Miscellaneous

The Human Brain

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 06/04/2018 - 18:48

Nancy Kanwisher, nancysbraintalks, Jun 07, 2018

This is the set of videos that constitute the course taught by Nancy Kanwisher on the human brain. All the greatest hits are in there: facial recognition, vision and the retina, shape processing and category sensitivity, and navigation (both animal and human). From the intro: "we will explore in some detail a number of distinct domains of cognition like face recognition, navigation, number, language, music, and social cognition, and the cortical regions and networks that implement these functions. Key themes include the representations, development, and degree of functional specificity of these components of mind and brain." Interesting and engaging instructor. (p.s. I somehow got the recognition test right in video 2.7 - I thought there were four).

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An Interview with The Beast

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 06/04/2018 - 18:37

Doug Peterson, doug — off the record, Jun 07, 2018

The Beast actually appears to be a person and not (as I thought) a metaphor for writer's block or addiction or something. Things that caught my I: advertising a blog with an "I follow Doug Peterson" ribbon on a conference lanyard. Also: "I love that we met him (Stephen Hurley)  in his medium of voicEd radio on his podcast and that he then joined us in The Beast at 5 am." Must be the reason why my own Ed Radio always had zero listeners. ;) Also: "the books from First Book Canada that were distributed to students for home use." It was a fun read but it really did feel like I was listening in on a private conversation for a very in-group conversation.

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Hax

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 06/04/2018 - 17:43

Jun 07, 2018

Phil Barker writes in an email, "have a look at what the HAX team are doing, they are making a universal front-end authoring interface. It allows you to do things like write Schema into your content as you go, or drop in pre-made chunks with metadata provided. And then publish the html to git pages (not quite automatic yet, but it works)." The source is available on GitHub. It looks a lot like my PLE, but with better finding and a focus on content creation. There are outputs for Drupal, Backdrop, and more. Here's a presentation on the Hax authoring experience. There are many reasons to love this, and I do!

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Facebook scraps 'outdated' trending news section

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 06/04/2018 - 14:41

The Guardian, Jun 07, 2018

There is a lesson for education technology in this story. Facebook has had nothing but grief trying to offer personalized news. Google, meanwhile, has announced a complete revamp of Google News featuring a content selection that will be the same for everybody. The role the AI plays is focused on the story. "The reimagined Google News uses a new set of AI techniques to take a constant flow of information as it hits the web, analyze it in real time and organize it into storylines." So who chooses the content for the user? T

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Blockchain in the Life Sciences

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 06/03/2018 - 15:30
[Slides][Audio] Slides are of my presentation to the panel giving an accessible overview of blockchain technologies and explaining their relevance to life sciences. The audio is from the panel as a whole (the first minute is missing); it looks at the future of life sciences technology and features speakers from OBIO, CHEO and IBM as well as myself. My audio begins at the 41:00 minute mark. Life Sciences Day 2.0, Ottawa, Ontario (Panel) Jun 03, 2018 [Comment]
Categories: Miscellaneous

What Advertising History Says About the Future of Fake News

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 06/02/2018 - 15:22

Austan Goolsbee, New York Times, Jun 05, 2018

Advertising is the original fake news. And if we look at the history of advertising, it says nothing good about the future of news. "First, in all likelihood, fake news will spread, despite efforts to rein it in." But maybe there is hope. "As we are inundated with new, targeted, deceptive ads, we may get sick of them and, perhaps, stop finding them persuasive." But effectively leaves us with no news, or at best, pale 'Consumer Reports' versions of news.

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The Uncertain Future of OER

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 06/01/2018 - 20:14

Tom Berger, Edutopia, Jun 04, 2018

I think that the answer to the question of "why open educational resources (OER) haven't caught on" is in the last paragraph of this article: "will we ever get to a Wikipedia-type model of teaching resources, with teachers freely giving and taking textbooks, lesson plans, and tests, refining and improving them, and sharing their improvements?" My thinking here is that so long as you think of OERs as teaching resources, they're never going to work. They should be thought of as learning resources. Encourage students to find them, share them, and make them (that was one of the core ideas behind the first MOOC and it was co-opted out of existence).

Maybe we need a new concept. I'll go out on a limb and give it a name - OERSS. Open Educational Rersource - Student Sharing. Or Open Educational RSS. Take your pick. It's open resources found, created, used and shared by students. The real open educational resources.

