Miscellaneous

Facebook says the future is private messaging, not public posts

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 03/11/2019 - 17:37
Mathew Ingram, Columbia Journalism Review, Mar 11, 2019

If you want to understand Facebook's pivot to a private messaging system, think of it as being like email, except that it's all on one centralized platform, and where the platform owners can mine the contents of the email more marketing purposes or whatever. Nothing would happen in public, of course, and targeted FaceMail(tm) advertising campaigns would take place completely under the radar. Journalists concerned about how they will reach their markets should be more concerned about the wider social implications.

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From golf to Grand Theft Auto, why do we love playing games?

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 03/08/2019 - 13:37
Thomas Hurka, New Statesman, Mar 08, 2019

"If we ask, 'What’s the value in playing games?', an obvious answer is that games are fun. But this can’t be the complete answer, because it doesn’t explain why we admire people who excel at certain games or why we think it worthwhile to spend hours and even years developing skill at them." Thomas Hurka taught at Calgary while I was a student there.

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A New Chapter for Blackboard

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 03/08/2019 - 13:37
Bill Ballhaus, Blackboard Blog, Mar 08, 2019

Blackboard is divesting its Transact business line, which includes the Cashnet suite, in order to, it says, focus on "a pure SaaS business model... allowing us to increase capacity for innovation and accelerate bringing new capabilities to market." As  CEO Bill Ballhaus writes, "For us at Blackboard, this means a shift from a product mindset where we think about building individual products like a Learning Management System to a cloud-based platform approach, where we bring together a wide range of educational capabilities, and make them available across multiple modalities."

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Read Mark Zuckerberg’s Blog Post on His ‘Privacy-Focused Vision’ for Facebook

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 03/08/2019 - 02:37
Mark Zuckerberg, New York Times, Mar 07, 2019

The big news in the tech world today is Mark Zuckerberg's announcement that he plans to pivot Facebook from public postings to encrypted private messages. Data on Facebook will also become less permanent, he said. There are also suggestions that the new Facebook network would also enable financial transactions, emulating WeChat. What's not clear is whether Facebook itself will continue to aggregate and analyse individual data, and whether these services will be interoperable with non-Facebook services. There has been a lot of reaction across the web, too much to summarize here, but if I had to characterize it with a single phrase, I could call it a collective eye roll.

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DSpace Docker for Repository Managers

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 03/08/2019 - 02:37
Kristi Searle, Duraspace, Mar 07, 2019

DSpace has been released as a set of Docker containers, which makes it possible to run it from your desktop (for development purposes). That's the good news, though as always with DSpace, nothing is simple. Here's the resource page and here's the webinar page. To make it work, you have to install Git, Docker, and Docker-Compose (here is the set-up page). You'll also need a command line tool (I just use Visual Studio Code). In the command line tool, clone the docker-compose file, as shown here. Then execute the docker-compose command, as shown here. Then use your web browser to access DSpace, as shown here. Login using the default admin credentials. Image: DSpace Videos.

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Smarter Parts Make Collective Systems Too Stubborn

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 03/07/2019 - 03:37
Jordana Cepelewicz, Nautilus, Mar 06, 2019

According to this article, " In a paper published earlier this month in Science Advances, for instance, a team led by Neil Johnson, now a physicist at George Washington University, demonstrated that a decentralized model performed best under Goldilocks conditions, when its parts were neither too simple nor too capable." The headline of the Nautilus article suggests an explanation for the phenomenon. It's based on the feedback loops between members in the network and (I think) has a lot to do with whether the individuals are pursuing a collective goal.

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How do we know how to act together?

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 03/07/2019 - 03:37
Jonathan Birch, London School of Economics, Mar 06, 2019

"Think of a simple act of cooperation: two people pick up a sofa together, carry it into a room, and put it down on the floor." This is a remarkable thing, and while Jonathan Birch wonders why humans can do this and apes can't, I'm more interested in wondering how it can be done at all. What's interesting is that "each person knows how to do their own individual part in a way that actively enables the other person to do the above three things." What do we need in order to make this work? Language? No, the cues can be non-verbal. Shared objective? Well, maybe, though the exact objective is constantly shifting and changing (sure, you want the couch in the room, but where exactly in the room?). Birch says, "what I can’t imagine is joint know-how without any understanding of each other’s thoughts." But suppose your couch-carrying partner is a robot without thoughts, but which behaves the same way your partner would? Would that cause you to fail? Probably not.

