correlation≠causation: How to get over the threshold of false assumptions

Recently, I have become interested in threshold concepts – also highlighted in the innovating pedagogy report. I am particularly interested in the crossroad between thresholds and assessment.

[slideshare id=33855377&doc=keynote-april23-140423104550-phpapp02]

For anyone involved with gathering, interpreting, reviewing or simply reading quantitative research results, this is certainly one of the most important thresholds to overcome: correlation≠causation.

Read the blog post.

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‘Innovating Pedagogy’ Report 2014

Innovate Pedagogy Report

Innovate Pedagogy Report 2014

The Open University has released the 2014 edition of its ‘Innovating Pedagogy‘ report, the third edition of an annual educational technology trend report. While the timelines may remind you of  the Horizon Report, the methodology for gathering the trends is different. The NMC Horizon Team uses a modified Delphi survey approach with a panel of experts, the ‘Innovative Pedagogy’ report is authored by a team of OU researchers. I really like this year’s edition for its focus on pedagogy, not technology.

10 innovative pedagogy trends in 2014:

  1. Massive open social learning
  2. Learning design informed by analytics
  3. Flipped classrooms
  4. Bring your own devices
  5. Learning to learn
  6. Dynamic assessment
  7. Event-based learning
  8. Learning through storytelling
  9. Threshold concepts
  10. Bricolage

As Stephen Downes points out: “while it is capable of insight (such as the discussion around threshold concept’ it has the flaw of predicting events that have already happened (‘flipped classroom’, ‘learning by storytelling’) and predictive hackney (‘learning to learn’)”. 

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E-Learn 2014 Presentations

From  October 27-30, I attended the 19th annual, international conference AACE E-Learn in New Orleans. Here are the slides for my talks:


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‘The algorithms that dominate our world’- and the platform that will dominate digital storytelling?

I cam across this posting about ‘the algorithms that dominate our world‘ and loved the accessible writing and great visual presentation – It led me to discover a new social media platform with a fascinating concept: Medium is platform where people can share ideas and stories that are longer than 140 characters. From the description: “It’s designed for little stories that make your day better and manifestos that change the world. It’s used by everyone from professional journalists to amateur cooks. It’s simple, beautiful, collaborative, and it helps you find the right audience for whatever you have to say.”

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Adding Character to Your Presentation

Here is a brief video tutorial on how to create characters based on a person’s photographs in PowerPoint, using standard functionality such as shapes and the drawing tool. I have used this technique (photo-based characters) in the past, to develop illustrations for presentations and e-learning material and presentations – most recelty for a talk at the TCC 2014 conference. However, I have always relied on the support of grpahic designers who developed the illustrations in Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator. Maybe it is time to open PowerPoint and try it out myself!

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The MOOC Rollercoaster – Resources – Special Issue of JOLT

This is definetely on my reading list.

Foreword to the Special Section: MOOCs – Evolution or Revolution?
Sir John Daniel

* Research Papers *

Challenges to Research in MOOCs
Helene Fournier, Rita Kop, and Guillaume Durand

Participants’ Perceptions of Learning and Networking in Connectivist MOOCs
Mohsen Saadatmand and Kristiina Kumpulainen

* Case Study *

MOOCs: Striking the Right Balance between Facilitation and Self-Determination
Tita Beaven, Mirjam Hauck, Anna Comas-Quinn, Tim Lewis, and Beatriz de los Arcos

* Position Papers *

MOOC Pedagogy: Gleaning Good Practice from Existing MOOCs
Maha Bali

Teacher Experiences and Academic Identity: The Missing Components of MOOC Pedagogy
Jen Ross, Christine Sinclair, Jeremy Knox, Siân Bayne, and Hamish Macleod

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Big data: White House Report

The White House has just released a report on “Big Data: Seizing Opportunities, Preserving Values” (85 pages, PDF) along with a collection of supporting documents. The report is the culmination of a 90-day review by the Administration, spearheaded by Counselor John Podesta. The blog posting by danah boyd offers a look behind the scenes from one of the contributors to the report.

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Colorless green ideas sleep furiously…

An interesting article on automated essay grading and the potential and limitations of parsing programs:

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Open Textbook ‘Teaching In A Digital Age’ by Tony Bates

See more at:

and here:

What Tony Bates describes sounds like an exciting project and an English counterpart to the open textbook initiative L3T in the German speaking areas. This collaborative textbook on learning and teaching with technology is the result of the joint effort of 116 authors, 80 reviewers, several proof readers and layout specialists: The book is licensed as creative commons and accessible in various digital formats as well as print on demand (which also allows readers to create a personalized selection of chapters). I contributed a chapter on ‘media theory and learning’ to both the 2011 and 2013 edition and served as a reviewer for the 2011 edition. in both roles, I was impressed how smoothly such a large project can be completed. The editors (Sandra Schoen & Martin Ebner) used open journal systems to facilitate the workflow, which worked really well. Though this is usually an architecture for, well, open journals, it can work nicely for books, particularly edited volumes. I like the workflow, with preview, review, copyediting and proofing stages.

It looks like Tony Bates is planning on using PressBooks for his project.  A derivation of WordPress, it will output in html, pdf or e-pub formats. I have not worked with PressBooks but it definitely sound like an interesting approach. Many potential contributors will have experience in using WordPress and as such the environment has the potential to provide a low technological barrier for involvement.

Apart from the technological infrastructure, I think it is helpful to provide a template that encourages the use of different instructional elements in each textbook chapter – advance organizers, examples, activities, questions, explorations, glossary terms,…. The platform trello ( can be a great tool to coordinate the many different tasks that go into publishing an open textbook – cover design, authoring chapters,  reviewing, proofreading, layouting, organizing writing sprints, ….

One last thing that I personally would love to see – or rather hear: An audio version of the textbook. I am excited about this idea and have started following Tony’s blog.


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AACE Special Interest Group ADD E-Learn: Member Survey Results and Plans for 2014

Making the complex clear, turning difficult into intriguing, raising intellectual curiosity, supporting creative problem solving, posing authentic challenges, building effective scaffolds – contemporary e-learning goes beyond the latest tools and technologies. The special interest group “Designing, Developing, and Assessing E-Learning” aims to bring together researchers and practitioners to debate and collaborate on a variety of instructional design themes. The SIG promotes activities for future E-Learn conferences. This presentation summarizes the results of an online survey among ADD E-Learn members and promotes plans for E-Learn 2014. These plans include

  1. Organizing ‘ADD E-Learn Special Issue Roundtable': This informal meeting will focus on Special Issue contributions, joint writing/ research initiatives, project collaboration.
  2. ADD E-Learn Symposium: Several members articulated their interest in a separate conference track for the SIG. To meet this need for a focused track, we will organize a symposium for AACE E-Learn 2014.

In addition, we have planned several activities during the conference/ at the Special Interest Group Meeting:

  • ADD E-Learn Voices: Brief audio interviews with SIG members on their projects, ideas, research …
  • ADD E-Learn Practice2Teach: Opportunities to recruit instructional design guest speakers for classes
  • ADD E-Learn Focus Topics: Selection of 2-3 focus areas for collaboration in 2014/15
  • Other topics that will be discussed at the meeting include the launch of the SIG Website, the community’s vision / mission statement as well as activities and leadership for 2014/15.
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