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Drafting #IndieWeb Principles for the Rest of Us

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 06/01/2018 - 19:59

Greg McVerry, IntertextRevolution, Jun 04, 2018

The author of this post correctly points out that the original indieweb principles were too technical for most people. He thus drafts a second set of indieweb principles that are also too technical for most people. But this page gives us a nice set of starting principles (quoted):

  • When you post something on the web, it should belong to you, not a corporation.
  • Your articles and status messages can go to all services, not just one, allowing you to engage with everyone.
  • You can post anything you want, in any format you want, with no one monitoring you.

The third principle has the potential to be problematic, but I read it this way: you are responsible for your own posts. Nobody's spying on you, but nobody has to listen to you either, and if you broadcast, you are responsible for the consequences. Here's my previous coverage of Indieweb.

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Cognitive Biases

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 06/01/2018 - 19:40

John Manoogian III, Buser Benson, Visual Capitalist, Jun 04, 2018

This is just a placeholder to allow me to associate cognitive biases with critical literacies should I ever getting to writing more about the latter in the future. It's a list of 188 cognitive biases in a nifty graphical form. View the original list on Wikipedia.

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MOOC Expert Fiona Hollands Makes A Suggestion and a Prediction

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 06/01/2018 - 16:25

Henry Kronk, eLearningInside News, Jun 04, 2018

The suggestion is to change the name MOOC because "they might be small, they might not be open, and they might be wholly different from the MOOCs first offered by Stanford professors in 2011, not to mention the earlier iterations in 2008." One prediction is actually a directive:colleges saving money using MOOCs should "invest in experiential learning for the students who don’t fare well in online learning experiences." The second prediction is a prediction: "Over the next seven years, (MOOCs) will be recognized by employers and gain credibility generally."

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Let's Stop Talking About The '30 Million Word Gap'

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 06/01/2018 - 16:11

Anya Kamenetz, NPR, Jun 04, 2018

A number of years ago the government ran a series of ads saying, basically, "talk to your baby". But it isn't the number of words that's important, noe indeed is it clear that there was ever a 'gap' in the number of words some babies hear. If there is a gap, it's much smaller than was reported, and it isn't clear at all that it is correlated with income. But as the article notes, "the 'word gap' has become a kind of code word. We can say 'vocabulary.' We're not going to say 'poor' and we're not going to use 'race' but it's still a marker." That's not to say that talking to your children is unimportant. It is. " the sheer volume of conversation directed at children, not just spoken in their presence, is fundamental to language learning and later success in school.

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Social Finance pilot projects: Interim report

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 06/01/2018 - 13:41

Kelsey Brennan, Brian Carriere, Sheila Currie, Shek-wai Hui, Boris Palameta, Sopcial Research and Demonstration Corporation, Jun 04, 2018

Social Impact Bonds (SIB) in education is a concept "whereby private investors pay up front for training and are repaid by the government if the training is successful in achieving pre-established outcomes." This report (92 page PDF) is an interim report on some SIB projects. In one, "led by Colleges and Institutes Canada, Essential Skills Social Finance (ESSF) offers ES training to low-skilled unemployed Canadians, through three College delivery partners. Private investors pay up front for the training, and are repaid up to 15% return on their investment." In another, "Skilling UP, led by Alberta Workforce Essential Skills Society (AWES)... employers receive up to 50% of their upfront investment in training for their workers, if targeted literacy gains are achieved." See also: Government of Canada, Social Finance; Non-profit Finance Fund, Activity Map of Pay-for-Success Projects (USA only); OECD, Social Impact Investing.

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Open-Access Best Sellers

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 06/01/2018 - 11:32

Lindsay McKenzie, Inside Higher Ed, Jun 04, 2018

I don't keep close track of how often my eBooks have been downloaded, but I do know it's in the tens of thousands. Maybe more; who knows? But this number, whatever it is, is a compelling argument for offering them for free, as compared to the press run of 300 copies the typical monograph might warrant. This article talks about how different publishers measure and report the usage of open access books and surveys a number of the larger OA presses.

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Michael Fullan Sees Global Momentum for Deep Learning

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 05/31/2018 - 21:52

Getting Smart, Jun 03, 2018

This is mostly a podcast (beware: self-starting audio and video) but the article will give you a brief outline of Michael Fullen's career and influence. "Michael Fullan is Canada’s gift to education," write the Getting Smart staff. "For half a century and with 45 books to his credit, Fullan has been the world’s most persistent and persuasive advocate for powerful learning experiences." I see him as being more on the management guru side of the house (along with people like Don Tapscott and Mark Prensky. "Fullan thinks the focus should be 'life readiness' rather than college and career readiness. He thinks it’s the nexus of our time. He points to six Cs, the new global competencies: character, citizenship, collaboration, communication, creativity and critical thinking."

