Miscellaneous

Bliu Bliu: ‘the only company in the world that teaches languages we don’t even know’

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 01/02/2015 - 12:00
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Philip J. Kerr, Adaptive Learning in ELT, Jan 02, 2015

Fascinating review of the language-learning company called Bliu Bliu. The principle behind the site is that you learn language by immersion, reading and using language. OK, so far so good. The system works by presenting you a series of tests building on your knowledge level, so that you are only introduced to a few new words at a time. The entire set of test exercises is automatically generated. Sounds good? According to this review, it isn't. Indeed, to this point, it appears to be awful. Why did it go wrong? "It is generally accepted now that comprehensible input may be necessary, but it is not sufficient for language learning to take place," argues Philip Kerr. "Bliu Bliu has falsely assumed that comprehensibility can be determined by self-reporting of word knowledge, and this assumption is made even more problematic by the confusion of words (as sequences of letters) with lexical items."

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Too big to disrupt?

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 01/01/2015 - 14:00
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Tim Kiladze, Globe, Mail, Jan 01, 2015

This article focuses on the Canadian banking industry's response to threats to their business from companies like Google, Facebook, PayPal and Square. Thanks to regulation preventing them from risky ventures into insurance and sub-prime mortgages, the Canadian financial industry weathered the recession almost unscathed. But new threats from new technology (and especially virtual or online payments) threatens their position. Mistakes cost billions. The banks are in a good financial position and have a history of innovation, which helps them. But what they rely on most of all, concludes the article, is the trust they have built with consumers over the years.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Old Literacies and the “New” Literacy Studies: Revisiting Reading and Writing

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 12/31/2014 - 17:00
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Norm Friesen, Seminar.Net, Dec 31, 2014

Norm Friesen takes an entire essay to get to making this point, but it's worth the wait: "A curriculum – whether in Nippur or New York-- is not a description of development, it is a prescription for it; and this is the difference that separates a relativist study of inscriptive and expressive practices from the practical realities of education." What that means is that literacy isn't some sort of invariable, but rather, is the result of layers upon layers of cultural norms that have piled up over the years, and it is one that is (importantly) created through education, and not merely revealed through it.

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OpenSocial and the OpenSocial Foundation: Moves to W3C

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 12/31/2014 - 17:00


Brian Kelly, UK Web Focus, Dec 31, 2014

The Open Social Foundation is moving standards work to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). There will be two groups, as described by Brian Kelly:

  • The Social Web Working Group, which is defining technical standards and APIs to facilitate access to social functionality.
  • The Social Interest Group, which is coordinating development of social use cases, and formulating a broad strategy to enable social business and federation.

Kelly describes one case of interest, cross-platform commenting on (for example) photo uploads. This sort of thing exists now, but only inside silos like Facebook. The open social web is an endeavour to make social work everywhere. As such, the would could be of significant importance.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Doing Better With Open Access Advocacy

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 12/31/2014 - 14:00
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Jill O'Neill, The Scholarly Kitchen, Dec 31, 2014

Jill O'Neill argues that Open Access advocates shouldn't casually appear to the needs of the visually impaired as an argument in favour of open access. It never bothered them before, she says - "such incompatibility hadn’ t surfaced in earlier open access manifestos — Budapest, Berlin, Bethesda"  — and now seems a convenient issue to use to make the point. This comes in response to criticisms of Nature's new 'open access' policy, which allows reading but disallows downloading or printing or even simple cut-and-paste for quotations. The criticisms, she said, "were terse notations, lacking explanations as to whether this was due to incompatibility issues on the particular platform or caused by some other flaw in the system." Well open access can't change the past and revise the documents she quotes. And it's false that access for the visually impaired is a recent issue for OA advocates. Here is  Michael Geist making the argument, for example. Image: Odori.

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Cyberwar and Cyberterror — New and Unwelcome Companions in Publishing and Culture

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 12/31/2014 - 11:00
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Kent Anderson, The Scholarly Kitchen, Dec 31, 2014

I don't think conclusion of this article, that "online publishing is  not simpler, cheaper, or easier than printing ever was," follows from what we were presented. You can avoid email filters by using RSS, and you can avoid e-commerce issues by publishing openly. But the discussion of the new security environment is intelligent and well-reasoned. And it reflects the change in tenor of the online attacks as they professionalize and become weapons in espionage and diplomacy. Our own organization was targeted last year and I can speak (albeit only indirectly) about the cost and impact of that. It really doesn't help that governments are now on the side of the hackers, instead of unequivocally opposing them. But as Kent Anderson says, "if the government won’ t attack the hackers, the companies will.

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