Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Eve Technology Predictions

Every year we are treated to a wide range of predictions in the technology field. Typically Futurists write about what they think will happen. I have included in my list things that I think will not happen as well. This could be valuable advice for investors. My predictions are based on extensive research, a thorough review of data including white papers, reports and various old serials and comic books.

1. Learning Analytics
The big boom in this field will be in the consulting fees for everyone who manges to shoe-horn this buzz word into any project.

2. Learning Management Systems
Frank ShannonImage via WikipediaThe LMS field will still be dominated by programmers, database administrators, and business people. There is a remote possibility that those involved in actual online teaching and learning will have a say in how LMSs are put together.

3. The Semantic Web
The semantic web will become vaguely closer to reality. I am typing this post using with a semantic web tool, Zemanta, and it actually thinks I mean London, Midlands and Scottish railway when I type "LMS." But seriously, I love Zemanta because I have found connections in my writing that I would not have found without it.

4. Conveyor Belt Sidewalks
This year will be a year of continued disappointment to Futurists when the era of the conveyor belt sidewalk, the personal jetpack, and flying cars remain tantalizingly far on the horizon. I am kind of relieved by this because most drivers can barely handle the x and y axis with out having to figure out how not plow their cars through someone's roof.

5. Science Fiction Becomes Science Fact
I believe that this will be the year that the space program will introduce fins on space helmets. Also, the next generation of space vehicles will look more and more like the 1956 Chevy Belair.

6. Personal Robots
Again, despite the best efforts of the Honda Corporation, personal robots will not happen this year. I was about to write that I do not need a personal robot maid to wash the dishes, but then I realized that I already have one - it is called "the dishwasher." All of this personal robot research should be going in to creating artificial limbs - these robots sure as heck can't dance.

7. Social Media on the Wane
There are other sites that have predicted the rise of Google + and other sites have predicted the fall of Google +. The social media bubble will start to burst. It will be the hot topic in 2012 on Twitter, Facebook, Diigo, Google +, LinkedIn, Ning, YouTube, Friendfeed, Twine, Wordpress, LiveJournal, Myspace,, and the blogosphere. New sites will spring up every where to cover this news. The death of social media will become such a hot topic that it will even revive Friendster.

Remember, you can get futurists anywhere that will tell you what might happen, I include what won't happen. And yes, I am available as a keynote speaker - I come complete with futuristic neo-retro Nehru jacket and wrap-around sun glasses.

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Monday, December 19, 2011

Vaclev Havel and the 300-Baud Velvet Revolution

A DSL ModemImage via WikipediaI was familiar with Václav Havel through his writings and only later came to understand his significance as a politician (I hate to use that word to describe people I like) as communism fell. Havel had to distribute some of his writings as "samizdat" - slang for self-publishing -  because the means of communication was held by the state. Samizdat was a key form of dissident activity across the Soviet bloc where individuals reproduced censored publications by hand and passed the documents from reader to reader - it was the social media of the day but a lot more dangerous! The Soviet authorities at one time fired him from the state theater and sent him to work in a brewery. He was a signatory of Charter 77 which was distributed in the 70s this way.  The whole "Velvet Revolution" was an amazing thing to watch. There was something so inevitable about it all: the truth was going to prevail despite money, corruption and guns.

You know you are living under a repressive regime when communication tools are against the law. For instance, it is illegal, according to the State dept., to own an unregistered computer modem in Myanmar: "It is illegal to own an unregistered modem in Burma. You may bring one laptop computer into Burma, but you must declare it upon arrival. Limited email service is available at some large hotels. All emails are subject to monitoring by Burmese security services. It is very expensive to send photographs via email. One foreign visitor was presented a bill for $2,000 after transmitting one photograph via a major hotel's e-mail system. During September and October 2007, the military government disconnected all Internet access across the country for extended periods of time." This is not unusual in countries controlled by dictators.

I remember reading about people smuggling modems into Czechoslovakia back in the late 80's. Bruce Sterling later recalled the Velvet Revolution in Wired Issue 3.01, Jan 1995: "Back in '89, Czech students were trying to coordinate the uprising across the nation, and the technical students...were running the telecom angle. They used a 300-baud device with the size, shape, and heat of a kitchen toaster. The Czech secret police were far too stupid and primitive to keep up with digital telecommunications, so the student-radical modem network was relatively secure from bugging and taps. Fidonet BBSes were springing up surreptitiously on campuses whenever an activist could sneak a modem past the border guards. Modems were, of course, illegal. Most of the Czech cops, however, had no idea what modems were." The Velvet Revolution was using 300 and 900 baud modems at a time when we were bathing in the lap of luxury with our 2400 baud modems. They used the best technology and means of communication in the most effective way they knew how. Much like the Arab Spring and the Occupy Wall Street folks, no one asked if it was the most "appropriate" or the most "sustainable." A reading literate people can help foster and ensure democracy, Epictetus in his Discourses says that only the educated are free. In his day, that meant reading and writing. In our day it should include a technologically literate people, understanding how we are technologically connected and how to best leverage smart communication networks.

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Friday, December 16, 2011

Help Shape Creative Commons 4.0

Creative CommonsImage by jorgeandresem via FlickrThis just in from the ubiquitous Cable Green:

Creative Commons has officially opened the public discussion process for version 4.0 of the CC license suite. Please see the announcement below, and join the discussion by subscribing to the CC license discussion list (link in blog post, below).

