Miscellaneous

Educational Technology Strategies

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 02/07/2015 - 21:00


Stephen Downes, Half an Hour, Feb 07, 2015

I've been at the  Education Technology Strategies conference in Toronto, for the last two days. Here are my notes - Day One, Day Two. Good conference, interesting. I liked the mix of elementary schools and post-secondary. It was heavy on private and independent schools, but also a lot of public school board representation as well.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

You’re probably using the wrong dictionary

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 02/07/2015 - 18:00
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James Somers, the jsomers.net blog, Feb 07, 2015

This is a fascinating item looking at the old Websters 1828 dictionary, and the editions that followed in its line. While today's dictionaries publish terse and matter of fact definitions that strip the nuance from the word, the original dictionary was elegant and detailed, presenting the word in all its flavours. "It’ s as if someone decided that dictionaries these days had to sound like they were written by a Xerox machine, not a person, certainly not a person with a poet’ s ear, a man capable of high and mighty English, who set out to write the secular American equivalent of the King James Bible and pulled it off." Related:  debate on whether the thesaurus has a place in modern information retrieval. Via Longreads.

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Privacy challenges

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 02/07/2015 - 18:00
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Larry Hardesty, MIT News, Feb 07, 2015

This story has been making the rounds (I heard it on BBC world last night): an MIT research project is determined that you can positively identify a person with only four data points across a set of anonymized data. "Even if the data set characterized each purchase as having taken place sometime in the span of a week at one of 150 stores in the same general areas, four purchases (with 50 percent uncertainty about price) would still be enough to identify more than 70 percent of users." Today I'm listening to a speaker from new Jersey say all their students have to use a Google login to access services. Well, there are your four data points. You may as well just mail Google your students' ID and student records (I asked about it; he wasn't really concerned about it).

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UBC students hope ‘sailbot’ makes history crossing Atlantic solo

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 02/07/2015 - 15:00
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Geordan Omand, Globe, Mail, Feb 07, 2015

Why did the robot cross the ocean? "This summer, a team of engineering students from the University of British Columbia is hoping its 5.5-metre-long boat will sail into the history books as the first seafaring vessel to successfully traverse the Atlantic entirely solo.... 'Basically we’ re trying to make a big, big sailboat, make it autonomous and sail it across the Atlantic Ocean.'" It's hard to imagine a better way to learn robotics, oceanography, weather forecasting.... but what should it be called? A rowbot? A roboat?

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Neuroenhancement and the Extended Mind Hypothesis

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 02/06/2015 - 20:00
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John Danaher, Humanity+, Feb 06, 2015

One question that's always asked is what is the connection between social networks and neural networks? In a  recent talk I referred to the 'Downes answer' and the 'Siemens answer' to this question. This article provides some of the theoretical underpinning to the Siemens answer: "The extended mind hypothesis (EMH) was first introduced to the philosophical world by David Chalmers and Andy Clark in 1998. Their claim was simple enough... mental phenomena were multiply realisable." This claim is (a variant of a claim called) functionalism, and it allows that the same mental state could exist in different types of physical states, such as neurons and computers. And if mental states are distributed, then the very same mental state could exist across both systems at once, being partially in a neural network and partially in a computer network (did George really have this solution in mind before I called it the Siemens answer? You'll have to ask him!).

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ADL Community Survey

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 02/06/2015 - 17:00


Craig Wiggins, Advanced Distributed Learning, Feb 06, 2015

Received by email: "the Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) Initiative has launched a new  effort to create a SCORM profile of the Experience API (xAPI). ADL  requests your participation in this survey to help inform our  direction for this effort, and to gauge your current usage of  distributed learning products, services, SCORM and xAPI. The target  audience for this survey is anyone in the education and training  community familiar with distributed learning." This link will take you to the survey.

