Archive for March, 2013

Interview with Code.org video director

Interesting interview with the director of the Code.org video.  The comments are intriguing and reflect the diverse and contrary perspectives on these issues: “There are nowhere near 1 Million unfilled software engineer jobs in the United States. Becoming a software engineer is a choice that is not a sideline choice, it becomes your whole life. While learning some coding may be a help for students, the premise of Code Stars is deeply flawed.” (Thanks to Mark Miller for the tip!)

Michelle Fields talks to filmmaker Lesley Chilcott about her film Code Stars. There is a dearth of computer engineers in America, and Chilcott is trying to reverse this trend through documentary film. Hear how many computer engineers started their lucrative careers at a young age with very simple programs, and how you can too.

via Decoding Success: Striking It Rich in the Tech Industry – YouTube.

March 29, 2013 at 1:55 am 2 comments

Women’s experiences in the Tech industry: Death by 1000 paper cuts

What a sad posting.  It’s particularly sad because it’s 10 years after “Unlocking the Clubhouse.”  Really?  Haven’t we figured out how to do this any better yet?

My college classes have next to no women in them. A professor makes creepy comments about “geeky girls” during class. One of my few female classmates tells me she’s just doing this to prove her father wrong. Classmates don’t take me seriously until I scream. The first time I learned that you get to be a bitch or you get to be ignored – a choice that would later follow me to the working world. Four years of paper cuts. Four years of pushing myself too hard because I wanted to prove something.

via My experiences in tech: Death by 1000 paper cuts.

March 29, 2013 at 1:34 am 5 comments

Cybersecurity as a motivation for drawing high schoolers into CS

We’ve talked about the UK and the US worrying about having enough cyberwarriors to deal with future cybersecurity issues.  CMU is helping to build a game to entice high school students into computing, with cybersecurity as the focus.

Carnegie Mellon University and one of the government’s top spy agencies want to interest high school students in a game of computer hacking.

Their goal with “Toaster Wars” is to cultivate the nation’s next generation of cyber warriors in offensive and defensive strategies. The free, online “high school hacking competition” is scheduled to run from April 26 to May 6, and any U.S. student or team in grades six through 12 can apply and participate.

David Brumley, professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon, said the game is designed to be fun and challenging, but he hopes participants come to see computer security as an excellent career choice.

via Carnegie Mellon, NSA seek high school hackers – Yahoo! News.

March 28, 2013 at 1:37 am Leave a comment

Feds give nudge to competency-based education: Beyond the Credit Hour

Of all the open learning movement initiatives, this may be the most important.  The credit hour is a poor measure of learning-attained.  It’s too large a grain size to be important as a measure of instruction.  Moving to competencies (whatever that may end up being) is a move in the right direction, in terms of facilitating our ability to measure the amount of learning and the amount of teaching effort involved in an education program.

The U.S. Department of Education has endorsed competency-based education with the release today of a letter that encourages interested colleges to seek federal approval for degree programs that do not rely on the credit hour to measure student learning.

Department officials also said Monday that they will give a green light soon to Southern New Hampshire University’s College for America, which would be the first to attempt the “direct assessment” of learning – meaning no link to the credit hour – and also be eligible for participation in federal financial aid programs.

via Feds give nudge to competency-based education | Inside Higher Ed.

March 28, 2013 at 1:07 am 2 comments

Meet Wikipedia, the Encyclopedia Anyone Can Code

It sounds like you can only use Lua for encyclopedia-like functions (e.g., handling citations), but what a wonderful step toward having a tool for building simulations and data processing & visualizations into the encyclopedia.  It’s a nice new motivation for “Computing for Everyone.”

It began as the encyclopedia anyone can edit. And now it’s also the encyclopedia anyone can program.

As of this weekend, anyone on Earth can use Lua — a 20-year-old programming language already championed by the likes of Angry Birds and World of Warcraft — to build material on Wikipedia and its many sister sites, such as Wikiquote and Wiktionary. Wikipedia has long offered simple tools that let tens of thousands of volunteer editors reuse little bits of text across its encyclopedia pages, but this is something different.

