Landing : Athabascau University

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  • Jon Dron bookmarked A Universal Moral Code? February 14, 2019 - 11:41am
    It appears that there may be a universal moral code, at least across 60 very different cultures, at least according to this large metastudy of anthropological literature. The authors focus explicitly and exclusively on manifestations of cooperative...
  • Jon Dron uploaded the file 57 varieties February 14, 2019 - 10:26am
    Public domain image, downloaded from Flickr Commons at https://flic.kr/p/odYdP7
  • Jon Dron posted to the wire February 12, 2019 - 3:17pm
    February 2019: Sorry for the downtime Tuesday, 12th February. It was caused by a fix gone wrong. Should be OK now.
  • I'll surely let you know, thanks Jennifer! Yes, the branching and pulling approach you suggest is pretty much exactly the cooperative pattern I have in mind, though collaborative group projects as such are mostly out of reach, thanks to...
  • Thank you Jennifer! One of my tasks between now and the start of my sabbatical in July is to revise COMP266 so I really appreciate the comments. The new version will take the student control aspect even further (for instance more flexibility in...
  • Some rambling reflections on being a Chair of a school
    Comments
    • Oh interesting! Would you be able to ping me once the version is in? I'd love to be one of the first students to take it for drive. :)  I've gotten many AU courses approved by work for 2019 for reimbursement - COMP266 is currently 3rd on the list but I could take it later to wait for the revision. 

      I recall we once had a conversation about using version control tools like Git where you mentioned the added dififculties of rules concerning server locations, etc. I believe you were considering hosting your own Git server? I've only ever used Git with Bash and have no experience with other version control solutions.

      It would be quite interesting if instead of just posting on the forum to help other students that we could also review each other's code, create a branch and a pull request for our changes to be merged. And it would be neat to have the option for group projects (Group work would need to be optional as even if students had the same start date, some may aim to finish in 4 weeks, others 4 months).

      One option to help students get acquainted with git (or whatever you choose) would be to create a site listing students' project websites (perhaps with the TA being the owner). Students could then create a branch, add their url / description to the page, submit a pull request, etc. It could make for a simple/painless introduction for them.

      Time to tuck in the kid. We'll talk more later. :)

      Jennifer Davies February 9, 2019 - 8:34pm

    • I'll surely let you know, thanks Jennifer!

      Yes, the branching and pulling approach you suggest is pretty much exactly the cooperative pattern I have in mind, though collaborative group projects as such are mostly out of reach, thanks to self-pacing. I'd not want to prevent it if it occurred - I just couldn't require it. I also intend to provide some default bits of both client- and server-side code that people can simply drop in for stuff like AJAX etc, as well as to provide (largely optional) scaffolding to get started. It will make the 'fix the broken page' exercise way more straightforward, and all the stuff about reusing and repurposing code will be so much easier to track. Right now it is way too easy for students to forget to tell us which bits are theirs, which is bad whether they accidentally commit plagiarism or whether we miss the smart things they have done to improve it. As you know, the course very much applauds intelligent reuse but it's often hard to see the students' own contributions.

      Self-hosted Git is an option, as is use of the version control service provided by AWS (we have an arrangement with Amazon so I guess we might as well use it) but I'm still struggling with that: the server side is easy enough, but most client tools are too complex and/or flaky for beginners with other more important things to learn about. Finding something simple, learnable, and reliable enough, but with enough features to do the social thing, and that doesn't prevent high-fliers or those with existing experience from taking it further, is the big blocker at the moment.  Now that I have more time, I mean to spend a few days over coming weeks doing some deep investigation of the very many options. In an ideal world, as well as something foolproof, powerful, and easy, I'd like to find something with good social tool integration and Landing-like per-post/branch/project access control, but that might be tricky. If I had more time and resources I might build a plugin to do it, or to do it the other way round (embed Git, Mercurial, whatever in the Landing) but I fear I may have to make a compromise or two on that for now.

      Jon Dron February 10, 2019 - 10:59am

    • Jon,

      I really enjoyed your reflection on having been (yeah, past tense) the Chair. 

      Your experience was definitely consistent with mine time as Chair for a couple of years a couple of years ago.

      I am also very interested, as I think you know, in the same area of research. I wish you well on the next adventure, and hope we get a chance to collaborate.

