2207
Ron Klain for Democracy Journal: Inequality and the Internet
The article gives 5 prescriptions for making the internet less unequal, or rather how the internet can help assuage the inequality problem in America. One of the prescriptions is about online learning and how it needs to be massified. Full extract below:

Online Learning and Training
Online learning has the potential to break the inherent limitations on access to the best teachers, curriculum, and institutions that the expense and physical constraints of in-person learning create. Why shouldn’t every student in America learn philosophy from a Harvard professor, math from an MIT scholar, music from a Juilliard instructor, and computer science from the best teachers at Stanford? And why shouldn’t they be able to do it for a fraction of the cost and difficulty of obtaining an on-campus degree?
But alas, the effort to promote online learning has become an ideological battleground in which progressives are prominent among the forces of resistance. In part, it is because online learning has become widely identified with private, for-profit colleges that charge vast sums and have produced dubious results for some students. In part, it is because online learning is associated with corporate donors and board members at institutions of higher education who have taken an adversarial (and often dismissive) approach to professional educators and their concerns. It is also because of close ties between progressives and members of the academy, who see online learning as threatening their livelihoods and job security.
It is time for a fresh start in this broken relationship. Of course, nothing replaces the incredible experience of face-to-face learning with an amazing teacher, and a key goal of education policy must be to enable as many people as possible—from all income groups—the maximum possible access to such experiences. But almost by definition, those experiences are a finite resource, and the need for more learning and training is nearly infinite.
Let’s begin here: With all the work that President Obama and other advocates have done to make community college affordable and accessible to all, it is the cost of textbooks—sky high, and in many cases greater than any remaining tuition charged to students after aid and initiatives—that is the most burdensome out-of-pocket cost of higher education for many students. Why shouldn’t every textbook be online, be available for download, or be available as an e-book at a fraction of the cost of traditional print editions? Harvard Law School’s H20 initiative, for example, creates online law course casebooks that are free for students (printed casebooks cost $150 to $200 each) and that have learning tools that far exceed those of printed editions.
More significantly, however, it is time to find a form of online education that progressives can embrace and promote to provide the millions who will never be able to access on-campus learning with the best possible opportunities to learn new things, develop new skills, and broaden their minds. Democratizing access to information, training, and learning has always been a core progressive objective, from the days of the first public schools in America to the land-grant colleges, to the GI Bill, to Pell Grants, to today’s battle over student-loan interest rates.
While we should not let up on efforts to increase access and affordability for in-person learning for all who want it, shouldn’t we also enable every person in the country, at little or no cost, to access the very best teachers, providing the very best lessons, on virtually every topic under the sun—at any time of the day or night (before or after work, on weekends, during work breaks)—from any location that is convenient for the young, the elderly, the disabled, working parents, and everyone else? The fact that highly touted, venture-capital-backed MOOCs (massive open online courses) have had some visible commercial failures should not be a cause for cheering from progressives. It should be a call to action to find ways to repurpose failed initiatives in this area into better models that will provide the most learning for the greatest number of people.
Finally, we must have much better programs and opportunities for in-career learning via online training. As noted above, the vast majority of efforts to move learning online have been in the high-cost, high-margin business of higher education. But at a time when the need for adults to learn throughout their lives has never been greater—and especially when that need is acute with relation to technology-sector jobs—better and more online training must be a priority. The same effort and priority being given to teaching children how to code should be made to teach coding to adults who want new careers—or who might be able to launch new businesses. And that’s just one example of training that must be expanded online.
Simply put, online learning offers the prospect of reducing virtually every barrier that stands in the way of people improving their economic prospects through acquiring new skills and information: It is accessible, affordable, and convenient. While many progressive policies are already focused on making such training more affordable, the cost barrier is only one of many—and in many cases, for working people with family obligations, child care obligations, limited transportation options, and other “real life” burdens, cost is not even the most serious impediment. Using online learning to overcome these other obstacles is a critical potential pathway.
moocs  platformization  public_discourse 
14 days ago
Adrianna McIntyre for Democracy Journal: Our Health Care Tug-of-War
REview of STeven Brill's book on the politics/mechanics of health care reform. Author suggests that politics is as important as policy prescriptions
generalinterest  politics 
14 days ago
This computer program can predict 7 out of 10 Supreme Court decisions - Vox
By now, political scientists have gotten pretty good at predicting the outcomes of national elections in the United States, especially presidential elections. The fact of the matter is that fundamentals-based modeling ahead of time and polls-based modeling as an election draws nearer result in very accurate predictions of how a given electoral season is going to shake out; Emory's Alan Abramowitz has a fundamentals based model that explains 94 percent of variation in presidential election results, for example. What's more, the fundamentals models tell us something important about what explains electoral outcomes: the fact that economic variables track results so closely is a strong indication that voter swings are caused in large part by economic fluctuations.