“We wanted to provide editors with a real programming language,” says Rob Lanphier, the director of platform engineering at the Wikimedia Foundation, the not-for-profit that oversees the online encyclopedia. “This will make things easier for editors, but it will also be significantly faster.”

via Meet Wikipedia, the Encyclopedia Anyone Can Code | Wired Enterprise | Wired.com.

March 27, 2013 at 1:33 am 2 comments

MOOCluhan: Using McLuhan to Understand MOOCs

Anyone who tries to make a distinction between education and entertainment doesn’t know the first thing about either.” — Marshall McLuhan

When I first heard this famous quote from McLuhan, I was insulted.  Surely, McLuhan must not appreciate high-quality education, that he considers it no better than mass-market education!  Now, I have a better appreciation for what that quote is saying, and I realize that what he’s saying is deep and important, and relates to what MOOCs are missing.

The student population on my campus is mostly low-income, working part-time or full-time, first-generation college students, nearly all from groups underrepresented in the sciences. These are, by definition, disadvantaged students. This isn’t an insult, just a fact – the deck is stacked against them based on their background. They have a competitive disadvantage against those with more resources and against those with a pedigree that creates access to fancier opportunities.

This year, a few undergraduates who have worked with me are heading off to great graduate programs. What all of them have in common is that they started working with faculty at my university in the classroom and in the lab, in person. They’ve all told me and my colleagues that there’s no way they would have been able to do what they’ve done without us as a resource and as an influence. I take them at their word.

via Online learning is the ghetto of higher education | Small Pond Science.

I added the emphasis above.  The author of the above blog post is working with students who are working against odds to succeed in higher education.  I’m sure that the author is right — the face-to-face involvement of teachers who care about the students is exactly what it takes for those students to succeed.  What is it that can be provided 1:1 that MOOCS at 1:10000 are unlikely to provide?  I suggest: Engagement, immersion, transcendence.

The best entertainment has that quality.  You’re watching a play, and you forget that you’re in a theater at all.  You’re somewhere else, totally engaged in the moment of the story.  You can get the same thing from reading a book, and when it’s really good, from a movie or television show.  In any case, high-quality entertainment takes you away from the world where maybe the deck is stacked against you and creates a new reality.

I have had educational experiences like that, and I hope that I have (occasionally) provided them to my students.  I know that I have had to chase students out of class, because they were totally absorbed in the activities and problems and constructions of class.  That’s engagement.

I’ve read a lot of articles and blog posts about MOOCs.  So far, I’ve never yet read the line, “The MOOC was so engaging.  I was immersed in it.  I was no longer staring at my laptop screen, I was…”  In a lecture hall with 300 people at Stanford, maybe?  I’ve heard people talk about how much work MOOCs are, how it requires extreme motivation and resilience to complete.  That doesn’t sound like engagement, immersion, or transcendence.

Absolutely, there is entertainment that requires real work.  There is wonderful literature that is “hard fun” to dig into and understand.  That’s exactly where McLuhan comes in.  That wonderful literature is only accessible to a few.  MOOCs only work (right now) for the few.  To get the mass student audience, to educate everyone, we have to think more like mass entertainment and work at engagement and immersion.

 

March 27, 2013 at 1:08 am 3 comments

Guided Computer Science Inquiry in Data Structures Class

Inquiry-based learning is the best practice for science education.  Education activities focus on a driving question that is personally meaningful for students, like “Why is the sky blue?” or “Why is the stream by our school so acidic (or basic)?” or “What’s involved in building a house powered entirely by solar power?”  Answering those questions leads to deeper learning about science.  Learning sciences results support the value of this approach.

