data

Critical issues in contemporary open education research #srhe

This presentation outlines some key considerations for researchers working in the fields of open education, OER and MOOC. Key lines of debate in the open education movement is described and critically assessed. A reflective overview of the award-winning OER Research Hub project will be used to frame several key considerations around the methodology and purpose of OER research (including ‘impact’ and ‘open practices’). These will be compared with results from a 2016 OER Hub consultation with key stakeholders in the open education movement on research priorities for the sector. The presentation concludes with thoughts on the potential for openness to act as a disruptive force in higher education.

Ethics, Openness and the Future of Education #opened14

By popular demand, here are my slides from today’s presentation at Open Education 2014.  All feedback welcome and if this subject is of interest to you then consider checking out the OERRH Ethics Manual and the section on ethics (week 2) of our Open Research course.

Open Research into Open Education #calrg14

Here are my slides from today’s presentation: feedback welcome as always.

The project website is http://oerresearchhub.org and the OER Impact Map is available at http://oermap.org.

ITC Distance Education Survey Results #elearning2014

Here at eLearning 2014 Fred Lokken of Truckee Meadows Community College presented the results of the most recent ITC survey into distance education.  This is the 10th annual edition of the survey, which is the the primary college-focused distance education survey.  The results are sent to all college presidents as well as to key media outlets.  The survey takes place in Autumn/Fall each year, and is sent electronically.  The 2013 survey saw 140 complete responses and statistical accuracy was reported at +/-4%.

Fred claims that it was around the 7th year of the survey (2011) that distance learning began to be recognised by the government as equivalent to classroom education in terms of quality of materials and instruction.  He pointed out that online education has overcome many barriers in a short space of time, instigating a paradigm shift that has yet to be fully understood.

The majority of community colleges manage their distance learning operations through a mix of centralised and decentralised administration.

Online enrolment is up while overall enrolment is marginally down.   This is a trend seen  consistently over the life of the survey and across a range of institutions.  (40% attributed this to the downturn in the economy.)  Web-facilitated classes and blended classes are on the increase.

Here are the challenges that distance education administrators see as the most pressing:

After a period of some turbulence, most institutions have settled on a fixed LMS, with only 27% saying that they were considering switching their LMS in the next year.

OER was the main change since previous surveys, with 45% predicting significant OER impact on their campus in the next 3-5 years.  Half (50%) thought OER would have very little impact but only 3% thought there would be no impact.    Here are the challenges that were identified as barriers to institutional adoption of OER.

Evidence of OER Impact

Here are my slides from today’s presentation at the Open Access Conference in San Jose.  There will probably be some tweaks to this before presentation at Open Ed 2013.

Sociology & Big Data

Can sociological researchers make use of big data?  Should they? There’s something equivocal going on between the allure of massive data sets and the temptation to try and explain everything in terms of that data…

New Sociological Approach to Big Data » Sociology Lens.

Data visualization as simulacra

I just saw this quote over at Radical Cartography and thought it was really interesting to think about in relation to data visualization, which is essentially also making spatial representations of information.

Information is already abstraction from experience because in regarding it as knowledge rather than immediate sensation.  So, creating representations of information is moving away from the referent and towards the ‘hyperreal’.  This is compounded when we visualize data in order to inform decision making as the ‘map that precedes the territory’.

At the same time, there is something organic and biopolitical about the growth, flourishing and decline of different representations of the world which inevitably reflect and express surrounding power structures.

If we were able to take as the finest allegory of simulation the Borges tale where the cartographers of the Empire draw up a map so detailed that it ends up exactly covering the territory (but where the decline of the Empire sees this map become frayed and finally ruined, a few shreds still discernible in the deserts — the metaphysical beauty of this ruined abstraction, bearing witness to an Imperial pride and rotting like a carcass, returning to the substance of the soil, rather as an aging double ends up being confused with the real thing) — then this fable has come full circle for us, and now has nothing but the discrete charm of second-order simulacra. Abstraction today is no longer that of the map, the double, the mirror or the concept. Simulation is no longer that of a territory, a referential being or substance. It is the generation of models of a real without origin or reality: a hyperreal. The territory no longer precedes the map, nor survives it. Henceforth, it is the map that precedes the territory — PRECESSION OF SIMULACRA — it is the map that engenders the territory and if we were to revive the fable today, it would be the territory whose shreds are slowly rotting across the map. It is the real, and not the map, whose vestiges subsist here and there, in the deserts which are no longer those of the Empire but our own: The desert of the real itself.

Jean Baudrillard (1981) “The Precession of Simulacra” in Simulacra and Simulation.

There’s some quite interesting stuff over there, in fact.

Data Maps: The Next Level

An interesting post by Young Hahn on map hacking has given me some food for thought with respect to the redesign of the OER Evidence Hub.  This article led me to another, Take Control of Your Maps by Paul Smith.

If I was a better programmer I could probably put some of the ideas to work right away, but as I am not I’ll have to be content with trying to draw some general principles out instead:

  • The core web map UI paradigm is a continuous, pannable, zoomable surface
  • Open mapping tools are better because they allow for more creative use of data through hacks
  • Maps can be more than just complements to narrative:  they can provide narrative structure too
  • Pins highlight locations but also anonymise them:   use illustrations instead like in the Sherlock Holmes demo
  • Google Maps is good at what it does, but restrictive in some design respects and any manipulation is likely to play havoc with the APIs
  • “Users interact with your mapping application primarily through a JavaScript or Flash library that listens to user events, requests tiles from the map server, assembles tiles in the viewport, and draws additional elements on the map, such as popups, markers, and vector shapes.”
  • If you can style the geospatial elements then the user experience can be customised to a much greater degree
  • KML is a newer alternative to XML
  • Most mapping services make use of some Javascript

It’s worth considering making use of the tools provided by OGR to translate and filter data.  And here are some mapping libraries to check out: