Miscellaneous

The Mythology of Leadership

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 03/10/2015 - 22:00


nick shackleton-jones, aconventional, Mar 10, 2015

With  nick shackleton-jones I tend to agree that "leadership models tend to overstate and rationalise the role of leaders, politely glossing over the fact that in most organisations many leaders were probably not ideal candidates for the role." It's a common instance of the tendency to overascribe outcomes to a single or pivotal cause. This is especially the case with what he typifies here as 'pre-conventional' leaders (mantra: avoid punishment) and 'conventional' leaders (mantra: follow the rules). I personally have long subscribed to the belief that what qualifies people to be leaders in many organizations is the ability to do what they are told. One of the happy changes in my recent life is that this model seems to be changing in my own employment environment.

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Reflections and Learnings from the 2015 AASA Conference

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 03/10/2015 - 22:00


Dwight Jones, Discovery Education Network, Mar 10, 2015

Good set of reflections from a recent conference identifying some recent trends. Quoted:

  • The focus on professional development is stronger than ever.
  • School systems are looking to share their work.
  • The  need to engage a wide range of stakeholders in the digital  transition.
  • School districts of all sizes are finding the funds to make the shift from hardcover textbooks to digital curricula.

As I said to someone last week in Riyadh, the future is slow. We think things should change instantly, but they never do. It takes a long time. You have to look for things like this, indicators of steady progress, rather than sudden change.

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3 Things Students Should Have Before They Leave High School

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 03/10/2015 - 22:00


George Couros, Connected Principals, Mar 10, 2015

Here are the things George Couros says they should have before they leave high school "to help create opportunities for themselves":

  • a social network with other people in their field of choice
  • a digital portfolio
  • an “ about.me” page

I get the general idea, and support it, but I think the description is way too narrow. I'd rather see people have much more than an about.me page and personal portfolio - I think they should have a wider online presence with credentials, tools, artifacts, and whatever else they need. The same with a social network - but not just a 'social network' but wide-ranging interactions with people inside and outside their own field.

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People are finally worrying about online privacy—and tech firms are already cashing in

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 03/09/2015 - 23:00
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Leo Mirani, Quartz, Mar 09, 2015

I've been posting more privacy-related items recently because, like the author of this piece, I think it's rising in importance. "The lure of customer data and opportunities to exploit it is a strong one. Indeed, invading privacy has been baked  into the very business model of the web in our present era." The current response by providers (like AT& T and Google) is to charge premium prices to avoid being tracked and hounded by advertisers. But of course, that still lets everyone else track you and hound you.

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How to Teach for Deeper Learning? An International Survey Provides Insights

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 03/09/2015 - 23:00


Dion Burns, Education Week, Mar 09, 2015

This is another one of those articles that confuses between what the author wants you to conclude, and what the evidence says. The same problem is repeated throughout, but I'll focus on one example. Let's suppose that the survey data is correct, that " more than 94 percent of teachers agreed that their role was to facilitate students' own inquiry and 84 percent agreed that thinking and reasoning processes were more important than specific curriculum content." Then what are we to make of this? "Yet less than half of all teachers indicated they frequently used small group discussions in their classes." Instead of agreeing with the author that it's a shame so few teachers use this method, shouldn't we see this as an indictment of the small group discussion? Maybe small group discussions don't serve these aim at all, and that's  why teachers don't use them.

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Digital Learning Companies Falling Short of Student Privacy Pledge

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 03/09/2015 - 23:00


Natasha Singer, New York Times | BITS Blog, Mar 09, 2015

I would like to say I hoped for some other result, but really, could we have expected anything different. There's far too much money to be made selling student data for any of them to worry about following some pledge nobody noticed anyways. “ Parents and educators who don’ t have the training to test for themselves wouldn’ t be able to tell which companies have reasonable security and which do not,” Mr. Porterfield said in a phone interview on Wednesday, “ and that makes it hard to trust the pledge.”

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Jenna Wortham

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 03/08/2015 - 19:00
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Om Malik, pi.co, Mar 08, 2015

Om Malik interviews Jenna Wortham. I wasn't sure I'd like it because I'm a bit indifferent to Malik (and the early name-dropping and depiction of his subject as "sassy" didn't help). But it's a good conversation and they go into some depth into what's happening at least in the U.S. version of the internet (I can't imagine "everyone has a bedroom just like mine" really being a global phenomenon). And there's a good glimpse of how a younger generation views a world in turmoil despite the promises of people like the editors at Wired, her former employer. "The bubble has popped. Not the tech bubble, but this idea that we live in this techno-utopian-post-racial world. That’ s deflating, and we’ re quickly realizing that yeah, the problems we face run a lot deeper and are going to be a lot harder to change." Jenna Wortham is a staff writer at The New York Times Magazine.

