Miscellaneous

Offering a more progressive definition of freedom

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 08/30/2018 - 19:08

Jason Kottke, kottke.org, Sept 13, 2018

A little off-topic but I like this. "Clean drinking water is freedom. Good public education is freedom. Universal healthcare is freedom. Fair wages are freedom. Policing by consent is freedom. Gun control is freedom. Fighting climate change is freedom. A non-punitive criminal justice system is freedom. Affirmative action is freedom. Decriminalizing poverty is freedom. Easy & secure voting is freedom. This is an idea of freedom I can get behind." Yeah.

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Fragment: From Jupyter Notebooks to Online Interactive Textbooks

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 08/29/2018 - 21:24

Tony Hirst, OUseful Info, Sept 12, 2018

Yes, this is a fragment, and yes, the best bit is in the headline. It should get you thinking about how we can create workflows from examples of functioning software in Jupyter Notebooks to actual textbooks. Of course, the problem is, if it's in a textbook - or even a flat HTML file - then the code samples don't actually work any more, and you have to go to another environment to run them. This sounds like a lot of overhead to me, and in my world (of distributed resources and embedded applications) the Jupyter Notebook is just a part of the (online) publication. Of course, I don't know how to make those yet... but it can't be far off.

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Do you have the cognitive patience to read this?

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 08/29/2018 - 21:14

Angela Chen, The Verge, Sept 12, 2018

I just skimmed this but maybe you'll have the time to give it a closer look. This article is an interview with Maryanne Wolf, the author of Reader Come Home, which suggests that we are no longer able to read deeply because of digital text. She uses the right words, mostly, but it's hard to decide whether she misunderstands them or whether she's stretching to make the ideas comprehensible to readers. The idea of 'circuits', for example, is just misguided. A phrase like 'have a role in that function' just makes me shake my head. But yes, the networks are plastic, and yes, when new skills are learned, they are the result of new connections in existing networks. The idea of 'slower processes' maybe makes sense or maybe is an attempt to graft cognitive load theory onto this assemblage. Or maybe a blog post of an interview about a book is just the wrong way to address this whole subject.

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Wikipedia’s bot army - shows us the way in governance of AI

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 08/29/2018 - 21:07

Donald Clark, Donald Clark Plan B, Sept 12, 2018

This was something I didn't know about. " There are nearly 3000 bot tasks identified for use in Wikipedia. So many that there is a Bots Approval Group (BAG) with a Bot Policy that covers all of these, whether fully or partially automated, helping humans with editorial tasks." Donald Clark reviews some of the policies that are in place and the governance system that maintains them. "Wikipedia, with its Bot Approval Group and Bot Policy, offers a good example within an open source context of good governance over data."

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Not Just What But Who You Know Matters

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 08/29/2018 - 21:00

Julia Freeland Fisher, Education Next, Sept 12, 2018

The major value proposition offered by top tier universities isn't knowledge. This is available anywhere. Nor is it even top-flight professors. Great teachers and researchers can be found in institutions large and small around the world.No, the value proposition is access to the network of contacts, influencers, and collaborators. Access to networks matters, and it's this gap that isn't addressed in education reform programs ignore, to the detriment of participants. As this story states, "advantageous connections, formal and informal mentors, peer networks, and exposure to professions and professionals reside in exclusive networks that children access by sheer luck of the draw. It bears noting that schools are not causing these gaps. Rather, by design they do little to resolve them." I've taken to calling this "The Yale Advantage" and one of my objectives is to render it quaint.

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The State of Post-Secondary Education in Canada

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 08/28/2018 - 23:31

Alex Usher, Higher Education Strategy Associates, Sept 12, 2018

There's a lot of value in this report (62 page PDF) but there are weaknesses as well, and the report should be read in that light. In his blog post announcing the report, Alex Usher writes that "although government funding has been falling, students have made up the difference," though he notes that international students have seen higher fee increases. But this isn't what jumps out as you read the 62 pages; the tone of the report (and many of the evaluative comments) paint a picture of adequate funding, reasonable (sometimes even "trifling") tuition, and the idea that complaints about the system constantly overstate the problem or miss the point. Although the report is written in a generally neutral tone, readers will see a lot of evaluation, assessment, and ad hoc explanations for the data displayed in its pages.

More importantly, though the data is drawn largely from Statistics Canada, much of the data presented are the author's own calculations, raising questions about why the data are presented this way. Additionally, this is a purely economical look at the state of post secondary education - there is virtually nothing written about what was studied (much less researched), what wealth (if any?) was generated by this investment, what contributions the post-secondary system makes to industry, culture and society as a whole. By depicting the system in its entirety as nothing but an expense - borne either by students or by governments - the study misrepresents in an important way the point of having a higher education system.

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How I got blocked by Tom Peters - you must bow to the cult of Leadership or be rejected as an apostate

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 08/28/2018 - 22:52

Donald Clark, Donald Clark Plan B, Sept 12, 2018

Donald Clark reports on his spat with Tom Peters that erupted after he posted a thousand words on Why these best selling books on 'Leadership' got it disastrously wrong featuring Peters in a leading role. "BusinessWeek claimed he had ‘faked’ the data. Chapman even wrote a book called In Search of Stupidity, showing that his list of ‘excellent’ companies were actually poor to indifferent." Though, as Clark notes, at least they tried to use data; many business books are filled with nothing but cherry-picked anecdotes. More to the point, though, " We have fetishised 'Leadership'. You're a leader, I'm a leader, we're all leaders now - rendering the very meaning of the word useless." I think Clark is right, I think Peters helped start this trend, and I think the concept of 'leadership' has become empty and meaningless.

