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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Attending to the Digital


Interesting article from Audrey Watters, as is so often the case, and I like the focus on the origins of the meaning of the word 'attention' and the oft-cited concern that the digital is creating an attention deficit. "You can see that the noun is accompanied by all sorts of verbs. We pay attention. We give attention. Attract attention. Draw attention. Call attention. Fix attention. At which noun-verb combination are we failing?" Fair enough. And the idea of the 'attention economy', with its values firmly planted in the capitalist ethos, is surely typical of western culture. But I was surprised to see her overlook the sense of 'attend' meaning 'to wait'. That's what the french verb attendre actually means. To wait, and to wait on, to attend. This sense changes the meaning of such phrases as "the tongues of dying men enforce attention like deep harmony." In the words of Arcade Fire: We used to wait. Not any more.

Today: 247 Total: 677 Audrey Watters, Hack Education, 2016/10/24 [Direct Link]

The problem for people isn’t advertising, and the problem for advertising isn’t blocking. The problem for both is tracking.


Some good points here following Google's quiet change of policy to allow personally identifiable web tracking. "Google could now, if it wished to, build a complete portrait of a user by name, based on everything they write in email, every website they visit and the searches they conduct," says Julia Angwin. "Tracking is no less an invasion of privacy in apps and browsers than it is in homes, cars, purses, pants and wallets," says Doc Searls. "Our apps and browsers are personal and private. So are the devices on which we use them...Tracking people without their clear and conscious permission is wrong... Claiming that advertising funds the “free” Internet is wrong." True. But tracking isn't the only problem with advertising. I tried looking at the new map of the Galaxy today and even with ad-blockers turned on couldn't see it behind the barrage of popups and auto-play videos running on news sites.

Today: 149 Total: 487 Doc Searls, Doc Searls Weblog, 2016/10/24 [Direct Link]

PubSub: W3C First Public Working Draft 20 October 2016


From the World Wide Web Consortium, something interesting: "The Social Web Working Group has published a Working Draft of PubSub. This specification describes an open, simple, web-scale and decentralized Publish-Subscribe protocol; and HTTP-based profile which requirements for high-volume publishers and subscribers are optional." According to the protocol page, "As opposed to more developed (and more complex) pubsub specs like Jabber Publish-Subscribe [XEP-0060] this spec's base profile (the barrier-to-entry to speak it) is dead simple."

Today: 304 Total: 842 Julien Genestoux, World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), 2016/10/21 [Direct Link]

Digital Defenders


I'm not really a fan of the game-fiction-as-learning format, but I agree that it's a useful effort to provide information to children about online security and personal privacy (11 page PDF). But if you have to use superheroes couldn't their powers be something other than 'mystical powers'? (That's what bothers me about Netflix programming - every time I see something remotely interesting, it turns out that the character has some sort of mystical power; it gets boring). Also, I found it odd that the otherwise very useful list of privacy and security tools and plugins on the last page didn't include any ad blockers. That would be the first tool I'd recommend.

Today: 226 Total: 744 Kirsten Fiedler, Theresia Reinhold, European Digital Rights (EDRi), 2016/10/21 [Direct Link]

Embedding is the new linking

Some not-so-surprising aspects to this story: first, people want to see resources from other sites right on the page they're looking at (within reason; there's nothing worse than a page full of embedded YouTube videos), and second, Twitter and YouTube lead the way while Facebook is a distant last. If you want to embed this post anywhere just use the following (the https is necessary in many environments to support security standards):

<iframe src="https://www.downes.ca/cgi-bin/page.cgi?post=65961&format=summary"></iframe>

Today: 332 Total: 876 Paul Bradshaw, Online Journalism Blog, 2016/10/21 [Direct Link]

Learning Analytics Webinar


Michael Feldstein recommends this webinar (66 minute YouTube Video) on xAPI and Caliper. Good discussion, though I wish Silver's audio quality were better. We mentioned earlier this month that discussions are being held between proponents of the two specifications on interoperability. "I suspect that more than the usual care is being taken to make the conversation officially unofficial," said Feldstein. No doubt; there's a lot of overlap. The value propositions look very similar, but there's a "design philosophy difference" (according to Silver) between the two. The second slide looks a lot like the old personal learning environment diagrams. There's a reference to the use of Apereo's open source LRS technology to support the JISC Learning Analytics infrastructure. Caliper, meanwhile, is "rewriting our spec from top to bottom".

This appears to be one of the new Recommended Reading (or in this case, Viewing) series announced today from the e-Literate blog. It's always nice to see a new source of good reading material in our field and let me be the first to welcome O’Neal Spicer to the edublogosphere (yeah, it's still a thing).

Today: 152 Total: 692 Aaron Silver, Anthony Whyte, 2016/10/21 [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.