As we all know, the core part of any OER definition is the educational resource is either openly licensed or is in the public domain... so anyone can: reuse, revise, remix and redistribute. This is your chance to affect the licenses we all use to share OER.

One of the many reasons CC is considering versioning the licenses at this time is to address how can we improve the attribution requirements to ease citation in open educational resources (OER).
What would you like to see changed?

Starting now through February we are holding a requirements gathering period, an important (if not the most important) time to contribute ideas for improving the license suite. We hope you'll join the discussion and share your ideas for how we can improve the licenses for use with public sector information and data. And please do help us spread the word.
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Monday, December 12, 2011

Open Content Licensing for Educators Workshop

Image representing Creative Commons as depicte...Image via CrunchBaseThis in from Cable Green: Creative Commons, the OER Foundation and Ako Aotearoa announce an international professional development opportunity for all educators.

What: Open content licensing for educators workshop (#OCL4Ed)
Where: Online
When: 23 -27 January 2012
Cost: Free
Registration: Open (register today)
  • Cable Green, Director Global Learning, Creative Commons
  • Jane Hornibrook , Public Lead, Creative Commons Aotearoa New Zealand
  • Wayne Mackintosh, Director, OER Foundation.
Open content licensing for educators (#OCL4Ed) is a free online workshop designed for educators who want to learn more about open education resources, copyright, and creative commons licenses.
Wikieducator logo.Image via WikipediaThe course materials were developed as a collaborative project by volunteers from the OER Foundation, WikiEducator, the OpenCourseWare Consortium and Creative Commons with funding support from UNESCO. The course will provide prerequisite knowledge required by educators to legally remix open education materials and help institutions to take informed decisions about open content licenses.


Please spread the word through your networks. Give the gift of knowledge and invite a friend to join you.
Download and share this poster with your colleagues.

We look forward to meeting you during the workshop and extend our thanks to Ako Aotearoa, New Zealand's National Centre for Tertiary Teaching Excellence for sponsoring this professional development opportunity.
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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Redwood Technology Consortium's Annual Holiday Tweet-Up

The Redwood Technology Consortium welcomes the public to join them at the 3rd annual Holiday Tweet-up, Wednesday, Dec. 14, at Greenway Partners in Arcata from 6:00-10:00 P.M.

The Tweet-up started three years ago with the intention of providing a face-to-face meeting place for community members whose main interaction was through social networking websites, like Twitter and Facebook. The event has become a fun place to gather with laptop computers, smart phones and even without technology devices to visit, play trivia games and win prizes.

English: Bronze statue of President William Mc...Image via WikipediaRTC will also provide a bar with the vodka-based Humboldt Hashtag (a clever nod to the Twitter habit of following the pound sign with a common word or phrase, which makes a topic easy to search), local wines and microbrews and non-alcoholic drinks.

Throughout the year, the RTC focuses primarily on advocacy for broadband duplication and education. This year, the Humboldt Internet Marketing Group was created, under the RTC umbrella, and community members meet at lunchtime on the second Tuesday of each month to discuss topics that focus on marketing businesses of all sizes in the internet age

This year, the RTC has seen the retirement of board members Steve Stratton and Robert Beckerdite, and welcomed new members Geoff Cain, Terry Olgin and Monica Topping. Veteran members Seth Johannesen and board president Mary Cruse, and board treasurer Sean Connors remain.

Greenway Partners is located at 1385 Eighth Street in Arcata, across the street from the Arcata Kinetic Lab.

The RTC Holiday Tweet-up is a no-cost, all-ages event.

Contact: Monica Topping (707) 498-3534
Redwood Technology Consortium
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Saturday, December 03, 2011

On Learning Latin

Bust of Emperor Augustus wearing the Corona Ci...Image via WikipediaI once walked into a beginning Latin class at U.C. Berkeley. I hadn't made up my mind whether I was going to take the class or not. Right off the bat, the teacher had us reciting "amo, amas, amat..." - all 40 of us in unison - in other words, it was going to be one of those classes where rote memorization was the key learning method. I raised my hand and asked why we were chanting verbs and declensions and the instructor said that if we didn't do that we would be forever tied to a dictionary. I sat listening to the students and wondered how long students have been attempting to learn Latin this way; probably a couple of centuries, but I have some ideas from my reading over the years that that method is fairly Victorian. The tables of verbs and noun declensions fit the mechanistic age of logarithm tables, early assembly lines, and the industrial mills. I figured out that the teacher thought that we had to know grammar in order for us to read Latin. This is ridiculous, of course, because I was talking and reading simple sentences long before I knew what a coordinating conjunction or a transitive verb was. I got up from the desk, walked out of the classroom, willing to resign myself to the possible fate of being shackled to a dictionary for eternity like some lost Jacob Marley.

Why do we still do "drill and kill"? Some of it is educational hazing: I imagine the instructor thinks "I had to go through this misery and now my students have to as well."  To be fair, that is how the instructors actually learned it. In college, they are not trained in teaching, so they know no other way. Others make the argument that unless a student is thoroughly proficient in the rudiments, they can't master the subject. And that is my objection, what do we really want to teach? Do these teachers want Latin grammarians or readers of Latin literature and history? I had a teacher ask me once (in a blog posting) - "You wouldn't give students a Latin text and ask them to figure out the grammatical rules on their own?" Well, maybe I would.