We haven't gotten nearly that far in predicting court cases. But three scholars — South Texas College of Law's Josh Blackman, Michigan State's Daniel Martin Katz, and Bommarito Consulting's Michael Bommarito —  have built a model that comes close. As Blackman noted in a blog post announcing the model, it "correctly identifies 69.7% of the Supreme Court’s overall affirm and reverse decisions and correctly forecasts 70.9% of the votes of individual justices across 7,700 cases and more than 68,000 justice votes."
platformization  law  artificial_intelligence  machinelearning 
19 days ago
Robots are better than humans at predicting Supreme Court decisions - Vox
In a 2004 Columbia Law Review article, researchers looked at how 86 former Supreme Court clerks, attorneys, and other legal experts' predictions for rulings in the 2002 term stacked up against the actual decisions. They also tested the experts against a statistical model that predicts the outcome using a few basic facts, like the subject matter of the case and which circuit court sent it up to the Supreme Court.

The statistical model got the outcome right in 75 percent of cases, and legal experts predicted the right answer in just 59 percent.

That means the experts are doing only slightly better than a coin toss in predicting how the Supreme Court will rule.

However, humans are better than robots at predicting how individual judges will rule

A separate study using the same statistical model went a bit more granular, looking at predictions of individual justices' votes. And it found, to the authors' surprise, that experts did better at predicting individual justices' votes — but the computer still beat them on predicting the actual decision.
machinelearning  artificial_intelligence  data_science  public_discourse  law 
19 days ago
The Soul of the Research University - The Chronicle Review - The Chronicle of Higher Education
I do believe that integrating the research life of universities more fully into the way society understands and experiences these wondrous institutions would be the best way of maximizing their benefit, and of securing their future.
higher_ed  moocs  public_discourse  college 
20 days ago
Rise of the Machines: The Future has Lots of Robots, Few Jobs for Humans | WIRED
see the advances happening in technology and it’s becoming evident that computers, machines, robots, and algorithms are going to be able to do most of the routine, repetitive types of jobs. That’s the essence of what machine learning is all about. What types of jobs are on some level fundamentally predictable? A lot of different skill levels fall into that category. It’s not just about lower-skilled jobs either. People with college degrees, even professional degrees, people like lawyers are doing things that ultimately are predictable. A lot of those jobs are going to be susceptible over time.
artificial_intelligence  public_discourse 
22 days ago
edX Operation Survey - Google Groups
Check for the results of this operations survey

All,

Would anyone who completed the edX Operations Survey and wants a t-shirt, please send me their contact details in a private message.

I'll be rolling up the results and publishing them soon.

Best,

Ed
(e0d on github)
edx  openedx  forums 
25 days ago
Dashboard - Google Groups
Filippo,  it's my understanding that while it is possible to install the dashboard without the other tools, the website it produces is pretty useless without the pipeline or API.  The dashboard pulls all of its data from the api which is populated by the pipeline.
edx  openedx  forums  design-decisions 
25 days ago
Pack Light: Why Every Professional Woman Should Take a Solo Vacation
Interesting snippet below: teh winning team struggled to install the platform. Also in-video quizzes were devevloped just now when Coursera had them for months.
---
From among 21 projects, thirteen working demos were presented to the hackathon’s 18 jury members.

The winning project embedded quizzes directly into course videos, a feature that has been long awaited by teachers and learners alike. The international team, called Gutenberg & Brussels, was composed of three developers from Gutenberg Technology in Paris, and one from the Université Libre de Bruxelles in Belgium.

The six other finalist teams were (see details: http://hack.ionisx.com/hackathons/openedxhack-may-2015.html):

外语2CommonLanguage: a forum post translation feature to facilitate international communication,
KNOTES: a video annotation feature to take notes on course videos,
Edverywhere: a content responsive mobile app that allows switching among video, audio, and text,
Open Domoscio: a notification system to remind students when to review materials for maximum retention,
Sylvaticus Bzh: an improved student dashboard clarifying prerequisites and progress toward them, and
Mooker: a mobile application with personalized recommendations.
These projects confirm current and emerging trends in education technology, especially toward interactivity (avoiding passive content), personalization (tailoring the learning experience to each individual) and accessibility (being able to browse a course from any device, not having to download large video files).

