I work in the Learning and Performance Support Systems program at the National Research Council, a multi-year effort to develop personal learning technology and learning analytics. I am one of the originators of the Massive Open Online Course, write about online and networked learning, have authored learning management and content syndication software, and am the author of the widely read e-learning newsletter OLDaily.


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Publishing's Prestige Bias


A study reports that journals tend to disproportionately select papers by authors from elite institutions. This is not because the papers are better or more informed but because of "a strong bias towards a few elite institutions who exercise outsized influence not only on who gets tenure-track jobs but also in who gets published and where." We see this same bias expressed outside academia, where journalists and media preferentially quote academics from elite media, even to the point of giving them credit for others' discoveries. Publishers, not surprisingly, disagree, arguing the result is either trivial ("Whether the level (of bias), once documented, is sufficient to be a problem that requires a remedy is in the eye of the beholder") or false ("data that I see could be explained by differences in the raw number and quality of submitted manuscripts"). Both objections are addressed and refuted in the article.

Today: 24 Total: 504 Colleen Flaherty, Inside Higher Ed, 2017/01/20 [Direct Link]

Tips for a PhD defense or viva #phd


Inge de Waard has earned her PhD and by way of celebration she gives us a certifiably useful guide to preparing for your defense (or viva), as it is known in the UK. I found it interesting because it highlights the core interests of the examiners (and by implication, the profession): how do your questions follow from your literature review, what theories guided you, how did you define such-and-such? And some good advice for preparing for a PhD defense.

Today: 26 Total: 598 Inge de Waard, Ignatia Webs, 2017/01/20 [Direct Link]

Understanding Metadata


The National Information Standards Organization (NISO) has published an updated guide on understanding metadata (49 page PDF). It's a guide, so it begins at a pretty basic level. Some useful bits: the typology of metadata (though I think this is missing some important types, such as anotations, ratings, usage, etc); means of representing metadata (relational databased, XML, Linked Data and RDF), controlled vocabularies and content standards. It also summarizes some major metadata initiatives such as schema.org, Simple Knowledge Organization System (SKOS), Dublin Core, Friend of a Friend (FOAF), ONline Information eXchange (ONIX), EXchangeable Image File Format (Exif), etc. Finally, it addresses the core question of how metadata is generated.

Today: 20 Total: 637 Jenn Riley, National Information Standards Organization (NISO), 2017/01/20 [Direct Link]

Reimagining the Role of Technology in Education: 2017 National Education Technology Plan Update


This document might become obsolete very quickly, released as it was just a few days ago. But it's the first major update since 2010 and hence represents a landmark. The complete document (111 page PDF) talks about what people need to learn, teaching with technology, innovation, assessment and accessibility. They recommend the use of technology to support anytime-anywhere-anybody learning, learning resources that embody design principles from learning sciences, alignment of learning resources to intended outcomes and support multiple pathways to expertise. The authors also support things like learning dashboards, embedded assessment environments such as simulations and collaborative systems,

Today: 20 Total: 802 United States Department of Education, 2017/01/19 [Direct Link]

The Big Shift in Platform Business Models


Normally when we think of platforms we think of news or social media, but education too has drifted into the platform model and is influenced by the shifting business models. First, says John Hagel, the platform model will shift to a customer-pay model, since trust is required in order to collect the data to support learning, and unless the customer pays, the loyalties of the platform owner lie elsewhere (with advertisers, say). A flat fee for access is the typical model (think Netflix) but additional schemes may focus on usage time, impact and results, or other metrics. A lot of this is drawn from an earlier article. The business model will also require increasing value to subscribers, for example, the trusted advisor business model. I think the error in this model is in the presumption that customer payments buy loyalty and trust. We pay for our cable and phone service, but nobody thinks providers serve the interests of the consumers. I think we need to look beyond the subscriber model to platform ownership. Only when it's our platform will we trust it. Image, John Hagel on Deloitte in 2015

Today: 15 Total: 682 John Hagel, Edge Perspectives with John Hagel, 2017/01/19 [Direct Link]

Students under surveillance


Post introducing readers to services like SkyFactor and VitalSource (formerly CourseSmart), data-driven learning analytics and retention systems. The point underlined in the article is that such systems represent an almost casual attitude of invasive surveillance on the part of British and American institutions. Instructors have access to a dashboard showing "class attendances, assessment grades, participation in sports practices, and visits to the campus financial aid officer."  Such surveillance is not benign, writes the author; it is a source of disruption and stress for students. The justification, though, is the investment students make in education. “Do you just let them fall through the cracks,” he says, “or can you embrace technology that might help them deal with the stresses of college and progress?” Via internetactu (en français).

Today: 16 Total: 587 Helen Warrell, Financial Times, 2017/01/19 [Direct Link]

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.