 

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Online Conference Presentation Resources

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 03/08/2015 - 16:00
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Karl Kapp, Kapp Notes, Mar 08, 2015

Oh I want to do something like this one day - I've listened to hundreds and hundreds of old time radio fiction over the last few years, I could probably do the genre - and it could be a great format for a presentation. Maybe I can round up some people like Jim Groom and do a proper radio broadcast. Karl Kapp offers his own version in this slide deck (which I actually read through end to end before realizing I was doing it) talking about games and gamification (and game elements...). Good stuff. Now, how does that go again? "Suddenly, a shot rang out...."

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Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 03/08/2015 - 16:00


Mar 08, 2015

Photos from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

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Identifying and Cultivating Student Leaders

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 03/08/2015 - 16:00


Kylie Larson, Higher Ed Marketing Live, Mar 08, 2015

I spent pretty much the my entire university career as a 'student leader' first as a newspaper writer and editor during my undergraduate years, and next as a student association representative and president during my graduate years. I did not experience any "recruiting" efforts in my direction - quite the contrary, actually. I think this points to a difference between the relation between student associations and administrations in Canada and the US (outside North America I simply cannot say, but I imagine one or the other is common). Both student associations and student newspapers appear to be run as part of the university south of the border, while in Canad our associations and newspapers are fiercely independent of administration - so much so that I think it would be a scandal were it to be discovered that student leaders were being "recruited" by the administration. So I personally find this story a bit surprising and off-putting. Students don't need to have admnistrations recruit their leadership - they know who they are.

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New Hi-Tech Police Surveillance: The StingRay Cell Phone Spying Device

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 03/08/2015 - 16:00


Clarence Walker, GlobalResearch, Mar 08, 2015

I'm not sure whether they cover this on U.S. networks but it's interesting to listed to a report on Al Jazeera about the 'Sting Ray' surveillance system originally designed for use against terrorists but not in increasingly wide day-to-day use by forces across the country. The system consists of radio towers that emulate cell phone towers an trick mobile devices into sending access information, data and other information. The judicial logic allowing use is that it is not actually surveillance. "The government did not install the tracking device — and the cell user chose to carry the phone that permitted transmission of its information to a carrier," Gorenstein held in that opinion. "Therefore no warrant is needed." The ACLU lists police departments using the system. Here's an EFF report from a couple weeks ago.

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Cathy N. Davidson Keynote Address at UNESCO X International Seminar

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 03/08/2015 - 16:00


Cathy Davidson, Mar 08, 2015

Video from Cathy Davidson's talk "'Changing Higher Education from the Classroom Up' at the X International Seminar on 'Revisiting the Fundamentals of Traditional Curricula, R/Evolution: what “ R” Would Mean for Education.' The conference was sponsored by the UNESCO Chair in Education and Technology for Social Change and was held at the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya." I haven't reviewed the video but I've seen it referenced in a couple of places. I see Davidson as fairly conservative generally in her thinking but I'll be sure to review this one in the future to test my presumptions.

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xAPI, LRS – The Interview

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 03/08/2015 - 13:00
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Craig Weiss, E-Learning 24/7 Blog, Mar 08, 2015

I was fortunate enough to meet with and converse at length with  Craig Weiss while I was in Riyadh, so I thought I'd post a link to give people a sense of what he's about. He is, in short, a fountain of knowledge of learning management systems and related technologies. In this post he interviews Aaron Silvers (no slough himself) on the activity-recording specification called xAPI (aka Tin Can, aka the Experience API). Here is what it is supposed to do: "We want a system to be able to interpret, appropriately, consistently and reliably, the activity you performed and the context in which it was performed, no matter where it was recorded."

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People Have the Star Trek Computer Backwards

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 03/08/2015 - 13:00
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Michael Caulfield, Hapgood, Mar 08, 2015

This is a great reconstruction of just what exactly is going on with the computers on Star Trek (the original series). "The Star Trek computer, at least in the 1960s, was not ahead of its time, but *of* its time. It lacked the vision to see even five years into the future... There’ s no keyboard because there is no text, anywhere, on any computer on the Enterprise to edit... Why? Because computers were for math, stupid!"

