Not that we need more acronyms in education, but le COOC, acronyme de Corporate Open Online Course, is another one to addd to the list of variations on the MOOC model. It is also a further move into the non-academic application of the MOOC learning model.

A l'heure de la réforme de la formation professionnelle, l'accent est plus que jamais mis sur des formations opérationnelles et certifiantes. Un avantage certain pour ce que l'on appelle les COOC. Mais d'abord…qu'est-ce qu'un COOC ?

see  http://www.journaldunet.com/management/formation/1155958-formation-cooc-entreprises/


In France, a Tech School Called 42


I just discovered this 2-year old school via an article in The Chronicle (unfortunately, mostly behind a subscriber paywall)  "In France, a Free Tech School Shakes Up Higher Education"

It is a nonprofit school known simply as "42." (I do like that the name comes from Douglas Adams’s novel The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, in which the number 42 is the answer to the ultimate question - though no one knows what the question is.)

The school doesn’t provide a degree or charge tuition (MOOC-like). It offers only a training program in computer science. In its 2 years, it has been very popular and has had its own shots at disrupting teaching, credentials and technology training pedagogy.

Unlike MOOCs, it is not "open." They have had 70,000 people from Europe and beyond apply for 900 openings. That makes them, in the American way of ranking, more selective than the Ivy League universities.

The whole enterprise would seem less disruptive in Europe where government-subsidized public universities with low or no tuition is a reality. Still, a school without grades, diplomas, or even textbooks and a regular faculty is not the norm anywhere in higher education.

Are universities worried about this? Not much. As with MOOCs, higher education is curious but not worried as long as students and parents are willing to still pay lots of money to get that degree.

But Nicolas Sadirac, one of its four founders, says official accreditation is not what 42’s leaders aspire to — in fact, they shun it. "We don’t want to have to play by those rules," says Mr. Sadirac, who describes France’s universities and vocational schools as lethargic knowledge factories that pump out rote learners.

"42’s goal is not to fill our students’ heads with facts and theories," he says, "but to help them become creative innovators who can solve complex problems together with peers."

Some have compared 42 to offerings like the American Codecademy rather than to colleges.

Sadirac is 42’s director and a former university administrator, but it is Xavier Niel (who made his money in Internet and telecommunications) who donated $90 million to start 42 and rent facilities, hardware and pay for students and staffing.

10 Notes About 42

1. Admissions does not require a degree like the baccalauréat used in France to graduate high school and enter college.

2. Applicants are 18-30 years old

3. If you do well on their online aptitude test, you are invited to 42 in Paris as finalists.

4. Each finalist is given a coding problem and four weeks to complete it.

5. About 4000 finalists are then cut to under 1000.

6. There are no formal classes.

7. Students choose projects solve increasingly difficult problems working in teams of two to five,

8. Solve the problems and pass. If you don't, you fail.

9. Students work at their own pace but are expected to "graduate" within two to four years.

10. The goal is jobs - especially in France’s tech-software-engineering sector, which lacks highly skilled personnel

Cognizant Computing in Your Pocket (or on your wrist)

Two years ago, I wrote about the prediction that your ever-smarter phone will be smarter than you by 2017. We are half way there and I still feel superior to my phone - though I admit that it remembers things that I can't seem to retain, like my appointments, phone numbers, birthdays and such.

The image I used on that post was a watch/phone from The Jetsons TV show which today might make you think of the Apple watch which is connected to that ever smarter phone.

But the idea of cognizant computing is more about a device having knowledge of or being aware of your personal experiences and using that in its calculations. Smartphones will soon be able to predict a consumer’s next move, their next purchase or interpret actions based on what it knows, according to Gartner, Inc.

This insight will be performed based on an individual’s data gathered using cognizant computing — "the next step in personal cloud computing.

“Smartphones are becoming smarter, and will be smarter than you by 2017,” said Carolina Milanesi, Research Vice President at Gartner. “If there is heavy traffic, it will wake you up early for a meeting with your boss, or simply send an apology if it is a meeting with your colleague."

