the order of at least one grade better, for instance.

Finally, this MOOC design suits a behaviourist-cognitivist approach to learning that places heavy emphasis on correct answers to conceptual questions. It is less likely to develop the skills I have identified as being needed in a digital age.

 

 

Estudiar Historia para cambiar mi realidad

¿Qué es lo que no me gusta del mundo en el que vivo? ¿Cómo puedo cambiarlo? Cuestiones iniciales que dan sentido a  "Somos la Revolución", un REA por proyectos para Secundaria y Bachillerato en el que aprender Historia sirve para entender el mundo actual y actuar para mejorarlo.

Los alumnos no se limitan a estudiar Historia. Trabajan cooperativamente con ella afrontando desafíos como crear un canal de radio sobre Historia o diseñar (y compartir) un archivo virtual de documentos históricos. Finalmente, se convierten en protagonistas de la Historia como autores de una canción, texto, vídeo o cartel en el que expresan sus propuestas para cambiar las situaciones injustas de hoy en día.

Este nuevo REA del #proyectoEDIA para Geografía e Historia es una propuesta abierta que puede trabajarse desde áreas como Lengua, Matemáticas, Plástica o Tecnología... La "revolución" llega al aula de Historia para poner a los alumnos a reflexionar, cooperar y compartir.

Revealed: how Whisper app tracks ‘anonymous’ users

OLDaily - 19 Octubre, 2014 - 02:51
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Paul Lewis, Dominic Rushe, The Guardian, Oct 18, 2014

The Guardian is  standing by its story that Whisper, the application that guarantees complete anonymity to users, is tracking and sharing their locations. For its part, although Whisper dismisses the Guardian story as a pack of lies, it has also altered its terms of service to  allow such tracking. And  according to American Journalism Review, "Whisper in particular is aggressively pushing its content to reporters as potential sources  for news stories." It also had a  partnership with Buzzfeed and the  cable news channel Fusion. The thing is,  you can't be an anonymous app and a news source at the same time. Some links via American Press Institute 'Need to Know'.

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Categorías: General

Openness and the Future of Education and Society

iterating toward openness - 18 Octubre, 2014 - 23:52

During conversations this week at the semi-annual meeting of the Shuttleworth Foundation Fellows, I was struck by (what is for me) a new way of contextualizing and understanding “open” – as one of a long line of technological innovations that radically improve productivity.

History is filled with technological innovations that have increased our “productivity,” making it significantly less expensive for us to engage in some activity than it had been prior to the innovation. I have often thought of open as being part of the family tree of information technology innovations that includes inventions like writing, the printing press, computers, and the internet. But my previous conceptualization of these inventions was limited to a general notion of “inventions that enable us do that we couldn’t before.” This framing does not explicitly consider their impact of open on our productivity in a market sense. It was the juxtaposition of a conversation about sustainability with Fellows Peter Bloom and Johnny West against Jeremy Rifkin’s The Zero Marginal Cost Society, which I recently finished reading, that really catalyzed this new perspective.

Specifically, it hit me as I listened to Peter talk about his work with Rhizomatica, a project that provides open source cellular infrastructure and service in rural Mexico. As opposed to the proprietary approach to cellular infrastructure, in which it might cost a $100,000 to put up a radio tower, Rhizomatica can put up a radio tower based on open source software for about $7500. As opposed to a traditional monthly cellphone bill of $100 or more, Rhizomatica provides cell service for $1.70 per month.

Listening to him talk I was reminded of my own work with Lumen. Whereas it can easily cost a traditional publisher $250,000 to create a textbook under the incumbent, royalty-based content model, we can facilitate faculty creating an OER-based replacement for that textbook for under $10,000. And rather than producing an end product that can cost students $200 or more, we can provide hosting, integration, and support for that OER-based textbook replacement for $5.

In both these cases – textbooks and cellular service – open approaches create productivity gains ranging between one and two orders of magnitude in size. Orders of magnitude – meaning they make it between 10x and 100x cheaper than the incumbent way of doing things.

I was already intimately aware of the orders of magnitude impact open can have on the cost of textbooks. But seeing it mirrored back almost perfectly in the case of cell phone infrastructure and service unlocked something for me. One instance is an anomaly, but two starts to look like a trend.