Hard work during the hackathon

An enjoyable event that shows promise for the future of Open edX

Beyond its improvements to the Open edX platform, the hackathon was a fun, energy-filled, and inspiring event, punctuated by lighthearted exchanges between participants and staff. To cite a few examples: a team of two non-developers managed to make their way to the final through perseverance; the winning team struggled to install an instance of Open edX for a whole day before scooping up the grand prize; an edX developer advocate showed hidden French roots by donning a beret for photos; cookie-muffin trades were made during lunch over python programming advice on Slack. More than 150 people used the chat program to communicate efficiently and have fun, and sent more than 6,500 messages in total. Meanwhile, the #openedxhack hashtag was tweeted more than 1,040 times in less than three days.
edx  openedx  design-decisions  public_discourse 
25 days ago
Error while running migration - Google Groups
This post discusses an inadvertent problem in migration that arises because of the badging system that was implemented.
edx  openedx  forums  design-decisions 
25 days ago
edX Courseware StudentModule Usage Survey - Google Groups
Wow, this looks like a big change to the platform. I should look into why this particular design decision was made in the first place.

--------
Valued edX Community,

The Open-Edx platform currently stores all of its student problem responses in a single relational database table. For most installations, this implementation works just fine. However, for larger-scale instances such as edx.org, the data size has become a performance bottleneck. Work has begun to support an alternate, highly-scalable backend in which to store the data - one that can handle a large volume of reads & writes in a short time interval.

Most backend options require knowledge of all queries up-front in order to efficiently design a schema that can support all needed uses of the data.

This is where we need YOU!

Please reply with all of your usages of data from the following tables:

courseware_studentmodule
courseware_studentmodulehistory

which correspond to the following Django models:

StudentModule
StudentModuleHistory

Does your branch/fork/instance of edx-platform:
    - use these tables' data for analytics/reporting in any way, including selects, counts, looking for particular student results, etc.?
    - access these tables during LMS/Studio operation in a way different than master?

If so, please specify details about your usage. We can't guarantee that we'll be able to support every usage of the tables' data. But if we don't know about your specific usage, then it's unlikely the platform will be able to support your usage after the upcoming work.

Also, we need your responses by Monday, June 22nd in order to be able to properly plan the upcoming work.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Thanks,
John Eskew
edX
edx  openedx  forums  platformization  design-decisions 
25 days ago
git courses import/export instructions? - Google Groups
Pierre asks a question about import/export and git and only Carson responds. MIT stuff.
edx  openedx  forums 
5 weeks ago
A Winning Strategy for the Left | Jacobin
Not sure I buy it - but an argument that to drive social change its best to target institutions directly through direct actions like boycotts and sit-ins, etc. Institutions like corporations, but also those like the police and the military. This is preferable to targeting politicians - or asking them to change things.

But what does this mean for politics???
generalinterest  politics 
5 weeks ago
John Seely Brown: ASU Commencement Speech 2015
Confluence of learning and platformization.
Seely Brown's talk is an example.
Always - the world is characterized as uncertain and you have to be alert all the time. And that fits into the culture of MOOCs as well.


You are in the living in a white water world.

You must be more like a white water kayaker who skillfully reads the currents and disruptions of the context around you.

You interpret the surface ripples for what it reveals about what lies beneath the water. You operate with both body and head, living totally in the moment using all your senses – sight, sound, touch and force feedback from the paddles – sensing all the time how the environment is responding to you.

You might even say you are having a conversation with the flow. Not like other conversations, it is a conversation that feels for the flow of information passing all around you.

Yes, this is a different world – a world with powerful tools galore and immense opportunities IF you are willing to unleash your imagination and invoke your skills.

Indeed, the whitewater kayaking metaphor calls forth for me a set of quotes, quotes that help orient me in these whitewater times.
moocs  public_discourse 
5 weeks ago
Fusion Media Aims at Millennials, but Struggles to Find Its Identity - NYTimes.com
Fusion is, in many ways, the archetype for broader movements in media. As traditional news organizations have struggled to adapt to the rhythms of the web, a new generation of media companies, like Buzzfeed and Vox, have moved from bright ideas to full-fledged businesses at breakneck speed. They are often backed by big corporations — Disney is also behind the websites Grantland and FiveThirtyEight — or venture capital firms making big bets that all the people browsing the web on their phones will demand fresh content.

Many covet millennials — a group loosely defined as those born after 1980, or about one-third of the current American work force, according to the Pew Research Center. Nobody has quite figured out what they want or if it is possible to tell stories that appeal universally to a huge number of Americans who sometimes seem united only in the dreams of marketers.

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Continue reading the main story
Disney and Univision supplied Fusion with an additional $30 million in financing recently, according to a person involved with the deal who spoke on the condition of anonymity. But the cultures of the companies and Fusion have already clashed. For instance, according to two senior Fusion staff members, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, Disney put the organization on notice that it would not take kindly to coverage that might dent its standing with consumers. The warning came after Fusion published several stories based on documents that hackers stole from Sony.