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The Copyright Manifesto: How the European Union should Support Innovation and Creativity through Copyright Reform

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 02/06/2015 - 17:00
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Various authors, Copyright for Creativity, Feb 06, 2015

16 page PDF. Here's the problem: "Europeans discover regularly (and with increasing frustration) that they cannot access the same content across the EU." So this manifesto proposes that European copyright should be simplified and harmonized. The copyright period should be shortened, and the current state of dysfunction in enforcing the rules should be addressed. "It is an absurdity that technological progress has led to a situation where actions that were possible before these technological developments – such as buying and selling second-hand cultural goods – are now being prohibited, to the detriment of citizens." Totally agreed. See more at the C4C website.

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Google Brain’s Co-inventor Tells Why He’s Building Chinese Neural Networks

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 02/06/2015 - 14:00
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Caleb Garling, Medium, Feb 06, 2015

Basically this is a look at Coursera founder Andrew Ng's next venture. He's now working with Baidu and still focused on massive - “ only interested in tech that can influence 100 million users” - and in particular on using neural networks for analytics. He hasn't lost his hubris - "We have the English language. Now we’ re figuring out Chinese" - but that's OK if he does interesting work. I can't see working in Chinese being anything other than that. For those who think we think and learn in a language of logic, Chinese poses a challenge - it's completely different from English. You need to find low-level subsymbolic processes before ever getting to the language. "At the first level [the machine] might learn to detect edges in an image, and then it might learn to detect corners. This is knowledge that is common to the two languages."

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Announcement: Create Your Own Newsletter

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 02/06/2015 - 06:00

Create your own newsletter! The links in today's OLDaily connect to documents used in my workshop today. You can click on the links and help edit the documents as well. Whatever you create will be the content of today's newsletter.


Categories: Miscellaneous

Does Mechanism Matter? Student Recall of Electronic versus Handwritten Feedback

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 02/05/2015 - 12:00


Megan E. Osterbur, Elizabeth Yost Hammer, Elliott Hammer, International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching, Learning, Feb 05, 2015

You probably won't see this one in the Chronicle: "Our research found that whereas students who preferred or received handwritten feedback recall more feedback (quantity), those who actually received electronic feedback recall comments more accurately (quality)."

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Fibbing for Rankings

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 02/05/2015 - 12:00


Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, Feb 05, 2015

Wondering why students cheat? They learn it at school. "The University of Missouri at Kansas City gave the Princeton Review false information designed to inflate the rankings of its business school, which was under pressure from its major donor to keep the ratings up, according to an outside audit released Friday."

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Is it Time to Change Tracks with Your LMS?

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 02/04/2015 - 12:00
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Jeffrey Roth, Social Learning Blog, Feb 04, 2015

Sometimes I forget that organizations still have learning management systems (LMSs). But of course that's silly: beyond a certain size, they all have learning management systems. Sometimes they have several (in one case I studied, dozens!). But generally, they're not very happy with them. "Learning and development research firm Brandon Hall reports that, of 135 organizations, 58 percent want to replace their current LMS." But the question now in my mind is whether we just replace the current LMS with a better LMS, as this story suggests, or do we rethink how online should be provided? People who know me know I'm pretty firmly in the second camp. That's why LMS companies aren't calling me any more. But they should.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

The Beauty of the Block

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 02/04/2015 - 12:00
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Audrey Watters, Personal Blog, Feb 04, 2015

I blocked and unfriended someone yesterday for warmongering. He was only the latest of dozens - maybe hundreds - of people I've blocked in the last few months. I was like Audrey Watters: "I didn’ t used to block. I’ d unfollow. I’ d ignore." But now I block because I don't want this in my life. And I don't block because it's simply unpleasant. I block to keep the images out of my mind. They are damaging and can sometimes hurt. Repeat something over and over enough, loudly enough, persistently enough, and people come to believe it (even if they know it's not true). That's how propaganda works. Wonder why we're raising a generation of misogynists? Look at the news, sports and other media they watch every day. And don't worry about having created a "filter bubble." As Watters says, "My blocking trolls doesn’ t damage civic discourse; indeed, it helps me be able to be a part of it." Loudspeakers blaring lies at you over and over again isn't part of civil discourse. We can afford to block them, whether they are actual loudspeakers or social media trolls.

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