New Learning, New Society

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Analyzing the Social Web
Jennifer Golbeck, May 28, 2015

Sheri Oberman sent me this link to a set of video lectures on the topic of analyzing the open web. Topics include network basics, network structure, visualization, tie strength and trust, building networks, and more. Tools used include Gephi, "an open source graph analysis and visualization tool," and NodeX, "a graph analysis and visualization plugin for Microsoft Excel. Works on certain Windows platforms only. The unique feature of NodeXL is the 'spiggots' it has to import data from other sites, like Flickr, Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook. I often use NodeXL to import data and Gephi to visualize it."

Trends 2015: Learning and Teaching in European Universities
Andrée Sursock, European University Association, May 28, 2015

This is a survey of European higher education institutions in an effort to identify trends half-way through the 2010s finding that, in essence, "the following issues should be addressed if progress is to be continued and consolidated in future:

  • Lifelong access to learning for a diverse student body - "their success hinges on what takes place both inside and outside university classrooms, whether these are “click or brick”.... with a stress
    on student engagement through their involvement in governance, volunteer activities in the
    community, etc."
  • Student-centred learning and preparation of graduates for the labour market and society - "the importance of promoting active learning and interdisciplinarity and ensuring that teaching is ICT-supported and research-led."
  • Development and implementation of effective internationalisation strategies - "as a mechanism for preparing students for global citizenship and for developing a range of partnerships and research collaborations."

Links to a 133-page PDF.

The Big Five, self-esteem, and narcissism as predictors of the topics people write about in Facebook status updates
Tara C. Marshall, Katharina Lefringhausen, Nelli Ferenczi, Personality and Individual Differences, May 28, 2015

According to this study, different personality traits can effectively predict what people will write about in their Facebook status updates. For example, "extraverts more frequently updated about their social activities and everyday life, which was motivated by their use of Facebook to communicate and connect with others. People high in openness were more likely to update about intellectual topics, consistent with their use of Facebook for sharing information."

Linking Creativity to Entrepreneurship
Chris Kennedy, Culture of Yes, May 28, 2015

I like the second-last slide of the presentation, which depicts the idea as "replacing 'I wish' with 'I will'." Developing a sense of agency in people is urgent and crucial. But There's a lot more to the concept of 'entrepreneurship' in education than this, and it's all this baggage that gives me cause for concern. But according to Chris Kennedy, the concept is shifting. " I know I held a traditional view of entrepreneurship, that the area of study was really about creating people for the world of business.  And yes, this is important, our schools are about so much more around the skills and qualities we want and the citizenship we want to foster."And the emphasis, he writes, is far more about the need for creativity and agency than business and finance.

Maybe, but if you look at the examples in the post the idea of business and finance are still central: in Early Entrepreneurs, "participating classrooms each get a $100 micro-loan as startup capital" and create a business to send profits to charity; in Entrepreneurship – Ignite Your Passion students "engage in topics such as leadership, communication, marketing, financial literacy, and entrepreneurship; culminating with developing their own business"; and YELL (Young Entrepreneurship Leadership Launchpad) is "a hands-on, experiential accelerator for high school students interested in gaining knowledge and developing experience in all areas of business and entrepreneurship."

Why do I dislike the idea of teaching entrepreneurship so much? Because it changes the child's perspective from the idea of serving social needs through work and learning to one of serving the needs of people with money. And when you have this perspective, you can never get at the question of why these people have all the money in the first place, and you can never perform work which changes that.

Setting the PACE: Teacher Assessment Practices in a Competency-based Education System
Jonathan VanderEls, Connected Principals, May 28, 2015

Good though overly pandering discussion of the application of an accountability strategy called PACE (Performance Assessment for Competency Education) in competency-based classrooms. "The best performance assessments integrate multiple subject areas and are requiring students to be engaged in deeper levels of learning," writes Jonathan VanderEls. " Our teachers are now building cross-disciplinary assessments that require students to demonstrate varied competencies whereas initially we were generally focusing on one subject area."

The mass university is good for equity, but must it also be bad for learning?
Hannah Forsyth, The Conversation, May 28, 2015

This article drifts a bit but is nonetheless an insightful look at the relation between mass learning, the academic tradition of informal learning, and class or background. People pine for the days when students eagerly discussed ideas at the café or in the pub, writes Hannah Forsyth, and they think the mass university brings that experience to everybody, but they forget that it is class, culture pedigree and background that gives them the skills necessary to flourish in this environment. I would argue that this is why so-called elite universities are values for their functions as selectors of people based on class, culture pedigree and background, and not (merely) as academic institutions. That's why their graduates continue to be favoured by employers, despite no obvious difference in experience or education. We need to understand in open online learning that what we are fostering is not just equitable access to a bunch of facts, but actual equity in the job market and society as a whole.