Fusion is not alone: In negotiations to create a Vice cable channel, Disney and Hearst insisted on a clause protecting the companies in the event that Vice content “embarrasses Hearst or Disney in any way,” according to people with knowledge of the matter, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private negotiations.
journalism  internet  platformization 
5 weeks ago
Who's the Watchdog? In Europe, the Answer Is Complicated - NYTimes.com
“This is just the beginning of our investigation,” said Mathias Moulin, deputy director of enforcement at the French data protection regulator, who is overseeing the review of the company’s activities. “This is a global issue with a global company.”

The social network, however, says it complies with Europe’s strict data protection rules. Facebook says it has been in contact with Ireland’s privacy regulator about the policy, because the company’s non-American activities are regulated from Dublin, the site of its international headquarters. The company contends that Europe’s other regulators do not have the jurisdiction to demand changes to how it uses people’s data.

“The primary regulation should come from where a company’s headquarters is located,” said Richard Allan, who runs Facebook’s policy team in Europe. “It doesn’t make sense that 28 regulators should make different interpretations of the same law.”

Ireland’s data protection authority says it has been in contact with its European counterparts about their investigations.

The standoff over how Europe’s complex privacy rules should be interpreted highlights the growing headache for American tech companies operating across the 28-member bloc.
facebook  privacy 
5 weeks ago
Why Technology Will Never Fix Education - Commentary - The Chronicle of Higher Education
MOOCs offer a convenient example. Proponents cite the potential for MOOCs to lower the costs of education, based on the assumption that low-cost content is what is needed. Of course, the Internet offers dirt-cheap replicability, and it undeniably amplifies content producers’ ability to reach a mass audience. But if free content were all that was needed for an education, everyone with broadband connectivity would be an Ivy League Ph.D.

The real obstacle in education remains student motivation. Especially in an age of informational abundance, getting access to knowledge isn’t the bottleneck, mustering the will to master it is. And there, for good or ill, the main carrot of a college education is the certified degree and transcript, and the main stick is social pressure. Most students are seeking credentials that graduate schools and employers will take seriously and an environment in which they’re prodded to do the work. But neither of these things is cheaply available online.

Arizona State University’s recent partnership with edX to offer MOOCs is an attempt to do this, but if its student assessments fall short (or aren’t tied to verified identities), other universities and employers won’t accept them. And if the program doesn’t establish genuine rapport with students, then it won’t have the standing to issue credible nudges. (Automated text-message reminders to study will quickly become so much spam.) For technological amplification to lower the costs of higher education, it has to build on student motivation, and that motivation is tied not to content availability but to credentialing and social encouragement.
moocs  public_discourse  platformization 
5 weeks ago
American TechGnosis - Text Patterns - The New Atlantis
Thomas Pynchon as a theorist of Silicon Valley -- the relationship between Sixties ideology and Silicon valley ideology.
platformization  public_discourse 
5 weeks ago
Ed-Tech and the Californian Ideology
Audrey Watters makes a counter-ideological argument (a la Morozov) against the dominant Californian ideology
moocs  public_discourse  higher_ed 
5 weeks ago
Notes on the Surrender at Menlo Park - The Awl
Or maybe this is all just a short detour for Facebook. The history of software and web platforms is instructive here: Platforms grow by incorporating the labor of users and partners; they tend, over time, to regard the presence of the partners as an inefficiency. Twitter asks developers to make a bunch of apps using its data, so people make a bunch of mobile apps, then Twitter notices that these apps are actually very important to Twitter, and so Twitter buys one of the apps and takes steps to expel all the other apps, rendering the job of “Twitter app developer” more or less obsolete. In this formulation, publishers are app developers: They are working not only for their own benefit but, in addition, to find ways to increase Facebook’s share of user attention and satisfaction. If they find ways to succeed, through the practice of journalism or some other sort of content production, Facebook will take note. Perhaps Facebook will then devise a way to compensate reporters, or content creators, directly, rather than through the publications they work for. Maybe they’ll just buy a publication! Or many publications. If Instant is a success then, like everything at a functioning technology company that wants to make money, it will be iterated.
facebook  journalism  platformization  publishing  public_discourse 
6 weeks ago
Thoughts on Facebook-Götterdämmerung - Vox
Klein's thoughts can be applied to moocs as well. The standardization of content when software/content distinction is enforced; as well as who is the competitor?