Even what I consider to be the best texts make the mistake of thinking that students are going to find some kind of clarity around lists of verbs. Wheelock's Latin is a standard text and the thing that actually makes that textbook so useful is all of the examples from actual Latin texts. We used this at Sonoma State in my Latin classes, but the instructor also had us translating texts from day one. My textbook hero is Clyde Pharr - he wrote a textbook on Homeric Greek that has students reading right from Homer within a dozen chapters, and his Vergil's Aeneid has them reading from Vergil even earlier. Either of these texts could be used as primary textbooks. The sick thing is that Pharr did most of his work in the 1920s and many teachers have not figured all of this out yet. Pharr follows the assumption that children learn grammer by using language; they can learn the grammar in context just as they learn to speak grammatically in context. They are not going to use Latin if it is essentially a boring, tedious plow through inane paradigmatic sentences and tables of verbs. They are going to read if the work they are reading is interesting and engaging - Homer and Vergil are certainly that.

If rote memorization is the main teaching method, the teachers will only have students with a high tolerance for the tedious. If you teach students rote memorization, that is all they will be good at. I am sure we want more from our students than being good test-takers! Being able to jump through the hoops is not the same thing as critical thinking.

Notes 12/04/11:
Learning Latin in Context - This project shows the possibilities and importance of learning in context and in a community. (networked learning - or Connectivism).
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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Public Domain Music Keeps Getting Better

Portrait of Django Reinhardt, Aquarium, New Yo...Image via WikipediaHow does public domain music keep getting better? For one thing, the technology being used to clean up sound files has gotten significantly better. Many of the online archives of audio suffered from some pretty raw recordings from wax-cylinders and old 78s. This music is in the public domain and free but much of it was listenable only for real fans. There is some really amazing music out there too, for instance Django Reinhardt is well represented in You can pull up whole collections of his music here and here for instance. You can listen to the music there, embed the playlist on your blog, or click on a link and download the whole collection. And it is worth doing now because the files have been cleaned up in one of the many programs that clean up audio files to get all the pops and hisses out of old recordings. Many use Audacity which is a free open source audio recording and editor package. There are instructions on their wiki on how to clean up audio files. is an important site on the internet because it is a huge repository of public domain and openly-licensed texts, images, movies, music, and any kind of recording (poetry readings, famous speeches, lectures, radio programs, etc.).

This music is important in the history of music and jazz and should be available. Many of these recordings would not be available to anyone if it weren't for Archive.Org. I also want to recommend Django Reinhardt's music as a cure to seasonal affective disorder - you just can't be sad listening to his music!

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Call for Open Education Practices

UNESCO Headquarter, ParisImage by Matthias Ripp via Flickr
This is from Abel Caine:

UNESCO is a member of the Open Educational Quality Initiative (OPAL) which aimed to create a new open educational practices (OEP) framework.

Open educational practices were defined as practices which support the production, use and reuse of open educational resources (OER) which help learners, educational professionals, organizational leaders, and policy makers to improve quality in higher education and adult education and training.

UNESCO's responsibility within the OPAL Initiative was to:
1.   Build a Clearinghouse of at least 100 of the best open educational practices; and
2.   Assist at least 50 organizations to apply an OEP Maturity self-assessment

We are close to achieving our goal and with the Initiative ending on 31st December 2012, we are making a final big Call to all members of the global OER community.

If you are currently working with OER or open educational practices, we would like to invite you to submit your practice to the OPAL Clearinghouse.

This is a very quick fill-in-form (approximately 5 minutes) which allows you to share your best practices.

If you feel your organization already practices open education or is ready to move into open educational practices, then please take the time to complete the OPAL Maturity Assessment:

This is a comprehensive mapping exercise based on the OPAL Guidelines (approximately 25 minutes).

Please excuse any cross-posting and don’t hesitate to contact both myself or Ms. Molly Malone ( for any help to complete the uploading of a practice or the self-assessment. We'd appreciate it if you could please also forward this message to your OER colleagues and look forward to your submissions.
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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Why #Occupy will succeed

George Siemens wrote an interesting post on the Occupy Movement earlier this month. I think he gets that leaderless, connected groups can succeed but he also writes "I saw a few #occupy members on Colbert Report yesterday. They may not be representative, but I was left with a sense of  'wow, I don’t speak their language…I have ZERO interest in being a part of what they are talking about.'" I think that is a win for the media!

Essa-queta, Kiowa Apache chief. http://lewisan...Image via WikipediaThere is a real problem with understanding what the Occupy Movement is all about. It is not the so-called incoherence of the message, its that the power structures that are being protested against include the very media that is reporting on the movement. Even the Economist gets it - when discussing the media's take on the movement they report that "They also give the lie to the idea, spread about when the protests first began, that the people behind the protests don't know what they want. What they want is pretty clear: jobs, cheaper health care, cheaper education, and relief from suffocating debt." If all you knew about the Occupy Movement was what you saw on CNN or Jon Stewart, then you will not get it. CNN, Brian Williams, or Stewart are not in the business to give you the big picture. Television is entertainment. It is the circus in "bread and circuses." If they don't have a goof-ball with aluminium foil on his head, it is not good television. They have to trivialize this to assuage the frayed nerves of their corporate sponsors. In this time of financial corruption and economic recession and depression, how comfortable are those sponsors with a protest movement that is centered on accountability, bank and financial reform, and general expressions of public frustration? The critics of the movement want a bullet-pointed executive summary. In an interview with Amy Goodman of Democracy Now, Cornell West said "It’s impossible to translate the issue of the greed of Wall Street into one demand, or two demands. We’re talking about a democratic awakening."

