Miscellaneous

Looking back to move forward: A process for whole-school transformation

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 07/02/2016 - 19:00


Andrew Robertson, Microsoft in Education blog, Jul 02, 2016

This post from Microsoft highlights "a series of whitepapers which show examples of successful transformation and how technology can enable progress under two broad areas: Leadership and policy and 21st century pedagogy." There's a sweeping agenda behind these documents. The policy agenda proposes "a public-private education partnership (that) has the potential to be a significant catalyst for systemic change" along with the associated technology investment. The pedagogy agenda pushes schools towards "cloud solutions that manage infrastructure with services and learning allows schools to operate more effectively." All of this is cast under the heading of personalized learning, capacity building and "responsive and creative use of technology." There are white papers and more for each of the ten sections. I can see how the presentation would engage school leaders looking for a way to address current trends in learning, but they need to look beyond the single-vendor approach proposed here, and they should be clear that technology companies are service providers who are held accountable for delivery, not partners taking a hand in pedagogical and educational decisions.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

A neural conversation model

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 07/02/2016 - 16:00


Adrian Colyer, The Morning Paper, Jul 02, 2016

One of the key questions in learning and technology, from my perspective, is whether a neural network needs domain knowledge in order to function effectively. This article summarizes a paper describing an effort to create an effective conversational tool that operates without domain knowledge, "a bot that is trained on conversational data, and only conversational data: no programmed understanding of the domain at all, just lots and lots of sample conversations." As we see from the examples, "The surprising thing is just how well it works." It's far enough from reliable, though, that the author concludes "any real service is going to need to some more complex logic wrapped around it."

You might be asking, why is this question so important? The answer is complex, but in a nutshell, if we require domain knowledge in order to learn, then we require memorization; by contrast, if learning can be accomplished without domain knowledge, then it can be accomplished by practice alone, without memorization. You might say "so who cares? Just memorize some stuff." You could do this, but this makes it a lot harder for the learner to correct memorized stuff that is wrong, and makes them less able to learn on their own or think critically. The learner's knowledge becomes based more on their pre-constructed model or representation of the world, not experience or evidence. So if you can get to the same place without rote memorization, that would be preferable.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Evernote clampdown causes anger

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 07/02/2016 - 16:00


BBC News, Jul 02, 2016

"An Evernote free basic account is now basically useless," wrote Gizmodo's Gerald Lynch. You'd think there would be no need to recite this lesson again, but here it is. "Evernote has restricted the use of the free version of its note-taking app and raised prices for the paid-for ones. But it faces a backlash from users unhappy at being limited to synching notes across two devices - rather than an unlimited number - unless they pay." More. What people really need is their own stand-alone application to manage and sync resources, so this problem doesn't happen to them again and again. I had hoped this would be part of LPSS, but well, you know...

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Categories: Miscellaneous
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