Miscellaneous

Riviere du Loup

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 08/11/2015 - 19:00


Stephen Downes, Flickr, Aug 11, 2015

Photos from my recent visit to Riviere du Loup, Quebec.

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How to do a learning (r)evolution: perspective from Finland

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 08/11/2015 - 19:00
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Teemu Leinonen, Aug 11, 2015

Education has to do more than adapt to change, write the authors of the SITRA’ s New Education Forum (20 page PDF). "We insist that education must not settle for adapting to change, but also act as a driver. To raise brave, compassionate citizens capable of independent thought and bearing the responsibility for themselves and for others; curious people, capable of finding things out for themselves and assessing the reliability of whatever information they come across." Or as Tiina Silander says: "“ We have long ridden the wave of Pisa hysteria, telling ourselves that our schools are good. And they are excellent – by yesterday’ s standards. Our schools do not meet current or future needs.”

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Ethereum Launched

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 08/11/2015 - 19:00
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kliuless, Matafilter, Aug 11, 2015

First, the background: "A blockchain is like a place where you store any data semi-publicly in a linear container space (the block). Anyone can verify that you’ ve placed that information because the container has your signature on it, but only you (or a program) can unlock what’ s inside the container because only you hold the private keys to that data, securely."

Now, the cool bit: "Ethereum announced its first developer release a week ago. What is Ethereum? According to the video it's a "planetary scale computer powered by blockchain technology." Why is this important? "This computing paradigm is important because it is a catalyst for the creation of decentralized applications, a next-step evolution from distributed computing architectural constructs.... a system with the benefits of a centralised, shared infrastructure but without the centralised point of control: if the data and business logic is shared and replicated, no one firm can assert control, or so the argument goes." Image: Etherscripter.

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The Teen Who Exposed a Professor’s Myth

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 08/11/2015 - 19:00
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Ben Collins, The Daily Beast, Aug 11, 2015

After University of Illinois-Chicago history professor Richard J. Jensen published a paper saying that the "no Irish need apply" signs were a myth, 14-year-old Rebecca Fried did some research on her own and disproved the paper. This article is a good account of that exchange, noteworthy not only because it shows that anyone can be a scholar with the right tools, but also because of the intransigence Jensen displayed when confronted with the evidence.

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Art is a Verb

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 08/11/2015 - 17:00
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Colleen Rose, Northern Art Teacher, Aug 11, 2015

Short post that accurately captures the value of artistic endeavours: "The purpose of art is not to produce a product. The purpose of art is to produce thinking. The secret is not the mechanics or technical skill that create art - but the process of introspection and different levels of contemplation that generate it." Via Doug Peterson.

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Drawing Energy: Exploring perceptions of the invisible

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 08/11/2015 - 14:00
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Flora Bowden, Dan Lockton, Rama Gheerawo, Clare Brass, Aug 11, 2015

So good. "The drawings clearly show diverse interpretations of energy and most are vastly different from the ways in which energy is regularly communicated by energy companies through the media and the energy infrastructure. As we have seen, none of these drawings show energy meters or bills and none of them use the visual language of these dominant interfaces. Numbers primarily feature in mathematical equations, not in relation to amounts of energy used." This could be done with almost any term you care to name, and the results would make clear the complex and divergent interpretations each of us has on what are otherwise seen as basic and core concepts. 47 page PDF.

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Teach yourself — or be poor

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 08/11/2015 - 14:00


Joanne Jacobs, Aug 11, 2015

I basically never agree with either Tyler Cowan or Joanne Jacobs. But there's a core of truth in this message. Not the explicit threat of poverty, which should be unacceptable in a developed country (but which is fair retribution according to these two authors, which makes them detestable). No, it is in the idea that people should teach themselves. I often tell people that I work where my four areas of specialization intersect: philosophy, media, computers and education. But equally important is that I am self-taught in three of them. And it is this, and not my formal education, which gives me an edge in the current environment. It is this which makes me unique.

