Miscellaneous

“Never get sucked into the ‘company knows best’ approach to your career”

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 05/06/2016 - 06:00


Jane Hart, Learning in the Modern Social Workplace, May 06, 2016

I think this should be sort of obvious (and I've mentioned it in this newsletter in the (distant) past) but it always bears repeating that your employer is  not looking out for your best interests when it makes decisions. Nor should it. "For this reason, every one of us must have a career strategy, and that strategy should be guided by your industry’ s trajectory. You should be fine-tuned to  the intricacies of your profession.  You have no choice. You  have  to self-develop to stay relevant." That's why I'm still learning even as we speak and why you should be too. 

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Why it’s so hard to succeed in Silicon Valley when you grew up poor

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 05/06/2016 - 06:00


Ricky Yean, Vox, May 06, 2016

This takes me back to many of the points I addressed in Arlington  when I talked about the real advantage elite universities offer their students. "Tangible inequalities  —  that which can be seen and measured, like money or access  —  get the majority of the attention, and deservedly so. But inequalities that live in your mind can keep the deck stacked against you long after you've made it out of the one-room apartment you shared with your dad." It doesn't apply to everyone, and it doesn't apply evenly, but it applies. What's important to understand it that it is addressing  this - and not access to learning content - that will enable  equity.

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Learners Voice

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 05/06/2016 - 06:00


Graham Brown-Martin, Medium, May 06, 2016

This is a pretty good statement of the issues surrounding learner voice in the development of their own education programs, though I think it ends with a bit of a thud. Before you get to that disappointing finish, though, there are some good points. For example: "no one considers anything a person who thinks in a way that favours both imagination and practicality says because they are not following what society wants them to follow." P.S. it was Francis Bacon who said "knowledge is power", in 1597.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Brain Warps the Faces We See to Fit Stereotypes

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 05/06/2016 - 03:00


James Devitt, Futurity, May 05, 2016

I have said in the past that we see what we are looking for. This is confirmation of that. "Our findings provide evidence that the stereotypes we hold can systematically alter the brain’ s visual representation of a face, distorting what we see to be more in line with our biased expectations." Our expectations play a critical role in perception. That's why there is no such thing as 'theory-neutral data'. We need to be aware of the way our subjective perceptions in turn shape our expectations. "Men, and particularly black men, were initially perceived 'angry,' even when their faces were not objectively angry; and women were initially perceived 'happy,' even when their faces were not objectively happy."

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Categories: Miscellaneous

The Weak Predictive Power of Test Scores

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 05/06/2016 - 03:00


Jay P. Greene, Education Next, May 05, 2016

The key question is "Are math and reading test results strong enough indicators of school quality that regulators can rely on them?" The evidence on this isn't clear. "There is surprisingly little rigorous research linking them to the long-term outcomes we actually care about." There is some evidence, such as this, but frankly it reads like pseudoscience. Why? "Achievement tests are only designed to capture a portion of what our education system hopes to accomplish," for example (says the author) character or life skills. And other skills (such as art or music) may be necessary for students' later-life success. "We should be considerably more humble about claiming to know which teachers, schools, and programs are good or bad based on an examination of their test scores." Agreed.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

One Theory to Rule Them All

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 05/05/2016 - 06:00


Esko Kilpi, May 05, 2016

I think there's a point to this post, which is why I'm linking to it, but I think it could probably have been explained more clearly. Essentially the argument is this: companies have shifted their thinking from treating other agencies as 'externalities' to thinking of them as the network. This shift in thinking is important, because it reflects a change from thinking of them as a net cost to thinking of them as the most effective way to produce certain business outcomes. "What assets were for the industrial firm, network effects are for the post-industrial firm." These network effects reflect a value of a company that is far greater than the assets it may hold. Apple's position, for example, as the centre of a network of developers is far greater than it would be if it had all these developers in-house.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Academia is quietly and systematically keeping its women from succeeding

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 05/05/2016 - 06:00


Marcie Bianco, Quartz, May 05, 2016

Marcie Bianco makes the point proposed in the headline fairly convincingly by offering a series of ways in which it is true, listing everything from the larger students loans they must take out to the higher proportion of women in low-paying adjunct positions to the observation that as women join a field, average pay in the field drops. But there's more, an undercurrent and an observation, which is encapsulated in the discussion of the relation between the attack on the humanities, the increasing number of women in the humanities, and the accusation that there is a predominance of 'liberal values' in such fields. 

