Bible Science

Love the “Prophetically Correct” notice. Guess one of the various Trump-candidates could adopt it as a campaign slogan.

flickr photo by joeflintham shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

flickr photo by joeflintham shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

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How to fix MOOCs with… Facebook. OMG.

No sooner did I push the publish button for one of my latest post on Facebook sharing, that I fell on this other gem of an article, form Campus Technology, reporting a spectacular series of stupidities.

Article title is: Research: Facebook May Keep Students in MOOCs, from April 28th.

Let’s read the introductory part:

(1) Researchers at Pennsylvania State University have published a study that suggests students may be more likely to stick with massive open online courses (MOOCs) if they use Facebook.
(2) Saijing Zheng, a former doctoral student at Penn State and current research scientist at Microsoft led the research and said she found that open course students were more engaged on Facebook groups and preferred interacting more on the social media site than through the course tools.
(3) That may be good news for MOOC instructors who, according to Zheng, get frustrated because 90 percent of students who enroll in MOOCs leave the course after less than two weeks.
(4) “Social media may provide another communication channel for the students,” Zheng said. “Current MOOC platforms do not include collaborative features for students to work together or good conversation channels between students and between students and teachers.”

I divided the quote into 4 paragraphs according to the following notes and observations.

  1. Students may be more likely to stick with MOOCs if they use Facebook.
    This is, of course, a terrible thing to say. First there is the “stick” business. Students like asses. If they have to stick with a course, students must be really alienated by the course itself. As we’ll see later, instead of addressing this alienation by providing opportunities and tools for students to own the course, an easy (and wrong) solution is found within Facebook.
  2. The second point illustrates why students find the MOOCs alienating: MOOC students were more engaged on Facebook groups and preferred interacting more on the social media site than through the course tools. Well, if you have a course with 10,000 students and your assignments are evaluated and corrected by machines or by peer-based algorithms, it’s easy to see a students who wants to stick with the course will look for small-scale dialogue within some other platform he knows about.
    Then, point number…
  3. shows alarming data, if true. 90% dropout rate means the course is for superhumans, not students. Then, next and last point is crucial:
  4. You correct the design failure of the commercial MOOCs not by providing adequate interaction affordances **within** the course, but instead of fixing the problem you add another silos to the equation. Facebook. Which, at least can work as groupware and messaging system.

Thus, two errors put in series correct the original fail? Why don’t these researchers search for real-life tools actually used in work situations? Like Slack, for instance? Why do we have to look for diluted and not-authentic environments to provide students with educational experiences? [Note I’m not saying “to deliver them course content”, by Jove].

I’m really appalled by the topic chosen for this “research”. If research in education goes this way, well, we’ll find Trump soon to tell how it’s going to end.

Featured Image:

flickr photo shared by audreywatters under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license

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Let all be well, be well.

The first installment of the new Penny Dreadful Victorian video feuilleton provides more than a strong poetic moment. The occasion of the death of Tennyson is one not missed by Vanessa, to recite, entranced these beautiful, potent verses from Maud:

Beat, happy stars, timing with things below,

Beat with my heart more blest than heart can tell,

Blest, but for some dark undercurrent woe

That seems to draw—but it shall not be so:

Let all be well, be well.

[Extract from Maud: ‘I have led her home, my love, my only friend’ [Part I, xviii] (See full text.)]

And there we are, in a vertiginous mixing of Dr. Frankenstein (and his creatures) with Dorian Gray, and other literary characters, including Count Dracula, a werewolf and of course, demons. I actually love the progression of the “Know Thyself/Master Your Demons” mantra from Dexter on to Penny Dreadful.

Of course, when I searched for the poet’s verses I found them on the Network, and I also found a plethora of other stuff: from blogs with critiques of the episode (in English, Spanish and Italian) to official Web page from Showtime and the YouTube channel.

