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'Deep Learning' is the use of neural networks to do smart things, like grade papers or make recommendations. This article addresses the "commoditization" of deep learning, that is, the trend toward making the data and algorithms available for free. That's why you could use an open source library like Tensor Flow to do neat things with open data. It still takes some smarts, but it's getting easier. The point of this article, though, is that it still takes computing power - quite a lot of it - and that's what companies like Amazon and Google really want to sell you. And they can charge more for it if the complementary products - data and software - are free. And it gives them a market advantage, because while anyone can produce data or write algorithms, it takes a large enterprise with a lot of resources to set up data and computing centres. So that's the play.[Link] [Comment]
You've been reading a lot of the same stuff by writers featured in these pages over the years. In this article, John Hagel argues that scaling learning "means developing new shared practices that can increase impact in a world of mounting performance pressure." It may seem like it's more efficient to focused on standards and best practices, but against this is the need to learn on an ongoing basis. "The key imperative in a rapidly changing environment is to find ways to develop new knowledge, rather than merely sharing existing knowledge." This has to happen where the knowledge is being used, and not in a research lab or training room. "The goal is to improve performance more rapidly – that’ s why focusing on developing new shared practices is so powerful. It provides us with results that we can measure and learn from." See also: Institutional Innovation.[Link] [Comment]
AR stands for 'augmented reality' and it's the idea that we can overlay the real world with digital objects. The first instance of mass-AR is probably Pokemon Go, though people have been trying with things like QR codes for decades, it seems. The trick is to make AR (a) useful, or at least, fun, and (b) easy. Using identifiers like QR codes have the advantage of being very precise, but you need a reader. Using GPS coordinates is easier, but less precise, and doesn't really work indoors. We'll probably find there are competing AR 'networks', each using the physical world, but overlaying different (and incompatible, naturally) interpretations. It won't be long where it will be as natural for a web site to have a GPS identifier (latitude and longitude, the way photos do now) as it is to have a URL.[Link] [Comment]
Today's new word is 'Quasitory' and I believe it is invented (in this use) in Stevan Harnad's response to Richard Poynder on the role of institutional repositories. Poynder is clarifying emarks he made in a recent interview, and in particular responding to the Confederation of Open Access Repository (COAR) Executive Director Kathleen Shearer's response("The reports of our death have been greatly exaggerated"). Poynder writes, " 22 years after Stevan Harnad began his long campaign to persuade researchers to self-archive, it is clear there remains little or no appetite for doing so, even though researchers are more than happy to post their papers on commercial sites like Academia.edu and ResearchGate." These commercial repository sites - which Harnad calls 'Quasitories' - "are doing just as badly as IRs." And the largest Quasitory of all, Google Scholar, is waiting patiently for academia to get its act together, writes Poynder. The same story is being played out in the field of open educational resources, and (as Harnad says) "the optimal and inevitable outcome of all this will be: The Give-Away literature will be free at last online, in one global, interlinked virtual library.. and its [peer review] expenses will be paid for up-front, out of the [subscription cancellation] savings." Image: most image search results were of British politicians, but here's a picture of Laurel and Hardy which also turned up (from a MoneyAM discussion forum from 2005).[Link] [Comment]
I wish people would listen to old time radio westerns. Not the kid shows from the 40s, but the so-called 'adult' westerns like GunSmoke, Fort Laramie, Frontier Gentleman, and others. They're mostly from the 1950s - a time that included post-war trauma, the Korean conflict, and the Red Scare. But they work against all that - if you can ignore the cigarette commercials, you'll be surprised to see how progressive these shows are. Now all of this has nothing to do with the Alan Levine article I'm linking to here, except for this: you see the same values in today's open learning movement that you do in those 1950s radio westerns: the value of cooperation, the need for network, the importance of every person in the community, the encouragement of diversity, and more. "Connected is the way the web is won."[Link] [Comment]
This is a bit of a listicle, but I liked the way the six items selected progress from very simple stuff (Scratch, Puzzlets) to more involved coding platforms (Google CS First, Vidcode). Computer science today gets pretty deep in a hurry and developing a basic aptitude for formalization at an early age is probably essential. But like everything involving learning, students have to want to do it, so lively applications that get students creating (and seeing what they've created) right from day one are the way to go. I especially like the Karaoke machine students can create and share with VidCode.[Link] [Comment]
