Miscellaneous

UBC’s Learning Technology Ecosystem: Developing a Shared Vision, Blueprint & Roadmap

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 08/10/2017 - 15:24

Simon Bates, Carolun Kirkwood, Oliver Grüter –Andrew, Marianne Schroeder
, University of British Columbia, Aug 13, 2017

Dating from 2015 (but reaching me via an email from Marianne Schroeder just today, this is a useful document (26 page PDF)  (and would have helped me a lot had I seen it six months ago (though it still helps now)). I describes describes the goals and visions for a learning technology infrastructure at a major university and outlines a three-year roadmap. It's very similar to (but frankly much better than) a project I did recently. Interestingly, "With respect to specific technological approaches, we learned that social technology tools, Camtasia and media studios have shown demonstrated success, as have faculty/staff collaborations to explore emerging technologies. Learning analytics and adaptive personalized learning show promise. Podcasting, lecture capture and e-portfolios have all failed to realize their potential."  There are additional resources about the project here. Some updated work: a learning technologies snapshots, from 2016 (10 page PDF and 12 page PDF). Also from 2016: the project business case, project page, and needs assessment. This is all solid professional work from a leader in the field.

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JSON-LD

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 08/10/2017 - 14:54

Various authors, Aug 13, 2017

The Acronym in full is 'Javascript Object Notation - Linked Data', or just 'JSON Linked Data'. This page is a central resource on the specification. The idea of JSON-LD is that yopu can present a body pof information that can be read by machines and interoperate with other information. To get a flavour, click on the 'Playground' tab (upper left) and 'Recipe'. Then click on the 'Visualized' tab (half-way down the page). If you see a green dot, click on it. Note especially that the data can be "signed" with RSA or Bitcoin. The documentation tab has a couple dozen good resources on how it works and how to use it. The 'Specifications' tab gives you the formal document and the 'Branding' tabcontains images and code libraries in Javascript, Python, Ruby, PHP and others. JSON-LD is part of the PaySwarm standardization initiative.

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Why Adopt Microlearning – 15 Questions Answered

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 08/10/2017 - 12:56

Asha Pandey, EI Design, Aug 13, 2017

This is a pretty basic - but useful - introduction to the concept of microlearning. The 15 questions are a nice gimmick but do not define the structure of the article. Rather, there are five major sections: what is microlearning ("an action-oriented approach of offering bite-sized learning that gets learners to learn, act, and practice"), microlearning benefits, application of microlearning ("standalone nuggets or as a series of nuggets"), design and deployment, and impact (via the four Kirkpatrick levels).

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Claude Shannon’s “Creative Thinking” Speech: A Genius Reveals How To Be Creative

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 08/10/2017 - 12:31

Jimmy Soni, The Mission, Aug 13, 2017

The post is at heart an advertisement for a book about Claude Shannon, and you get the speech beginning only at the half-way point. And also, I think a good part of it is wrong, as we would expect when a mathematician attempts to discuss educational theory. But it's also a good example of what we might call 'folk education theory', analogous to folk psychology, containing commonsense ideas not validated by research or science.

Shannon writes, "I think we could set down three things that are fairly necessary for scientific research or for any sort of inventing or mathematics or physics: 

  • The first one is obvious — training and experience. You don’t expect a lawyer, however bright he may be, to give you a new theory of physics...
  • The second thing is a certain amount of intelligence or talent... an IQ that is fairly high to do good research work... this, we might say, is a matter of environment; intelligence is a matter of heredity...
  • You have to have some kind of a drive, some kind of a desire to find out the answer, a desire to find out what makes things tick... so far as motivation is concerned, it is maybe a little like Fats Waller said about swing music — 'either you got it or you ain’t.’"

These three things characterize a huge swath of thinking about education today; its what we see coming from the Ed Reform movement, it's what we see coming from Silicon Valley, it's what we see coming from the instructivist camp. And it's wrong.

 

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Andrew Pelling challenges conventions in science and academia

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 08/09/2017 - 18:00

Pat Rich, University Affairs, Aug 12, 2017

I get criticized for my won approach to research, so it's good to see this article about Andrew Pelling, a University of Ottawa biophysicist who indulges in, as the article says, "brainstorming whimsy." I can identify. “I’d make a discovery in the lab," he says, "and I’d be all excited and tell my colleagues, and they’d look at me with this blank expression and say, ‘So what’s the application?’ It sent me a very clear signal that people only valued my research if there was a dollar sign or some bogus application at the end of it.”

