ETF Newsletter
EdTech Factotum is a weekly newsletter of 3 interesting things I have read, watched or listened to in the world of educational technology, open education, and online & blended learning.

Here are 3 things I read & found interesting this week.

Loosening up online dialogue

How to Deepen Online Dialogue
Rebecca Zambrano, Faculty Focus, January 26, 2018
This week I began working with George Veletsianos on developing a new course for the Royal Roads University Masters of Learning & Technology program.
The new course, Facilitating in Digital Learning Environments, is a redesign of the facilitation course I taught last year for RRU. The rebuild is to incorporate elements of open pedagogy and network learning into the course as part of the overall MALAT program redesign.

Like the old course, I want to keep it experiential and have students design and facilitate a module with their peers on a contemporary educational technology topic.

One thing I noticed last time around was that some of the conversation and discussion among students, whether in the discussion forums or on the wider web, was quite formal and academic. Often, posts in the discussion forums would read like their final paper and include full on APA references at the end of the discussion post, which made the discussion feel artificial and forced. Not very inviting for others to converse with. While I appreciate the academic rigour, it does tend to affect the nature of discussions, as this article from Faculty Focus suggests.
Faculty grading and feedback that require too much formality of language can scare students into virtual silence, sticking to exactly what the text says or saying what they think the professor wants to hear. Focusing on lower-level writing issues, such as grammar, APA style, or academic language, takes students away from content issues toward format issues. Although faculty might expect students to use formal academic language in their essays and research papers, it is not ideal for discussion.
How to Deepen Online Dialogue, Rebecca Zambrano, Faculty Focus, Jan 26, 2018

This time around, my instructions on participating in asynchronous discussions, wether in a forum or as comments on a blog post, will be to encourage students to use a more authentic voice and write with a less structured, more informal tone. I think the discussion will be more natural, more fluid, and will help to encourage students to value their own voice.
When we show students that their own authentic way of communicating is interesting to us and to other students, we encourage them to value their own and one another’s thinking. Essentially, we are sending them the message that their opinions and knowledge matter in whatever field we are studying.
How to Deepen Online Dialogue, Rebecca Zambrano, Faculty Focus, Jan 26, 201

From Open Source to Open Educational Resources

Reflections on 20 Years of Open Content: Lessons from Open Source
David Wiley, OER18, January 29, 2018
In this guest post on the ALT OER18 conference website, David Wiley foreshadows his April 2018 keynote talk in Bristol.

2018 is significant for both David and the open education movement as it marks 20 years since David began working on the idea of open licensing content, drawing inspiration from the world of open source software. The first half of the post is an important piece of open education history as David recounts the inspiration behind open licenses, and his early work in OER's, drawing parallels between OER's and the early days of free vs open software.

Where the post kicks into overdrive is when David outlines the benefits that commercial participants bring to the open source software world. Today, open source thrives with the support and active participation of corporate entities in the development of open source software. Indeed, you don't have to spend a lot of time poking around around Fortune 500 companies like IBM and Microsoft to see how their contributions to open source software & OSS communities have helped sustain OSS, despite the fact that in the early days of OSS these corporations were often seen as antithetical to OSS ideals and goals. Today they are important contributors, often because they benefit from the open source software in some way.

Could OER's and corporations exist in the same symbiotic way? Could Pearson sustain OER's in the same way that Microsoft, Facebook and Google support open source software? David argues that it is possible and, indeed, necessary if OER's are to achieve the same level of mainstream acceptance that OSS has.

For many in the open education community, it is a very provocative thought to enter into such a reciprocal relationship with corporate entities. And it is this provocation that will likely create some very stimulating and interesting discussions at OER18.

Contesting Turnitin TOS

Turnitin User Agreement: I disagree
Hans de Zwart, Jan 10/2018
University of Amsterdam student Hans de Zwart deconstructs a particularly troublesome section of the Turnitin user agreement in this blog post. It is a user agreement his institution wants him to accept in order to submit assignments to the institutional LMS. But de Zwart takes issue with the agreement.
If you agree to the User Agreement you have just given Turnitin (and its partners) permission to use your paper for any service and at any point in the time in the future.
And even though you have not limited them in any way, they still want to make sure that you agree with them being allow to changing the rules whenever they want.

One of the emerging principles of data ownership that strongly resonates with me is the idea that students should be in control of their own data and how it is used. And seeing de Zwart's conditions on his use of Turnitin underscores that students do indeed want this kind of control. He adds his own terms and conditions to how he would consent to using Turnitin.
My work can only be used by Turnitin to check for plagiarism.
As I see no reason for it being my responsibility to help Turnitin get better at doing their job (by giving them the ability to recognise when somebody plagiarizes my work), I want Turnitin to delete my work as soon as the check has been done.
If Turnitin relies on third parties to do the plagiarism check, then I would need a limitative list of these parties and the assurance that the above two conditions will also count for them.

At the very least, these are the kinds of conditions we need to start insisting are in the terms of service of the vendors we do business with. Student data needs to be under their control and they need to be the ones who decide how their data is used, now and in the future.

Students rallying against Turnitin, a company that has referred to remix, mashups, retweets, and aggregation as acts of plagiarism, is nothing new. And yet here we are 15 years after the McGill incident, and we are still not hearing their message.

Like this? Feel free to forward onto a friend or colleague who may be interested in subscribing. Unless otherwise noted, all content CC-BY Clint Lalonde.
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