Miscellaneous

Every Noise at Once 

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 10/03/2017 - 20:27

Oct 06, 2017

This has nothing to do with online learning, really, but it's too good to pass up: As Kottke says, " Every Noise at Once is a one-page map of playable audio samples for more than 1500 musical genres, from deep tech house to Finnish metal to smooth jazz to geek folk to klezmer to deep opera." Enjoy.

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Take a SPLOT Test Drive or… Instant SPLOT?

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 10/03/2017 - 14:08

Alan Levine, CogDogBlog, Oct 06, 2017

It's not really possible to determine what SPLOT stands for - but going back to this site (and this) I'm thinking it's 'Smallest Possible Learning Online Technology', though other variations are suggested. Anyhow, the idea here is to promote the splot.ca website, which offers a small set of WordPress Plug-Ins that create SPOLTs you can test for yourself. But it still requires WordPress, which takes some time to set up. So, as Alan Levine writes, "Now in the workshop, second year this has been offered, we have cut out all these steps, by using the StateU demo site offered by Reclaim Hosting. This site is insanely useful for introducing people to domains or making a case for it to your colleagues." So there you go.

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OLC Launches Research Center for Digital Learning and Leadership

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 10/03/2017 - 13:51

Press Release, Online Learning Consortium, Oct 06, 2017

The Online Learning Consortium (OLC) has launched a new research centre for digital learning and leadership. According to the press release, "The OLC Research Center will offer original, curated, commissioned, and sponsored research opportunities, and consulting and presentation services in areas related to digital learning and digital leadership research. It also features research publications, like OLC’s own peer-reviewed journal, Online Learning, podcasts, and infographics, offering researchers and practitioners resources they need to support their work in the field."

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Eton for all: will robot teachers mean everyone gets an elite education?

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 10/03/2017 - 11:47

Lizzie Palmer, New Statesman, Oct 06, 2017

"There are a few certainties in this world," writes Lizzie palmer. "death, taxes, and that our jobs will eventually be taken by robots." But does this mean that everybosy will get high quality robot services? Maybe. The article describes "Pepper and Nao, two humanoid robots made by Japanese company SoftBank Robotics, (that) were trialled in two Singapore pre-schools last year." It also mentions 'Jill Watson', the robot tutor that managed to fool students at the University of georgia last year. According to Anthony Seldon (author of a recent book, natch), the AI-based tutors will liberate STEM education, but the nuances in the humanities and social sciences will take decades longer for AIs to master. Rose Luckin, also quoted in the article, points to AI's use in identifying illnesses like depression. “We could be building systems to help people understand themselves better," she says.

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Here's a 21st Century Skill--and How to Teach It!

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 10/02/2017 - 19:59

Daniel Willingham, Science & Education, Oct 05, 2017

I'm going to give Daniel Willingham props for a no-qualifications admission that he was wrong in the past. He has argued in the past that students should be taught domain knowledge, rather than critical thinking or other '21st century skills'. But with the observation that "Students are too trusting of what they read on the Internet" comes the recognition that there is a need for "a useful, content-free strategy that could a big difference in student assessment of website accuracy." The one he proposes here is pretty basic: "read laterally. Instead of going through a checklist of features of the website in question (the usual advice) encourage students to get OFF the website to see what others say about it... show click restraint... refraining from clicking on the first result from a Google search (and) use Wikipedia wisely." I think there are more skills, of course, but that's a quibble. More.

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Like to be connected?

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 10/02/2017 - 19:12

Steve Wheeler, Learning With E's', Oct 05, 2017

"What would happen if someone created a digital platform which schools could use to connect with businesses, experts and industry," asks Steve Wheeler. We're about to foind out because of the service being announced in this post, LikeToBe, which connects professionals with schools and classes. "Using our unique platform and content, LiketoBe connects teachers and students with professionals to provide impartial, real world careers advice and e-pals. Join our network of professionals, become an e-pal to teachers and schools and help us create a grass route approach to career guidance around the world" ("grass route appears to be an eggcorn). Here's the product's investment page on Seedrs.

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Pymetrics raises $8 million for job-matching with AI and neuroscience games

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 10/02/2017 - 17:10

Bérénice Magistretti, Venture Beat, Oct 05, 2017

Venture Beat highlights the funding, but I'm more interested in the direction being taken by the technology. Here's the idea: "We collect dense behavioral data from successful professionals in various roles and use machine learning to build models of which traits separate the successful professionals from the general population." This was the idea behind what we called 'Automated Competency Detection and Recognition'. Study the experts using neural networks, then design training programs to help others develop similar traints. Ah, but it proves to be rather more difficult to implement than to describe. So maybe the funding is the story here, while the product itself is still a testing application. But the idea is still out there, waiting to replace testing and assessment with somnething far more practical. The danger? What if 'expertise' is associated with properties like race and attractiveness? That is, after all, how venture capitalists seem to make their decisions. And college professors, sometimes. But we should keep it out of AI, if we can.