I think the presentation is the most interesting part of this series of articles offering an overview of today's internet. The individual articles address things like the undersea cables, the physical infrastructure in pictures, and challenges of censorship and the potential break-up of the internet. At the same time, there's a well-deserved sense of awe. "What allows all this to happen is the most complex piece of physical infrastructure ever created."[Link] [Comment]
My own experience with MUDs served a similar function for me, though of course I was a lot older. The closest equivalent from my childhood is, I guess, the sand pile in our back yard. È The collaboration, engagement, and exploration opportunities that Minecraft provides are well-suited to give kids the experiences they need to build tomorrow’ s solutions— but Minecraft is just where they start."[Link] [Comment]
The Chronicle interviews FutureLearn head Simon Nelson. The gist of the interview is, first, that universities have completely absorbed MOOCs, and second, that this is opening up international markets. "Universities are using MOOCs in a whole range of much more strategic ways. To teach their own students, to create pathways into their core programs, to work in different ways with employers and transform the way they offer training and development services to them, etcetera. I don’ t see any of that narrowing the supply of free open courses to the world. Actually, I think it’ s going to significantly expand it."[Link] [Comment]
I've always felt that there is a huge learning opportunity here. "The nature of citizen science is changing; citizens aren’ t simply used solely for data collection,” says Steven Gray, assistant professor of community sustainability at Michigan State University and the study’ s lead author. “ They are designing the protocols, conducting the experiments, securing funding, and implementing the plans. They may not have the credentials of scientists, but they have the capacity to engage in the same approaches.”[Link] [Comment]
Coursera is now - and a bit surprisingly - drawing on volunteer labour. "Coursera Mentors are learners who volunteer to provide academic support in courses they’ ve already completed on Coursera. To be eligible to be a Mentor, a learner must have passed the course with a good grade and an exemplary forum participation record. Mentors also complete a 2-week training course that covers best practices..." You can see some of them here.[Link] [Comment]
Useful literature review that breezes through the subject with a light touch. At virtually any point it could dive more deeply, but the 35 pages read briskly and are a fairly comprehensive overview of the subject. I found the latter parts of the paper less useful - why do we need a 'theoretical framework' to talk about open educational practices? To my mind (and this is a general point) the material itself tells us how it should be discussed; bringing in a framework imposes an external frame of relevance that can be (and is probably) inappropriate for the current domain. Anyhow. I'll take off my "critic's" hat now. Heather Ross describes the context in this short blog post, which should be read prior to reading the review. Image: Wikipedia.[Link] [Comment]
This is a long and detailed report that blows through tech journalism like a breath of fresh air. It had me thinking about what it is that i do with this newsletter - not journalism, not curation - is it tech criticism? Maybe. But: "criticism carries negative connotations— that of criticizing with unfavorable opinions rather than critiquing to offer context and interpretation." That's not me. And also: "There’ s so much glittery, breathless writing about technology that fails to slow down and think about why we’ re making these things, who we’ re making them for, and who we’ re leaving out when we make them." That's not me either. Anyhow. Beginning toward the end of the first third of the article there is a terrific set of "traps of styles and tactics" that ought to be required reading for anyone in the genre. There's some discussion about who is a critic and where they publish (sadly, mostly in mainstream pubs). Then (around the halfway mark) there's a set of "critical lenses" (I don't like the term 'lens' employed in this way - it implies there's something 'real' that's being interpreted).[Link] [Comment]
Sadly, it really is like this. "Wait, I learned OOP in college, I thought that was good? -So was Java before being bought by Oracle. I mean, OOP was good back in the days, and it still has its uses today, but now everyone is realising modifying states is equivalent to kicking babies, so now everyone is moving to immutable objects and functional programming." Sigh. Read the whole thing. Every reference is real. I think.[Link] [Comment]