It’s hard for us to apply this idea from science education and teach an introductory computing course via inquiry, because students may not have many questions that relate to computer science when they first get started.  Questions like “How do I make an app to do X?” or “How do I use Snap on my laptop?” are design and task oriented, not inquiry oriented.  Answering them may not lead to deeper understanding of computer science.  Our everyday experience of computing, through (hopefully) well-designed interfaces, hides away the underlying computing.  We only really start to think about computing at moments of breakdown (what Heidigger called “present-at-hand”).  “Why can’t I get to YouTube, even though the cable modem light is on?” and “How does a virus get on my computer, and how can it pop up windows on my screen?”  It’s an interesting research project to explore what questions students have about computing when they enter our classes.

I realized this semester that I could prompt students to define questions for inquiry-based learning in a second computer science class, a data structures course.  I’m teaching our Media Computation Data Structures course this semester.  These students have seen under the covers and know that computing technology is programmed.  I can use that to prompt them about how new things work.  What I particularly like about this approach is how it gets me out of the “Tour of the Code” lecturing style.

Here’s an example.  We had already created music using linked lists of MIDI phrases.  I then showed them code for creating a linked list of images, then presented this output.

An image created with PositionedSceneElement nodes

I asked students, “What do you want to know about how this worked?”  This was the gamble for me — would they come up with questions?  They did, and they were great questions.  “Why are the images lined up along the bottom?” “Why can we see the background image?”

I formed the students into small groups, and assigned them one of the questions that the students had generated.  I gave them 10 minutes to find the answers, and then report back.  The discussion around the room was on-topic and had the students exploring the code in depth.  We then went through each group to get their answers.  Not every answer was great, but I could take the answer and expand upon it to reach the issues that I wanted to make sure that we highlighted.  It was great — way better and more interactive than me paging through umpteen Powerpoint slides of code.

Then I showed them this output from another linked list of images.

Images that are both positioned and layered

Again, the questions that the students generated were terrific.  “What data are stored in each instance such that some have positions and some are just stacked up on the bottom?” and “Why are there gaps along the bottom?”

Still later in the course, I showed them an animation, rendered from a scene graph, and I showed them the code that created the scene graph and generated the animation.  Now, I asked them about both the animation code and the class hierarchy that the scene graph nodes was drawing upon.  Their questions were both about the code, and about the engineering of the code — why was it decomposed in just this way?

Questions-on-board

 

(We didn’t finish answering these questions in a single class period, so I took pictures of the questions so that I could display them and we could return to them in the next class.)

I have really enjoyed these class sessions.  I’m not lecturing about data structures — they’re learning about data structures.  The students are really engaged in trying to figure out, “How does that work like that?”  I’m busy in class suggesting where they should look in the code to get their questions answered.  We jointly try to make sense of their questions and their answers.  Frankly, I hope to never again have to show sequences of Powerpoint slides of code ever again.

 

 

 

March 26, 2013 at 1:57 am 7 comments

Free Early-Career Learning Sciences Workshop at CMU LearnLab

Call for Participation

2nd Annual Learning Science Workshop
Research and Innovation for Enhancing Achievement and Equity
http://www.learnlab.org/opportunities/summerworkshop.php
June 22-23
Carnegie Mellon University
Pittsburgh PA
Applications Due May 5, 2013

*No Cost To Attend*

Overview

LearnLab, an NSF Science of Learning Center (SLC) at Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh, has an exciting summer research opportunity available to early career researchers in the fields of psychology, education, computer science, human-computer interfaces and language technologies.

The workshop is targeted to senior graduate students, post-docs and early career faculty. The workshop seeks broad participation, including members of underrepresented groups as defined by NSF (African American, Hispanic, Native American) who may be considering a research or faculty position in the learning sciences.

This two-day workshop immediately precedes the LearnLab Summer School (www.learnlab.org/opportunities/summer/). Our research theme is theresearch and innovation for enhancing achievement and equity, including these five areas:

* Enhancing Achievement through Educational Technology and Data Mining. Using domain modeling, and large datasets to discover when learning occurs and to provide scaffolding for struggling students. See http://www.learnlab.org/research/wiki/index.php/Computational_Modeling_and_Data_Mining.

* 21st Century Skills, Dispositions, and Opportunities. Re-examining the goals of education and assessment and considering transformative changes in how and where learning occurs.