If open can create these orders of magnitude productivity gains in the cases of both textbooks and cellular service, where else does it create them? A second’s reflection surfaces cases like writing software and encyclopedias… But those kinds of examples weren’t what was setting my radar off. There’s something about the idea of cellular service falling pray to these orders of magnitude productivity gains from open (OMPGO for brevity) that feels like a virus jumping from one species to another. Cell service isn’t the kind of thing that’s supposed to be susceptible to OMPGO, at least not intuitively. Something serious is going on here.

Upon reflection I’ve slowly been having this species-jumping realization in my own little microcosm of focus, education. Textbooks are intuitively susceptible to OMPGO, but learning outcomes, assessments, and credentials are not. The extension of open and, consequently OMPGO, to the fundamental pieces necessary to engage in education – learning outcomes, content, assessments, and credentials – makes up what I call the open education infrastructure. The potential impacts of the open education infrastructure on primary, secondary, and higher education are endless. What would our institutions and practices look like if they could be built upon freely available, openly licensed sets of learning outcomes, textbook replacements, assessments, and credentialing mechanisms? What types of alternatives to our traditional institutions would emerge in this fertile ground in which experimentation and innovation becomes orders of magnitude less expensive?

But cellular service… Where else can OMPGO travel? A second conversation with Peter later in the week suggested that it is already impacting energy, clean water, and a range of other functions at the foundation of society. In addition to the open education infrastructure, do we dare begin talking about the open society infrastructure? If OMPGO can work its magic on energy, clean water, telecommunications, and education, where else can it go? Pondering this question reminded me of Marcin, a Shuttleworth Fellowship alum who is creating the Global Village Construction Set, an open source platform that allows for the easy fabrication of the 50 industrial machines necessary to build a small civilization with modern comforts. Each of his designs bares the characteristic OMPGO signature of being orders of magnitude less expensive than their commercial counterparts (e.g., their open source tractor).

Little would make me happier than a fully developed open education infrastructure operating as part of a broader open infrastructure supporting an advanced society – where power, water, phone, internet, education, and other key infrastructure pieces were 10x – 100x less expensive than they are now. What a world it would be.

Postscript.

At the bottom of the OMPGO phenomenon lies a technological innovation called the open license. Open licenses stand in clear opposition to the ultimate viral copyright machinery, the Berne Convention, which automatically forces copyright onto each and every creative work whether the author desires it or not. Rather than envisioning a society built exclusively on protections and royalties, as Berne does, open licenses enable a society also built on sharing and cooperation. (And importantly, these two visions of society are not incompatible – the Internet, unarguably the biggest engine of the modern market, is built almost entirely on an infrastructure comprised of open source software.)

While it’s contours are still blurry, I can see in the far distance a vision of an entire society built more fully on open infrastructure, with the impact of OMPGO spread generously throughout every sector. It takes my breath away. For now, I’ll keep chipping away on the education part of the problem with the Lumen team and others in the space. But WOW there is so much work to do, in so many different spaces, and so much yet for us to learn from each other across spaces. My conversations with Peter helped me appreciate that more than ever.

This time it's personal

Learning with 'e's - 18 Octubre, 2014 - 22:28
Personal. Idiosyncratic. Individual. Separate. Different. Unique. Singular. Distinct. You.

Yes, you. Nobody else is like you. Many are similar, but only you are... you. That means that when you learn, you do it differently to everyone else. If you are a student you may be sat in the same classroom or lecture hall as many other students, and listening to the same content, but you interpret it differently to everyone else. You have a unique experience, peculiar to you. You have your own preferences, approaches and strategies. It follows that the tools and technologies you use for learning are those you have selected to use because you are (or should be) comfortable with them, personally. These tools, services and technologies become a part of your personal learning environment or PLE. The PLE is an approach rather than a technology.  It is something that evolves as we evolve, and adapts to our new knowledge and skills, our changing contexts and our circumstances.

Much has been written on PLEs, including a wealth of peer reviewed journal articles that feature empirical research. There is also at least one specialised conference dedicated to the concept. You can trawl the Web (using your PLE tools) and discover many videos, websites and blogs that focus largely on PLEs and their place in education. There is also a strong discourse around PLEs and the philosophy that underpins the concept.

One of my third year teacher education students, Tyla Elworthy, added to the discourse recently when she decided to create an animated video about PLEs and personalised learning. View it and I think you will agree that she has captured the essences of the idea, along with some useful discussion around its significance in education, now and in the near future.


Photo by Adib Wahab



This time it's personal 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

Having fun at the Taccle2 Conference

Pontydysgu - Bridge to Learning - 18 Octubre, 2014 - 16:12

This week we are in Brussels for the final meeting and conference of the Taccle2 project. More info and ideas to come but for now, here’s a sneak peek of what went on!

Review of ‘Online Distance Education: Towards a Research Agenda.’

Tony Bates - 18 Octubre, 2014 - 16:04

Drop-out: the elephant in the DE room that no-one wants to talk about

Zawacki-Richter, O. and Anderson, T. (eds.) (2014) Online Distance Education: Towards a Research Agenda Athabasca AB: AU Press, pp. 508

It is somewhat daunting to review a book of over 500 pages of research on any topic. I doubt if few other than the editors are likely to read this book from cover to cover. It is more likely to be kept on one’s bookshelf (if these still exist in a digital age) for reference whenever needed. Nevertheless, this is an important work that anyone working in online learning needs to be aware of, so I will do my best to cover it as comprehensively as I can.

Structure of the book

The book is a collection of about 20 chapters by a variety of different authors (more on the choice of authors later). Based on a Delphi study and analysis of ‘key research journals’ in the field, the editors have organized the topic into three sections, with a set of chapters on each sub-section, as follows:

1. Macro-level research: distance education systems and theories

  • access, equity and ethics
  • globalization and cross-cultural issues
  • distance teaching systems and institutions
  • theories and models
  • research methods and knowledge transfer

2. Meso-level research: management, organization and technology

  • management and organization
  • costs and benefits
  • educational technology
  • innovation and change
  • professional development and faculty support
  • learner support services
  • quality assurance

3. Micro-level: teaching and learning in distance education

  • instructional/learning design
  • interaction and communication
  • learner characteristics.

In addition, there is a very useful preface from Otto Peters, an introductory chapter by the editors where they justify their structural organization of research, and a short conclusion that calls for a systematic research agenda in online distance education research.

More importantly, perhaps, Terry Anderson and Olaf Zawacki-Richter demonstrate empirically that research in this field has been skewed towards micro-level research (about half of all publications).  Interestingly, and somewhat surprisingly given its importance, costs and benefits of online distance education is the least researched area.

What I liked

It is somewhat invidious to pick out particular chapters, because different people will have different interests from such a wide-ranging list of topics. I have tended to choose those that I found were new and/or particularly enlightening for me, but other readers’ choices will be different. However, by selecting a few excellent chapters, I hope to give some idea of the quality of the book.

1. The structuring/organization of research

Anderson and Zawacki-Richter have done an excellent job in providing a structural framework for research in this field. This will be useful both for those teaching about online and distance education but in particular for potential Ph.D. students wondering what to study. This book will provide an essential starting point.

2. Summary of the issues in each area of research

Again, the editors have done an excellent job in their introductory chapter in summarizing the content of each of the chapters that follows, and in so doing pulling out the key themes and issues within each area of research. This alone makes the book worthwhile.

3. Globalization, Culture and Online Distance Education

Charlotte (Lani) Gunawardena of the University of New Mexico has written the most comprehensive and deep analysis of this issue that I have seen, and it is an area in which I have a great deal of interest, since most of the online teaching I have done has been with students from around the world and sometimes multi-lingual.

After a general discussion of the issue of globalization and education, she reviews research in the following areas:

  • diverse educational expectations
  • learners and preferred ways of learning
  • socio-cultural environment and online interaction
  • help-seeking behaviours
  • silence
  • language learning
  • researching culture and online distance learning

This chapter should be required reading for anyone contemplating teaching online.

4. Quality assurance in Online Distance Education

I picked this chapter by Colin Latchem because he is so deeply expert in this field that he is able to make what can be a numbingly boring but immensely important topic a fun read, while at the same time ending with some critical questions about quality assurance. In particular Latchem looks at QA from the following perspectives:

  • definitions of quality
  • accreditation
  • online distance education vs campus-based teaching
  • quality standards
  • transnational online distance education
  • open educational resources
  • costs of QA
  • is online distance education yet good enough?
  • an outcomes approach to QA.

This chapter definitely showcases a master at the top of his game.

