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The World Wide Web is used every day by millions of people for
Via Beth Dichter
The faculty leaders behind the Campaign for the Future of Higher Education continued their barrage against massive open online courses on Tuesday, challenging the providers to come clean on “overblown, misleading or simply false” rhetoric.
In letters blasted off last week to the founders of Coursera, edX and Udacity, the organization expresses its concern that the MOOC providers are motivated not by the “needs of our students, but the needs of [their] investors.”
“Higher education institutions, policy makers, families and taxpayers deserve the facts about MOOCs and similar forms of online education,” the letters read. “They should not be misled by wondrous promises of cheap and easy solutions.”
The organization has long been a critical voice against MOOCs. Its members cheered the signs of MOOC fatigue seen in 2013, but even as the hype has leveled off, the organization has kept up its offensive. Last October, the group released a series of working papers criticizing online learning and the influence of for-profit entities in higher education, arguing the debate ignored questions of quality in favor of “[focusing] squarely and exclusively on what will make money for particular companies.”
At the 2014 SXSW Conference, Stephen Wolfram introduced the Wolfram Language, a symbolic language. His video presentation shows some of the profound implications of this new technology.
Imagine a future where there's no distinction between code and data. Where computers are operated by programming languages that work like human language, where knowledge and data are built in, where everything can be computed symbolically like the X and Y of school algebra problems. Where everything obvious is automated; the not-so-obvious revealed and made ready to explore. A future where billions of interconnected devices and ubiquitous networks can be readily harnessed by injecting computation.
That's the future Stephen Wolfram has pursued for over 25 years: Mathematica, the computable knowledge of Wolfram|Alpha, the dynamic interactivity of Computable Document Format, and soon, the universally accessible and computable model of the world made possible by the Wolfram Language and Wolfram Engine.
"Of the various things I've been trying to explain, this is one of the more difficult ones," Wolfram told Wired recently. What Wolfram Language essentially does, is work like a plug-in-play system for programmers, with many subsystems already in place. Wolfram calls this knowledge-based programming.
Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
The purpose of education is in large part linked to its standing as a social science. Philosophers dating back to Socrates have linked education to a purpose beyond the individual, one where accrual of facts and training in skills is not the outcome or objective for the individual nor society; rather, a deeper relationship with thought and reason is necessary for the development of each person and in turn their community. This is at the heart of much great philosophy: luminaries such as Locke, Milton, Rousseau, Hume and others saw education as a continuation of society through means greater than memory recall and skilled competencies. The education discipline is built upon this theory and is at the heart of its mission: through pedagogy and methodology education can foster the growth of our culture through each person.
This is not the methodology from which most outside interests view education. Rather than endeavoring to improve the practice, their stated goal is to solve education, noting that education is in crisis and its survival requires tautological changes to the status quo. This is the rallying cry most recently seen around the movement of massive open online courses (MOOCs), where a cavalcade of venture capitalists, politicians, computer scientists and media pundits have chosen to define education through analytics and instrumentation, the MOOC representing an opportunity to democratize education on a global level while at the same time undercutting the cost behemoth of a contemporary higher education. This argument reads like a win-win, but in reality the MOOC as a learning system has underperformed traditional models and shows no large-scale cost benefit to education providers. At this point, the MOOC as an instrument is a failure. However, the MOOC as a landscape-altering educational phenomenon is a fascinating success, in large part due to shifting the definition of education away from its historical roots to a skills-based, instrumentally-defined exercise.
Miloš Bajčetić's insight:
Are your lectures droning on? Change it up every 10 minutes with more active teaching techniques and more students will succeed, researchers say. A new study finds that undergraduate students in classes with traditional stand-and-deliver lectures are 1.5 times more likely to fail than students in classes that use more stimulating, so-called active learning methods.
Via Nik Peachey
Stephen Downes has written a series of counter arguments and ripostes to mine in his half-an-hour blog, split into four distinct but related parts. If you have not already read these and you are seeking a deeper understanding of Downes’s interpretation of connectivism, I think these four relatively brief posts distinguish his position well. After the initial post, which I find compelling and respond to fairly fully below, most of his actual attacks in the later posts are not on my arguments but on a few very specific sentences, and in some cases individual words, taken out of context, that have little to do with what I was arguing about. They do none-the-less provide some very interesting expansions of Downes's ideas and are rich in insights and explanations. I will write more about these other posts at a later date, especially on evolution and networks, but only provide some short, general responses to each of them in this post, mainly to highlight a few substantial inaccuracies and misunderstandings.