* Opening Classroom Discourse. Studying how classroom talk contributes to domain learning and supports equity of learning opportunity. See LearnLab’s Social-Communicative Factors thrustwww.learnlab.org/research/wiki/index.php/Social_and_Communicative_Factors_in_Learning.

* Course-Situated Research. Running principle-testing experiments while navigating the complex waters of real-world classrooms. Seewww.learnlab.org/research/wiki/index.php/In_vivo_experiment.

* Motivation Interventions for Learning. Implementing theory based motivational interventions to target at risk populations to improve robust student learning. Seehttp://www.learnlab.org/research/wiki/index.php/Metacognition_and_Motivation

The substantive focus of the workshop is the use of current research and innovations to enhance achievement and equity at all levels of learning. Activities will include demonstrations of the diverse set of ongoing learning sciences research projects at LearnLab, and poster presentations or talks by participants. Participants will also meet with LearnLab faculty in research groups and various informal settings. We will provide information about becoming a part of the Carnegie Mellon or University of Pittsburgh learning science community.

In addition to these substantive themes, the workshop will provide participants with opportunities for professional development and the chance to gain a better understanding of the academic career ladder. These include mentoring that focuses on skills, strategies and “insider information” for career paths. Sessions will include keynote speakers and LearnLab senior faculty discussing professional development topics of interest to the attendees. These may include the tenure and promotion process, launching a research program, professionalism, proposal writing, among other topics. There is no cost to attend this workshop

We are very pleased to announce that the workshop will have two distinguished keynote speakers:

Nora S. Newcombe, Ph.D. is the James H. Glackin Distinguished Faculty Fellow and Professor of Psychology at Temple University. Dr. Newcombe is the PI of the Spatial Intelligence and Learning Center (SILC), headquartered at Temple and involving Northwestern, the University of Chicago and the University of Pennsylvania as primary partners. Dr. Newcombe was educated at Antioch College, where she graduated with a major in psychology in 1972; and at Harvard University, where she received her Ph.D. in Psychology and Social Relations in 1976. She taught previously at Penn State University.

A nationally recognized expert on cognitive development, Dr. Newcombe’s research has focused on spatial development and the development of episodic and autobiographical memory. Her work has been federally funded by NICHD and the National Science Foundation for over 30 years. She is the author of numerous scholarly chapters and articles on aspects of cognitive development, and the author or editor of five books, including Making Space: The Development of Spatial Representation and Reasoning (with Janellen Huttenlocher) published by the MIT Press in 2000.

Tammy Clegg, Ph.D. is an assistant professor in the College of Education with a joint appointment in the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland. She received her PhD in Computer Science at Georgia Tech in 2010 and her Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from North Carolina State University in 2002. From 2010-2012 Tamara was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Maryland with the Computing Innovations Fellows program. Her work focuses on developing technology to support life-relevant learning environments where children engage in science in the context of achieving goals relevant to their lives. Kitchen Chemistry is the first life-relevant learning environment she designed along with colleagues at Georgia Tech. In Kitchen Chemistry, middle-school children learn and use science inquiry to make and perfect dishes. Clegg uses participatory design with children to design these new technologies. Her work currently includes creating new life-relevant learning environments (e.g., Sports Physics, Backyard Biology) to understand how identity development happens across these environments. From this analysis, she aims to draw out design guidelines for life-relevant learning activities and technology in various contexts (e.g., sports, gardening).

About LearnLab

LearnLab is funded by the National Science Foundation (award number SBE-0836012). Our center leverages cognitive theory and computational modeling to identify the instructional conditions that cause robust student learning. Our researchers study robust learning by conducting in vivo experiments in math, science and language courses. We also support collaborative primary and secondary analysis of learning data through our open data repository LearnLab DataShop, which provides data import and export features as well as advanced visualization, statistical, and data mining tools.

To learn more about our cognitive science theoretical framework, read our Knowledge-Learning-Instruction Framework.

The results of our research are collected in our theoretical wiki which currently has over 400 pages. It also includes a list of principles of learning which are supported by learning science research. The wiki is open and freely editable, and we invite you to learn more and contribute.