5. The elephant in the room: student drop-out

This is a wonderfully funny but ultimately serious argument between Ormond Simpson and Alan Woodley about the elephant in the distance education room that no-one wants to mention. Here they start poking the elephant with some sticks (which they note is not likely to be a career-enhancing move.) The basic argument is that institutions should and could do more to reduce drop-out/increase course completion. This chapter also stunned me with providing hard data about really low completion rates for most open university students. I couldn’t help comparing these with the high completion rates for online credit courses at dual-mode (campus-based) institutions, at least in Canada (which of course are not ‘open’ institutions in that students must have good high school qualifications.)

Woodley’s solution to reducing drop-out is quite interesting (and later well argued):

  • make it harder to get in
  • make it harder to get out

In both cases, really practical and not too costly solutions are offered that nevertheless are consistent with open access and high quality teaching.

In summary

The book contains a number of really good chapters that lay out the issues in researching online distance education.

What I disliked

I have to say that I groaned when I first saw the list of contributors. The same old, same old list of distance education experts with a heavy bias towards open universities. Sure, they are nearly all well-seasoned experts, and there’s nothing wrong with that per se (after all, I see myself as one of them.)

But where are the young researchers here, and especially the researchers in open educational resources, MOOCs, social media applications in online learning, and above all researchers from the many campus-based universities now mainstreaming online learning? There is almost nothing in the book about research into blended learning, and flipped classrooms are not even mentioned. OK, the book is about online distance learning but the barriers or distinctions are coming down with a vengeance. This book will never reach those who most need it, the many campus-based instructors now venturing for the first time into online learning in one way or another. They don’t see themselves as primarily distance educators.

And a few of the articles were more like lessons in history than an up-to-date review of research in the field. Readers of this blog will know that I strongly value the history of educational technology and distance learning. But these lessons need to be embedded in the here and now. In particular, the lessons need to be spelled out. It is not enough to know that Stanford University researchers as long ago as 1974 were researching the costs and benefits of educational broadcasting in developing countries, but what lessons does this have for some of the outrageous claims being made about MOOCs? A great deal in fact, but this needs explaining in the context of MOOCs today.

Also the book is solely focused on post-secondary university education. Where is the research on online distance education in the k-12/school sector or the two-year college/vocational sector? Maybe they are topics for other books, but this is where the real gap exists in research publications in online learning.

Lastly, although the book is reasonably priced for its size (C$40), and is available as an e-text as well as the fully printed version, what a pity it is not an open textbook that could then be up-dated and crowd-sourced over time.

Conclusion

This is essential reading for anyone who wants to take a professional, evidence-based approach to online learning (distance or otherwise). It will be particularly valuable for students wanting to do research in this area. The editors have done an incredibly good job of presenting a hugely diverse and scattered area in a clear and structured manner. Many of the chapters are gems of insight and knowledge in the field.

However, we have a huge challenge of knowledge transfer in this field. Repeatedly authors in the book lamented that many of the new entrants to online learning are woefully ignorant of the research previously done in this field. We need a better way to disseminate this research than a 500 page printed text that only those already expert in the field are likely to access. On the other hand, the book does provide a strong foundation from which to find better ways to disseminate this knowledge. Knowledge dissemination in a digital world then is where the research agenda for online learning needs to focus.

 

Canon Debuts WUXGA LCoS Installation Projector

Campus Technology - 18 Octubre, 2014 - 00:29
Canon has added a new high-resolution, high-light-output installation projector to its REALiS line of LCoS-based projectors.

Hack Education Weekly News: Yes, #Gamergate is an Ed-Tech Issue

Hack Education - 17 Octubre, 2014 - 23:22

For the second week in a row, I am compelled to open my round-up of education-related stories with news of ongoing harassment and threats against women in technology. This week, it's a look at #Gamergate, which has been going on for months now, but this week escalated to new levels.

Cultural critic Anita Sarkeesian was forced to cancel a speaking engagement at Utah State University. Because of a Utah law, campus officials told her that they could not stop attendees from bringing concealed weapons into her talk — even though the campus had received a threat from someone calling himself Marc Lépine and promising "the deadliest school shooting in American history" if Sarkeesian spoke. (Lépine was the man who, in 1989, killed 14 women at École Polytechnique, an engineering school in Montreal, Quebec.)

Also chased from her home this week: game developer Brianna Wu. Someone posted her address on Twitter, then threatened her with rape and murder. (Here’s her first person account.)