This is an international movement. This movement has been compared to the protests in the 60s and I remember that those protests also suffered from a so-called lack of a coherent message. Ending the Vietnam War sounded to many as strange and abstract as Bank Reform. It sounded clear later as more people were seeing the impact of the war. The real story of those protests in the 60s and early 70s did not come from CBS News (although images in the media from Vietnam were instrumental in turning public opinion), the message and organization of those protesters came through underground newspapers, pamphlets, and books. There were radio stations too.

And now this is why I am writing about this. The Occupy Movement has all it needs to succeed: it has a message, boots on the ground, and its own media. A useful model for understanding this movement comes from the book "The Starfish and the Spider." The idea behind "The Starfish and the Spider" is that centralized organizations are like spiders and can be destroyed with an attack to the head. Decentralized organizations rely on catalyst-leaders in the field to make decisions. These organizations are like starfish: no single blow will kill them, and parts that are destroyed will grow back. Some points from the "The Starfish":
  • When attacked, a decentralized organization tends to become even more open and decentralized;
      We have seen this over and over throughout the Middle East in the Arab Spring. Nothing strengthens or legitimizes a movement more than over-reaction by the governing authorities.
  • An open system doesn’t have central intelligence; the intelligence is spread throughout the system;
      This is why interviewing individuals for "the message" can be pretty pointless. The real message is found in the network of the participants.
  • Open systems can easily mutate;
  • The decentralized organization sneaks up on you;
    Who saw this coming?
  • Put people into an open system and they’ll automatically want to contribute;
  • When attacked, centralized organizations tend to become even more centralized.
The examples from the book include a look at how the Apache indians dealt with the Spanish invasion of the Americas - their organization was loose knit and flexible enough to allow them to go from living in villages to being a nomadic people. Other examples of decentralized organizations include AA or Al-Qaeda.

Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr are all important tools for organizing this movement. The Economist says of the Occupy Movement "what's going on in America right now may be the world's first genuine social-media uprising." I think the Arab Spring might hold that title, but the media's lack of understanding how social networks are shaping politics in the U.S. and the world is quickly making the mainstream media's lack of relevance even more apparent.

George Siemens wrote "#Occupy can be leaderless and diverse and still succeed. It can be distributed and networked and still succeed. However, if its message doesn’t resonate with a significant portion of society, due to lack of coherence or limited capability of individuals to form personal coherence around numerous voices, it will fail." But the interesting part of this is that in his work, knowledge comes from the connections; meaning can emerge out of chaos.

Don't wait for CNN to figure this out for you - go out and talk to those people who are standing in front of your city hall. Think about how you feel about these issues, talk to others, and don't accept every thing the banks tell us as inevitable in "this economy." Check out your local credit union. When you do that - the movement succeeds. 

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Thursday, November 03, 2011

Job Announcement: Open Education Director

OpenImage by wiccked via FlickrTacoma Community College, an innovative college in an innovative state, is advertising for an "Open Education Program Program Director." I can tell you by direct experience that this is a good college to work for. I think the fact that there is an American community college advertising for such a position is incredibly significant. I am hoping as progress is made in open textbooks and the open education resources, that more colleges will need staff positions dedicated to supporting instructors and students. Washington state has already released 42 courses in its open course library project.

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Monday, October 31, 2011

WA Open Course Library saves students millions

The Washington State Capitol Leglislative Buil...Image via Wikipedia

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Today during a telephone press conference, the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC) announced the launch of the Open Course Library, a collection of expertly developed educational materials for 42 of the state’s highest-enrolled college courses. The materials — including textbooks, syllabi, activities, readings, assessments — cost $30 or less per student and are freely available online under an open license for use by the state’s 34 public community and technical colleges, four-year colleges and universities, and anyone else worldwide. The project is set to expand to 81 courses by 2013.

Nationally recognized as a groundbreaking initiative, the Open Course Library aims to cut down textbook costs and improve course completion rates, helping more students earn the industry-recognized degrees and credentials they need to enter the workforce.

“For employers, it’s about up-skilling the labor force,” said Shaunta Hyde, State Board member and director of Global Aviation Policy for Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “Evidence shows the burden of high college expenses can impact student success and degree completion. By offering high-quality, affordable resources, this initiative will ultimately lead to more college graduates with better job prospects.”
According to an informal study by the Student Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGs), the Open Course Library could save students as much as $41.6 million on textbooks annually if adopted at all of Washington’s community and technical colleges. The study also estimates that the 42 faculty course developers and their departments will save students $1.26 million by using the materials during the 2011-2012 school year, which alone exceeds the $1.18 million cost of creating the courses. “These savings will not only help Washington’s students afford college, but clearly provide a tremendous return on the original investment,” said Nicole Allen, Textbook Advocate for the Student PIRGs.

 Each course was developed and peer reviewed by a team of instructors, instructional designers and librarians. Use of the course materials is optional, but many faculty and departments are already moving to adopt them. This fall, the mathematics department at Green River Community College in Auburn, Wash. began using the Calculus I course in place of an expensive, traditional textbook. 