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Here’s how our minds organize experiences

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 10/02/2017 - 15:18

James Devitt, Futurity, Oct 05, 2017

While I want to jump on this and say that my long-held theory has been vindicated, I know that I should await confirmation and test6ing. Still, an article that begins "our brains organize experiences by their similarities, new research suggests" just makes me feel fuzzy all over, because this is the theory I was working on 35 years ago and which underlies most of the work I've done since (here's a quick outline). The research article cited is probably paywalled for you (a ridiculous state of affairs). It's based on behaviour and fMRI studies, which leave plent of room for scepticism. Still, we see the role similarity plays in the creation of knowledge: "immediate post-learning changes in connectivity may reflect a consolidation mechanism that plays an active role in shaping memories over time, in a way that prioritizes their commonalities." 

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Top 200 Tools for Learning 2017

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 10/02/2017 - 15:07

Jane Hart, Oct 05, 2017

The 2017 Jane Hart's list of the top tools used for e-learning (by mostly professionals) is now available. The list is now 200 tools long, but really, after 50 or so you're getting into the cruft. The top of the list, by contrast, is much more mainstream than in the past: YouTube, Google Search, PowerPoint, Google Docs, Twitter, Word, LinkedIn, Facebook and WordPress. The first big surprise on the list is Trello, a project tracking tool up 21 places to take the 22 spot. Zoom, a video meeting tool, has shot up 38 places to rank 28th. 

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Envisioning a regional Open Badges ecosystem in Ontario

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 09/29/2017 - 18:36

Don Presant, Open Badge Factory, Oct 02, 2017

There isn't a lot of detail in this article, but it's interesting to me because it represents the coming together of two strands in the Canadian online learning ecosphere (and specifically, Don Presant and David Porter, via CanCred.ca (Canada’s Open Badges Solution) and eCampusOntario respectively). "The overall goal of these action-based pilot explorations is to generate a diverse collection of case studies based on hands-on experience in designing and using Open Badge systems. These case studies will be used to inform future decision-making around potential shared services for open badges that will benefit Ontario’s post-secondary environment."

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Construction of Modern Educational Technology MOOC Platform Based on Courseware Resource Storage System

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 09/29/2017 - 18:02

Jing Li, International Journal of Emerging Technologies in Learning, Oct 02, 2017

This paper (12 page PDF) is pretty loosely written but it within its evaluation of an open online course using a resourcwe storage system it offers a novel interpretation of connectivism to frame an evaluation of this system (and/or to evaluate the students using the system). "Connectivism can be understood in this way: the rapid change of knowledge foundation leads to decision change; the new information is gained continuously; the ability to distinguish important information and non-important information is crucial." The course was actually offered as blended learning, and was evaluated according to five criteria: participation, interaction, fitness, satisfaction and effect. The descriptions of each are unfortunately not very clear. Also worth noting is the conclusion that the blended learning environment did not support interaction very well. This accords with my own experience, specifically, that there is often better (and more) interaction online than in person.

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Facebook will allow news subscriptions on Instant Articles

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 09/29/2017 - 12:29

Saqib Shah, Engadget, Oct 02, 2017

The success of future Facebook paid content initiatives will depend to a degree on the success of this plan. It's a part of the general trend where social network services are trying to use their platform to sell subscription-based content. Perhaps the most significant to date is LinkedIn, which sells online courses through Lynda. But we can imagine Facebook, Apple, Google, Amazon and the rest to sell learning content, news content, and other content, through their platforms. But not all news outlets are participating - they want to market content directly to readers. 

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G7 Science Ministers' Communiqué

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 09/29/2017 - 12:25

Oct 02, 2017

Some good stuff in this statement from the G7 science ministers: "We affirm the principle that efforts should be directed to promote a widespread participation of researchers in the network of global research infrastructures, taking account of the opportunities offered by open science paradigms." Also: "We believe that researchers should be encouraged and supported to carry out this dialogue with society on a permanent basis, taking care to involve them from the start of the technology development pipeline." Just consider this newsletter my early contribution to this effort. :) See also Richard Ackerman in Science Library Pad.