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Windows 10 is spying on almost everything you do

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 08/11/2015 - 14:00
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Zach Epstein, BGR.com, Aug 11, 2015

Why is Windows 10 free? Well, here's one reason: "we will access, disclose and preserve personal data, including your content (such as the content of your emails, other private communications or files in private folders), when we have a good faith belief that doing so is necessary." Microsoft is doing this to catch up to Google. Via Boing Boing: "By default, Microsoft gets to see your location, keystrokes and browser history -- and listen to your microphone, and some of that stuff is shared with 'trusted [by Microsoft, not by you] partners.'"

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National Post View: Helping students, without burdening everyone else

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 08/11/2015 - 14:00
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Editorial, National Post, Aug 11, 2015

"There’ s little doubt," write the editors of the National Post, "that students with some skin in the game — i.e., some financial stake in their own education — will be more apt to ensure they stay the course and complete their degrees." But where is the evidence for this? Is the higher education system failing in countries like Germany or Sweden, where tuitions are free? No. And against the 'skin in the game' argument is the documented evidence that tuition fees "discourage young people who do not have a traditional academic family background from taking up study." And, of course, they leave a significant  burden of debt tor years or decades after graduation. The National Post editorial is a classic case of favouring ideology over evidence.

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The Language of Learning Analytics

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 08/09/2015 - 13:00
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Carl Straumsheim, Inside Higher Ed, Aug 09, 2015

To support learning analytocs across platforms, a common analytics language is needed. An IMS specification for this language is nearing completion. "Their work is finally nearing its version 1.0 release. Known as Caliper, the vocabulary -- called metric profiles -- and the mechanisms to detect the words in it -- sensors -- will serve as a framework for tracking and reporting learning analytics." I'm sure the widespread sharing of student personal, financial and academic information will be used only for good.

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Santiago de Compostela

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 08/08/2015 - 19:00


Stephen Downes, Flickr, Aug 08, 2015

It took a while to get them all cleaned and uploaded, but I hope you enjoy this beautiful set of photos from Santiago de Compostela, Spain.

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Collateral damage

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 08/08/2015 - 16:00


Ryan Tracey, E-Learning Provocateur, Aug 08, 2015

This pretty much sums up my views on the whole learning styles debate: first, "The argument is that in the absence of such evidence, don’ t waste time and money trying to match your teaching style to everyone’ s learning styles," which is fair enough, but second, " regardless of the existence or impact of learning styles, a phenomenon that enjoys universal recognition is that of learner preferences." Once you're outside a strict instructivist mode, learner preferences matter, because the learner has more control over the learning process. "Indeed in a controlled environment, learner preferences don’ t really matter. The participants are forced to do it whether they like it or not, or they somehow feel obliged to comply," writes Ryan Tracey. "Outside of the controlled environment, however, learner preferences do matter."

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5 Strategies To Trend On Twitter at Your Next Event

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 08/08/2015 - 16:00
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Lisa Nielsen, The Innovative Educator, Aug 08, 2015

It's an interesting question: how should we measure the success of an event? This question is motivated by these considerations: "This year we wanted to focus on getting the buzz going in social media. One measure success was if we could trend on Twitter that day and we did." The article lists five ways to trend on Twitter - it includes the use of generic hashtag, involving awards, and using an application that autoposts to Twitter. But, first, isn't this just gaming the system? And second, why should conference attendees (who actually paid for the event) care about the event trending on Twitter? There's a push-and-pull in all learning these days, it seems: between the needs of the learner, and the needs of the institution providing the learning. More often than not, the latter wins.

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A few random thoughts on Cecil, @bittman, and chickens

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 08/08/2015 - 16:00
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Steve Krause, Aug 08, 2015

According to  Mark Bittman in Vox, eating a factory-farmed chicken is morally worse than the  killing of Cecil the Lion. As Steve Krause points out, there's a difference between killing for food and fillingfor sport, and a difference between killing an animal on the verge of extinction and one which numbers in the gazillions. But still - I think we should take this argument further. If the killing of Cecil the Lion morally worse than spending $3,000 on a  prosthetic limb for a chicken? I think this is a much harder question. But also: was it morally worse than the  wanton destruction of a hitch-hiking robot? Alan Levine makes a joke of it, but one wonders what it says when a robot that safely hitched across Canada did not even make it off the east coast in the U.S. To my mind, I think it was the tone he took - sympathizing more with the hunter than with the hunted.