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Cognitive bias cheat sheet

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 08/09/2017 - 13:51

Buster Benson, Better Humans, Aug 12, 2017

This is from last fall, though I was prompted to link by this post with related flash cards to help you remember the 168 cognitive biases reported by Buster Benson (maybe we could use them to train AIs). The description is interesgting enough, but what really makes this post is the epic diagram of all 168 biases at the end. "If you feel so inclined, you can buy a poster-version of the above image here. If you want to play around with the data in JSON format, you can do that here."

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Lonely Planet’s New Trips App Makes You The Travel Guide

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 08/09/2017 - 13:31

Emily Price, Fast Company, Aug 12, 2017

I have often compared the different ways of learning a domain to the different ways of exploring a city. What is typically missing from those accounts is how travellers capture, report on, and share the results of that exploration (though of course I have talked a lot about learning and working openly in general). Here's an application just being released which does the same for the analogy: Lonely Planet's Trips, an iPhone app that "enables anyone to seamlessly upload photos and videos directly from their phone’s photo library and craft stories illustrating each trip." The stories will be interesting, but so too will the knowledge that can be mined from the stories.

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Rise of the racist robots – how AI is learning all our worst impulses

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 08/09/2017 - 13:12

Stephen Buranyi, The Guardian, Aug 12, 2017

I think it's a good thing that people are becoming more aware of the (current) limitations of artificial intelligence. When we simply train AI based on the toughts and attitudes of, say, Google employees, we get a skewed perception of reality. But it's easy to criticize; the deeper question here is how we validate AI to ensure that it is not skewed. This is especially difficult given that the people who actually have those views will accuse the validation process of being politically correct and of social engineering. I think it wouldn't be too extreme to require that AIs be constrained by a scientifically-grounded knowledge base. That would be a technical challenge, and given today's climate, also a political challenge.

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WebVR API

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 08/08/2017 - 18:57

Mozilla, Aug 11, 2017

Mozilla has announced support for WebVR in Firefox for Windows (making it the first out of the gate). "WebVR provides support for exposing virtual reality devices — for example head-mounted displays like the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive — to web apps, enabling developers to translate position and movement information from the display into movement around a 3D scene." Now if I could add that to my Glitch homepage...

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Drum Machine

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 08/08/2017 - 15:59

Mary Rose Cook, Glitch, Aug 11, 2017

I'm going to keep gushing about Glitch some more, and not only because it allows me to finallyt play in the band with Jim and Brian and others. First, try this drum machine, then, have a look at the code, and then, realize that you could clone it and make your own in about as long as it took me to type these words. Upload it to GitHub and share with your friends. Making apps is becoming as simple as making websites was in the 1990s. It took a bit for the idea to catch on, but when it did... (p.s. remember the 'blink' tag and Geocities websites? This home page might be the 21st century equivalent.)

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Algorithm learns to understand natural beauty

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 08/08/2017 - 11:56

BBC, Aug 11, 2017

It's really time for some proper scepticism from news articles reporting on artificial intelligence. This item on understanding natural beauty is a case in point. For training data, "they focused the algorithm on 200,000 images rated by people on the website ScenicOrNot." The new images are then rated by their similarity to images in the training data. But what does that tell us? That people, in the aggregate, find nature beautiful. Well surprise! But beauty depends (as the saying goes) on the beholder. I can find a ton of beauty in an industrial park. But the algorithm isn't seeing that, because most people don't see it. The same scepticism should be applied to algoritms detecting sarcasm. Different people are sarcastic in different ways; there isn't a 'common' sense of sarcasm.

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Best practices for passwords updated after original author regrets his advice

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 08/08/2017 - 11:44

Nick Statt, The Verge, Aug 11, 2017

My password is written on a PostIt attached to my computer monitor.* This practice is the result of very bad advice viven 15 years ago by Bill Burr and implemented into policy by computer services. It's the rule that says we have to use special characters and rotate the password every six months. As Randall Munroe comments, we have successfully trained people to use passwords that are hard to remember but easy for computers to crack. The correct solution? Write longer passwords that you can remember. (*) Not really. It's written in code on a random piece of paper on my desk.

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A Strategist’s Guide to Blockchain

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 08/08/2017 - 11:14

John Plansky, Tim O'Donnell, Kimberly Richards, Strategy+Business, Aug 11, 2017

This is a pretty good introduction to blockchain, now characterized as "any distributed electronic ledger that uses software algorithms to record transactions with reliability and anonymity." More specifically, "blockchain is a self-sustaining, peer-to-peer database technology for managing and recording transactions with no central bank or clearinghouse involvement." There are some good examples of how blockchain may sustain a variety of recordkeeping functions, but the 'strategc perspective' is strictly basic advice: identify opportunities, evaluate, run pilots, and scale.