6) The news media keeps seeing Facebook's move in terms of Facebook's plans vis-a-vis the news media, but maybe the real target here is Twitter, YouTube, Snapchat, and basically everywhere else that people go to waste time on the internet. Maybe the ever-escalating war for attention has made the media, with its specialization in producing content people want to read/watch, the belle of the ball.

7) A more sinister version of the previous thought: perhaps this is a cheap way to lobby the media (and, through the media, the political system) on Facebook’s behalf.

8) My biggest worry about Instant Articles is the potential for a chilling effect on media innovation. How does a card stack work as an Instant Article? How about a data interactive? The initial articles are thick with bells and whistles, but as Facebook opens its publishing tool to more partners, it will probably need to standardize the features. Instant Articles will look more like each other than articles on different publishers' websites do right now.
platformization  public_discourse  journalism 
6 weeks ago
Fake Diplomas, Real Cash: Pakistani Company Axact Reaps Millions - NYTimes.com
One of the most surreal stories I've read. Interestingly - it is the existence of online learning that makes this possible.
moocs  public_discourse  scam 
6 weeks ago
WaitChatter
Carrie's waitchatter site - new site.
moocs  learning_research 
7 weeks ago
Facebook's study of news revealed its plans to be the next top search engine - Vox
Interesting but premature. First of all, building an SVM is cheap so just building one shows nothing. Secondly the Techcrunch article shows that Facebook is creating an index of its own articles, the ones that get posted -- that's not an index that's competing with Google, I don't think. Still, worth reading

"Facebook is building a search engine to rival Google. The bot is a preview of how that search will rank stories. This week, John Constine and Kyle Russell at TechCrunch shared screenshots of a newly discovered way to use Facebook search. The "Add a Link" function lets you post search results to your page that originally come from outside of Facebook."
platformization  facebook  public_discourse  publishing  google 
7 weeks ago
Facebook Begins Testing Instant Articles From News Publishers - NYTimes.com
The Atlantic is going into the Facebook deal with its eyes open, Mr. Bennet said, referring to the prospect that Facebook might be in a position to dictate less favorable terms if its importance to publishers increases.

Five American organizations are initially participating in the instant articles project and will publish one item each on Wednesday in the new format: BuzzFeed, National Geographic, The Atlantic, NBC News and The Times.

Four European outlets are also joining: The Guardian, BBC News, Bild and Spiegel Online. Over time, Facebook expects to add other publishers to the project, which is officially a test, and expand it beyond the iPhone version.

For The Times, Facebook represents from 14 to 16 percent of its web traffic — a figure that has doubled in recent months, according to Mark Thompson, chief executive of The New York Times Company.
platformization  publishing  public_discourse 
7 weeks ago
Plethora of data helps Lytics Lab to analyze MOOCs | Stanford Graduate School of Education
Why do so many students start a Massive Open Online Course only to drop out? Why, and when, do they bypass certain elements of online classes? Why are they taking the classes to begin with?

The article is about Deconstructing Disengagement.
Those and other questions prompted Emily Schneider (link is external), a doctoral student at the Graduate School of Education, to team up with two other Stanford graduate students to research student behavior in MOOCs. While the recent surge in these online courses has provided millions of students with access to lectures, online forums and other educational materials previously unavailable, it’s been difficult so far to gauge the learning that is occurring via the Internet.

Schneider and her colleagues — René Kizilcec in the Department of Communication and Chris Piech in the Department of Computer Science — looked at three MOOCs offered by Stanford faculty, and presented a paper on their research at a conference in Belgium in April. They identified the different types of students taking these classes, how they have different approaches to the courses and how the classes might better serve them.
stanford  moocs  public_discourse  learning_research 
7 weeks ago
Kicking in Groups - The Atlantic
With respect to the United States, the opposite of Putnam's theory would be this: There has been relatively little general decline in civic virtue. To the extent that the overall civic health of the nation did deteriorate, the dip was confined mainly to the decade 1965 to 1975--when, for example, crime and divorce rates rose rapidly--and things have been pretty stable since then. The overwhelming social and moral problem in American life is instead the disastrous condition of poor neighborhoods, almost all of which are in cities.
The model of a healthy country and needy ghettos would suggest a program much closer to the "liberal social policy" from which Putnam wants us to depart. Rather than assume, with Putnam, that such essential public goods as safety, decent housing, and good education can be generated only from within a community, we could assume that they might be provided from without--by government. If quite near the ghettos are working-class neighborhoods (and not insuperably distant are suburbs) of varying ethnic character and strong civic virtue, then the individual-opportunity model might be precisely the answer for ghetto residents--opportunity, that is, to move to a place that is part of the healthy American mainstream.

