Higher Education Innovation & Open, Connected Learning: Back To The Future

Yesterday June 22nd I presented at Virtual Educa 2016, here in San Juan my paper titled “Higher Education Innovation & Open, Connected Learning: Back To The Future“. Here is the Slideshare presentation.

In the f2f presentation, I decided not to bore attendants with the details of the 6 Principles from the Connected Learning Alliance or the Mozilla Manifesto (& why I ended up including them!) on reclaiming the Web and Internet as a humankind resource. I did emphasize the importance of the Open Web and of this legal document (see photo) from 30 April 1993, when the Web protocols were put into the public domain by CERN. That’s the idea we have to defend today, and to me, that is still the essence of the Web spirit. And that’s where “Back to the Future” comes from (in my mind, at least).

23 years of a free, open Web. CERN.

23 years of a free, open Web. CERN.

Also, I added a little recipe to make the portal-like structures I do in all my courses now (generously borrowed from the noble work of such warriors as @jimgroom, @cogdog, @brlamb, @gardnercampbell not to metion @audreywatters) in which I casually recommend a certain reclaiming company to do the magic. (Preacher, behave according to what you say. Disclosure: I am yet to move my own domains there. )

Last, it occurred to me there is a striking resemblance between the Moodle and Facebook interfaces. So I am going deeper with this to see where this hint leads me, but it’s not a good beginning. See for yourself:

moodle screenshot

facebook screenshot

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My Grading Policy

I’m thinking about placing this as a foreword to all my courses. It shows the bs from both sides!

Have fun with this extract from Breaking Bad, and notice how Mr. White plays dumb to have the student believe for a second he can actually make the teacher change his mind since he studied all night or for some ADD magic.

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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 https://flickr.com/photos/joeflintham/5503071187 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

flickr photo by joeflintham https://flickr.com/photos/joeflintham/5503071187 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  http://penydreadful.tumblr.com]

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