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‘Marshmallow test’ may not pick out successful kids, after all

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 05/31/2018 - 21:39

Jordan Bennett, Futurity, Jun 03, 2018

The 'marshmallow test' is a classic case of what happens when psychologist try to do educational theory. Essentially, they correlated a child's ability to defer gratification (to eat two marshmallows later rather than eat one marshmallow now) with future educational outcomes. It appears this test is a victim of the replication crisis: "the association was small and disappeared after the researchers controlled for characteristics of the child’s family and early environment." From where I sit, the marshmallow test isn't a test of character at all, it's a test of social class. Making this point for me is this argument: " If you have ten dollars to your name, you aren’t going to think any farther ahead than wondering where your next meal is coming from. You just aren’t." If you have one marshmallow the odds are equally good that the person with more power lied about there being a second marshmallow and may well steal back the first. So you eat it. I would.

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Internet Trends 2018

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 05/31/2018 - 20:38

Mary Meeker, Kleiner Perkins Partners, Jun 03, 2018

Mary Meeker's annual oracular tome has come out and this year it's a heavy 294 page PDF. What I'm seeing here is a mixed bag - some areas of growth are slowing and even stopping as the market approaches essential saturation. The number of internet users and mobile phones couldn't continue to increase indefinitely. On the other hand, certain technologies - especially commercial and data-driven technologies - are rapidly becoming mainstream. But the 'AWS Data Flywheel' (slide 197) is driving growth among the top companies, and nowhere is this more clear than in China (slides 217-218). The growth of lifelong learning is also significant (slides 232ff). More from Donald Clark. View my previous Mary Meeker coverage.

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Separating Fact From Fiction: The Reality of Canadian Copyright, Fair Dealing, and Education

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 05/30/2018 - 16:44

Michael Geist, Jun 02, 2018

Some useful data on the relation between the Canadian higher education sector and licensed publications. As the title suggests, the facts are different from the marketing we read from the lobbyists (quoted):

 

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Watch the Rise and Fall of the British Empire in an Animated Time-Lapse Map

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 05/30/2018 - 16:04

Josh Jones, Open Culture, Jun 02, 2018

These time-lapse maps are actually a sub-genre of YouTube history videos and I've been watching a lot of them recently. They cover everything from the fall of Bronze Age civilizations in the 1100s BCE to the Syrian War. As the article notes, " As the bombastic music that sometimes accompanies these videos suggests, one primary effect is the production of maximally sweeping historical drama through mapping, which captures the imagination in ways dry prosaic descriptions often can't." Ah, but who doesn't love bombastic music? The one referenced here in Open Culture maps the rise and fall of the British Empire from 519 to the present day. Search for channels like Ollie Bye, Emperor Tigerstar, Kings and Generals, Khey Pard and Cottereau and you'll find hundreds of them (like I said, I've been watching a lot of them recently).

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Towards a design philosophy for interoperable blockchain systems

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 05/30/2018 - 15:55

Adrian Colyer, The Morning Paper, Jun 02, 2018

It's hard to dispute this proposition: "We believe the issue of survivability to be as important as that of privacy and security. As such, we believe that interoperability across blockchain systems will be a core requirement." There are numerous reasons why dependence on one single blockchain system might be a bad idea. But if there are multiple blockchains, they need to be able to interoperate. There's a parallel to be drawn here between the creation of a computer network, which connects all computers, and an inter-network, which connects networks of computers. The article concludes with five ‘desirable features’ of interoperable blockchains: independently verification, binding signatures for gateways, multiple reliable ‘paths’ between blockchains, a global resolution mechanism for identifiers, and identifiable gateways.

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The Problem with "Learning Styles"

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 05/30/2018 - 15:43

Cindi May, Scientific American, Jun 02, 2018

The difference between the study reported here and other studies on learning styles is that this one focuses on learning outside the classroom - in other words, self study. The result reported is that most students don't use the learning style they report preferring, and of those that do, there is no apparent benefit. Of course, it could just be that students aren't very good at reporting their own learning style. Or it might be that the students are just unskilled at learning generally; "many students are adopting strategies that simply do not support comprehension and retention of information." And, of course, depicting 'learning' simply as "knowledge acquisition" is itself a very narrow perspective.

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