      Gerald Ardito February 10, 2019 - 2:00pm

  • Jon Dron uploaded the file Empty chair February 8, 2019 - 11:41am
    chair and window. Copyright CC-BY-NC v4,  Jon Dron
  • A correlational study from Nature by Amy Orben and Andrew K. Przybylski that finds negligible effects of screen time on adolescents' psychological well-being - barely more harmful than eating potatoes and vegetables, and certainly not a cause for...
  • Well, this is rotten. As the article suggests, the loss of Hangouts and Allo was pretty inevitable, given the large overlap in functionality between them and various Google apps (notably their Messages app), and that Google has a long history of...
  • If you weren't there, these may not mean much! We are currently developing a number of proposals that may (if approved) turn into graduate programs. This is a presentation about two of them (the teams for which I'm chairing): the (both provisionally...
    Comments
  • Jon Dron commented on a bookmark Microsoft under GDPR microscope for Office 365 and OneDrive | Alphr November 16, 2018 - 10:48am
    Indeed, Steve. Any bicycle lock can be broken within about 5 minutes with the right tools. Most take seconds. But should we stop using bike locks? Or legislate that anyone can take anyone else's bike? I think we have to start somewhere, and...
  • Jon Dron commented on a bookmark Microsoft under GDPR microscope for Office 365 and OneDrive | Alphr November 15, 2018 - 1:12pm
    I use Google and various other services that harvest and use my data in ways that I dislike, but I am sometimes willing to trade some privacy for some utility. It's my choice, notwithstanding that I may not be sufficiently informed or aware of the...
  • No big surprises here to anyone that has ever so much as glanced at Microsoft's business model and historical abuse of its customers, but definitely a matter of concern for organizations (like Athabasca University) that rent their services from...
    Comments
    • I use Google and various other services that harvest and use my data in ways that I dislike, but I am sometimes willing to trade some privacy for some utility. It's my choice, notwithstanding that I may not be sufficiently informed or aware of the consequences. If, however, a company that I work for or that is providing me with an education forces me to do this, it's another matter altogether. Whatever they may feel about their own privacy, they have a legal and moral duty to protect mine.

      An answer that I have repeatedly received on my numerous challenges to this policy (it's not just O365 - a very large number of our systems that contain extremely private data are now in the US cloud, from online exam systems to student support systems to, now, Moodle) is that none of our data are safe anyway, so what does it matter? Words fail me at that point. I accept that we fight a constant and losing battle against those who profit from abuses, but that doesn't mean we should simply give up. It's not helped by the fact that the Albertan government doesn't seem to care much either. In other provinces, such as BC and Nova Scotia, what we do would be illegal but, with some provisos (mainly based on a liberal interpretation of PIPEDA), Alberta still allows it.

      Jon Dron November 15, 2018 - 1:12pm

    • Any computing device connected synchronously or asynchronously to a network can be harvested...and is.  Another Snowden déjà vu.

      The question is no longer why or how could digital data be used, rather its just a matter of when...and soon even that will not be a question....ah too late no longer a question, now 24/7Sealed

      PS. I deleted my LkIn account... at least from my display. Undecided

      Steve Swettenham November 16, 2018 - 9:09am

    • Indeed, Steve.

      Any bicycle lock can be broken within about 5 minutes with the right tools. Most take seconds. But should we stop using bike locks? Or legislate that anyone can take anyone else's bike? I think we have to start somewhere, and legislation (with teeth to bite transgressors in ways that act as a real disincentive) is not a bad place to start. Meanwhile we need to build better locks, or educate ourselves to use them better, or maybe to rethink how we share our data altogether. I'm a bit intrigued by Solid, not because it's a new or radical idea, but because it has TBL behind it. Not an incredibly reliable solution, but really a lot better than what we have today.

      Jon Dron November 16, 2018 - 10:48am

  • Jon Dron commented on the file Normalized_ERDiagram.png November 13, 2018 - 7:31pm
    This is looking good, Liliana. I wonder, though, whether there is another entity lurking in the relationship between an employee and a cash register? Seems to me that a cash register will be used by many employees, and an employee may use many cash...
  • Jon Dron commented on the file Beyond learning outcomes November 2, 2018 - 2:32pm
    Thanks Gerald! Yes, I had an 'aha' moment when I drew the Venn diagram and mapped it to intended outcomes. I've said as much in so many words many times before but, seeing it laid out in front of me, it just seemed so obvious that the only thing we...
  • Jon Dron commented on the file What we teach, what a student learns, what we assess November 1, 2018 - 9:27am
    Interesting point, Mary - I, of all people, should have thought about that! I was aiming the talk at teachers teaching in a conventional (well - as conventional as AU gets) context and so 'us and them' vocabulary seemed appropriate, but a more...
  • Jon Dron commented on the file What we teach, what a student learns, what we assess October 31, 2018 - 4:59pm
    I very sincerely hope not! See https://landing.athabascau.ca/file/view/3646763/beyond-learning-outcomes for the slides from which I took this graphic, and a brief explanation of them. The point of this is to illustrate how there's quite a big...
  • Jon Dron uploaded the file What we teach, what a student learns, what we assess October 31, 2018 - 2:57pm
    A Venn diagram of overlapping but distinct aspects of institutional teaching and learning
    Comments
    • Thinking about how this diagram changes when the we is students (with some guidance from the teacher). Stay tuned for more on this :-)