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Why Understanding These Four Types of Mistakes Can Help Us Learn

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 05/05/2016 - 06:00


Eduardo Briceño, MindShift, May 05, 2016

"Mistakes are not all created equal," writes the author, "and they are not always desirable. In addition, learning from mistakes is not all automatic. In order to learn from them the most we need to reflect on our errors and extract lessons from them."  Eduardo Briceñ o makes this point clear by identifying four types of mistakes, two of which can be seen as beneficial, and two of which really should be avoided.

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The ‘Maker’ Movement: Understanding What the Research Says

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 05/05/2016 - 06:00


Benjamin Herold, EdWeek Market Brief, May 05, 2016

The Maker movement began as a free-form exercise. "Typically, 'Making' involves attempting to solve a particular problem, creating a physical or digital artifact, and sharing that product with a larger audience. Often, such work is guided by the notion that process is more important than results." But as it began to be applied more in schools, it began to  evolve. Diversity and inclusiveness became more important, and questions began to be asked about what was learned. This article is a good overview of some of the recent research. And it's interesting to compare the similarities between the evolution of MOOCs and the evolution of making.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Why Luck Matters More Than You Might Think

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 05/05/2016 - 06:00


Robert H, frank, The Atlantic, May 05, 2016

The point of the article, in a nutshell: "a growing body of evidence suggests that seeing ourselves as self-made— rather than as talented, hardworking,  and  lucky— leads us to be less generous and public-spirited. It may even make the lucky less likely to support the conditions (such as high-quality public infrastructure and education) that made their own success possible."

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Fifty shades of open

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 05/05/2016 - 06:00


Jeffrey Pomerantz, Robin Peek, First Monday, May 05, 2016

This could have been much more appropriately titled, but the content of the piece is spot on. Specifically:

Open means rights
Open means access
Open means use
Open means transparent
Open means participatory
Open means enabling openness
Open means philosophically aligned with open principles

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Austrade sets target of 110 million MOOC students for Australia by 2025

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 05/05/2016 - 03:00


Tim Dodd, Financial Review, May 04, 2016

I'm attending an expert meeting on MOOC quality for the Commonwealth of Learning in Malaysia right now, so it was interesting (and yes, amusing) to read about Australia's plans to grab a large share of the MOOC 'market'. The 110 million student represents 10% of the potential market (and  21,900 per cent growth). It may sound crazy, but "International education is already Australia's third-largest export industry, garnering nearly $19 billion in 2015, beaten only by coal and iron ore." You might wonder how Australia can earn money on 'open' learning, but of course online learning has developed into a lucrative market, as witness these courses  that Dave Cormier introduced me to this week.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

We are the Monkeys of Rum

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 05/04/2016 - 21:00


Ben Werdmuller, Medium, May 04, 2016

This is a great story. I wonder how many people have stories like this - certainly most of the people I know and talk to and work with have their own internet origin stories. I did. I started by playing on a MUD, used this to learn internet programming, built an LMS, and the rest is history. What I like about Werdmuller's story is that it is on the one hand so typical and on the other hand so unique. And I remember the same sort of macro-phenomena he observes - the trolls, for example, that swarmed discussion boards in 2002 or so. It was a special moment in history, that wonderful few years when the web was created and people could use it for almost anything. 

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Toronto students create emoji to reflect themselves

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 05/04/2016 - 01:00


Katrina Clarke, Toronto Star, May 03, 2016

There's a very involved emoji-approval process (which is how we end up with an unrepresentative set of emogis) but it'd good to see these students speaking out against it and creating their own alternatives.  “ I thought this would be a good way to spark them thinking about what emojis represent — if they represent them as young women,” said Daniel Pupulin, the students’ communication technology teacher.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Tinker With a Neural Network Right Here in Your Browser.