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Design of Multimedia Teaching Platform for Chinese Folk Art Performance Based on Virtual Reality Technology

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 09/28/2017 - 15:20

Hong Li, International Journal of Emerging Technologies in Learning, Oct 01, 2017

This is a detailed article (13 page PDF) describing the theory, development and testing of a virtual reality system for the teaching of Chinese folk dancing. The system was required because traditional methods of teaching, which depended on instruction followed by practice, were not inspiring people nor encouraging them to engage in the art. "There is still a large space for progress, which is because that the independent learning ability of the students who had received traditional 'duck-stuffing' teaching mode for a long time has not been fully developed." Good case study with a lot to offer people developing similar systems.

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Why Venture Capitalists Aren’t Funding The Businesses We Need

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 09/28/2017 - 14:50

Ben Schiller, Fast Company, Oct 01, 2017

I've expressed the view in the past that venture capitalists (VCs) don't fund ideas, they fund people, and specifically, people like themselves. This view is becoming more current, as evidenced by this article. "If you’re looking for money to start a new business, it helps to be white, male, attractive-looking, and living in a place like Boston or San Francisco. Better still, you want to have gone to a top-ranked university. People with these sorts of profiles win the lion’s share of funding from VC firms." This - and not our lack of drive, innovatioon or application - is why it's difficult to get startup and growth funding in Canada. It's a network, and it extends beyond just VC (you can find the same ties and connections in media and government, for example). I would love in my lifetime to see this advantage rendered obsolete.

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Social Media and the Training of Our Minds

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 09/28/2017 - 12:10

Samir Chopra, 3 Quarks Daily, Oct 01, 2017

We are being trained by scial media, writes Samir Chopra. "The folks at Facebook and Twitter have achieved something remarkable: they have made their users regard the world as staging ground for inputs to their products. The world and its events and relations are, so to speak, so much raw material to be submitted to the formulation and framing of Facebook statuses and tweets. The world is not the world tout court, it is the provisioner of ‘content’ for our social media reports." They have created an incentive scheme: we write in the format they require, and they provide us with social approval when we publish the post. What's key here is that we actually begin to think that way; we internalize the construction of tweets and posts, check-ins and photo ops. Interesting article that says a lot about both the nature of social media and the nature of training.

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Accessibility: Ensuring that Edtech Systems Work Together to Serve All Students

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 09/28/2017 - 11:33

Rick Johnson, EDUCAUSE Review, Oct 01, 2017

This article is mostly a recap for those familiar with accessibility issues, but offers a good overview for those learning how to address them. The twist is that it addresses accessibility in combinations of online systems. "The real-world test is not how each of the parts conform to a standard, but how all of the parts work together to provide a highly functional system for users." It's a good article, just don't fall for the sales pitch. The article is also marketing for Benetgech's global certified accessible program (EDUCAUSE Review should flag such posts as 'marketing' or 'Advertising Content').

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The Rural Higher-Education Crisis

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 09/27/2017 - 23:57

Jon Marcus, Matt Krupnick, The Atlantic, Sept 30, 2017

This article describes the disinclination of people in rural communities to continue on to higher education. It also notes the disdain toward rural people on campus. Going to school in Calgary, I didn't feel that, though it might have been different in Toronto or New York. When I lived there all of Calgary felt rural (in a sense it still does, which for me is one of its most attractive features). I grew up in a rural community, and I ive in one now, though I commute to the city. And I've always been happiest when living where I can see the land. Rural communities once were prosperous, and with advanced tehnology, they will be again. Either way, it's where I choose to live.

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Leaders Commit to Education Financing; UNESCO Report Warns of ‘Learning Crisis’

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 09/27/2017 - 13:46

Catherine Benson Whalén, IISD SDG Knowledge Hub, Sept 30, 2017

I realize that it's not a zero-sum game, and that we can work toward both quality and access, but I nonetheless caution against voices who look at the issues and proclaim "a wake-up call for greater investment in the quality of education." No it isn't. The vast bulk of the problem isn't the quality of education. It's access. The money directed toward access will ensure that learning resources (teachers, support materials, environments) reach those in need. The money directed toward 'quality' will end up in the hands of publishers and academics in the U.S. and Europe (which, my cynical voice intact, is I feel why they continually call for investment in 'quality'). People who are starving need food now. 

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As the University of South Africa Considers Predictive Analytics, Ethical Hoops Emerge

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 09/27/2017 - 12:45

Manuela Ekowo, EdSurge, Sept 30, 2017

"In order for the University of South Africa (Unisa)  to use predictive analytics to improve these outcomes though," writes Manuela Ekowo, "the school may first have to jump through some ethical and technical hoops." The tone implies that the hoops are unnecessary, but I don't think ghata was the author's intent. "For example, how can institutions avoid mischaracterizing students with labels such as 'at-risk'." It matters how you define 'at risk'. Here's Angelo Fynn, manager of student success projects: "I don’t share the common view that students are inherently at risk but rather that risk is contextually and historically located."

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