Dazed and Confused…

So via several twittering sources, today I learn that:

– ‘the government now says Facebook will be its “primary channel” for communicating with the public about spending cuts’ [BBC News: Ministers turn to Facebook users for cuts suggestions]

As @adrianshort pointed out, “You’ll need a Facebook account to vote in a few years time. Whatever happened to the public web?”, which reminded me of something I skimmed on Technology Review earlier this week (The Government Has an Online Identity Plan for You):

the U.S. government is hoping to step in and improve the state of online identity management. In a draft recently posted online, the Department of Homeland Security outlined a possible National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace–a document that suggests how the government could facilitate a system for managing identities. The system could be used not only by government sites such as the Internal Revenue Service, but by other websites, including commercial ones.

The draft document does not suggest creating a national ID card or government-mandated Internet identity system. Instead it proposes a way to combine existing online identity technologies to create a simpler, more privacy-conscious identity system, without the government taking control of the whole thing.

… The draft suggests starting with accounts that users might already have, like those from Google or Facebook. …

If the UK Gov would rather go for physical ID card by proxy, there’s always the Tesco Clubcard of course (“Tesco now has 16 million active Clubcard holders in the UK, compared to 11.7 million people who have a Barclaycard” [Tesco Clubcard signs up one million customers since relaunch]). Or your mobile phone; even the under 8s have mobile phones…

And the second thing from my Twitter feeds?

– “Money-saving plans to separate teaching from examining in higher education are to be outlined by the business secretary, Vince Cable. The proposals would allow new institutions to teach students for degrees that would be then awarded by prestige universities. … All universities would be offered the opportunity to teach to an externally set, globally recognised exam. One by-product of this would be the emergence of a new breed of private universities.” [Guardian: New universities could teach but not test for degrees, says Vince Cable]

Hmm… maybe I should repitch my idea for a qualification verification webservice so employers three or four years down the line can stand a chance of checking whether job applicants’ degrees are valid or not. (QVS could also play really nicely with Facebook, as it happens…;-) [The QVS doc was a blue sky pitch to the SocialLearn project a couple of years ago, that spawned a small internal project reviewing how a less ambitious service might be used to simplify internal OU processes. The doc linked to above is an edited version of the original draft doc, that was itself revised for presentation to the SocialLearn steering group. The views contained within it barely reflect my own views, let alone those of my employer.]

The move to decouple teaching from assessment using a national HE exam (good for Pearson via EdExcel, methinks?!) is something that might help us make the case internally for some assessment only versions of courses… More about that in a future post, but now I’m going to have another quick peek at the wires to see what else has happened in the last couple of hours!

Author: Tony Hirst

I'm a Senior Lecturer at The Open University, with an interest in #opendata policy and practice, as well as general web tinkering...

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