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  • Michael Rees 17:38 on 18/05/2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: blogging   

    My blogging twilight 

    It is clear from my lack of activity here that my blogging days are reaching the twilight if not actually coming to an end. I have posted about this on my original blog at: http://mrees.wordpress.com/2014/05/18/my-blogging-twilight/

    No more posts will occur here but all my blogging will now be concentrated in my Cloud Scholar blog. See: http://blog.cloudscholar.com/

  • Michael Rees 07:04 on 03/12/2012 Permalink | Reply  

    Textbook requirement goes counter to spirit of MOOCs 

    I recently enrolled in the Coursera Drugs and the Brain MOOC. After the first few lectures I soon discovered that my non-existent knowledge of organic chemistry was a major deterrent and I have ceased following this excellent course.

    However, when I started the course I was personally disappointed that a  textbook albeit reasonably priced at USD50 figured in most of the background readings. This seemed to me to go counter to the spirit of a MOOC where open should mean all educational material not provided by the instructor should be free and open access on the web.

    It should be said that the textbook is described as an optional requirement but many students have decided they need to have access to the book. While I am opposed to pirating copyright material it seems inevitable students would attempt to acquire free copies of the textbook. So it has proved as indicated by this fragment of an email from the Drugs and the Brain course staff:

    It has recently come to our attention that there have been copyright infringements both on our forums and elsewhere, including closed Facebook groups. We have removed all the posts offering or requesting copies of copyrighted materials such as textbooks from the class forums…

    It is good to see Coursera upholding copyright as they should but instructors should take note that students expect materials used in MOOCs to be freely accessible on the web.

  • Michael Rees 17:09 on 02/12/2012 Permalink | Reply  

    My favourite app Writer surfaces in Word 2013 Preview 

    I have long lamented the absence of the Windows Essentials powerful blog post creation app Writer on iOS and Android. At first sight there was no sign of Writer on Surface. Great joy therefor when I discovered the Word 2013 on RT allows us to post to a wide range of blogs. Looks like we have a souped up Writer after all.

  • Michael Rees 11:19 on 22/11/2012 Permalink | Reply  

    Universities, valued social institutions, but at what price? 

    I admired the confidence of respected edtech academic George Veletsianos in his considered post on MOOCs. Writing about the prophecy from the TechCrunch post that ‘”it’s inevitable that online courses will replace schools” he says:

    The question to ask here is not whether this prophecy will come true. We know that it won’t because universities are valued social institutions that are embedded in the culture of their times, and even though they may change, they won’t disappear.

    I would contend the undoubted value of the peer and instructor social networking of on-campus study is already at the point of being overvalued. With the several tens of thousands of dollars’ cost rising at much more than inflation it can’t be long before simple economics forces universities to close. With MOOC certificates starting to be accepted for credit at a handful of institutions can it be long before employers start to accept them as proof of desired experience as well?

  • Michael Rees 17:59 on 12/11/2012 Permalink | Reply  

    Very likely to be hugely disruptive. Can’t wait to acquire one or two.

  • Michael Rees 12:36 on 07/10/2012 Permalink | Reply  

    Run-of-the-mill Technology Education is Vital 

    I agree with the sentiments expressed in the post by Anil Dash entitled ‘The Blue Collar Coder’. He advocates:

    • Education which teaches mid-level programming as a skilled trade, suitable for apprenticeship and advancement in a way that parallels traditional trade skills like HVAC or welding
    • Less of a focus on "the next Zuckerberg", in favor of encouraging solid middle-class tech jobs that may be entrepreneurial, but are primarily focused on creating and maintaining technology infrastructure in non-tech companies
    • Changing the conversation about recruiting technologists from the existing narrow priesthood of highly-skilled experts constantly chasing new technologies to productive workers getting the most out of widely-deployed platforms and frameworks

    I am in full agreement, but MPOW just closed the Bachelor of IT degree which concentrated on the above. Selling this approach to students is the hard part.

  • Michael Rees 09:54 on 17/09/2012 Permalink | Reply

    Crowdreviewing now made possible 

    “Here at PaperCritic, we find that science should be as open as possible and that everyone should be able to review each other’s work, not just the elected few. This is why PaperCritic now offers researchers a way of obtaining and providing feedback for each others work in a fully open and transparent environment.”

    Great effort PaperCritic this is my philosophy exactly. http://www.papercritic.com/home

    via @petahopkins

  • Michael Rees 15:40 on 25/08/2012 Permalink | Reply  

    The Granny Cloud Teaching to Remote Indian Schools 

    2012-08-25 SNAG-00It was a pleasure to rise early on a Saturday morning to catch one of the most popular 2012 Learning 2.0 keynotes, Sugata Mitra from the MIT Media Lab and my hometown Newcastle University. His talk was on his extensive work on self organised learning and the Hole in the Wall experiment in particular. The ebook about this project where he discovered the power of self organized learning is an eminently readable 54-page Kindle single for $2.99 (all books should be like this).

    In his keynote he went on to describe another ongoing project, The Granny Cloud, where he manages a volunteer group of UK grannies to provide weekly lessons via Skype to remote schools in India. This idea is now spreading around the world. All these projects are truly inspiring.

    You can watch the keynote fully interactive session with questions and audience backchannel with the Blackboard Collaborate recording at:


    The Granny Cloud Project
  • Michael Rees 10:31 on 24/07/2012 Permalink | Reply  

    Lessons for Creativity in the Here and Now 

    I recommend you listen to the ABC Radio National episode of Future Tense on Creativity in the 21C hosted by Anthony Furnell. Academics are forced to be creative in order to advance. For me the main lesson is articulated by Jonah Lehrer at The New Yorker, my emphasis:

    But you fast-forward to the 21st century and now things look quite different. Now the most feted papers in the field are almost always the product of a team, of people from different disciplines coming together. One explanation for this trend is that it is really about our problems getting harder, that all the low-hanging fruit is gone. And so many of the challenges that remain really exceed the capabilities of the individual imagination. So we either have to learn how to work together or fail alone.

    Having recently spent over 20 years working as an academic in a small private university it was difficult to form and undertake creative work in a group with colleagues. Now it is absolutely essential and forming research networks must become a number one priority. Thankfully cloud technology is enabling the collaborative tools to achieve group research. Academics just have to use the cloud effectively.

  • Michael Rees 15:06 on 14/07/2012 Permalink | Reply  

    Software-defined radio to fuel massive wireless disruption 

    Originally appearing a week ago my mind keeps returning to the article by Timothy Lee from Ars Technica about software-defined radio, SDR. Having a single radio chip capable of supporting all mobile phone bands, Wi-Fi, GPS, RFID, NFC, Bluetooth, FM, digital TV and future radio bands is truly awesome.

    phi“Traditional radio chips are hard-wired to communicate using one specific protocol. For example, a typical cell phone has several different chips to handle a variety of radio communications: one to talk to cell phone towers, another to contact Wi-Fi base stations, a third to receive GPS signals, and a fourth to communicate with Bluetooth devices. In contrast, software-defined radio hardware works with raw electromagnetic signals, relying on software to implement specific applications”.

    Software devs must be salivating at the endless possibilities offered by SDR. They just need to get the hardware into phones, tablets and ultrabooks at the maximum possible rate. Per Vices have their Phi card out there for immediate use. We also need to support Ettus Research and their Universal Software Radio Peripheral (USRP) concept, and encourage some miniaturisation to allow incorporation into our handheld devices.

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