New Today

Software with Shoulders
Doug Belshaw, April 23, 2014
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If you're wondering, Facebook knows pretty much everything about you. Which takes us back once again to the discussion of public spaces and private places. I remember writing about this in 2000, but it wasn't ereally much of an issue back then. But today, with surveillance, clampdowns on public demonstration, and all the rest of it, it is becoming much more so. Doug Belshaw writes: "Public spaces should be public and commonly-owned. Perhaps it’s time for governments to stop fawning over billionaires with technical skills and start providing services for all of us. Maybe instead of dismantling the state to allow for private profit, we can use technology to create a more egalitarian and just society." (p.s. don't bother with David Eggers; novelizations are not evidence, and shouldn't be cited as a way "to dig a little deeper"). 

Another Post about Hashtags. No, Seriously.
Tressie McMillan Cottom., tressiemc, April 23, 2014
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Insightful post about the role and use of hashtags. It's relevant because of the widespread use of hashtags in learning. Hashtags were (and are) produced not by individuals or corporations, but by communities. Though commonly associated with Twitter, they existed before Twitter monetized them, and would continue to exist even after the company discontinues their use (as some carefully placed 'rumours' have suggested). But in the spirit of 'there is utterly nothing that commerce does not foul' the discussion over hashtags has turned to their exploitation (by news and other content agencies) and they ownership (by the people who really created them but who are missing out on the exploitation). It's actually a pretty common phenomenon; hashtags are just the latest victim. #Jazz #Rap #MOOC

Gates-funded student data group to shut down
Carolyn Thompson, Houston Chronicle, April 23, 2014

A Gates-funded startup is shutting down over privacy and security concerns. "The nonprofit's goal was to give educators a data-based tool to personalize instruction. InBloom, based in Atlanta, offered to store and synthesize student data, such as grades, disciplinary actions and disability records in cloud-based servers."

An Interview with Donna Fry
Doug Peterson, doug - off the record, April 23, 2014
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This interview with Donna Fry gives you a sense of what it's like to teach and learn in northern Ontario, and insight into some of the work being undertaken to support that, including OSSEMOOC. "We need to help school and system leaders build capacity, and connections.  They need to have a good understanding of educational technology, but they also need to know who to consult with before making decisions. So with #OSSEMOOC, we are trying to build that capacity and those connections."

Open Access Button
Various authors, Open Access Button, April 23, 2014
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This is a nifty idea: "Every time you hit a paywall blocking your research, click the button. Fill out a short form, add your experience to the map along with thousands of others. Then use our tools to search for access to papers, and spread the word with social media." Here's the associated crowdfunding press release.

Student Led Conferences: Sick and Tired of Blogs & Reflection?
Silvia Tolisano, Langwitches, April 23, 2014
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I really like the idea of student-led conferences, though I think they should be used more imaginatively than to "present to their parents about the state of their learning." Why can't they be real conferences about real things, presenting original work and research they devised on their own? This would allow them to appeal to all students (one wonders how many lives would have been changed were the industrial arts students' work valued and presented as just as important as academic work (or for that matter were academic and industrial arts work valued and presented as just as important as athletics)). But more to the point, we have to get away from this: "I am writing what my teachers want to hear, but not really what I think." Why not create student-led conferences that are genuine examples of students' interests? (p.s. the name of the blog is finally explained here).

The plot to kill the password
Russell Brandom, The Verge, April 23, 2014
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Interesting look at the use of fingerprints for identification. The concept depends on two things: first, something called zero-knowledge proof, wherein the system knows that the fingerprint-based login was successful, but never has a copy of the fingerprint itself, and second (and related) the use of local devices to log you into remote services ("You’ve always got a finger and a phone, so logging in isn’t a problem, but the combination makes the security much, much harder to break"). The specification is being promoted by the FIDO Alliance, which includes most major vendors (except, of course, Apple, which never plays well with others). As for me, I would not mourn the passing of the password.

How much should we be willing to pay for a use?
Doug Johnson, Blue Skunk Blog, April 23, 2014
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Doug Johnson asks, "How do you determine if you are getting your bitcoin's worth of use from a paid resource - whether it is a reference source, full-text database, e-book subscription, or set of teaching products?" That's a tough question. It's harder because value changes with format - and with use. I remember the World Book fondly because I read the multiple volumes cover-to-cover while I was in high school. Infinitely valuable! But if it's just a reference library, costing 70 cents a search, it's not nearly the same. $5K for an annual subscription seems like a lot (it's way more than the paper copies on the shelf in the library could have cost). Why not just use Wikipedia (or better - have the students create their own encyclopedia using Wikipedia and other sources)?

Links and Resources

(presentations include slides and audio recordings)
Videos: http://www.downes.ca/me/videos.htm
RSS Feed: http://www.downes.ca/news/OLDaily.xml
Podcast: http://www.downes.ca/news/audio.xml

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)

Recent Popular Articles

The Purpose of Learning, February 2, 2011.
The Role of the Educator, December 6, 2010.
Deinstitutionalizing Education, November 5, 2010.
Agents Provocateurs, October 28, 2010.
What Is Democracy In Education, October 22, 2010.
A World To Change, October 19, 2010.
Connectivism and Transculturality, May 16, 2010.
An Operating System for the Mind, September 19, 2009.
The Cloud and Collaboration, June 15, 2009.
Critical Thinking in the Classroom, June 5, 2009.
The Future of Online Learning: Ten Years On, November 16, 2008.
Things You Really Need to learn: http://www.downes.ca/post/38502

Social Network

Twitter: http://twitter.com/downes
Slideshare: http://www.slideshare.net/Downes/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/downes
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Google: http://www.google.com/profiles/sfdownes
Blip.tv: http://downes.blip.tv/
Contact: stephen@downes.ca Stephen.Downes@nrc-cnrc.gc.ca
Skype: Downes


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.

Biographie

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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