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 05/02/2016 - 08:00


Daniel Smilkov, Shan Carter, TensorFlow, May 02, 2016

This is a lovely visualization that allows you to play with a neural network by playing with some network parameters and watching the output. Even better, the authors write "We’ ve open sourced it on  GitHub  with the hope that it can make neural networks a little more accessible and easier to learn. You’ re free to use it in any way that follows our  Apache License. And if you have any suggestions for additions or changes, please  let us know."

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Categories: Miscellaneous

If everything is a network, nothing is a network

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 05/02/2016 - 08:00


Mushon Zer-Aviv, Visualising Information for Advocacy, May 02, 2016

Good article that will push your think on networks a bit. The bulk of the discussion is devoted toward convincing people that they ought to look at more than just nodes and edges "to also include  flows  and (as per Galloway and Thacker)  protocols." This makes sense to me, and there are other network properties that should be discussed more as well (connection weights, activation functions, and more). But the author also says "networks need narrative" because "we experience life as a narrative, not as a map and certainly not as networks. A network diagram rarely represents static relations. Narrating a flow through the nodes in the network is a useful way of examining it." To me, that's a lot like saying "we need abstractions". And in a sense it comes down to being able to visualize what's happening. "Visualising algorithms is still a small fringe in the visualisation world. It is mostly academic and so far has mainly served an internal maths and computer science discourse."

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Categories: Miscellaneous

How to Load a Website in Firefox’s Sidebar

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 05/01/2016 - 20:00


Lori Kaufman, How-to-Geek, May 01, 2016

For various reasons I've been looking at how to create and open sidebars, modals, and other embedded content windows. Now maybe it's true that the whole world uses mobile phones these days, but I still see desktops and laptops (not to mention tablets) as more important in the realm of online learning. And these, I think, will need to support content mixing a lot better than they do. (It reminds me of the days back in the 1980s working on my  Atari computer  where the main thing for me was to be able to have a split editing window so I could move content back and forth.) I keep hearing about how impossible it is but I see stuff like this drag-and-drop sidebar  and I know it's not.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Your Media Business Will Not Be Saved

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 05/01/2016 - 20:00


Joshua Topolsky, Medium, May 01, 2016

Good article making a point with which I am in full agreement: new technology won't save traditional media because traditional media isn't offering content people want. Note: language warning, especially at the point where they describe the quality of existing media content. Where newspapers and television could get away with very low-quality coverage (not to mention biased coverage and outright propaganda) in the days where they were the only source of content, now they have to provide much better content in order to compete. And they're not set up to do this. "Compelling voices and stories, real and raw talent, new ideas that actually serve or delight an audience, brands that have meaning and ballast; these are things that matter in the next age of media."

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Get Rid of Grade Levels: A Personalized Learning Recipe for Public School Districts

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 05/01/2016 - 15:00


Travis Lape, EdSurge, May 01, 2016

This is an interesting effort that is well worth following over the course of the next year. A school district  in South Dakota is eliminating grades in favour of personal learning. To support this, they have developed a model incorporating alternative learning methodologies for active, collaborative and learner-driven learning. Instead of classes they have things like 'the daily dish', a meeting where learners plan their day around the  on things happening in each of the studios, and 'CT Circles', "critical thinking discussion groups to help learners deepen their understanding of specific learning." I hope  that when they review the outcomes they don't just look at standardized tests (which of course still presume classes and grade levels) and take a more all-encompassing look at student progress. I also hope they give it more than just a year.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Why World of Warcraft won't let fans play their own game

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 05/01/2016 - 15:00


Lucy Schouten, Christian Science Monitor, May 01, 2016

This item shows the dangers of platform dependence. World of Warcraft (WoW) is a popular computer game. People buy the software, but it requires a web server to act as a platform for in-game interactions with other people. As time went by, new versions of WoW came out. Normally you could just play the older version of a game if you want, but in this case the original WoW server was shut down, making all those computer games worthless. An independent version of the server called Nostralius was set up, but the owners of WoW ordered it shut down, claiming it was piracy. So now the user have no legal way  of playing their own  purchased versions of the game. Sure, it's just a game.  But it still represents millions of dollars of value simply obliterated because the company wants to push a new version of the software.

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Categories: Miscellaneous
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