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CaImAn an open source tool for scalable calcium imaging data analysis

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 03/07/2019 - 03:37
Andrea Giovannucci, et.al., eLife, Mar 06, 2019

During the discussion on connectivism Monday someone asked whether we could obtain data to demonstrate the principles at the neural level alongside the social and conceptual level. The consensus was that this wasn't feasible. But here we have, first of all, data that reports neural-level data, so we can see whether a neuron is activated or not, and second, a computer program that can interpret these images in order to compile data sets without massive human effort. So - one step closer, though it may be some time before we can put the data to the purpose of testing the theory. And (pace Negroponte) a vote of confidence for open source, open data, and cooperation.

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Summarising learning materials using AI - paucity of data, abundance of stuff

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 03/07/2019 - 03:37
Donald Clark, Donald Clark Plan B, Mar 06, 2019

Could we use artificial intelligence (AI) to create open educational resources (OER)? Ignatia asked and I suggested I didn't really know of any (notwithstanding the utility of AI in automatically generating metadata, as I showed in my OER talk). Donald Clark responded with this post pointing to his Wildfire service, saying "AI, we believe, is far better at precise goals, such as identifying key learning points, creating links to external content, creating podcasts using text to speech and the semantic interpretation of free text input by learners."

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Editors Canada releases new guidelines for the ethical editing of students’ work

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 03/07/2019 - 03:37
Jessica Natale Woollard, University Affairs, Mar 06, 2019

This article provides some background around the guidelines for editing student work as released by Editors Canada. Historically the service was officially frowned upon, and historically it was contracted by students who could afford it. The guidelines are intended to reflect that reality. You can read the guidelines yourself - but if you're like be they seem arbitrary. They're based on the 2016 Professional Editorial Standards, but disallow specific practices. I have to say the logic eludes me. For example, editors can do B1, and B8-9, but not B2-7, which includes making suggestioins about positioning graphic materials, recommending deletion of repetitive text, or recommending headings and nabvigational aids (among other things). Why is all this important? As AI becomes mainstream, it will offer editing assistance to students. Will it be governed by these constraints? Why would it be?

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Keeping CALM: when distributed consistency is easy

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 03/07/2019 - 03:37
Adrian Colyer, The Morning Paper, Mar 06, 2019

This is a key question: "What is the family of problems that can be consistently computed in a distributed fashion without coordination, and what problems lie outside that family?" Here's the proposed answer: "Consistency as Logical Monotonicity (CALM). A program has a consistent, coordination-free distributed implementation if and only if it is monotonic." By monotonic, we mean this: "once we learn something to be true, no further information can come down the line later on to refute that fact." How do we get monotonicity? Confluent operations, that is, "If it produces the same sets of outputs for any non-deterministic ordering and batching of a set of inputs." Give it the same data, however ordered, and it produces the same results. It gives you something to think about. Accounting is confluent; the order of transactions doesn't matter, the balance is the same in the end. Voting is confluent; you vote in morning or evening, but the final tally is the same. But causation and agency are not confluent. When you're trying to make something happen, order matters.

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A beginner's guide to Professor Rose Luckin

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 03/07/2019 - 03:37
edCentral, Mar 06, 2019

"Luckin is in the process of developing a robot called 'Colin' to take on a teaching assistant role and demonstrate how robots could help teachers in the classroom. Focusing on pupil wellbeing, Colin will collect data which will help identify the areas where individual learners need the most support." She is also one of those educators who blogs only once in a blue moom - her most recent post is from 2017 (it's a pretty good post on implications of AI for education, though). For something more recent, have a look at this JISC coverage of 'the AI revolution is here' and this interview in Sifted that explores her interest in ethical AI and mentions her EDUCATE project, an startup clinic based at the UCL Institute of Education to connect entrepreneurs with educators and with research.

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Award-Winning Faculty Online Teaching Practices: Roles and Competencies

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 03/06/2019 - 03:37
Florence Martin, Kiran Budhrani, Swapna Kumar, Albert Ritzhaupt, online learning, Mar 05, 2019

My first reaction was to roll my eyes when I read the title of this paper, because the designation of 'award winning' professors is unscientific at best. I remained sceptical on reading about the "five different roles: facilitator, course designer, content manager, subject matter expert, and mentor," because I know there's a lot more than that. But persisting with it paid off as it turns out to be an interesting and thorough article. There's a good (though not comprehensive) list of competencies (table 4) and an emphasis on the need for quality online instructors to be strong online learners themselves. The authors write, "Our study emphasizes the need for instructors to maintain a strong willingness to learn and grow in their pedagogical and technology skills. This requires seeing oneself as a lifelong learner, allotting time to learn about online teaching and learning, staying abreast of the latest research, theories, and techniques of teaching online, experimenting with technologies, making mistakes and learning from them." Too true.