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As newspapers cut, grassroots solutions fuel a resurgence of local journalism

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 08/28/2018 - 12:25

Matt DeRienzo, Poynter, Sept 11, 2018

I've long said that the future of education will follow that of media and journalism. These haven't been good days for media and journalism. But maybe this paints a way forward for local news, and correspondingly, local education. "Replacing what’s been lost will be up to individual communities taking responsibility for their own news and information needs, and supporting locally and independently owned and operated, grassroots solutions." As an example, a newspaper in northern California is turning readers into shareholders. In other places, the cooperative model has taken hold.

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How to Incorporate Self-Directed Learning in Your Online Course

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 08/28/2018 - 12:13

Laura Lynch, LearnDash, Sept 11, 2018

This article is introductory but it's good advice and offers a good starting point for generating your own ideas about creating self-directed learning. The two most important principles, I think, as as follows: "Turn over the keys... one of the hallmarks of self-directed learning is that it requires instructors to turn control of the learning experience over to the learners themselves"; and "Give them a challenge," especially a community challenge. "The more your learners can see fellow learners working toward the same goal, the stronger their motivation will be to keep up." Like I said: pretty basic advice, but useful.

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The Time for Open and Interoperable Annotation is Now

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 08/28/2018 - 11:15

Alexander Naydenov, Heather Staines, The Scholarly Kitchen, Sept 11, 2018

I've resisted covering the recent buzz around the hypothes.is annotation service on the ground that most of it seemed like marketing buzz.I still do. This article introduces annotation as an ancient scholarly trend. I view annotation as an ancient technology trend; I was covering it more than a decade ago - here's Annotea, here's Wikalong, and there's more. Annotation is a hard problem, and the web is littered with failures. Hard because it requires so much cooperation between vendors. Hard because it allows strangers to comment on your web site. Hard because a billion web users can create a deluge of content. But hey - there's a W3C standard for annotations, and the idea just won't go away.

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Highlights from JupyterCon in New York 2018

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 08/27/2018 - 19:39

Mac Slocum, O'Reilly, Sept 10, 2018

I flagged all of these articles for inclusion, but in the end decided to wrap them up in this single link. O'Reilly summarizes a number of talks and presentations for the recent Jupyter Notebooks conference. There's a lot of overlap into ed tech, even though the notebooks are currently tools primarily for computer and data scientists. The idea of working software that can be edited and run inside a learning resource has far-reaching implications. Even if you don't read the dozen or so articles, watch "Sea change: What happens when Jupyter becomes pervasive at a university?"

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Before difficult conversations happen, create your one-pager

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 08/27/2018 - 17:45

Ewan McIntosh, No Tosh, Sept 10, 2018

I don't know if this is a paid placement, but if it is, it's a very good one. Ewan McIntosh is referring to a tip offered by Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield's course in MasterClass (note that this link will take you to a subscription wall). I recently heard this advertised on TWIT and looked at it myself; it's basically for-pay courses offered by celebrity spokespeople. The advice is good advice: "If you’re learning something new that can help you in an everyday aspect of your job... create an aide-memoire and then push yourself to revisit it frequently: these are one-pagers." I've done this a lot; I called them 'cheat sheets' and you'll find examples all over the internet. But the best are the ones you create for yourself. Anyhow: my post is not paid placement, and I hope the same is true of Ewan McIntosh

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Are MOOCs Fatally Flawed Concepts That Need Saving by Bots?

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 08/27/2018 - 17:35

Matt Crosslin, EduGeek Journal, Sept 10, 2018

Matt Crosslin takes Derek Newton's recent article “Not Even Teacher-Bots Will Save Massive Open Online Courses” behind the woodshed and gives it a good thrashing. This take-down is placed in the context of the wider issue of a certain MOOC-narrative having been (mistakenly) created in the popular press. "You can’t evaluate research about a topic – whether MOOCs or bots or post-humanism or any topic – through a lens that fundamentally misunderstands what the researchers were examining in the first place."

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Dark Patterns: When Companies Use Design to Manipulate You

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 08/27/2018 - 17:22

Justin Pot, How-To Geek, Sept 10, 2018

The concept of dark patterns is making a bit of a comback this summer as new regulations are inspiring companies to be at their sneakiest. A 'dark pattern' is a characteristic ploy used by websites in order to manipulate you into doing things you don't want to do. This article lists a few of them: confirm-shaming, bait-and-switch, won't-read, and more. There's a dark pattern Twitter Feed with an almost endless supply of examples.

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Epistemology in the Cloud

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 08/26/2018 - 14:14

Henry Story, University of Southampton, Sept 10, 2018

This is quite a good paper, and to put it into perspective, when I say "fake news is a consensus problem," this is to a large degree what I mean. This paper is deep conceptually and will take some time. The first two sections take us through a tour of Lewis's and Nozick's work on counterfactuals from the 80s (I was steeped in this during my PhD work, and even had a sit-down and grilling with Lewis on his work). It then shift gears in the third section to talk about the cloud, and then wraps up with a discussion of digital sovereignity.

The answer to the question "how can we know something isn't fake news" is in this paper traced back to Nozick's dictum "Knowledge is not just in the head". The ide is that "if it were not true, I would not believe it" is more or less true depending on how easily it could be false. Henry Story runs through some nice examples to make this clear - my belief that "I have $50 in my pocket" is more likely to be true if I have no holes in my pocket, even more likely to be true if I take precautions against pickpockets. My belief in my software is more true if I have tests to ensure its reliability. My belief in a bit of cloud knowledge is more true if I have mechanisms for trust and verification. And in the cloud environment, that's currently referred to as the 'consensus problem'.

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