“I supported, and promoted, my division’s adoption of the text by David Lippman and Melonie Rasmussen text primarily because it is, in my opinion, the best pre-calculus text available. Even those in the division who might disagree ranked it no lower than second,” said Michael Kenyon, the department’s coordinator. “And there’s no contest on price. Our two main criteria for choosing textbooks are quality and price. The authors have simply written a better book at a much better price.”

Lindsey Cassels, an Esthetics Sciences student at Clover Park Technical College in Lakewood, Wash. took a class using the Open Course Library’s public speaking course materials. “It was the least expensive and most beneficial course I have taken, since the course materials cost us no more than $30 out of pocket.” Like many students, Cassels spends more than $1,000 on textbooks annually, which she says can deprive our economy of better-educated workers by making it harder to afford college. “It is outrageous to pay $200 or more per textbook. In a four-quarter program, it’s enough to make students drop out.”

Funded by the Washington State Legislature and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Open Course Library joins the growing movement for open educational resources (OER), setting a strong example by requiring that all materials created through the program be openly licensed to the public to freely use, adapt and distribute. Already, other initiatives are lining up to use and improve the materials, including the Saylor Foundation, Project Kaleidoscope and the City of Sao Paulo, Brazil.

“It’s not often that government gets this right,” said Rep. Reuven Carlyle (D-Seattle) of Washington State’s 36th District, a champion of the Open Course Library and OER. “This is a significant state investment in this era of massive budget cuts. We had little choice but to seize the opportunity of this crisis to challenge the status quo of the old-style cost model in both K-12 and higher education.”
The Seal of Washington, Washington's state seal.                  Image via Wikipedia
“Washington state is a national leader in developing innovative programs that help more students graduate from community and technical colleges,” said Josh Jarrett, deputy director of Postsecondary Success at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “This Open Course Library will ensure more students can afford to stay enrolled in college and graduate with a degree that will prepare them for the workforce.”

Tom Caswell, Open Education Policy Associate and project lead, mobile (360) 747-7301,
Sherry Nelson, SBCTC Communications, (360) 704-4308,

About the Washington State Board for Community Colleges:
The State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC) is responsible for administering the Community and Technical College Act and providing leadership and coordination for Washington's public system of 34 community and technical colleges. SBCTC also provides shared technology resources and manages a number projects, including the Open Course Library. SBCTC has used system-wide shared courses for over two decades to support faculty and students.

Open Course Library
Student Public Interest Research Groups
Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges
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Friday, October 28, 2011

Jim Groom: The Wild Man of OER Made My Year

I was at the Open Education 2011 conference this week and David Wiley had the good sense to invite Jim Groom in to rattle cages and shake the chains. I have been reading his stuff for sometime. You can follow him on twitter here and his blog is always worth reading, but it is really a whole other experience to meet him in person. As a distance education director, I almost never say that. He is the favorite exuberant uncle who occasionally breaks the furniture. His mind is clear but his soul is mad. and here he is at his Dionysian best:

We need folks like Jim to remind us that there are political consequences to our choices and that passion matters.
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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Open Ed Conf. Keynotes: Cable Green & Philipp Schmidt

Image representing Creative Commons as depicte...Image via CrunchBaseThe Obviousness of Open Policy

Speakers: Cable Green
The Internet, increasingly affordable computing, open licensing, open access journals and open educational resources provide the foundation for a world in which a quality education can be a basic human right. Yet before we break the "iron triangle" of access, cost and quality with new models, we need to educate policy makers about the obviousness of open policy: public access to publicly funded resources.

Speaker/Artist(s) Info
Director of Global Learning, Creative Commons

"If we had a food machine that could feed everyone in the world and the marginal cost is zero, and it won't hurt farmers, should we turn it on?"

His dream - everyone in the world can get the education they desire. If there are is a need to educate 263 million students - we could never build enough traditional schools to educate those who need it.

If we are not sharing, we are not teaching. David Wiley

There is a huge community of open source organizations.

Problem: Most of the policy makers do not understand 20th cent. technology and tools (open licensing, mobile tech, the affordances of the internet). They do not understand the tools collectively - they are able to collectively create OERs.

Rivalrous vs. Non- Rivalalrous resources - NR is digital and open licenses.

Publicly funded resources should be available to the public who paid for them.

If the world spent 5% of the GDP on edu that would equal 3 billion dollars.

How do you sustain OERs? If OER is the default of our normal work, then we do not need to invest new money. The policy is simple to explain: if work is in public domain it goes to the public; if it is licensed, the license should be open.

"We should get what we pay for."
Cooperate & share = we all win
Self Interest

If we had open policies what could we do? Billions is given out to ed institutes for research but there are few requirements to share that research with an open license.

English Comp - 55k enrollments x $100 text = 5.5 million dollars a year to the state of Washington. Does this make sense? The open text saves millions. The money comes from fed and state financial aide.
WA will pay 2 mil for an open textbook, spend 100,000 to update it every year and still come out ahead. And then they will openly license it and still offer it for free.

Brazilians have to search for open texts before investing in commercial texts.

Efficient use of public funds to increase student success and access to quality educational materials
Everything else including all existing business models are not sacred.

If we had a food machine, we have a moral obligation to turn them off.

"The opposite of open is not closed; the opposite of open is broken."

