Sunday, January 27, 2013

Media Week (V6 N4): Open Access UK, Tapscott on MOOCs, Personal Data Ownership +More

The fight over open access in the UK has been joined by David Willets, the governments Universities Ministers proclamation that all publicly funded research will be immediately publically available by 2014 (Guardian):
All the concerned groups said they agreed with providing easier access to academic research, but Professor Howard Hotson, a fellow of St Anne's College, Oxford, who sits on the steering council for the Council for the Defence of British Universities, said they all shared grave concerns at the pace of the changes being rolled out.

He said: "One of the things which flabbergasts me is the seemingly insatiable appetite for this government to pursue multiple radical changes simultaneously. It seems extraordinarily naive to suppose that on the basis of a few months of consultation, in a very short space of time, you can radically change the basic way in way academics communicate with each other without having a huge number of unintended knock-on consequences. Open access in principle has a great deal to be said for it, but it has to be handled with care."
Don Tapscott writing from Davos on The Week the University as we know it died (Globe&Mail):
But Mr. Summers is missing the point. From my perspective, we should eliminate all lectures as a method of instruction. Universities must shift their business model from the centuries-old notion that a professor lectures students, to a more collaborative, interactive model.

Any subject where students need to absorb fact-based material – that is, where there is a right or wrong answer – should be taught using computer-based learning. Instead of being the “sage on the stage,” teachers should be the co-pilot for students as they explore and collaborate online to acquire knowledge. Without changing the model of pedagogy, the physical campus will not survive.

One can easily see a day when students treat all the universities as one big à-la-carte menu that can lead to something we could call a “MOOC degree.” Take some law courses at Harvard, economic courses at McGill, some engineering courses at MIT, and round out the degree with courses from Queen’s, Yale and the London School of Economics. The result will be students acquiring a better education by shopping around then they could have acquired at just the one institution. And it won’t take long before employers recognize this.

The biggest obstacle to this happening is the question of credentials. Aside from the couple of experiments I mentioned earlier, none of the prestigious universities will grant a course credit – let alone a degree – based on the strength of online courses.
Your body as a data factory (Guardian):
It's not quite right to say that internet users are giving away their information. Access to "free" services like Google or Facebook relies on a value exchange and it is your data that is being exchanged. A general haziness around what value that data represents means most people accept this deal. After all, would you be prepared to pay "real money" to fund your Google Chat habit? Research shows you're paying Google around $5,000 in personal data in exchange for its services. Given the option to pay that $5,000 via cash, credit or cookies, I imagine most people would plump for the cookies.

But things are changing. France's proposed data tax is unlikely to become law any time soon but the fact that it has been mooted is indicative of a gradual drive towards a more official quantification of data. This can already be seen in the slew of start-ups trying to help people transform their personal details into dollars: an industry which could be worth £1bn by 2016 in the UK alone. Now, it seems, governments are beginning to wonder if they too can cash in.
Where's the app that lets me monetize all my data?

Re-inventing Academic Publishing: 'Diamond' Open Access Titles That Are Free To Read And Free To Publish (TechDirt) but from the comments this time:
I am a librarian:
I am a librarian at a small four year university. What we pay for journal subscriptions varies widely from thirty or forty dollars a year for some mundane stuff, to several thousand a year for the hardcore upper level science and engineering. My most expensive subscription is $10,206 per year and it goes up every year. A typical price is between about $400 and $1,200. We only keep about 750 print titles, larger institutions often keep many more. Also, some of the titles that cost into the thousands might only be printed bimonthly or even quarterly, so you're looking at hundreds or even thousands of dollars per issue. People could steal our laptops and Kindles and it wouldn't hurt as bad as when some of the journals go missing.

Furthermore, because prices are generally based on FTE (full-time equivalency, or roughly the number of students we have), we pay only a modest fraction of what the larger universities pay. Also, you have to keep in mind that they count ALL students. We might have only a few hundred students in an upper level engineering or science program, but to get those subjects' journals they count EVERY student, right down to the slack-ass stoner freshmen and the absentee football majors.

Don't even get me started on the electronic journals and databases...

Also ask any university librarian how mush of their budget goes to Elsevier, also ask about the quality of some of the journals they end up buying because of bundling. Just make sure you escape route is open when you do so, you may provoke an angry reaction.

^^ Truth. ^^
Speaking of which what do the comments look like for a MOOC class you ask? (IHE)

From Twitter this week:

Pew Internet Releases New Report on Library Services (Plus Commentary) |
Software patents 'a bit of a mess' says Martin Goetz, the first man to get one
New Exhibit Honors New York Public Library’s Massive Photo Archive: Wired
Association of Research Libraries: Licensing E-Journal Bundles from Large Publishers: ARL Releases Pre-Pub from RLI 282
For open access journals, price doesn’t buy influence
Amazon Touts Self-Publishing Benefits Front and Center:

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