I lead 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.


  • Association of Medical Educators of Europe (AMEE) E-Learning Symposium, Glasgow, Scotland, September 6, 2015.

  • Ghent, Belgium, March 30, 2015.

  • Chang School Talks 2015, Ryerson University, February 23, 2015.

  • Hackademia, Online, to Brazil, March 16, 2015.

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A very complex machine that’s doing nothing very special


This is a video of a machine that picks up randomly organized rocks and places them into very neat rows according to type and geological age. For all kinds of reasons (chief among them being sorting things into very need and organized rows) this machine really appeals to me. "Maus manually trained a machine learning algorithm to recognize features in 30 different types of stones." From the video site Jller – Prokop Bartoníček & Benjamin Maus: "the machine works with a computer vision system that processes the images of the stones and maps each of its location on the platform throughout the ordering process. The information extracted from each stone are dominant color, color composition, and histograms of structural features such as lines, layers, patterns, grain, and surface texture."

Today: 256 Total: 256 slogger, Metafilter, 2016/05/25 [Direct Link]

A sense of wonder and discovery: in support of methodological pluralism


Herodotus is a terrific read, so if you haven't yet, you should. It's also an interesting backdrop against which to frame this discussion of George Siemens's recent talk (and mammoth slide deck) on the fragmentation and reassembly of knowledge. "Think about the parallels between ‘historia’ (critical thinking) and... flourishing in a world that welcomes diversity of views woven into new sense-making," writes Keith Lyons. This view resonates with me. My 'histories' consist of some 26,000 individual posts like this one. They can be combined and recombined to create any sort of narrative. Here's the secret: the narrative, and the way of making the narrative, is not sacrosanct. Any of a hundred ways of doing ti will work equally well. And the same applies ro science and enquiry (and, for that matter, literature and art).

Today: 261 Total: 261 Keith Lyons, Clyde Street, 2016/05/25 [Direct Link]

Moodle Intros Full Support for Competency-Based Ed


I mentioned this in my talk at Moodle Connect last week and think it is relevant to highlight here. "Competency frameworks and learning plans can now be constructed within Moodle or imported from external sources using a plugin." These are used to create learning plans. "Administrators can create learning plan templates and apply them to individuals or entire cohorts of students." Here's a full list of the new features. Competency-based learning plans have been on the Moodle roadmap for some time now and it's no surprise to see a full implementation rolled out. 

Today: 356 Total: 356 Rhea Kelly, Campus Technology, 2016/05/24 [Direct Link]

Blackboard’s Online Learning Trend Report


Some startling but timely reading from Blackboard as their research points to unsettling conclusions about their (and probably other) LMSs. For example (quoted):

  • When students take a class online, they make a tacit agreement to a poorer experience which undermines their educational self worth.
  • Students take more pride in the skills they develop to cope with an online class than what they learn from it.
  • Online classes neglect the aspects of college that create a lasting perception of value.

The report (13 page PDF) says that these negative findings can be used "to craft positive changes for our products." I think that people working with the company would find it refreshing to work where these weaknesses are recognized and are being actively addressed.


Today: 310 Total: 310 Jon Kolko, Blackboard Blog, 2016/05/24 [Direct Link]

Previous LMS For Schools Moving to Canvas in US and Canada


Nice analysis of LMS migration (though limited as always to the U.S. and Canada - I wish e-literate would adopt a more international focus). Two major things are highlighted: first, a substantial portion of the the growth of Instructure's Canvas is coming from Blackboard Learn (and the bulk of the rest is from older LMSs such as WebCT and Angel). Canvas has also attracted some conversion from Moodle, but Moodle has grown so rapidly it doesn't really matter. Second, it is worth noting that D2L's Brightspace has a nearly 100% retention rate. Once people sign on with the platform, for the most part, they don't leave.

Today: 294 Total: 294 Phil Hill, e-Literate, 2016/05/24 [Direct Link]

Reinventing Research


Making the same point again (and I'm going to keep bringing it up until something changes): "The traditional gold-standard approach to research—a randomized control trial (RCT)—is not worth its weight as we move to a student-centered education system that personalizes for all students so that they succeed," writes Michael B. Horn. As AltSchool's Max Ventilla says, "Something that’s better for 70 percent of the kids and worse for 30 percent of the kids—that’s an unacceptable outcome." Right now, in my opinion, reserachers don't even have a structure or mechanism for studying personal learning, much less any research base that is built upon that. 

Today: 368 Total: 368 Michael B. Horn, EducationNext, 2016/05/24 [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.
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