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Social Network Analysis and Online Learning Communities in Higher Education: A Systematic Literature Review

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 03/06/2019 - 03:37
Shazia K. Jan, Panos Vlachopoulos, Mitch Parsell, online learning, Mar 05, 2019

This study (16 page PDF) explores "the use of social network analysis (SNA) for investigating learning communities specifically, communities of practice (CoP) and community of inquiry (CoI) in higher education online learning (HEOL)." Enough three letter acronyms (TLA). The literature review is a decent if uninspired presentation of SNA and CoI (you'd think publications would find a way to just assume this and save authors from presenting the same summary in paper after paper). The paper selection is the usual unrepresentative sample from commercial publications. The authors find twn whole papers to study and conclude that there's "a very limited number of studies that bring together constructs from SNA and these community-based frameworks." That is probably not true, but how can you refute the search methodology? Image: Saqr, Nors and Nouri, 'Using social network analysis to understand online Problem-Based Learning and predict performance'.

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The Scientific Paper Is Obsolete

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 03/06/2019 - 03:37
James Somers, The Atlantic, Mar 05, 2019

Directly relevant to the talk I gave today (but not read until after I gave it, which figures) this article traces the evolution of scientific papers from dense texts to sequential illustrations (like this vivid reinterpretation of Watts and Strogatz's seminal Nature paper on network theory ) to interactive Jupyter notebooks. Of course, we could trace the same path in learning resources, as we transition from flat text to visual displays to interactive applications.

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Teaching Trends in Virtual Education: An Interpretative Approach

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 03/06/2019 - 03:37
Victor F. Pando, Propósitos y Representaciones, Mar 05, 2019

An English version of this paper is available (21 page PDF) and I thoroughly enjoyed this wide-ranging criticism of connectivism. At the core of the argument is the contention that connectivism dehumanizes education. Victor Pando writes, "The impact of ICT deconstructs some expectations placed upon them for the improvement of teaching-learning processes. This trend has been found little useful: the objectives, the concept, methods, organization, components of such processes avoid the role of the learner as a builder of their own learning or result in spontaneous processes of knowledge apprehension under undefined criteria and probably, a far cry from formal educational ideals."

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How UT-Austin’s Bold Plan for Reinvention Went Belly Up

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 03/06/2019 - 03:37
Lindsay Ellis, Chronicle of Higher Education, Mar 05, 2019

Project 2021 was a sweeping effort by the University of Texas at Austin to modernize online learning offerings, including fractional credits and the Synchronous Open Online Course (SOOC), in order to extend reach and lower costs. What its designers didn't reckon with is the relentless immobility of the university bureaucracy. Project 2021 was shut down well before its target date, the victim of disappearing funding and changes in university priorities. This is a great inside-baseball article detailing the rise and fall of the project.

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A Quick Look at the Future of OER

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 03/05/2019 - 17:43
This talk looks at the impact of new technologies – specifically, open data, cloud technologies, AI and distributed ledgers (blockchain) – on the future shape of OER – what they will look like, how they will be used, and what skills and knowledge will be needed to develop and use them. Open Education Week: 24-Hour Global CC Network Web-a-thon, Online, via Uberconference (Seminar) Mar 05, 2019 [Link] [Slides] [Video]
Categories: Miscellaneous

Connectivism in the Network Society. The Coming of Social Capital Knowledge

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 03/04/2019 - 22:37
J. A. Díaz, T. Hernández de Frutos, Tendencias Sociales. Revista de Sociología, Mar 04, 2019

"We highlight two significant aspects of the process of knowledge construction," write the authors, "first, the creation of knowledge depends heavily on technological innovation; and second, social networks have become real tools of social knowledge creation... people move from being consumers of information and knowledge to being knowledge producers, active players in the process of the social construction of knowledge, which is why we discuss Virtual Communities of Building Knowledge (VCBK)." Image: Corry Ehlen

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Psychopedagogical Predecessors of Connectivism as a New Paradigm of Learning

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 03/04/2019 - 22:37
Roberto Sánchez Cabrero, Óscar Costa Román, International Journal of Educational Excellence, Mar 04, 2019

The proposition advanced in this paper is that since connectivism draws on a number of precedent concepts, which are listed by the authors, it follows that connectivism should be seen as a new theory of learning. "This theoretical approach means an evolution from the existing theoretical knowledge instead of a real theoretical revolution, as it was stated in the initial thesis," write the authors. But there's a difference between drawing on previous theories, including the adoption of their explanatory framework, and drawing on them and offering a new explanation for what came before. I thing connectivism does the latter, and in so doing causes us to look at old phenomena in new ways.

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