I wrote about this as “What You Should Know This Week” over on Educating Modern Learners (free subscription required.) And I insist that this is an education technology issue. I received some pushback on Twitter last night (from men, go figure) when I made this assertion and asked why ed-tech publications have been so silent on the topic of this ongoing campaign of threats and harassment against women.

It’s an education technology issue, in part, because of the expectations that we all are supposed interact online – for profession, personal, and academic purposes. What does that look like for girls and women? You can’t just tell us to “not read the comments” when the threats against us escalate.

It’s an education technology issue because women like Sarkeesian and Kathy Sierra (who I wrote about last week) are educators (in gaming and in tech respectively).

It’s an education technology issue because we must address the culture of meritocracy misogyny that permeates so much of the technology industry, particularly as we bring more and more of its products, services, engineers, entrepreneurs, and ideology into education.

That so many men in ed-tech continue to minimize the experiences of harassment and violence against women in ed-tech is pretty telling about whose values and whose risks are being hard-coded into the infrastructure.

Duly noted.

And in other news…

Education Law and Politics

Karen Lewis announced last week that she was stepping down as the head of the Chicago Teachers Union, and this week, she confirmed that she will not run for Chicago mayor because she’s suffering from a brain tumor. Get well soon, Karen.

LAUSD will not release an inspector general’s report into the district’s decision-making process that went into its massive purchase of iPads and Pearson curriculum. The school board voted 4–3 against releasing the information to the public.

Via Reuters (which has a great photo to accompany this story, I must say): “Donald Trump is personally liable for operating a for-profit investment school without the required license, a New York judge ruled in a lawsuit brought by the New York Attorney General against the real estate entrepreneur.”

And in other celebrity-related education news: “Alex Trebek-Endorsed Education Program Duped Parents, FTC Says.”

According to the Wyoming Attorney General, students cannot opt out of state assessments.

The Michigan Department of Education is letting schools request waivers if they aren’t technologically prepared to offer assessments online. The schools will be allowed to use pencil-and-paper exams for one more year.

Texas is weighing whether or not to renew its testing contract with Pearson. “Texas is amongst America’s biggest and most influential states when it comes to education spending – the linchpin in the North American market, which accounts for 59pc of Pearson’s revenues and 66pc of its profits.”

“Baker Mitchell is a politically connected North Carolina businessman who celebrates the power of the free market. Every year, millions of public education dollars flow through Mitchell’s chain of four nonprofit charter schools to for-profit companies he controls.” Read the whole story on ProPublica.

Louisiana “Gov. Bobby Jindal will likely block Louisiana from applying for a $15 million federal preschool grant that could help poor children in Louisiana because of concerns the money is tied to the Common Core academic standards.” You know, for the sake of the children.

EBOLA!!!!!!

Some schools were closed in Texas and Ohio due to the Ebola scare because if there’s one thing Americans do well it’s overreact to cable news and misconstrue science. I mean, FFS, folks aren’t immunizing their children against polio or measles but we’re gonna close schools because of Ebola?!

In Pennsylvania, “West African Teen Taunted With Chants of ‘Ebola’ at High School Soccer Game.”

Syracuse University has withdrawn its invitation to Pulitzer Prize winning photojournalist Michel du Cille to speak on campus because he’s been in Liberia.

Navarro College in Texas reportedly turned down an application from a student from Nigeria, according to Vocativ, “writing that it’s not accepting international students “from countries with confirmed Ebola cases.” The school has responded saying that some students ”students “received incorrect information regarding their applications to the institution" and it’s actually not recruiting students from anywhere in Africa. Oh. That clears things right up.

MOOCs and UnMOOCs

Coursera is expanding its Specializations program, which sells students special certificates if they pass multiple MOOCs. Specializations include Data Science, Data Mining, Cybersecurity, and a Virtual Teacher Program. All this is a clue to answer the question “How Does Coursera Make Money?

“The Real Revolution in Online Education Isn’t MOOCs,” says the Harvard Business Review, which is definitely the publication I trust most to address “real revolution.”

From Times Higher Education: “Moocs ‘will not transform education’, says FutureLearn chief.”

But hey, via Marketplace: MOOCs go to high school.

And “in Texas political circles, massive open online courses — commonly known as MOOCs — have enjoyed a resurgence.” More on this exciting development via the Texas Tribune.