The device will gather contextual information from your calendar, its sensors, your location and all the personal data  you allow it to gather. You may not even be aware of some of that data it is gathering. And that's what scares some people.

watchWhen your phone became less important for making phone calls and added apps, a camera, locations and sensors, the lines between utility, social, knowledge, entertainment and productivity got very blurry.

But does it have anything to do with learning?

Researchers at Pennsylvania State University already announced plans to test out the usefulness in the classroom of eight Apple Watches this summer.

Back in the 1980s, there was much talk about Artificial Intelligence (AI). Researchers were going to figure out how we (well, really how "experts") do what they do and reduce those tasks to a set of rules that a computer could follow. The computer could be that expert. The machine would be able to diagnose disease, translate languages, even figure out what we wanted but didn’t know we wanted. 

AI got lots of  VC dollars thrown at it. But it was not much of a success.

Part of the (partial) failure can be attributed to a lack of computer processing power at the right price to accomplish those ambitious goals. The increase in power, drop in prices and the emergence of the cloud may have made the time for AI closer.

Still, I am not excited when I hear that this next phase will allow "services and advertising to be automatically tailored to consumer demands."

Gartner released a newer report on cognizant computing that continues that idea of it being "the strongest forces in consumer-focused IT" in the next few years.

Mobile devices, mobile apps, wearables, networking, services and the cloud is going to change educational use too, though I don't think anyone has any clear predictions. 

Does more data make things smarter? Sometimes.

Will the Internet of Things and big data converge with analytics and make things smarter? Yes.

Is smarter better? When I started in education 40 years ago, I would have quickly answered "yes," but my answer is less certain these days.


In a Revolution, Things Get Flipped

This post first appeared at Ronkowitz LLC

The flipped classroom has been used in different ways for the past decade in education. More recently, the idea of flipping professional development has been experimented with at schools and in corporate training. In both cases, the idea is to rethink what we want to spend our time with in face-to-face sessions and how can we move learning before and after those sessions to be more self-directed.

I am doing a presentation this week at the 2015 Annual Member Conference hosted by the Connecticut Education Network (CEN) on flipped learning. This event draws participants from educators (K-12 and higher ed), municipalities, libraries, local businesses and State of Connecticut agencies. I asked for my session to be paired with another session by Edward Iglesias who is the Educational Administrator for Central Connecticut State University on Library Makerspaces and Community Organizations.

I want to not just talk about how flipped learning might work in any school setting, but also to have the participants try some flipped learning before and at the session. My flipped exercise is to ask those who will attend my session on "Flipping the Learning Model" to try a simple activity BEFORE the conference. By flipping this portion of the learning, we gain time in the session, and get to focus on the portion that I consider to be more critical to the face-to-face learning.

You take a chance in doing this - What if no one does the pre-activity? It's the same chance we take as teachers at all levels when we assign homework that will lead into a class session. As an English teacher for the past four decades, I have often had the experience of wanting to discuss an assigned reading and finding that only a portion of the class has done the reading (or purchased the book!). What do I do in that situation? Stop the lesson? Do the reading in class? Proceed with the discussion using those who did the reading? I have probably done all of those things at some time depending on the lesson and the grade level, but how can we increase the number of learners who complete the activities before attending the live sessions?

sampleFor this particular "homework" the assignment concerns Smartphone Audio Enhancement.

The task I have set for attendees is to experiment with one or more ways to increase the volume and sound quality of a smartphone using simple materials and no electronics or additional power.

They are asked to bring at least one result of their DIY experimentation to the live session. I made a web page with samples but I am hoping that a few people will go deeper and experiment on their own with original designs.

In our face-to-face session, we will test samples with a decibel meter, and we will discuss how this simple exercise can be applied to classroom learning.

Those applications are deliberately not stated by me beforehand, though applying it to math and physics are obvious choices. But getting other areas to think about the applications of this pedagogy - if not this particular lesson - is more important.

Overall, I want attendees to see that flipped learning in a classroom or for professional development or personal growth is less about when and where we learn and more importantly about how we learn. We know students are learning in and out of the classroom. They are learning what we want them to learn and what they want to learn. They are using traditional educational tools and methods, and tools they have discovered on their own and in ways we never considered.

In a revolution, things get flipped or overturned. Don't back away. Join in!