The Impossible Open Education Future

Speaker: Philipp Schmidt  (
Executive Director and Co-Founder, Peer 2 Peer University

He is a Shuttleworth Fellow

"The Capetown Declaration twist"

Started Peer-to-Peer University in 2008 - Vijay Kumar said "You are starting from the wrong point - imagine that there was no university - what would it look like?"

They launched the first courses in 2009.

Anyone can join, OER, light interface, badge system. Their site is a light weight connector rather than an LMS. "School of Open" is being cooked up right now.

His frustration: Asking too much and expecting too little at the same time.

  • OER cost savings are a big deal.
  • Open is not a quick fix for all challenges in broken system. 
  • Brihanna needs an affordable student loan (in most places in the world, she would not have to work so hard)
  • Disruption comes from the fringes - make open research institutes 
  • Open education is global - we are not paying attention to what is happening in dev world
  • Open needs to keep the spirit of a lab
  • Open - participation, making, tinkering, experimenting, social, serendipity
Brothers Wright: If we had studied flight we would have never done it because we would have learned that it was impossible. 

Imagine the Impossible Open Education School of the Future
 In P2PU - they tend to use cohorts rather than MOOCs
A strong social bond of cohorts
Great facilitators are hard to scale

Alternatives? A learning expedition - following the markers of others up the side of the mountain. You can hire a guide. There model is "challenges." There is a badge system and a "Request a Mentor" button. There is also a "Become a Mentor" button. 

Learning = making things with others

What makes a good challenge? These can make good portfolio pieces
Goal: enable community to contribute "challenges"
How to: What makes a good challenge?
Testing challenges in other domains

Assessment: Every time you do an assessment apart from the activity you introduce inaccuracies.
Why not use gaming as assessment - assessment needs a "Press R to Try Again."
You fail a test - when you lose a game, you try again.

1st Step - Collect Data
2nd Step -  Showcase and share portfolios
3rd Step -  Listen to the community

"Framework and Design of Social Learning"
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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Assessment and Accreditation of an OER Learner

A Wikiversity Logo for Open Educational Resour...Image via WikipediaSpeakers: Rory McGreal, Wayne Macintosh
Learners accessing OER can acquire knowledge formally or informally. This project reports on assessment and accreditation policies worldwide.

A major function of colleges and universities is to validate and credentialise learning by conferring qualifications and degrees. They are well equipped and experienced in the process of assessing the quality of learning for formal academic or professional credit. However, digital media are transforming the ways individuals create, share and learn both formally and informally from content and applications available on the web. There is considerable ambiguity regarding the validity of this type of learning or self-study online and the use of individualized learning paths. The problem is that learners who access OER on the Web and do acquire knowledge and skills either formally or informally, alone or in groups, cannot readily have their learning assessed and subsequently receive appropriate academic recognition for their efforts. So, there is a need for ongoing research in order to understand the different ways that institutions are addressing the needs of this growing learner population.

This paper will report on a Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research project. The project is original in that it will research existing and nascent international protocols and practices leading to formal academic credit for non-traditional learners. This provides a framework to evaluate the transferability and applicability of these means for assessing OER learning on the web leading to formal credentials. Existing organisational and policy barriers will be identified and categorized. The project proposes a conceptual framework to overcome these barriers for widening access to post-secondary education through digital learning in ways, which are more accessible cost-effective and responsive to the diverse, changing needs of the knowledge economy and society.

This research is significant because the core mission of any modern university is to contribute to society. Many universities incorporate the mission of community service, as publicly funded institutions, to serve the wider interests of society by sharing expertise and scholarship. An understanding of how different institutions are approaching the recognition of non-formal and informal digital learning can provide change agents with new knowledge on how to expand their community service and learning missions by creating flexible pathways to credentialise learning for non-traditional students.

Recent transformational advances in digital media, the web and mobile devices have changed the learning landscape, ensuring that this research project is different. The exponential increase in accessibility to quality educational as OER provides unprecedented opportunities for learning. Thousands of course modules are presently available online, as OER from respected institutions, along with millions of websites that can be used to support a wide variety of learning objectives. This exponential growth has opened up opportunities for learners leading to potential obligations from our institutions.

The UNESCO/COL Chair has partners on all continents. This project will contribute to the advancement of knowledge of the assessment of learning experience for non-traditional learners. The outputs of this research could potentially have wide social impact in expanding access to learning opportunities for those students currently under-served by the formal sector while enhancing the efficiency of taxpayer funded institutions by refining existing mechanisms for assessment and accreditation or non-traditional learners.

Their work in OERs was driven by digital rights management issues, digital licenses, and the idea that a license is a privilege not ownership. These are not conditions that encourage education.

Going to open education is not a choice - we must get away from proprietary materials.

Research objectives
Map existing projects on assessment/accreditation

They are building an open education resource university - OERU
This is to accredit students who are using open ed resources. Learning is free but you pay for the accreditation. To guarantee the credibility the assessment process must be strictly equivalent to that for mainstream students.

Participating institutions, they must have credible local accreditation. They are working with agencies to ensure quality assessment standards.

Learners access courses based solely on OER. Open students supported via "Academic Volunteers" and possible student mentors. Open assessment from participating institutions. Participating inst. grant credit and degrees.

They want to accredit all forms of learning, informal, formal, non-formal, and previous learning - also will include transfer credit, challenge for credit, and portfolio learning.