Application Process

Applicants should email their CV, this demographic form, a proposed presentation title and abstract, and a brief statement describing their research interests to Jo Bodnar (jobodnar@cs.cmu.edu) by May 5, 2013. Please use the subject Application for LearnLab Summer Workshop 2013. Upon acceptance, we will let you know if you have been selected for a talk or poster presentation.

Costs

There is no registration fee for this workshop. However, attendance is limited so early applications are encouraged. Scholarships for travel are available. Scholarships will be awarded based on your application, including your research interests, future plans, and optional recommendation letter.

March 26, 2013 at 1:45 am Leave a comment

CERIAS: Some thoughts on “cybersecurity” professionalization and education

Relates to the issue of when an employee needs college, and when they don’t.  For Cybersecurity, they do.  Relates to the growing needs in cybersecurity in the UK and in the US.

Too many (current) educational programs stress only the technology — and many others include significant technology training components — because of pressure by outside entities, rather than a full spectrum of education and skills. We have a real shortage of people who have any significant insight into the scope of application of policy, management, law, economics, psychology and the like to cybersecurity, although arguably, those are some of the problems most obvious to those who have the long view. (BTW, that is why CERIAS was founded 15 years including faculty in nearly 20 academic departments: “cybersecurity” is not solely a technology issue; this has been recognized by several other universities that are treating it more holistically.) These other skill areas often require deeper education and repetition of exercises involving abstract thought. It seems that not as many people are naturally capable of mastering these skills. The primary means we use to designate mastery is through postsecondary degrees, although their exact meaning does vary based on the granting institution.

via CERIAS : Some thoughts on “cybersecurity” professionalization and education.

March 25, 2013 at 1:40 am Leave a comment

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick says he wants CS in every MA school

The question from Kelly Powers starts around time 0:50, and the Governor responds at 2:25: “Sure, count me in” computer science should be in every school in Massachusetts.

http://www.masstlc.org – Scott Kirnser of the Boston Globe interviews Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick at the Mass Technology Leadership Council’s annual membership meeting on March 12, 2013.

via Governor Deval Patrick Q&A Session at MassTLC Annual Meeting – YouTube.

March 25, 2013 at 1:23 am 1 comment

Thy Employee is Not You: New Study Exposes Gender Bias in Tech Job Listings

I found the study linked below fascinating, in part because I saw myself making exactly these mistakes.  I have absolutely described jobs in those masculine terms instead of the more neutral terms.  I didn’t realize that those were terms that would dissuade females from applying.

When we teach classes on designing user interfaces, a key idea that we want students to learn is that “Thy User is Not You.”  Don’t design for yourself.  Don’t judge the interface only from your own eyes. You can’t imagine how the user is really going to use your interface.  Try it with real users. Get input from real users.  You can’t design interfaces for yourself and expect them to be usable for others. (Just like you can’t develop educational software for the developed world and expect it to work in the developing world.)

I heard the same lesson in this study.  If you want to hire employees different than you, find out what you need to put in your job ad to attract them.  You do not know how they will read your ad.  Get input from others (who see things differently than you), and use expert guidance.  Thy employee is not you.

The paper — which details a series of five studies conducted by researchers at the University of Waterloo and Duke University — found that job listings for positions in engineering and other male-dominated professions used more masculine words, such as “leader,” “competitive” and “dominant.” Listings for jobs in female-dominated professions — such as office administration and human resources — did not include such words.

A listing that seeks someone who can “analyze markets to determine appropriate selling prices,” the paper says, may attract more men than a list that seeks someone who can “understand markets to establish appropriate selling prices.” The difference may seem small, but according to the paper, it could be enough to tilt the balance. The paper found that the mere presence of “masculine words” in job listings made women less interested in applying — even if they thought they were qualified for the position.

via New Study Exposes Gender Bias in Tech Job Listings | Wired Enterprise | Wired.com.