xAPI and Caliper are systems for recording student activities, offered by ADL and IMS respectively. There are ongoing discussions between the two organizations regarding how the overlap and/or interoperate. They note "Caliper and xAPI have very different origins. The core xAPI is to enable any type of experience and evidence tracking, both electronic and physical performance and not limited to just web-based courses (as is the case for SCORM). Caliper is the manifestation of the IMS Learning Analytics Framework and the Sensor API and Metric Profile(s) are the first two components of that framework. xAPI and Caliper are NOT equivalent. Adoption should not be ‘ one-or-the-other’ , instead it is a ‘ horses-for-courses’ decision." This document offers an excellent table-based comparison of the two specifications.[Link] [Comment]
I have mentioned context a lot over the years and never taken the time to discuss it properly. This chapter (22 page PDF) is far from a complete discussion but offers a good first look, especially with respect to related concepts such as "tacit knowledge (Polanyi 1966), the frame problem in AI (McCarthy and Hayes 1969), framing in psychology (Goffman 1974), and the “ situation” (Barwise and Perry 1983)." For me, context is essential for determining the salience of relevant factors; salience, in turn, defines what will count as 'similar' for the purpose of cognition. This paper looks in particular at the impact of context in social simulation; "very few social or cognitive simulations represent any of the processes for dealing with such context-dependency." Given that we are often not even consciously aware of contextual factors, how would we model contextual cognition? You can't just learn something (a model, say), you also have to learn where it works best.[Link] [Comment]
Jim Shimabukuro disc usses a recent initiative by the Malaysian government to implement MOOCs in that country. "The Malaysian government is taking steps to “ make 30 per cent of higher education courses available as massive open online courses (or MOOCs) by 2020” (Financial Review, 2 Oct. 2016)." His concern is that the initiatiuve is relying on a single MOOC platform - OpenLearn, based in Australia - to offer the materials. This is too narrow, he says. "The bottom line is that a MOOC, any MOOC, isn’ t a place. Instead, it’ s a manifestation of a pedagogy that’ s continually reconstructed by the individual participants, teacher and students. It exists not in the world out there but within each participant’ s mind. As such, its shape and form are limited only by the individual’ s imagination. Thus, to artificially and arbitrarily confine its form is counterintuitive." That was how we developed MOOCs originally, and where they should return again in the long term.[Link] [Comment]
This post combines results of two sets of studies. The first suggests that students are more likely to complete their program if they are emotionally supported and if they take part in experiential learning. The second suggest they are more likely to complete if they have a sense of self-efficacy, experience a sense of belonging, and perceive value in the curriculum. Success, writes Michael Feldstein, means helping "campuses make the cultural shift toward a focus on data-informed and research-grounded teaching excellence." It makes sensed that the future of educational technology isn't 'content delivery excellence'. But we need to ask whether we need to cater to the five points mentioned here, of figure out ways to surmount them.[Link] [Comment]
When you receive a report that your website has been hacked, the first thing to do is not to panic. That may be hard to do with your host provider warning that your site might be deleted forever unless you take immediate action. And as Jim Groom reports here, tthey may suggest that you pay hundreds of dollars for security. But take a deep breath, and check. It might be nothing - when Groom's site was reported, for example, it turned out only to contain a link to some other site that was on a Google blacklist. "SiteLock wanted to charge me $199 to remove a link from a blog post," he writes. Companies prey on users' inexperience. We should be thinking about ways to counter that.[Link] [Comment]
This review of Deirdre McCloskey's Bourgeois Equality ends too suddenly, almost in mid-thought, which is a pity. It would have been worth reading Charles Wolf's criticism of the 768 page tome (especially since it won't appear openly on the internet in my lifetime - I remember when young I could consume books voraciously, getting a stack from the used book store or library and setting up in the park or the pub; now, however, it would cost my salary to consume books at that rate. My 'wealth' has increased but access to what I need hasn't).
There are several themes in Bourgeois Eqiuality, of whch I'll mention two: first is the idea that the increase in the absolute wealth of the poor is more significant than the growing gap between between the wealthy and the rest. This is an old ideaa, popularized in an early TED talk, and does not withstand scrutiny - if you can't buy the things that are important (food in Venezuela, security in Syria, an exit visa in Iran) then you are vulnerable, and your recent rise in wealth is a chimera. The second is that wealth is created by ideas, and the ability of all classes to create and implement ideas is the key to prosperity. But this argument is what Nathan Leites termed a “ self-sealer” - no matter what the development, good or bad, the idea preceded the implementation.[Link] [Comment]
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