Research Questions?
Is a MOOC formal learning?
How does a "badge" system fit in?
How do we assess prior learning?

Breaking the "Iron Triangle" you can increase quality and lower cost.

University of London has been doing this for years.

"The Tragedy of the Commons" - the commons still exists in Britain and Canada. They really didn't take away the commons - private property is what is robbing people.

OER Red Herrings:
Quality issues
No credible credentials
Too rigid/flexible

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Openness and Learning Analytics

Human Graphing - 20Image by nep via FlickrSpeakers: John Rinderle Norman Bier
Revise/Remix can build a 1000 points of OER light. Can these lights converge to fire authentic learning analytics & share-alike data models?

Conventional wisdom in the OER community maintains that one of the more important features of the open education approach is the malleability and customizability of materials, allowing freely available component resources to be remixed, adapted and modified to suit specific institutional directives, student needs or faculty interests. These features are important enough that the ability to revise and remix content is a core part of the commonly accepted 4R framework that defines open content. While the ability to tailor OER to meet changing or specific needs is one compelling part of the open model, the infinity variety that this encourages creates serious obstacles for another expected benefit of openness: using learning analytics to drive adaptive teaching and learning, support iterative improvement, and demonstrate effectiveness.

The ability to deliver meaningful learning analytics has been one promise of the open education approach. A use-driven design process for OER depends on the resources being used by a large number of students with varied background knowledge, relevant skills and future goals—a student population that open and well-used resources should be able to provide. Such a process can use such interaction data to iteratively improve courses in a meaningful and empirical way. Beyond improvement analytics, this same data can be used mid-stream to improve the effectiveness of learners and instructors.

Despite this promise, the OER community has not been able to create or take advantage of widespread, generally applicable learning analytics tools. While some organizations have had success in developing analytics platforms and approaches, such successes have tended to focus on specific resources, often developed with data collection in mind and not always falling at the “most open” end of the open content continuum. One barrier to more widespread analytic tools has been the variety of OER afforded by remixing and revising.

This presentation will explore the benefits and trade-offs to be made between adaptability and analytics. In the course of this exploration, we will argue that the benefits to be had from an approach that places a higher priority on analytics may outweigh those to be gained from endless variety in the OER space. Similarly, we will discuss some approaches to better harness open education’s promised ability to drive learning analytics, with greater and lesser compromises to the adaptability of OER. We will propose open communities of use and evaluation coalesced around individual OERs using learning analytics to improve the resource through coordinated revision and remix. Open education has embraced share alike licenses for materials. The next logical step is the open exchange of learning data and evidence of effectiveness, to “share alike and share data”. We will also suggest approaches to integrating disparate analytics-enabled OER into common platforms and the development of OER to published standards for learning analytic data.

Open Learning Initiative:
Produce and improve scientifically-based courses and course materials which enact instruction and support instructors

Shared understanding of challenges, tensions, and possibilities in learning analytics
Describe community-based analytics plans

Driving feedback loops. We have a huge opportunity to use assessment data around OERs. There are enormous amounts of data available.  "Infinite points of light" around all the OER repositories and initiatives.

Infinite proliferation

The 4 Rs

  1. Reuse
  2. Redistribute
  3. Revising
  4. Remix

Not recreate but to evaluate - recreate is a barrier to reuse.

What drives change in these settings?

  • Data 
  • Intuition
  • Market demand
  • Instructor preferences - change happens because an instructor gets bored with material, but with no real idea if the changes are improving the course.
Effectiveness: An OER is effective when it demonstrably supports students in meeting articulated, measurable learning outcomes in a given set of contexts. 

They are also looking at new forms of assessment for gathering data.

Rory McGreal asked whether or not there was a clearer way to talk about what is demonstrable. There are a lot of variables in the initial statement.

Why have we not been doing this?
  • It's hard
  • Costly
  • Individual faculty need support
  • It can be threatening to educators
  • Disparate systems for collecting data

What do we mean by "learning analytics"?
Proxies vs. authentic assessment and evaluation

Analytics Definition
Data collection > reporting > Decision making > Intervention > Action
Collecting data is not enough. We also need to make sense of it in ways that are actionable.

Types of analytics
Education/classroom management
Learning outcomes

We need common, agreed upon standards, a core collection, and a space for exploration.

Problems include privacy and technical issues.

Tools that already exist:
DataShop, Evidence Hub, Learning registry, and communities of evidence

Community College Open Learning Initiative

And build new things:
We need better mechanisms to share data.
We need a community-based approach.

Learning Intelligence Systems
What would be giving up? This approach forces us to allow our minds to be charged by evidence.

Next Steps?

  • Commitment to assessment and evaluation
  • Community definition of analytics enabled OER
  • Common approach to data
  • Shared and private analytics platforms

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Open Ed Conference - Keynote speakers Josh Jarrett & Jim Groom

Josh Jarrett at discussing "Access is Not Enough."
Challenges from here to 2020

Warning: raw notes ahead!

Three challenges for the OER community

Four Challenges for the Next decade

  1. Completion 
  2. Quality
  3. Funding
  4. Demographics 

Higher ed tuition has gone up over 400%. There is over a trillion dollars in student loan debt. The "new normal" is students who work and go to school. "Education drives social mobility in the U.S."

Gate's Foundation rewards institutions for success, not just access, accelerate early momentum through restructured dev ed and smoother transitions between HS nad college; unlocks the power of technology for education.