You can now sign up for the “first European Multilingual MOOCs” on EMMA, the European Multilingual MOOC Aggregator.

Via Campus Technology: “How Southern New Hampshire U Develops 650-Plus Online Courses Per Year.” In part, like this: “All that is designed in-house and built by our production team into Blackboard, our LMS. That becomes our one course model — our master course — and we then copy that out depending on how many sections are needed for that term. The instructor receives a fully completed course. It is great for us because we can ensure a lot of consistency across our sections.” Doesn't sound so great for the instructor or students, but hey.

Meanwhile on Campus

“Earlier this week a coalition of nearly 20 media organizations—including the Society of Professional Journalists—ratcheted up its support for the Playwickian’s staff,” reports The Atlantic. The student newspaper of Neshaminy High School in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, announced earlier this year that it would no longer use “Redskins” to describe the schools’ sports teams as the word is a racial slur. In response, the principal punished the student editor and faculty advisor, removing the former from her position for the month of September, and cut the paper’s funding.

Inside Higher Ed takes a look at what Cathy Davidson has planned in her new role at the Graduate Center at CUNY.

A group of Harvard Law School professors say that the university’s new sexual assault policies “lack the most basic elements of fairness and due process, are overwhelmingly stacked against the accused, and are in no way required by Title IX law or regulation.”

The AP reports that New York City is poised to end its ban on cellphones in schools.

In an effort to curb student loan debt, Broward College, a community college in Florida, will no longer allow students to borrow unsubsidized loans. NPR has the story.

The elite boarding school Phillips Academy is launching the Tang Institute, “a hub for innovative approaches to teaching and learning and a catalyst for creating partnerships with educators around the world.” Projects include its course development work with Khan Academy.

Via The Huffington Post: “A Detroit-area high school has suspended an honors student for the rest of the school year over a pocketknife the student says she had by accident.” Care to guess her race?

Go, School Sports Team!

Notre Dame football players DaVaris Daniels, Kendall Moore, and Ishaq Williams will not play this season, following an investigation into academic fraud.

The University of Oregon football team beat UCLA last weekend. UO Matters notes that while the latter spends 2% of its budget on athletics, the UO spends 13%. Go Ducks!

Six football players at Sayreville High School have been charged with hazing and sexual assault after assaulting younger players in the locker room.

On Friday, the New York Times published a lengthy examination of criminal accusations against Florida State University’s football players (including theft, rape, and domestic violence) and the steps that the university and local police seem to have taken to stop investigations and prosecutions. Quarterback Treon Harris was suspended from the team after accusations of sexual assault, but following the NYT story the student accusing Harris dropped the charges. Here’s The Chronicle of Higher Education’s coverage. The university now says that Heismann Trophy winner Jameis Winston will face a disciplinary hearing into charges of sexual assault. Sports Illustrated suggests that his best legal move, in response, might be to drop out of school.

From the HR Department

LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy resigned this week, on the heels of investigations into the district’s iPad procurement process and failures of its new student information system. Ray Cortines has been named interim superintendent.

Former R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe is now a visiting artist and scholar in residence at the NYU Steinhardt Department of Art.

Jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis is now the director of the jazz-studies program at Juilliard School of Music. (The Chronicle of Higher Education has a profile.)

Harvard Graduate School of Education professor Hunter Gehlbach is joining education survey company Panorama as its director of research.

Katrina Stevens will be the new executive director of EdTech Maryland. Edsurge has a nice profile.

Upgrades and Downgrades

Blah blah blah an Apple event blah blah blah

General Assembly is launching “The GA Credentialing Network,” an initiative in partnership with 20 companies, that will offer “competency-based credentials for high-skilled positions in technology, design, and business.”

You can now reward badges on Salesforce, thanks to a new app from Credly.

The American Library Association “decries confirmed reader data breaches by Adobe and calls for immediate corrective action to encrypt and protect reader information.”

The latest security vulnerability: POODLE, which despite the ridiculous name, is pretty serious as it affects SSL 3.0.

But still nothing beats humans for the ultimate security vulnerability. In Virginia, “Richmond school officials are conducting an intensive internal investigation of student records after a School Board member shared confidential information about at least 20 students with a vendor that provides mental health services.”

Dropbox insists it wasn’t hacked, although someone claimed to have the username and passwords of some 7 million users. Snapchat also insisted that the leak of a massive trove of Snapchat photos (including many teen nudes) was not its fault.