Via Susan Bainbridge
There are principles of good learning design and delivery every training professional should be aware of. These are not mere abstractions but rather serve as a practical guide in planning effective online training programs. In fact, Geri E. McArdle, in his book Training Design and Delivery, encourages training professionals to become familiar with these and apply them later. Basically, if they understand these principles and weave them into their training, they'll create more effective online learning experiences.
Via Beth Dichter
Hans and Nathaniel Bluedorn, brothers who specialize in critical thinking, offer a simple, instructive, and amusing look at what it takes to brainstorm, including six suggestions for teaching students to develop this important collaborative skill.
Brainstorming is an essential part of critical thinking and a tool that people use to invent an idea, find a solution to a problem, or answer a question.
6 Elements of the Perfect Brainstorm
Brainstorming is simple and natural. However, when groups of people collaboratively brainstorm, we can have wildly different experiences -- from awesome idea-generating sessions to complete chaos. We have provided some tips to helps your students enhance their brainstorming skills.
1. Pick a question or problem to solve2. Pick a time and place3. Encourage discussion and ideas4. Set a time limit5. Write all the ideas down and organize6. Get rid of bad ideas
Via Charles Fischer
I’m guilty. And I’m definitely too old to be considered part of the ‘distracted generation’. I didn’t grow up with a device in hand at all times, hopping from shiny thing to shiny thing on the internet. I use tools to help keep me from being distracted online. Distractions are all around with technology, and connecting with distracted students can sometimes be difficult. The handy infographic below takes a look at some statistics on reading vs. device use and offers some suggestions to help our students of the ‘distracted generation’ slow down a bit. Keep reading to learn more!
What Can You Do?
The interest in making xMOOCs more like cMOOCs (a few silly folks have called it MOOC 2.0 – haha) seems to be growing. In particular, MOOC providers are adding “social” in the same way that vitamins are added to food, “Now, with beta-carotene”! After much discussion at our designjam, I’ve concluded that cMOOCs and xMOOCs are incompatible. They cannot be blended. Pedagogically and philosophically, they are too different. It’s like trying to make a cat a dog. Entertaining, perhaps, but a fruitless venture.
Where I think xMOOCs and cMOOCs can work together is as parallel tracks where learners can navigate from one approach to another. During the designjam, I described this as needed pathways based on learner needs at different time in their learning. For example, when I engage with a new content area, I enjoy some structure and guidance. At other moments, I have random urges to create things. Learners should have freedom to bounce between structure and unstructured pathways based on personal interest.
With the Hollywood blockbuster Transcendence playing in cinemas, with Johnny Depp and Morgan Freeman showcasing clashing visions for the future of humanity, it's tempting to dismiss the notion of highly intelligent machines as mere science fiction. But this would be a mistake, and potentially our worst mistake in history.
Artificial-intelligence (AI) research is now progressing rapidly. Recent landmarks such as self-driving cars, a computer winning at Jeopardy! and the digital personal assistants Siri, Google Now and Cortana are merely symptoms of an IT arms race fuelled by unprecedented investments and building on an increasingly mature theoretical foundation. Such achievements will probably pale against what the coming decades will bring.
The potential benefits are huge; everything that civilisation has to offer is a product of human intelligence; we cannot predict what we might achieve when this intelligence is magnified by the tools that AI may provide, but the eradication of war, disease, and poverty would be high on anyone's list. Success in creating AI would be the biggest event in human history.
Unfortunately, it might also be the last, unless we learn how to avoid the risks. In the near term, world militaries are considering autonomous-weapon systems that can choose and eliminate targets; the UN and Human Rights Watch have advocated a treaty banning such weapons. In the medium term, as emphasised by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee in The Second Machine Age, AI may transform our economy to bring both great wealth and great dislocation.
Looking further ahead, there are no fundamental limits to what can be achieved: there is no physical law precluding particles from being organised in ways that perform even more advanced computations than the arrangements of particles in human brains. An explosive transition is possible, although it might play out differently from in the movie: as Irving Good realised in 1965, machines with superhuman intelligence could repeatedly improve their design even further, triggering what Vernor Vinge called a "singularity" and Johnny Depp's movie character calls "transcendence".