I also found a nice fan page of the above animated GIF with the splendid Eva/Vanessa declaims that last verse:

Let all be well, be well.

What I haven’t been able to find–neither online nor in my university’s own library– is a Spanish or Italian translation of Maud. It seems as if it exists not. Possible?

In any case, the full first episode of this third season is all on YouTube, so you may want to indulge.

And so be it, then, once again thankful of the riches lurking in the remixing dwellings of web demons who pirate, mix and openly share their penny-worth jewels.

[Featured Image (animated GIF) by]

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Viral First Kiss and Buying Love

The powerful idea of “the First something” (first kiss, first time into a city, whatever) and the power of “image” vs reality. Convince people you sell love, not the products you actually produce. This is after all the genius [sic] idea behind most marketing.

Now Knorr has done it and it at par with Coca-Cola and similia. This campaign is called “Love at first taste” and I think the idea is pretty powerful. Now, it won’t convert the famous little cubes into people’s happiness-inducing stock but it tries hard. Of course, the target here is not wild youngsters who like being together, but instead all us in the intimacy of one’s kitchen. Hence, intimacy triggers love. The genius work is always convincing people to associate an idea to the product.

Now, talking about love, this next one is but another viral video based on the same idea of something genuinely happening for the first time; something, of course that arises our ancestral curiosity and fascination. We the targets are always a bit voyeurs.

See the joy and hunger of these first kisses. Hey, first kisses are a basic human right, right? It’s fascinating to see how social inhibitions get dissolved once there is the “excuse” of an arts project.

First Kiss, a film by Tatia Pilieva. In this film, the director “asked twenty strangers to kiss for the first time….”

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“Give anyone the power to share anything with anyone.”

Image of Mark Zuckerberg and a big title:

Image by Eric Risberg/Associated Press from The New York Times The Unstoppable Facebook.

**Give anyone the power to share anything with anyone.**

That’s what the (open) Web does, Mr. Zuck.

And yes, this is but another hint at the FB issue: Conquering the Web. FB is in fact becoming the Web for something like a billion people on Earth. And growing. Why the inconvenience of Googling a Web address (URL anyone?) if you can have it without leaving FB?

Why the inconvenience of opening the actual, fresh, rich webpage of a newspaper, if you can have it condensed within FB? Moreover, you won’t read the things you dislike. And you won’t have those evil links that distract you into going away from the (monetized) page.

Zuck and FB are the new Web, and lest we don’t preserve it, the Web will be over–at least in the version we love. Zuck’s project is but a shameful act of putting up a free portal for everybody, except you get to it through FB, and this way you contribute–as poor as you may be– to each cent coming in to enrich the lords of this machinery. Which is a lot. I read (“How much money did you make for facebook last year“, that each FB user gets them $11.96. Multiply this by 1+ billion, and you get the outstanding revenue amount of $18,000,000,000 for last year. Of course, our eyeing its page is valued much more in the US than in Asia, some 8 times more, actually. So, the question is not really about FB making all that money, but that in doing that they are closing the Web and making it another thing. What I find worrisome is that they do so while we applaud happily liking cats and babies. In another post I will look into the tunnel effect typical of platforms like FB: Even though you may subscribe to a variety of pages or even newspaper throughb FB, it is their algorithm that decides what you will stumble upon in your timeline, and not you. Also, beyond your loss of control

is the shrinking of scope: You do lose those articles at the periphery of your interests or those that are adverse to your opinions. But we leave that to another post. You know something? I wonder why we are still so attached to the ad-based revenue model and haven’t been able to come up with another business model to sustain income?

But last, I think FB is being a bit hypocritical when they say

Give anyone the power to share anything with anyone.

Because this is a slogan: The Web was born and is built to do precisely that. But FB is the Web for many, and that’s the issue.

BTW, in doing this post I found this nice graph of FB’s revenues per user and I so discovered a gorgeous repository of data visualizations: Atlas. Check it!

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