The difficulty with such a program is that it is politically inconvenient. It would involve, by contemporary standards, far too much action on the part of the government, with the benefits far too skewed toward blacks. The model of an entire United States severely distressed in a way that is beyond the power of government to correct is more comforting.
generalinterest  politics  america 
7 weeks ago
Unhappy Days for America by Nicholas Lemann | The New York Review of Books
Putnam were more focused on absolute mobility, which was the real engine of the American Dream for his generation, then he might have spent more time exploring economic policy generally or ways of recreating the widely distributed economic growth that so much helped Americans his age. Though he does acknowledge its importance, he largely ignores most of the specific ideas that come up in discussions of how to remedy inequality—like making tax rates more progressive (think of Piketty), or aggressively using monetary policy to tighten labor markets (think of Janet Yellen at the Federal Reserve), or raising the minimum wage, or more tightly regulating financial companies. Instead he is most intensely focused on increasing opportunity for individuals, and he believes the primary way to do that is by increasing their locally available store of social capital—through improved ways of rearing children, and encouraging activities and associations that will increase their chances in life.

In proposing remedies, Putnam makes the appropriate bow to the importance of economic policy, but he devotes most of his attention to ideas that he sees as having the potential to increase social capital, like parental leave and mentoring programs. His voice comes alive when he’s discussing these ideas; it becomes flat and dutiful when he discusses the economy. The specific injustice that moves Putnam to the greatest height of outrage is “pay-to-play,” the policy of charging fees to student athletes, which effectively denies poorer kids access to school sports teams and therefore, in Putnam’s view, to a crucial source of social capital. He calls extracurricular activities “as close to a magic bullet as we are ever like to find in the real world of social, and educational, and economic policy,” and then adds:
higher_ed  moocs  public_discourse 
7 weeks ago
Terry Burnham: A Trick For Higher SAT scores? Unfortunately no.
Daniel Kahneman's result that making problem slightly harder improves test results was shown to be not quite true when the study was replicated. Interesting to think about while thinking about the rise of social psychology.
research  socialpsychology 
7 weeks ago
Cable news is in trouble, and it’s more about the news than the cable - Vox
But year to year, a lot of the ups and downs might just be the appeal of what's actually in the news. If President Scott Walker goes to war with Iran, MSNBC's ratings are going to go up. If President Hillary Clinton takes away everyone's guns, Fox is going to boom. But for now, relative peace and stability are bad news for cable news.
generalinterest  politics 
7 weeks ago
The solution to lobbying is more lobbying - The Washington Post
Interest groups are inevitable and frankly, healthy, in politics. Any large political community will contain diverse people who want different things from government. For this reason, there will always be a need for intermediary institutions to organize competing interests.  In other words, politics actually requires what we call “special interests.” Wishing away interest groups is basically asking for politics without any actual politics, as I argued in this post two weeks ago.

If we accept this, the question becomes how best to organize interests so that public policy at least approximates the general interest of “the people.” The Founders did this by setting up a government with checks and balances and multiple centers of power. While it may often be inefficient and there are plenty of reasons to grumble about it, it’s the system we have. So we need to work with it.
generalinterest  sciencevspolitics 
7 weeks ago
Xserver in Edx - Google Groups
You probably will want to take a look at ªªhttps://github.com/edx/xqueue-watcher. ºº It is an updated version of xserver that runs by polling the xqueue instead of handling pushes from it.  It also contains an open source version of the grader.py at ªªhttps://github.com/edx/xqueue-watcher/blob/master/xqueue_watcher/grader.py. ºº Even if you decide xserver is the way to go, that grader.py should be very helpful in writing one for your own course.

Carson
edx  openedx  forums 
7 weeks ago
Caste and class in popular Tamil cinema
In Tamil Nadu, there is a price cap on tickets, which makes it unviable to make niche movies that cater solely to the A centres, movies such as Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara or Wake Up Sid, so producers largely insist on making films that can sell in all markets. The audience, too, has changed over the years. O Kadhal Kanmani might not have stood out so much in the K. Balachander era, when films routinely addressed an upper-middleclass audience, which has largely shrunk. Given the very different audience that frequents cinema halls today, choosing to make a film where the I-want-to-be-rich hero talks of Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg rather Tata or Birla (names more readily recognised by the masses) is interesting. It means the film is not afraid to be niche. This would be a problem if Tamil cinema always focused only on the upper classes but given the healthy representation of the underprivileged in Tamil films, it is just an interesting choice.
generalinterest  movies 
7 weeks ago
These men found an innovative approach to work/life balance — trick the boss - Vox
That so many employees were able to pass as devoted workers shows that it is possible to be more efficient and to do high-quality work in less time. But the company's response to Reid's findings was not to shift its expectations; it was to ask her if she could help them teach women how to pass, as well. The ideal of worker devotion was so entrenched at this company that it did not seem to occur to management that altering the requirements to meet that ideal could be one possible approach.
gender  workplace  research 
7 weeks ago
How Not to Drown in Numbers - NYTimes.com
So what can big data do to help us make big decisions? One of us, Alex, is a data scientist at Facebook. The other, Seth, is a former data scientist at Google. There is a special sauce necessary to making big data work: surveys and the judgment of humans — two seemingly old-fashioned approaches that we will call small data.