March 22, 2013 at 1:47 am 3 comments

Worst practice in providing educational technology, especially to developing world

I followed an insightful chain of blog articles to this one.  I started with Larry Cuban’s excellent piece about “No End to Magical Thinking When It Comes to High-Tech Schooling” which cited the quote below, but first when through a really terrific analysis of the explanations that educational technology researchers sometimes make when hardware in dumped in the developing world fails to have a measurable impact.  I highly recommend the whole sequence for a deeper understanding of what real educational reform looks like and where technology can play a role.

1. Dump hardware in schools, hope for magic to happen

This is, in many cases, the classic example of worst practice in ICT use in education.  Unfortunately, it shows no sign of disappearing soon, and is the precursor in many ways to the other worst practices on this list.   “If we supply it they will learn”: Maybe in some cases this is true, for a very small minority of exceptional students and teachers, but this simplistic approach is often at the root of failure of many educational technology initiatives.

via Worst practice in ICT use in education | A World Bank Blog on ICT use in Education.

March 22, 2013 at 1:12 am 11 comments

Fostering Gender Diversity in Computing: March Issue of IEEE Computer

The March issue of IEEE Computer is going to be devoted to fostering gender diversity in computing.  It looks like it’s going to be a great issue, including a piece by my school chair, Annie Anton.

Why is this important to us? Computing and information technology are among the fastest growing U.S. industries: technical innovation plays a critical role in every sector of the U.S. and global economy, and computing ranks among the top 10 high-profile professions. However, as a nation, we are not prepared to attract and retain the professional workforce required to meet future needs. By 2018, US universities will produce only 52 percent of the computer science bachelor’s degrees needed to fill the 1.4 million available jobs.

A lack of diverse perspectives will inhibit innovation, productivity, and competitiveness. In addition to failing to attract new and diverse talent, industry is also losing trained professionals who are already interested in technology. While 74 percent of professional women report “loving their work,” 56 percent leave at the career “midlevel” point just when their loss is most costly to the company—this is more than double the quit rate for men.

via Fostering Gender Diversity in Computing.

March 21, 2013 at 10:28 am Leave a comment

Living with MOOCs: Surviving the Long Open Learning Winter

One of the positive benefits of MOOCs is that a lot of faculty and administration are exploring educational innovations with technology.  When teachers explore how to facilitate learning, improved teaching and learning is likely to result. One of the problems is that many of these teachers and administrators are deciding that MOOCs and other open learning resources are the best bets for addressing educational problems.  They are buying into the belief that open learning is the best that there is (or, perhaps, the only thing that they found) and into the associated beliefs (e.g., that existing educational systems are ineffective and unsustainable, that “everyone already knows that a college degree means next to nothing“).  Those of us who do educational technology research and don’t do MOOCs are likely in for a stretch where our work will be under-appreciated, or simply ignored.  The AI community talks about their “AI Winter.”  Let’s call this the Open Learning Winter.

Regular readers of this blog (and I’m grateful that you are here!) know that I’ve been doing a good bit of traveling the last few months.  From MIT and Stanford, to Indiana and SIGCSE, I’ve had the opportunity to hear lots of people talk about the educational innovations that they are exploring, why they have decided on MOOCs and other open learning resources, and what they think about those of us who are not building MOOCs.  The below are paraphrased snippets of some of these conversations (i.e., some of the parts of these quotes are literally cut-and-paste from email/notes, while other parts are me condensing the conversation into a single quote representing what I heard):

  • You do ebooks?  Don’t you know about Connexions?  Why not just do Connexions books? Do you think that student interactivity with the ebook really matters?”
  •  “You’re making ebooks instead of MOOCs?  That’s really interesting.  Are you building a delivery platform now? One that can scale to 100K students this Fall?” As if that’s the only thing that counts — when no one even considered that scale desirable even a couple years ago.
  • “Ebooks will never work for learning. You can’t ask them to read.  Students only want video.”
  • Anchored Collaboration sounds interesting. Can I do it with Piazza?  No?  Then it’s not really useful to anyone, is it?”
  • “Why should we want to provide resources to state universities?  Don’t you know that all of their programs are going to die?”
  • NSF Program officer at CCC MROE Workshop, “We better figure out online education.  All the state universities are going to close soon.”

