I work in the Learning and Performance Support Systems program at the National Research Council, a multi-year effort to develop personal learning technology and learning analytics. I am one of the originators of the Massive Open Online Course, write about online and networked learning, have authored learning management and content syndication software, and am the author of the widely read e-learning newsletter OLDaily.


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The Bittersweet Convergence of Policy, Higher Ed and Tech

This article summarizes a panel at a recent BBWorld conference. The premise is that "even as technology continually promises to deliver a more effective education to a more engaged audience of learners, it hardly ever measures up." Instead, we see "a rush of bad actors coming in and providing subpar, poor-quality, crappy education, used by schools that are seeing this as a cheaper way to get folks through." But the "what I really want" response is equally bad - "What I really want — on our overhead projector, I want a rollof plastic, not individual screens." Yes, someone said that. In 2017. Of course, this is a policy panel, so we get the usual discussion about whether or not regulations stifle innovation. As though that were the problem. (I wonder how much money authors get paid to write panel summaries. Maybe I could get a gig doing that.)

Today: 115 Total: 115 Dian Schaffhauser, Campus Technology, 2017/08/23 [Direct Link]

Whatever happened to …


As I flip through old photos and presentation archives I am struck by the fact that the only evidence that some event or conference ever existed might be on my web page. So it may be with Educational Network of Ontario/Réseau éducatif de l’Ontario (ENOREO), recolleded by Doug Peterson in thiss post. He writes, "Through a text-based interface, you could connect with other Ontario Educators and discuss the educational issues of the day, 24 hours a day.  It really seemed like magic." But it does have a legacy:  the Flat Stanley Project.  How about that!

Today: 94 Total: 94 Doug Peterson, doug - off the record, 2017/08/22 [Direct Link]

Amazon’s Alexa: Your Next Teacher #elearning


Don't panic about the headline. The story here is that learning management systems (including, among others, Instructure's Canvas) has hooked into the Alexa API, so they can not accept (some) voice commands, and give audio responses. "This means," we are told, "that students will be able to ask Alexa key questions (e.g., What were the main points made in today’s class?), and Alexa will be able to offer a summary." For more coverage, see this report describing how Alexa is being supported by Canvas and Blackboard.

Today: 145 Total: 145 Cait Etherington, eLearningInside News, 2017/08/22 [Direct Link]

This amazing South-Bronx school grows 50,000 pounds of vegetables a year

This is a sponsored post on Vicki Davis's site, but don't let that slow you down, it's a great post (if you read it on the website there's a really annoying blocker, just click 'No Thanks' and the story will reappear. Also, you have to scroll past the "Sorry, this promotion is not available in your region" box - I hope she's making lots of money from the advertising because we're certainly paying for it with a miserable reading experience). The post itself features an interview with the author of The Power of a Plant, which describes the way an inner city school is supporting education - and its students - by growing vegetables indoors. "It’s all low-cost, replicable, and of course, there are our incredible tower gardens where we are growing food in a food-insecure community using 90% less water, 90% less space, and sending home 100 bags of groceries per week." There's so much hype and marketing in and around the article that it screams scam, but I want to believe there's something good there at the bottom of all that.

Today: 98 Total: 98 Vicky Davis, The Cool Cat Teacher Blog, 2017/08/23 [Direct Link]

Mastodon is big in Japan. The reason why is… uncomfortable


This criticism of Mastodon - which, full disclosure, I use regularly - is odd. Here it is: "Japanese users had been looking for a Twitter-like platform where they could share lolicon writing and imagery for some time." For those unfamiliar with lolicon (as I was", it "includes animated cartoons and 2D drawings of young men and women in a way that is undeniably sexualized." As Zuckerman says, "some advocates for distributed publishing will be disappointed that Mastodon’s growth is so closely tied to controversial content."

But where's the problem? I don't see one. In Japan lolicon "is legal, widespread and significantly accepted." As Zuckerman himself notes, the rest of the world has to live with "the hypersexualization of tween girls in Americal popular culture," not to mention some more objectionable manifestations of 'free speech' that we find in cesspools like 4chan and Reddit. The big difference between Mastodon and, say, Twitter, is that that culture-specific content isn't blasted all over the internet and into our homes. The difference is that one country can't impose its values on the rest of us. I call that a win. I've been enjoying my time on Mastodon, far away from spam messages, fascists, Disney child princesses, and yes, lolicon. It's the internet before it became ewwww and I prefer it that way.

Today: 100 Total: 100 Ethan Zuckerman, 2017/08/23 [Direct Link]

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.