Major downgrade: Simon Fraser University is retiring SFU Blogs and driving activity into its LMS.

Blackboard says that it will stop supporting Angel (which it acquired back in 2009) on October 15, 2016. No rush, guys.

Google’s pushed out the first round of updates to Google Classroom, including the ability to “export all grades” – which I’m guessing by the way it’s phrased does not mean via an API but via a download, that a teacher can then turn around and upload into a grade book. Super efficient.

Hewlett Packard “hopes its breakup will benefit schools.” LOL. Great spin.

Knewton is partnering with Santillana, a large Latin American textbook publisher.

Disney Accelerator Startups Mix Education and Entertainment,” prompting Edsurge to ask “Is this a sign that ”edutainment“ companies are back in vogue?” As if edutainment ever went out of fashion!

Pencil makers try to stay relevant.

Funding and Acquisitions

The for-profit wanna-be elite university startup Minerva has raised $70 million from TAL Education Group, ZhenFund, Yongjin Group, and Benchmark. This brings to $95 million the total raised by the company.

Brainly, a homework help site (or “social learning platform,” I guess that’s another way to describe it), has raised $9 million from General Catalyst Partners, Point Nine Capital, Learn Capital, and Runa Capital. This brings to $9.5 million the total raised by the startup.

Osmo, which makes a “hardware-based iPad game,” has raised $12 million in Series A funding from Accel Partners, Upfront Ventures, and K9 Ventures. This brings to $14.5 million the total raised by the startup.

KualiCo, the new for-profit company that emerged from the Kuali Foundation, has acquired rSmart’s technology. More via Inside Higher Ed.

Cornerstone OnDemand has acquired Evolv for $42.5 million. Via Edsurge: “Evolv creates a machine learning and data platform. Cornerstone OnDemand hopes to leverage Evolv’s predictive analytic tools to make data driven recommendations to users around the [professional development] resources they should be using.”

Evertrue, a “social donation platform,” has raised $8 million from Bain Capital. The startup, which helps schools manage fundraisers, has raised a total of $14.5 million.

From its press release, the online education platform iversity has “Receives Funding in the Millions.”

Fullbridge has raised $5 million from “undisclosed high-net-worth individuals and super-angels, joined by returning investor GSV Capital.” The company, which has raised $23 million total, offers online coaching to college students in “sales and marketing, workplace communication, Web-based collaboration, design thinking, financial analysis, business research and other areas.”

Cartwheel Kids has acquired Smart Toy (formerly known as Ubooly). Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Navis Capital Partners, a Malaysian private equity firm, has bought a controlling stake in Modern Star Pty Ltd, an Australian education company, according to Reuters, “in a deal valuing that company up to A$250 million ($222 million).”

The stock price for for-profit online education company K12 is down. Way down.

“Research"

“Why the blackboard-centered classroom is still the best place to teach and learn.” (Pretty much your basic Slate pitch.)

Research published in Anatomical Sciences Education has found that cadavers are more effective than computer simulations in teaching anatomy.

The European Union has released its annual report on teachers’ salaries (PDF). About half of the about 33 countries surveyed have frozen or cut salaries for public school employees during the period 2009–2014.

Robert Pondiscio argues that “high stakes tests damage reading instruction.”

The New York Times asks, “Is E-Reading to Your Toddler Story Time, or Simply Screen Time?”

From the Aspen Institute: “Rising to the Challenge: Re-Envisioning Public Libraries

From Edublogs: “The State of Educational Blogging 2014

“The Public Sociology Association, made up of graduate students at George Mason University, has published what adjunct advocates are calling the most comprehensive study of one institution’s adjunct faculty working conditions ever.” More on the report via Inside Higher Ed.

The week in Vox’s education maps and graphs: college majors, mapped; college costs, charted.

Image credits: Brendan Lynch

Learning Layers videos from Bau-ABC presented for a Norwegian audience

Pontydysgu - Bridge to Learning - 17 Octubre, 2014 - 14:03

Day before yesterday I published on YouTube  a set of Learning Layers (LL) videos (with English subtitles) from Bau-ABC . Here the link to the YouTube channel via which they were published:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNsA37YN2C4HZEwN10HqPOw

Today these videos had their premiere in front of a qualified audience from Norway. A delegation from the Norwegian college Fagskolen Innlandet (Rector, Vice-rector and ca. 50 lecturers) had visited enterprises in Bremen during two days. On their final day they had a special session with ITB, with focus on Learning Layers. Given their tight schedule, I was alone presenting the project and its recent achievements (in Norwegian).