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Blackboard’s Complexity Problems

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 08/08/2015 - 10:00


George Kroner, edutechnica, Aug 08, 2015

This is a fascinating look at some of the complexity behind the scenes in Backboard's code base. It's a mixture of old code and new, of original Blackboard and acquired products, and support for various types of database. It has multiple ways of representing basic entities (like 'person' or 'course'). And I found this dangerous-sounding tidbit: "The software runs on a version of Java which reached its end-of-life several months ago (and will no longer receive  any updates, security or otherwise, else the Java version would be still another variable)." All I can say is: eek. Via EdSurge. See also Phil Hill on Blackboard's potential sale.

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Letter on Open Access

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 08/07/2015 - 14:00


Various authors, Google Docs, Aug 07, 2015

Cable Green writes: "Today,  a broad coalition of more than 90 organizations representing the education, library, technology, public interest and legal  communities  released a letter  calling on President Obama to open up educational materials created with federal taxpayer  funds." This is that letter on Google Docs. Here's the 11 page PDF. I wish people in Canada would send a similar sort of letter to our elected leaders.

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An experiment with the oerpub editor

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 08/07/2015 - 14:00


David T. Jones, The Weblog of (a) David Jones, Aug 07, 2015

The  OERPub editor is an interface where you can create your open source textbook on GitHub using a relatively intuitive text editor with various tools. It is in this way a lot like the  old Connexions project (now repurposed and called OpenStax), but without the institutional overhead. This post from David Jones recounts some work with the OERPub Editor. Keep in mind that the editor is still in alpha, so a lot of features aren't working yet.

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Here’s a $5M Seed Fund to Support Higher-Ed Innovations Besides MOOCs

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 08/07/2015 - 14:00
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Tony Wan, EdSurge, Aug 07, 2015

So what's being funded in learning these days? "University Ventures said it’ s already invested in four companies:

  • CampusLogic, which helps colleges manage the financial aid process;
  • Entangled Ventures, a “ studio” founded by Paul Freedman that connects universities with startups (one of which recently merged with ApprenNet);
  • ProSky, a training platform for specific skills in demand from employers;
  • Portfolium, which allows students to showcase digital portfolios to potential employers.

But Mark Smithers counters: "we need more investment in mainstreaming innovations, not generating new ones."

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White House: Innovation in Higher Education

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 08/07/2015 - 14:00


George Siemens, elearnspace, Aug 07, 2015

I can't resist sharing this post describing George Siemenss'ss invitation and visit to the White House (meanwhile people pay very good money to keep people like me far away from such places!). This seems to be true: "Higher education generally has no clue about what’ s brewing in the marketplace as a whole. The change pressures that exist now are not ones that the existing higher education model can ignore. The trends – competency-based learning, unbundling, startups & capital inflow, new pedagogical models, technology, etc – will change higher education dramatically."

Also, this: "I was struck by how antagonistic some for-profits are toward public higher education. I sat in one session where a startup spent much of the time expressing intense dislike for higher education in today’ s form 'my tax dollars are going to bad actors', ironically to be followed up with 'I loved my time in university. It shaped me and made me'. It reminds me of Peter Thiel’ s drop out of school and start a company. But what does Thiel expect when his money and his life is at stake? He expects, for his hedge fund: 'High GPA from top-tier university; preferably in computer science, mathematics, statistics, econometrics, physics, engineering or other highly quantitative.'"

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Coursera Update: A New Name for Verified Certificates

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 08/07/2015 - 14:00


Corsera Blog, Aug 07, 2015

They will be called 'Course Certificates'. That is all.

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