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Diversity, Justice, and Democratization in Open Education and #opened17

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 08/07/2017 - 23:35

George Veletsianos, Aug 10, 2017

The ripples from OpenEd17 continue to spread. This post looks at some controversy surrounding the opening keynote as the organization associated with the keynote is opposed to gays and lesbians (LGBTQ) as noted here. It raises the question of what 'open' in 'open education' means. My experience is that most societies (including my own) are usually intolerant of some thing or another. I'm really open and unequivocally in favour of LGBTQ rights. But I'm not going to stop talking to (or listening to) people because their sense of openness differs from mine, because if I did that, I would have to stop listening to most people in the world. Openness is a qualify we should expect of ourselves rather than a hammer we will use to judge others.

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The sea was never blue

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 08/07/2017 - 23:25

Maria Michela Sassi, Aeon, Aug 10, 2017

I saw this in Doug Belshaw's email and I wish he had commented rather than just listing it. The idea of this article is that the list of co,lours used by the ancient Greeks was very different from what we use today. "Goethe was right. In trying to see the world through Greek eyes, the Newtonian view is only somewhat useful. We need to supplement it with the Greeks’ own colour theories, and to examine the way in which they actually tried to describe their world." We see the same things as the ancient Greeks, but we experience them very differently.

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This is how you build the library of the future

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 08/07/2017 - 23:20

Karen Connors, eSchool News, Aug 10, 2017

Short article asserting that "The 4 C’s (collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and creativity) will drive our pioneering approach to developing the libraries of the future." I know librarians want to continue collecting books and such, but I think doubling as maker spaces offers a much brighter future. Because (I would hope) collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and creativity are not unique to libraries.

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Global Arbitrage and the Productivity Puzzle

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 08/07/2017 - 11:45

Irving Wladawsky-Berger, Aug 10, 2017

The 'innovation dilemma' has driven a lot of education and labour policy over the last few years with legislators trying out how to wring more productivity out of an increasingly unprepared labour force. But what if the issue of productivity has nothing to do with labour, or technology, at all? That's the argument considered here. Irving Wladawsky-Berger suggests that instead of taking advantage of freer trade and technological progress, companies and their managers are focusing on arbitrage to increase productivity, creating illusory short term gains with long term consequences. "By a misguided policy of suppressing wages and thus throttling mass consumption, unchecked managerial elites may inadvertently cripple the technology-driven productivity growth responsible for their rise," he writes.

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On Ditching the (Dangerous) Dichotomy Between Content Knowledge and Creativity

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 08/07/2017 - 11:36

Amy Burvall, AmusED, Aug 10, 2017

The core of this post is based on the slogan, attributed to Picasso, "Learn the rules like a pro so you can break them like an artist." But what are the rules? Do they tell you  what  to paint? Of course not. The 'rules' are a syntax. When Amy Burvall writes "Virtually every piece of media we are confronted with (from pop songs to poetry, from TV shows to classic texts), makes assumptions that the audience knows certain references" she refers not to 'content knowledge' but rather to the way culture has transformed content into language, taking specific reference and turning them into syntax. It's important to understand the difference. Otherwise you'll think that memorizing Shakespeare is the same as getting an education, when the real learning consists in how to  use  Shakespeare - or anything else - to make your own voice heard.

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Cognitive Privilege

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 08/04/2017 - 20:23

Darren Miller, Linking and Thinking on Education, Aug 07, 2017

This post offers a clear example of how the argument around privelege is (deliberately?) misrepresented. It discusses the concept of 'cognitive privilege', which writers purport to have discovered: "Daily Iowan author Dan Williams argues, people have no control over how smart they are… 'Consequently, you have nothing to be proud of for being smart.'" Darren Miller rejoinds, "I guess Olympians and professional athletes have nothing to be proud of, either." Now I'm not an Olympic athlete, but I  am  one of the cognitively privileged. And I know (and have been very clear about) not only the years of work and practice it took me over the years to achieve this position, but also  the very good fortune  I had to be born in Canada, raised with good nutrition and mental stimulation, and educated by one of the best systems in the world. These advantages are not a source of pride for me, but rather, and quite properly, a reason for humility. People with an IQ of 86 are  just as important  as the ones with an IQ of 166.

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Vermont Medical School Says Goodbye To Lectures

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 08/04/2017 - 14:55

Audie Cornish, Sam Gringlas, NPR, Aug 07, 2017

Short video segment plus transcript on why Vermont medical School is employing active learning rather than lectures in the future. "When you do a comparison between lectures and other methods of learning — typically called "active learning" methods — that lectures are not as efficient or not as successful in allowing students to accumulate knowledge in the same amount of time." I like the use of the example of pharmacokinetics in tghe middle of the article. "Those are the types of things where you're expecting the student to know the knowledge in order to use the knowledge. And then they don't forget it."

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