       

      Mary McNabb November 1, 2018 - 7:01am

    • Interesting point, Mary - I, of all people, should have thought about that! I was aiming the talk at teachers teaching in a conventional (well - as conventional as AU gets) context and so 'us and them' vocabulary seemed appropriate, but a more realistic systems diagram of all of this would reveal a very different picture. Even in this diagram, part of my point is exactly that teaching is always, and irreducibly, distributed. I don't think a more accurate rendition would be a Venn diagram any more, though.

      Jon Dron November 1, 2018 - 9:27am

    • I agree about the Venn diagram, Jon, so I madea Doodly (my new toy) to record my very basic interpretation of what you were saying. I'd be interested in your thoughts. An Interpretation of teaching/learning/assessment posted by Jon Dron_31_10_18

      Mary McNabb November 1, 2018 - 8:59pm

  • Jon Dron uploaded the file Beyond learning outcomes October 31, 2018 - 1:28pm
    This is a slide deck for a talk I'm giving today, at a faculty workshop, on the subject of learning outcomes. I think that well-considered learning outcomes can be really helpful when planning and designing learning activities, especially where...
    Comments
    • Jon,

      I really enjoyed reviewing the slide deck. If you have any audio, it would be great to be able to hear the presentation itself.

      I was unaware of Outcome Mapping or Outcome Harvesting, so I look forward to learning more about them.

      Particularly intriguing to me is how much tunnel vision gets added by not looking at all learning outcomes. So, thanks for that.

      Gerald Ardito November 2, 2018 - 11:59am

    • Thanks Gerald!

      Yes, I had an 'aha' moment when I drew the Venn diagram and mapped it to intended outcomes. I've said as much in so many words many times before but, seeing it laid out in front of me, it just seemed so obvious that the only thing we should ever assess is (in positive terms) what a student has learned. It's good news if that happens to overlap with what we are trying to teach and what we are trying to assess, but that's not the main point. Another nice thing about thinking this way is that, if a student achieves outcomes that we did not intend, but that happen to overlap with something else we assess (e.g. a different course) it can be used as evidence towards that, too. This does mean that we need to have a pretty fair idea of our intended outcomes across the whole institution (or at least a whole program), and thus will run into the many problems of misusing learning outcomes as currency/bureaucratic measurement tools, but it might be a way to sell the idea to those in charge.

      Alas, no audio or recording of any kind.

      I came across the concept of outcome mapping/harvesting at the International Federation of National Teaching Fellows conference earlier this year and it resonated with many of the things I have been grappling with over recent years. The details are fairly mundane and obvious - it's a project management tool for dealing with complex projects and emergent/unanticipated/fuzzy outcomes, but the general principle of identifying change (any change) as an outcome, and working back from that to discover what led to it makes an awful lot of sense to me in a learning context. The act of mapping itself is a highly reflective and potentially very effective pedagogical process in its own right, so it's a good idea even if bureaucracy prevents you from actually using those outcomes in summative assessment. If the powers that be prevent you from adding new outcomes (or from removing those that are pre-ordained) you can always add an outcome along the lines of 'be a reflective practitioner' or 'demonstrate the ability to be a lifelong learner' or 'critically evaluate their learning in the field' to the specified outcomes, but I think it is way more useful if we are allowed to be flexible in specifying criteria for success on a per-student basis.  

      Jon

      Jon Dron November 2, 2018 - 2:32pm

    • Jon,

      In a chunk of time full of synchronicity, I have been wondering about the same things. 

      I have been working with my teacher candidates in designing curriculum, specifically units of study and lesson plans for elementary school students. They are good students and very committed to being good teachers, but all of there work amounted to an addition problem = fact 1 + fact 2 + fact 3 = learning. You can imagine that the assessments they designed were very traditional and linear as well.

      I have been working with them pretty intensely around seeing that their job is to create learners and people in love iwth learning, not pushing content. I want to investigate outcome mapping and outcome harvesting further as tools that they could be possibly using to change their thinking and practice.

      Gerald Ardito November 7, 2018 - 7:10am

  • This is a new article from me about smartness in learning environments. The originally submitted title was 'stupid learning environments' but the reviewers rightly felt that this didn't accurately reflect the main points of the article. It's worth...
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