The Big Idea That Can Revolutionize Higher Education: ‘MOOC’

Laura McKenna in The Atlantic reports on the MOOCness that is starting to sweep across higher education where she reviews Coursera and Edx, noting that they are similar to Khan Academy. They are looking at removing the need for human beings to moderate and grade discussions and assignments.

Multiple choice tests can be easily graded using technology, but essays, the most accepted form of assessment for the humanities and the social sciences, have proven to be trickier. It would be impossible to hire enough people to grade the essays for a class that served 20,000. At Coursera, three engineers worked for two months on creating a system similar to Amazon Mechanical Turk for peer evaluation. This program will launch in about a week. EdX will use essay-grading software.

Discussions are moderated by peers who “vote” good comments up on the discussion board. Bad comments and spam are pushed to the bottom of the discussion threads by voters.

After the videos are created, the assignments are written, and the initial kinks are ironed out, Koller expects that these courses should be self sustaining and run on auto-pilot.

The funding models for Coursera and Edx are both slightly different.

She neglected to mention the history of MOOCs which can be found at

TED’s New Site Turns Any YouTube Video Into a Lesson

Sarah Kessler reports in Mashable about the growing flipping phenomenon which means that TED videos can now be flipped into lessons.

TED Ed isn’t making courses — it’s just making it easy to package YouTube videos in an educational context. What it’s making look more like video worksheets. But handing that ability to everybody could make for an interesting learning library.

In full, also The Top10 most viewed TED talks on Youtube


State launches e-learning model classroom

Rawlings Otieno reports from Kenya where a model classroom has been developed out of a public private partnership between Kenya Education Institute, Microsoft and LG. The technology will save the cost of purchasing computers by 60% and provide connections between schools and other facilities across the region.

KIE Director, Lydia Nzomo, said the development of e-learning content is designed and can be delivered using ordinary computer systems; web based for online access and mobile phones.

In full

Younger generations learning DIY from New Media

From the AA Ireland blog who have been exploring attitudes towards DIY.

27% of those aged between 17 and 24 indicated that they’ve used the internet and 16% said they’ve used YouTube specifically to get step by step instructions on how to do work around the house.  Both these figures are 10% higher than the overall averages as calculated across a sample of 11,000 people of all ages the AA reports.  Just 1% of those over the age of 65 said they had used YouTube as a learning tool to help with a DIY job.

The report also mentions that Dads and Mums are also still being sought for advice and support.

How long will it be before you can learn how to build and furnish a whole house via YouTube ? Anyone up for trying – it would make a great Grand Design project?

In full

Blue (School) Skies Ahead

Sam Chaltain reports on an interesting new school that grew out of the Blue Man group that toured the world with their fascinating performances. The school has spaces which are decorated by the children including tree sculptures and a disco floor. The school also has a fascinating exploratory framework based on the personality of the Blue Man

we imagined him doing so via six different lenses:

  1. The Group Member – the lens of collaboration, connection, and global citizenship
  2. The Scientist – the lens of curiosity, critical thinking, experimentation and analysis
  3. The Hero – the lens of perseverance, commitment and leadership
  4. The Trickster – the lens of provocation, innovation, and play
  5. The Artist – the lens of imagination, instinct and creative expression
  6. The Innocent – the lens of emotional awareness and mindfulness

“These six lenses are mindsets or approaches children, teachers, and others in our community can assume to explore work, academic areas, an environment, and materials,” Matt shared while we watched a cluster of four-year-olds make mud in their airy, light-filled classroom. “We want to teach our kids how to surf in all of those different energies. And we want to help them develop critical life skills and practices along the way.”

In full

Steve Wozniak Believes in Education and Creativity

Chris Ericksen on Cisco blog mentions a recent talk by Steve Wozniak in which he explains how he enjoyed his school experiences and he now encourages children to try things with computers that they have done before by hand.

His idea to inspire the kids is to get them using computers to do the things they are already doing by hand. By making the computer a natural part of the process – from doing homework to completing projects – kids have a way to get comfortable using the tool.

Along the way, he encourages them to be more creative, to try new things and to not sacrifice communication – large, funky fonts might look fun, but they don’t necessarily help get the idea across.

In full

How Geniuses Think

Michael Michalko recounts a brief review of academic work to uncover what a genius is and the role of intelligence. He suggests different strategies that geniuses use including

  • Geniuses look at problems in many different ways
  • Geniuses make their thoughts visible
  • Geniuses produce
  • Geniuses make novel combinations
  • Geniuses force relationships

And several more.

Social media and video games in classrooms can yield valuable data for teachers

Nick Pandolfo discusses findings from a recent report and panel session which mentioned familiar concerns about what technologies and how they can be used in education. He reviews recent initiatives which are looking at the use of big data to provide information about students progress

The idea is that the data collected by video games and social media sites can be provided, sometimes in real time, to teachers who can then use it to better understand their students and tailor instruction to meet individual needs.

The panel were also asked whether there was still a need for schools with these advances in technology.

In full

How Blogs, Social Media, and Video Games Improve Education

Darrell West mentions that people can now use collaborative tools which change the way both they and organisations communicate with each other. He mentions several educators who describe how students and educators can connect and participate with less barriers. He asks what this means for students, parents, teachers, administrators

despite the wealth of communications opportunities offered by these changes, their impact on learning and instruction is still not clear. How do these technologies affect students, teachers, parents, and administrators? Do they enable new approaches to learning and help students master substantive information? In what ways have schools incorporated electronic communications in the learning process and messages to external audiences?

In full

What does it mean to be open online?

Neelie Kroes, Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda, recently addressed the World Wide Web conference on the subject of being open online.

She mentions that she received a pair of handcuffs in the mail. She believes that openness can improve lives through greater access to information and how the development of open standards can promote innovation.

For me, openness means giving every person a forum in which they can express themselves. Every creator a way to be rewarded and recognised for their work. The security that ensures liberty for all. And services that transparently provide the consumer with what they’ve asked for and pay for.

Innovation can deliver all of these, giving choice and opportunity to all. Let’s really be open, and allow that innovation to happen

In full