Facebook has tons of data on how people use its site. It’s easy to see whether a particular news feed story was liked, clicked, commented on or shared. But not one of these is a perfect proxy for more important questions: What was the experience like? Did the story connect you with your friends? Did it inform you about the world? Did it make you laugh?

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To get to these measures, Facebook has to take an old-fashioned approach: asking. Every day, hundreds of individuals load their news feed and answer questions about the stories they see there. Big data (likes, clicks, comments) is supplemented by small data (“Do you want to see this post in your News Feed?”) and contextualized (“Why?”).

Big data in the form of behaviors and small data in the form of surveys complement each other and produce insights rather than simple metrics. For example, it’s fairly obvious that clicks aren’t always the same — sometimes people click through to an article because they really want to see the content, but sometimes people are tricked by seductive headlines. Knowing this is useful only once we can go beyond just measuring clicks to actually differentiating one kind of click from another. With this enriched measure of high quality clicks in mind, Facebook can do a much better job of delivering the content that actually leads to a better experience and not just empty clicks.

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Because of this need for small data, Facebook’s data teams look different than you would guess. Facebook employs social psychologists, anthropologists and sociologists precisely to find what simple measures miss.
bigdata  facebook  data_science  public_discourse 
8 weeks ago
How Humans Can Keep Superintelligent Robots From Murdering Us All
The discourse is so much around super-cognition - not around its deployment.
artificial_intelligence  public_discourse 
8 weeks ago
The Invented History of ‘The Factory Model of Education’ — The History of the Future of Education — Medium
We tend to not see automation today as mechanization as much as algorithmization — the promise and potential in artificial intelligence and virtualization, as if this magically makes these new systems of standardization and control lighter and liberatory.

And so too we’ve invented a history of “the factory model of education” in order to justify an “upgrade” — to new software and hardware that will do much of the same thing schools have done for generations now, just (supposedly) more efficiently, with control moved out of the hands of labor (teachers) and into the hands of a new class of engineers, out of the realm of
moocs  public_discourse  higher_ed 
8 weeks ago
IIT Madras Director explains Global University Rankings from an Indian perspective | The IITian
Starting from about 17.00, IIT director talks about MOOCs and online education and the NPTEL program, and what people do. Expresses optimism that we'll know how to do online learning better in the next few years
moocs  india  public_discourse 
8 weeks ago
5304300022 Nicki Johnson from the IRS stating itis time sensitive. Need to call , Tax Scam. Who called from this phone number? Comments & Reviews.
Mary Reported: 4122265765 Nikki Johnson Claims to be calling from IRS, Threatens that I need to respond immediately or the IRS will take legal action. Don't fall for this one. They are timing this call around April 15th so watch out!
tips 
8 weeks ago
Twitter is not dying. It’s on the cusp of getting much bigger.
TECHNOLOGY
INNOVATION, THE INTERNET, GADGETS, AND MORE. MAY 1 2014 1:24 PM
Twitter Is Not Dying
1k
2.5k
32
It’s on the cusp of getting much bigger. Here’s why.

By Will Oremus
@TheEllenShow

@TheEllenShow

Well, that’s it folks: Twitter is dead. It had a good flight. A short flight, but a noisy one. Sadly, it is now headed the way of Flappy Bird.

So claims the Atlantic in a 1,800-word “eulogy for Twitter” that packs in about 140 characters’ worth of actual evidence. No need to read the whole piece—the fourth paragraph sums it up:

The publishing platform that carried us into the mobile Internet age is receding. Its influence on publishing will remain, but the platform's place in Internet culture is changing in a way that feels irreversible and echoes the tradition of AIM and pre-2005 blogging. A lot of this argument comes down to what we feel.
At least the Atlantic admits that its case against Twitter amounts to an unsubstantiated hunch. On Wall Street, meanwhile, investors are flocking to downgrade the company’s stock on the basis of selective evidence. Two numbers in particular—the amount of users who log into Twitter each month, and the number of timelines they viewed—have been widely interpreted as indictments of the company’s growth trajectory. Both figures are growing, but their rate of growth has slowed slightly. Twitter will probably never have as many users as Facebook, Wall Street is belatedly realizing. Wall Street hates that.