After having given a brief introduction to ITB (as an institute), to its international projects and to the Learning Layers (as a project) we focused primarily on the Learning Toolbox. Here, the most effective way to communicate was to show the short videos from Bau-ABC. We had a look at the apprentices’ projects (Video 3), work situations on construction sites (Video 4), clips that highlight Health and Safety issues (Video 5), special demands arising from storage of tools (Video 7) and the results of Multimedia training in Bau-ABC (Video 1). Altogether, this session with short videos gave the visitors a lively picture on, what is happening in the LL project and how our application partner Bau-ABC is working with us.

After this presentation we had an interesting discussion. The rector drew my attention to the fact that the Fagskole is a two-year long college that provides higher vocational qualifications for professional who have gone through initial vocational education and have gained work experience. Fagskolen Innlandet caters for a wide range of occupational fields, including construction, industrial maintenance, automation etc. – but as well business administration and healthcare. In addition, a large proportion of the students is participating as part-time students using e-learning provisions. (Partly their training is comparable with the professional upgrading programs of Bau-ABC, partly with that of some German Universities of Applied Sciences.)

In the discussion I had to answer to several well-targeted and well-formulated questions:

Firstly, some of the lecturers were interested on the pedagogic implications of introducing the Learning Toolbox (LTB). Here, I referred to the conceptual background of the Bau-ABC White Folder in the culture of action-oriented and self-organised learning (Handlungsorientiertes Lernen). I told them of several workshop sessions and on the trainers’ discussion in the Video 2. In these discussions trainers have stressed the LTB as support for self-organised learning and professional problem-solving.

Secondly, some of the lecturers were interested on the organisational consequences of introducing the LTB. Here I could refer to the issues our Bau-ABC colleagues have raised on their access to Internet from working areas, to the availability of mobile devices and to the technical support for wider range of internet users. The Bau-ABC colleagues have addressed this in their concept to install a “Living Lab” unit, based on a mobile container with specific Internet access and support arrangements. At the level of craft trade companies there are also similar issues with which our partners are working.

Thirdly, some of the lecturers were interested in issues on industrial culture (steep or flat hierarchy) and on communication with contents that are manageable for craftsmen. Here again, I could refer to examples of our partner companies and to their initiatives to get the filtering and reduction right when making contents available online. Also, I could give encouraging examples of participative development and design work.

Altogether, the presentation was well received and the Norwegian colleagues were clearly interested in our work. So far they had not been strongly involved in European cooperation but there might be a chance to further cooperation with spin-off ideas arising from the work of the Learning Layers project.

PS. Just when I had returned to ITB, I had a chance to give another demonstration session to our visitor, Prof. Jürgen Radel who had been formerly working as an international HRD manager in a Bremen-based logistics company but is now working as professor in a University for Applied Sciences in Berlin. He was also interested to see, what we are achieving in our project and was very impressed of the LTB and on the trainers’ blogs (as outcome of the Multimedia Training). In return he gave a demonstration on his online learning materials (including videos) on Moodle. We agreed to exchange information our progress.

I guess this is enough to show that the work with the Learning Layers videos has been worthwhile. I am looking forward to next opportunities for such exchanges.

More blogs to come …

Funding competition for solutions to security, trust and privacy issues in online learning

Open Education Europa RSS - 17 Octubre, 2014 - 12:05
Summary: 

To reach the height of its potential, online learning needs to effectively deal with the issue of online security for learners. The Trust Challenge is a competition for institutions and organisations that are working to make online education safer in real-life contexts, with over 1.2 million USD to be awarded. 

Interest Area:  Schools Higher Education Training & Work Learning & Society

Funding competition for solutions to security, trust and privacy issues in online learning

Open Education Europa RSS - 17 Octubre, 2014 - 12:05
Summary: 

To reach the height of its potential, online learning needs to effectively deal with the issue of online security for learners. The Trust Challenge is a competition for institutions and organisations that are working to make online education safer in real-life contexts, with over 1.2 million USD to be awarded. 

Interest Area:  Schools Higher Education Training & Work Learning & Society

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