These attitudes are not going to change quickly.  People are investing in MOOCs and other open learning resources.  While I do not believe that the MOOCopalypse will happen, people who do believe in it are making investments based on that belief.  The MOOC-believers (perhaps MOOCopalypse survivalists?) are going to want to see their investments will pan out and will keep pursuing that agenda, in part due to the driving power of “sunk costs” (described in this well done Freakonomics podcast).  That’s normal and reasonable, but it means that it will be a long time before some faculty and administrators start asking, “Is there anything other than MOOCs out there?”

I think MOOCs are a fascinating technology with great potential.  I do not invest my time developing MOOCs because I believe that the opportunity cost is too high.  I have had three opportunities to build a MOOC, and each time, I have decided that the work that I would be giving up is more valuable to me than the MOOC I would be producing.  I do not see MOOCs addressing my interests in high school teachers learning CS, or in end-users who are learning programming to use in their work, or in making CS more diverse. It may be that universities will be replaced by online learning, but I don’t think that they’ll all look like MOOCs.  I’m working on some of those non-MOOC options.

Researchers like me, who do educational technology but don’t do MOOCs, need to get ready to hunker down.  Research funding may become more scarce since there are MOOCopalypse survivalists at NSF and other funding agencies.  University administrators are going to be promoting and focusing attention on their pet MOOC projects, not on the non-believers who are doing something else.  (Because we should realize that there won’t be anything else!)  There will probably be fewer graduate students working in non-MOOC areas of educational technology.  Most of the potential PhD students who contacted me during this last application cycle were clear about how important MOOCs were to them and the research that they wanted to do.

We need to learn to live with MOOCs, even if we don’t do MOOCs.  Here are a couple of the hunkering down strategies I’ve been developing:

  • While I don’t want to spend the time to build a MOOC, I am interested in being involved in analysis of MOOC data.  It’s not clear how much data Coursera or Udacity will ever release (and why isn’t edX releasing data — they’re a non-profit!), but I see a great value in understanding MOOCs.  We might also learn lessons that can be applied in other areas of educational innovation with technology.
  • My colleagues involved in MOOCs at Georgia Tech have told me that we have the rights to re-use GT MOOC materials (e.g., all the video that has been collected).  That might be a source of interesting materials for my research.  For example, my colleague Jim Foley suggested that I might re-purpose video from a MOOC to create an ebook on the same content that might be usefully contrasted in a study.

I can’t predict just how long the Open Learning Winter might be.  Given the height of the hype curve associated with MOOCs and the depth of the pockets of the early adopters, I suspect that it’s going to be quite a long, cold winter.  Make sure that you have lots of jerky on-hand — and hope that it’s just winter and not an Ice Age.

March 21, 2013 at 1:51 am 12 comments

ICER 2013 Conference Call for Papers released

Call for papers due 22 April 2013: http://wp.acm.org/icer-conference/icer-2013/call-for-papers/

The International Computing Education Research (ICER) Workshop aims at gathering high-quality contributions to the computing education research discipline. Papers for the ICER workshop will be double blind peer-reviewed.

Papers

ICER accepts papers in two different categories.

Research papers. 8 pages

A clear theoretical basis, building on existing literature in computing education, computer science, and other related disciplines.

A strong empirical basis, drawing on relevant research methods. Papers that re-interpret and explain others’ empirical results are welcome.

An explication of the paper’s impact on, and contribution to, existing knowledge about computing education.

Discussion papers. 6 pages

Work in progress, or dissemination and discussion of new ideas in Computing Education Research.

Discussion papers fail to meet one or more of the criteria for research papers, but have the potential to become exemplary ICER papers if given the opportunity to be presented to and discussed by the community.

Discussion papers should include explicit discussion questions or ideas that the authors are interested in hearing discussed by the community. Time will be allotted at the conference to enable these discussions.

via Call for papers – icer-conference.

March 20, 2013 at 1:46 am 1 comment

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