How IT and the Role of the CIO is Changing in the Era of Networked Organizations
Dion Hinchcliffe, On Digital Strategy, May 28, 2015

I know that this is the way we want to go. But I also know it's really difficult. If I need a product built, say, how do I get that large cluster of self-managing units to do it? If I need email to function on the weekends, what motivation does the SaaS provider to do that? If I need to connect my laptop to the network, why would IT security enable that? A network structure does away with command and control, but to work it has to replace that with mechanisms that motivate mutually supportive practices. And these are hard to design.

Working Out Loud 101 | Some Thoughts
Sahana Chattopadhyay, ID and Other Reflections, May 28, 2015

This post is a good overview of the concept of "working out loud", something we've visited in these pages from time to time. Here's John Stepper: "Working Out Loud starts with making your work visible in such a way that it might help others. When you do that – when you work in a more open, connected way – you can build a purposeful network that makes you more effective and provides access to more opportunities."

Links and Resources

(presentations include slides and audio recordings)
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Key Articles

Scholarly Articles

Cites:294 Educational Blogging (Local copy)
264 Learning objects: Resources for distance education worldwide (Local copy)
134 E-learning 2.0 (Local copy)
126 Models for sustainable open educational resources (Local copy)
88 The future of online learning (Local copy
75 Learning networks and connective knowledge (Local copy)
70 Design and reusability of learning objects in an academic context: A new economy of education (Local copy)
59 Resource profiles (Local copy)
40 Learning networks in practice (Local copy)
33 Semantic networks and social networks (Local copy)
35 An introduction to connective knowledge (Local copy)
27 Design, standards and reusability (Local copy)
23 EduSource: Canada's learning object repository network (Local copy)
22 An introduction to RSS for educational designers (Local copy)

(Cites from Google Scholar for an H-Index = 14)

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About Stephen Downes

Stephen Downes is a senior researcher for Canada's National Research Council and a leading proponent of the use of online media and services in education. As the author of the widely-read OLDaily online newsletter, Downes has earned international recognition for his leading-edge work in the field of online learning. He developed some of Canada's first online courses at Assiniboine Community College in Brandon, Manitoba. He also built a learning management system from scratch and authored the now-classic "The Future of Online Learning".

At the University of Alberta he built a learning and research portal for the municipal sector in that province, Munimall, and another for the Engineering and Geology sector, PEGGAsus. He also pioneered the development of learning objects and was one of the first adopters and developers of RSS content syndication in education. Downes introduced the concept of e-learning 2.0 and with George Siemens developed and defined the concept of Connectivism, using the social network approach to deliver open online courses to three thousand participants over two years.

Downes has been offering courses in learning, logic, philosophy both online and off since 1987, has 135 articles published in books, magazines and academic journals, and has presented his unique perspective on learning and technology more than 250 times to audiences in 17 countries on five continents. He is a habitual photographer, plays darts for money, and can be found at home with his wife Andrea and four cats in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada.


Stephen Downes travaille pour le Conseil national de recherches du Canada, où il a servi en tant que chercheur principal, basé à Moncton, au Nouveau-Brunswick, depuis 2001. Affilié au Groupe des technologies de l'apprentissage et de la collaboration, Institut de technologie de l’information, Downes est spécialisé dans les domaines de l'apprentissage en ligne, les nouveaux médias, la pédagogie et la philosophie.

Downes est peut-être mieux connu pour son bulletin quotidien, OLDaily, qui est distribué par Internet, courriel et RSS à des milliers d'abonnés à travers le monde. Il a publié de nombreux articles à la fois en ligne et sur papier incluant The Future of Online Learning (1998), Learning Objects (2000), Resource Profiles (2003), et E-Learning 2.0 (2005). Il est un conférencier populaire, apparaissant à des centaines de manifestations à travers le monde au cours des quinze dernières années.

Vision Statement

I want and visualize and aspire toward a system of society and learning where each person is able to rise to his or her fullest potential without social or financial encumberance, where they may express themselves fully and without reservation through art, writing, athletics, invention, or even through their avocations or lifestyle.

Where they are able to form networks of meaningful and rewarding relationships with their peers, with people who share the same interests or hobbies, the same political or religious affiliations - or different interests or affiliations, as the case may be.

This to me is a society where knowledge and learning are public goods, freely created and shared, not hoarded or withheld in order to extract wealth or influence. This is what I aspire toward, this is what I work toward.

Canadians who gave their lives in service in Afghanistan

Hundreds of my IAAF Track & Field Photos from Moncton 2010

My calendar

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