One can imagine such technology outsmarting financial markets, out-inventing human researchers, out-manipulating human leaders, and developing weapons we cannot even understand. Whereas the short-term impact of AI depends on who controls it, the long-term impact depends on whether it can be controlled at all.
So, facing possible futures of incalculable benefits and risks, the experts are surely doing everything possible to ensure the best outcome, right? Wrong. If a superior alien civilisation sent us a message saying, "We'll arrive in a few decades," would we just reply, "OK, call us when you get here – we'll leave the lights on"? Probably not – but this is more or less what is happening with AI. Although we are facing potentially the best or worst thing to happen to humanity in history, little serious research is devoted to these issues outside non-profit institutes such as the Cambridge Centre for the Study of Existential Risk, the Future of Humanity Institute, the Machine Intelligence Research Institute, and the Future of Life Institute. All of us should ask ourselves what we can do now to improve the chances of reaping the benefits and avoiding the risks.
Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
Course Quality Assurance Checklist - #elearning #instructionaldesign | http://t.co/n6bfmcHEt8
All online courses produced and delivered by CMU Online are subject to this quality assurance process. Those modules which have been quality assured, comply with these standards, and will be marked by a quality stamp clearly visible on the welcome and introductory page. These standards were developed based on Maximizing Learning (for more info, Expectations for the Faculty Role, Expectations for Students)
Via Harvey Mellar
College and university presidents are an understandably optimistic
These presidents are confident but not hidebound or defensive. They
May 5, 2014
Via Dennis T OConnor
Massive open online courses will not fundamentally reshape higher education, nor will they disappear altogether. Those are the conclusions of separate reports released this week by Teachers College at Columbia University and Bellwether Education Partners, a nonprofit advisory group.
MOOCs are like free gyms, says Mr. Kelly. They might enable some people—mostly people who are already healthy and able to work out without much guidance—to exercise more. But they won’t do much for people who need intensive physical therapy or the care of a doctor.
“Some institutions are unclear as to why they are embarking on MOOC initiatives,” write the authors of the report, Fiona M. Hollands and Devayani Tirthali, “and until they can agree internally on suitable and realistic goals, they will struggle to justify the expense and effort.”
The Columbia researchers nevertheless predict that MOOCs will not disappear. More likely, they will “evolve to more closely resemble regular online courses,” with some elements—such as one-on-one tutoring, estimable credentials, and qualitative feedback on assignments—available at a price.
Via Alberto Acereda, PhD
Neuroscientists have pinpointed the neural activity involved in avoiding distraction, a new study reports.
Via Howard Rheingold
This article is an attempt to address a possible gap in Connectivist thinking, and its expression in cMOOCs. It’s to do with the experience of technology novices, and unconfident learners in cMOOC environments. It comes from a phenomenon, and experience I identified in a recent MOOC I participated in and the experience is best described like this:
I’m not a Constructivist, Behaviourist, Cognitivist, or Connectivist. This is not a call for a return to an older theory. I’m a pragmatist, like many educators. I flirt outrageously with every theory that will have me. I’m ideologically promiscuous. I go with what works, and I am ruthless in weeding out what doesn’t. I do this because there is no “one size fits all” theory. Because there is no “one size fits all” student. And because students, participants, and learners are the final metric that measures any theory, and experience is the proving ground for theory. Faith to a theory, ideological monogamy, gets in the way of the evidence.
What we think about who we are, and where we are, tells us how much we are likely to learn. This is key to the gap in Connectivist thought. Central to that gap, at the core of what I think Connectivism might be missing is this idea:
"One of the most important aspects of the learning experience is motivation. And one of the most important aspects of motivation is our sense of our own capability, and our sense that the environment we are learning in will allow us to achieve.
Miloš Bajčetić's insight:
"To learn in a cMOOC you need to connect.To connect in a cMOOC you need to learn."
Any number of us have had our doubts about learning styles. The instruments that detect, name, and classify these various approaches to learning just seemed too straightforward. How can there by only two or even four styles? And how can every learner fit neatly into one of those boxes? We also worried about how students responded to them. “I’m a visual learner,” one told me, “I don’t do textbooks.” A certain learning style then excuses one from other learning modalities?