First three accolades,
1. Developing frameworks, rules, and regimes to support OER.
2. Establishing a community of sharing
3. Creating access to rapidly expanding stores of OER

The three OER bugaboos: quality/impact, usage/dist., sustainability

Three Challenges:

1. Evidence: translate OER cost savings into student impact on

  • course completion
  • retention
  • enrollment intensity
  • credential completion rates

2. Content development: design for reuse

  • How much of this content is reuseable?
  • Content has to be modular for reuse.
3. Integration, instrumentation, and distribution
  • How do we create common distribution?
  • We need a comparable OER distribution channel like a publisher.
What would it mean to solve these issues?

"You can't fail placement but placement can fail you!"

Analytics tools improved success in a course by 50%.

Jim Groom - Climbed out of a tent. "We are here today to occupy Open Ed."
Are we talking about open ed resources as a store? or as an on going experience. Ten years ago there was more of a community, outside of sustainability.

Why aren't the open repositories open and accessible?

Michael Branson Smith - his course DS 106. DS106 Radio.

Gardner Campbell wrote a book called "Love Analytics" that informs his presentaion. "The bags of gold" talk.

He doesn't care about the institutions or grants - this should be a grass roots movement.

He ran his DS 106 course as a open course. He ran three sections for credit and then opened it up and had 400 sign up online. DS 106 is not an open education resource, it is an open education experience. He started with 8 assignments but then let the students create assignments. There are 200 assignments now that a student can take.

The course has a student created tutorials, examples, and assignments.

Twitter was an important component of the course - students hash tag their messages with #ds106

"A community that transcends any technology."

The Summer of Oblivion: a pedagogy of uncertainty
He taught the course as if he had not talked to someone for 20 years. He called himself "Dr. Oblivion."

Why would we waste out time lecturing when there are new media?

"Looking for Whitman" Michael Branson Smith has a class of 80 students are working on DS 106.

"Education is an experience, not a resource."

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

UNESCO Chairs in OER Programme and International Network

Photo of Athabasca UniversityImage via WikipediaSpeakers: Rory McGreal Fred Mulder Susan D\'Antoni
The UNESCO Chairs in OER explain their programme, goals and objectives in supporting an international network of OER users.

In Nov. 2006, ICDE launched its Global Task Force on OER at the UNESCO HQ in Paris with strong support from UNESCO. In March 2009 an OER Seminar was organised by the EADTU OER Task force and UNESCO, again at UNESCO HQ. It seemed a natural step for UNESCO to establish UNESCO OER Chairs, which were granted to Fred Mulder and Rory McGreal, both active in the OER community. The Canadian Chair is focusing on stimulating OER capacity building and awareness raising, particularly in Africa, Asia and Latin America and specifically with the world's Open Universities. The Dutch Chair embraces research to underpin and give guidance to the exploration, introduction, implementation and exploitation of OER in a variety of societies at the national level.
The aim of this Panel is to discuss the Activity plans of both Chairs and to amend them where necessary. This under explicit consideration of the continental and national differences and of the self-learning mode as a promising perspective in relation to OER.

The goals of UNESCO include universal education. They are creating an international network of OER chairs for action.

There are chairs in Canada and the Netherlands.

They are building a collaborative mapping of OER initiatives world-wide.

Rory McGreal is the UNESCO chair from Athabasca University. They are supporting OER in Africa and they are partners with UNISA, Africa's online university. They are supporting gender equality. They are promoting OERs to educate youth. They are working on getting chairs in Oceania, Brazil and elsewhere for more chairs. They are active in policy research.

AU Press Open Access Book will be announced soon. They are looking for OER-relevant topics. The OER book will be in the Issues in Distance Education edited by Terry Anderson.

Fred Mulder described an global OER graduate school initiative. There is a substantial need for more research in OERs. Very broad research objectives. The key researchers are PhD candidates under joint supervision by three OER experts.

They want them to spend time doing research abroad but they want that virtually.
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Open Ed Conference: From Shared to Open: The evolution of open education in Washington State

P1030513Image by textbookrebellion Speakers: Tom Caswell  & Connie Broughton

Learn how Washington's colleges went from a few system shared courses in 1997 to developing 81 courses as part of the Open Course Library.

Washington's State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC) is currently developing the Open Course Library, an ambitious 2-year project to design open educational resources for 81 high enrolling courses. In 1997 SBCTC began developing a way to share courses with a "pooled enrollments" model. For over a decade, SBCTC's system shared courses have allowed smaller colleges to provide a variety of "long tail" course offerings through a well-organized system of online course sharing. In this presentation we will explain how our system shared courses paved the way to the Open Course Library, providing a culture of sharing as well as the technical framework to allow Washington State's colleges to engage more fully in the Open Education movement.

Their strategic plan included shared tools, ANGEL, Tegrity, Collaborate, NW eTutoring Consortium, Professional development, and the open course library.

More information at

"We will cultivate the culture and practice of using and contributing to open education resources."

Internet + digital content + open license = lower cost, greater access, and greater quality.

Students were averaging $1000 for textbook costs.

WA legislation in SSHB1025 asks that faculty consider the lowest cost options (all things equal) that faculty will adopt open content where possible.

Saylor Foundation adopted their courses that did not use commercial textbooks. They also fixed the broken links and put much of the material into a consistent form.
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