But Wall Street—along with everyone else who’s down on Twitter because it has “a growth problem”—is making a mistake by comparing it to Facebook. Twitter is not a social network. Not primarily, anyway. It’s better described as a social media platform, with the emphasis on “media platform.” And media platforms should not be judged by the same metrics as social networks.

Will Oremus
WILL OREMUS
Will Oremus is Slate's senior technology writer. Email him at will.oremus@slate.com or follow him on Twitter.

Social networks connect people with one another. Those connections tend to be reciprocal. Facebook even checks in on you now and then to make sure you’ve actually met the folks who are sending you friend requests. As a social network, its chief function is to help friends, family, and acquaintances keep in touch.

Media platforms, by contrast, connect publishers with their public. Those connections tend not to be reciprocal. One Twitter user may be followed by millions of strangers whom she feels no obligation to follow back, any more than an evening news anchor feels the need to check in with each of her viewers every night at 6. As a media platform, Twitter’s chief function is to help people keep up with what’s going on in the world, and what influential people are thinking and doing at any given time. In that regard, it’s closer to a news service than a social network.
twitter  platformization  facebook  public_discourse 
9 weeks ago
Twitter earnings and acquisitions: The company’s in trouble, and its options are bleak.
Twitter is acquiring users more slowly, particularly on mobile. It is failing to monetize these users as well as expected. And it is tapping other companies like Google, with whom it will partner to take advantage of its DoubleClick ad-serving platform, for lifelines. As a consequence, the ultimate value of the social network’s nearly 300 million users is looking significantly lower than previously thought. Twitter is well aware of these factors. Its recent actions signal that it is trying to redefine its business, not as a service that monetizes its users, but as a crowdsourced media platform and advertising agency—a dangerous bet that is unlikely to pay off.
platformization  twitter  public_discourse 
9 weeks ago
Obama says we need the TPP to compete with China. That argument has a big flaw.
And that's the problem. Having America write the rules for trade in Asia sounds great until you realize that the people representing "America" aren't necessarily focused on the interests of the American public at large. Too often, they're focused on the interests of narrow US interest groups like drug companies and movie studios.
generalinterest  politics  copyright 
9 weeks ago
Digital Learning Research Network Conference 2015
DLRN 2015 CALL FOR PROPOSALS
Making Sense of Higher Education: Networks and Change

Learning introduces students to practices of sensemaking, wayfinding, and managing uncertainty. Higher education institutions confront the same experiences as they navigate changing contexts for the delivery of services. Digital technologies and networks have created a new sense of scale and opportunity within global higher education, while fostering new partnerships focused on digital innovation as a source of sustainability in volatile circumstances. At the same time, these opportunities have introduced risks in relation to the ethics of experimentation and exploitation, emphasizing disruption and novelty and failing to recognise universities’ long-standing investment in educational research and development.
learning_research  moocs  public_discourse 
9 weeks ago
The Cybersyn Revolution | Jacobin
Little dissapointed with this piece - it feels too by-the-books, as if the Jacobin editors had edited it all out of its marvelous stuff. Morozov's article on Cybersyn, even if it cited Medina far too less, criminally less, even, managed to be far more entertaining than this.
cybernetics  research  platformization  public_discourse 
9 weeks ago
What Are We Doing When We Teach Computing in Schools? | May 2015 | Communications of the ACM
In complement to efforts in mathematical and natural language education we need to undertake cognitive research to discover how children acquire computational concepts asking questions (for example) as to whether there is a "best order" for the presentation of concepts, or whether pedagogically focused "initial programming environments" are a more productive way to learn than "real language" teaching. And, if so, under what conditions? This is not virgin territory, but the majority of previous work has been on learning in cognitively mature undergraduates, and that is unlikely to transfer directly.

In parallel, we need a program of educational research to support teachers, to ensure ideas work in real classrooms and with real teachers—and so we do not repeat cycles of error. At the moment, teachers are faced with a plethora of plausible approaches and no way to choose between them but the conviction (and charisma) of their inventors. A recent Computing at School magazine (Autumn 2014) is not short of ideas: A four step scaffolding exemplar using Scratch ... A simple project utilizing the python turtle library ... Functional programming: an example in VB. Each of these is a response to the need for teachers to have something to teach, to be able to fill their lessons with engaging and useful material. But, at the same time, the evidence these are based on is solely "Do it like this! It works for me!"

Finally, we need policy research so we may effectively coordinate and disseminate practices at scale. It is not only individuals who can learn from research—districts, countries, and governments can, too.
moocs  public_discourse  computer_science  education 
9 weeks ago
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