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4 Reasons You Don’t Have an E-Learning Portfolio

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 03/08/2015 - 13:00
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Nicole Legault, Flirting W/ Elearning, Mar 08, 2015

Interesting perspective on why people don't have or use e-learning technology like e-learning portfolios. So why wouldn't you post your best work online? Here are the four reasons:

  • You're too busy
  • You don't have any experience
  • You don't have any e-learning software
  • You signed an NDA

The author argues that none of these reasons really stands the test of intent. If you wanted to share, you'd be sharing.

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To Get Big, Start Really Small

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 03/08/2015 - 11:00
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Tim Kastelle, The Discipline of Innovation, Mar 08, 2015

I think this post is a classic example of post hoc ergo propter hoc - "after this therefore because of this". Here's the argument: "Google didn’ t start out by organising the world’ s information.   Google started out as a way to make searching the Stanford Library easier....  Facebook didn’ t start out aiming to connect everyone in the world... It started out as a way for Harvard students to hook up." But if we take these stories seriously, the best we can conclude is that these services became giants by accident. Which is partly what happened. But what also happened is that, while they were small, they developed some very big ideas. I still remember the Google beta, when the Google Logo was still written in crayon. Already at that point they intended to organize the world's information (you get a sense of this reading some of the company's early press). The message of the story should be: to get big, dream big.

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Rules, Attribution, and Doing The Right Thing

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 03/08/2015 - 11:00
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Alan Levine, CogDogBlog, Mar 08, 2015

I have to say I'm completely on board with the sentiments expressed in this post from Alan Levine. He writes, "Attribution not just about following rules and avoiding getting in trouble for copyright, it’ s about paying forward the act of sharing content freely." Every single one of the 36,000 or so posts on this site attributes an author and a website, not because it's "required" but because it's the right thing to do. And that, to me, is the problem with rules - they rarely aid people in right conduct, but instead merely become the source of loopholes less scrupulous people can hide behind. (Note that unless otherwise stated, the source of the images on this site are the posts to which they are attached and credited.)

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Swearing in conference presentations works!

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 03/08/2015 - 11:00
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Donald Clark, Donald Clark Plan B, Mar 08, 2015

Donald Clark defends the use of swear words and expressions in conference presentations (language warning, not surprisingly). This is also common in various online publications - I frequently see items that would otherwise be good reading except for the irrelevant eruption of an expletive mid-story. And I challenge the claim that it's more effective. I never swear, nor do I litter my online writing with swear words or similarly lazy aphorisms or innuendos. And yet - arguably - it is just as effective as Donal Clark's. Maybe more so. And my own take is that, if your message is improved by swearing, you should maybe examine the weakness in the message, rather than praise the strength in the swearing.

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How Facebook Is Taking On "Dangerous" Speech

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 03/07/2015 - 15:00
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ReadWrite, Alicia Eler, Mar 07, 2015

Interesting article about Facebook's response to 'dangerous speech'. The article is situated with respect to "the Buddhist monk Ashin Wirathu, who spent seven years in jail for inciting violence against Muslims and now advocates exiling them from Myanmar." The article lists five criteria for identifying "dangerous speech" (and therefore presumably for the banning of it or its utterers):

  • It takes place in a social or historical context ripe for violence, such as longstanding religious tensions or struggles to control valuable resources;
  • The audience has grievances or fears a speaker can exploit;
  • The speaker is highly influential or charismatic;
  • The speech is clearly understandable as a call to violence;
  • The speaker employs an influential medium— typically a radio or television station.

To me, the only criterion of any merit is the fourth: the speech is clearly understandable as a call to violence. The others are merely mechanisms for legitimizing dangerous speech emanating from more traditional agencies. I think teachers and educators should look at these criteria, and tackle the question of what counts as "dangerous speech", and what we should do about it, directly. P.S., why can't we have options like "'it’ s a rumor or has false information,' 'it promotes violence,' and 'it disturbs social harmony'?" Aren't these things dangerous in North America as well?

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Design Elements in a Personal Learning Environment

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 03/07/2015 - 12:00
[Slides][Audio]

In this talk I address the core design elements in the development of a personal learning architecture being developed in the National Research Council's Learning and Performance Support Systems program. This program was developed and approved to address the issue of skills shortages in technical and professional industries in Canada. Please also see the  supporting paper submitted for this talk. Also there are alternative  PDF slides for this presentation.

4th International Conference e-Learning and Distance Education, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (Keynote) Mar 04, 2015 [Comment]
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