I don’t like Yelp. I’m not as disestablishmentarian as Jaron Lanier (defining Wisdom of the Crowd as Mob Mentality), but I understand that multiple variables color the aggregation system on a company’s reviews, expertise perhaps one variable, perhaps not. This concerns me. The LA Times discussed Yelp’s business backlash yesterday. Yelp continues to deny that failure to advertise with their website results in the site’s algorithm casting less favor on a business, but business owners are convinced that Yelp runs like the mafia, and see advertising as a necessary evil to cull favor with the site.
The most obvious solution to this standoff would be for Yelp to publish their algorithm, but that will not happen. I imagine Yelp would say publishing such sensitive data would destroy their business, equating their success to the algorithm and not their developed branding and affiliation. What publishing the algorithm would certainly do is show the numerous variables that dictate a company’s ranking and placement within a community of businesses, and those variables could spark discussions about the efficacy of crowdsourced commentary (for example, prolific users’ comments hold more weight than irregular users, meaning certain quantity is valued over potential quality). Continue reading →
One of the common citations in xMOOC artifacts and discussion is the idea of xMOOC as a disruptive technology. The concept, developed by Harvard Business professor Clayton Christensen, is tossed into discussion as if it’s vital reading I should already know…none of the authors do more than give a cursory definition to the concept in abstract fashion rather than concrete, and in all of the articles I have read, I don’t see consensus on the definition. This makes me think several possibilities: 1) this is a concept so integral to this field that I should know all about it and am an idiot for not having a foundational knowledge, or 2) this is a concept not fully understood but thrown out there in a way that sounds erudite but lacks foundation. I think it’s a mix of both. As a learner struggling to grasp a topic (my background is in both media and social sciences, not business), the best way is to personally dive in rather than rely on the previews of others. At the same time, it took those previews to get here, so perhaps this review can help others start to nail out a more complete definition on the topic. Continue reading →
Months ago I had a conversation with a friend of mine who works for an organization with strong ties to the charter school movement. I respect him and a mutual friend of ours, and because I have a visceral problem with the charter school movement, I wonder how he and this other friend could have dedicated their lives to education yet be advocating for school choice and ravaging Diane Ravitch through social media. I told this friend I wanted to understand his POV on the charter school movement, letting him know I was at best a skeptical audience. We talked civilly the entire time and I felt like it was an eye-opening experience for the both of us, but I walked away from the conversation focused on one exchange: I expressed dismay at the continual turnover of teachers in charter organizations was not only harmful for students at the school (as The Onion illustrates here), but was aiding in the erosion of teaching as a profession. My friend’s response was simple: I do not believe teaching is a profession.
Along with the hype, there is a lot of fear in the pundrity and commentary in relation to the MOOC movement: if massified ed takes place on this global, global scale, what happens to teachers? Continue reading →
I recently posted a response to a research paper by Terry Anderson which looked at the various modes of interaction across learning platforms and spaces. Among the important and interesting notes was Anderson’s assertion that high quality learning could happen if one of three interactions (student-student, student-teacher or student-content) was of a high quality, regardless of the quality of the other two. Yet in my reading of Anderson’s work, I saw him continue to discuss student-student interactions with great importance, moreso than he gave to student-teacher or student-content. This ties into some existing learning theory popular today, most notably social learning theory (though, to be general, the Canadians like to call it social cognition) via Bandura (and Vygotsky’s social development theory). Continue reading →
Keeping up with MOOC thoughts via Twitter (as best I can):
FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) and MOOCs: From September 19, Audrey Watters looks at reasons behind some colleges (quoting Ohio State University) adopting the xMOOC as a course module and potential revenue stream; the quote from the OSU president states that he does not want his school to end up too far behind the other schools involved in xMOOCs such as Coursera. This is a theme that has popped up occasionally over the past 12 months…institutions are afraid to be left behind and perhaps rendered irrelevant in a xMOOC world. I wonder if there were similar fears when correspondence courses started incorporating radio and video all those years ago. Continue reading →