New Learning, New Society

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Jul 02, 2015

From Robin Good's list today - this website lets me find out what any website is built with. See it in action for my website. It covers everything from encoding formats to javascript libraries to frameworks, servers and platforms. "Know your prospects platform before you talk to them. Improve your conversions with validated market adoption." You can also use the site to research technology and e-commerce trends.

When a Company Is Put Up for Sale, in Many Cases, Your Personal Data Is, Too
Natasha Singer, Jeremy B. Merrill, New York Times, Jul 02, 2015

The story is in the headline. That's why it doesn't matter how much a company reassures you that "all your data is safe with us." As soon as the company is sold, all bets are off. The definition of "us" has just changed dramatically. That's why some of these startup companies become so valuable. Microsoft didn't simply buy Minecraft technology for $2.5 billion, for example - it bought access to data on millions of children using Minecraft, which is now being leveraged to support its educational offerings.

Were All Those Rainbow Profile Photos Another Facebook Study?
J. Nathan Matias, The Atlantic, Jul 02, 2015

Although I was on one of those celebrating the recent Supreme Court decision in the United States, I did not join the roughly one million Facebook users who converted their profile photos to rainbows. Why? Not because I'm insufficiently enthusiastic, but because I don't trust Facebook, and I trust Facebook applications even less. This lack of trust is well-founded. "Even with same-sex marriage now legal across the United States, coming out or claiming those rights by getting married will continue to be a socially courageous act., Facebook's past research on marriage equality has helped answer a question we all face when deciding to act politically: Does the courage to visibly—if virtually—stand up for what a person believes in have an effect on that person’s social network." Sure, I'd love to know the answer to this. But conducting research on uninformed subjects facing potentially serious consequences is unethical.

Related: if the government told you to change your profile image, would you comply? What would research on this look like? The other day in India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called on people to takee selfies with their daughters. India's netizens responded in the thousands. It's a good cause - "Gender inequality has long been a major problem in India’s highly patriarchal society, where female children are being perceived as inferior and even killed in the womb or as infants — a phenomenon Modi has fought to reverse." But at a certain point, call-and-response becomes compliance.

Schema for Courses
Phil Barker, Google Docs, Jul 02, 2015

One of the things we encountered when harvesting things like Coursera courses is that they are complex entities - you have the 'course', which is the course itself, the 'course section', which is a particular offering of the course, and 'courase events', which are individual online classes and other events. These are all over and above any learning resources that may be used. We're not the only aggregators to encounter this, obviously, and this structure has not made its way to the standards community. Phil Barker provides two links, one raising the issue in the LRMI Github, and a work package in the the DCMI LRMI Task Group.

Year One With a 3D Printer: 17 Tips
Vicki Davis, Edutopia, Jul 02, 2015

The very first piece of advice makes this item worthwhile: "Find a video about loading the filament properly. After an hour of frustration with the written directions, I watched a video and did it perfectly." Online learning FTW! And here's a shout dfor personal learning: "Let students use software that's comfortable for them. Most 3D printers can import any kind of .STL file. You can use the software that came with your printer, but don't stop there. Free programs including Google Sketchup might be easier."

ISTE 2015 Roundup: All the Company News You Need to Know
Mary Jo Madda, EdSurge, Jul 02, 2015

Good overview of the announcements made at the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference in Philadelphia, which is just wrapping up. ISTE is a schools-based organization mostly centred in the U.S. Some of the more interesting announcements (quoted):

  • Samsung and McGraw-Hill announced “Classroom in a Box,” a collection of hardware, software and services geared at K-12 schools.
  • Software company Follett announced Lightbox, a collection of tools and resources that function like e-books, but with quizzes, read-aloud support
  • updates to the iTunes U store - now features a “Free Books by Educators” section, and a “Real-World Learning” section


In social networks, group boundaries promote the spread of ideas, study finds
Katherine Unger Baillie,, Jul 02, 2015

Here's the proposition: "breaking down group boundaries to increase the spread of knowledge across populations may ultimately result in less-effective knowledge sharing. Instead, his research shows that best practices and complex ideas are more readily integrated across populations if some degree of group boundaries is preserved." Like so many things, though, there are different ways of looking at the same thing. Where he sees boundaries, I see clustering. It is well known that there is a 'sweet spot' of connectivity somewhere in the middle between zero connectivity and 100% connectivity, between zero signal and total static. The shape of the network matters. But do we describe this shape in terms of boundaries? "When a society is too grouped, people do not have any social contact with people from other groups," Centola said. "People with the same job all attended the same school, live in the same neighborhood and frequent the same clubs. Their networks do not expand beyond that group."

Learning Experience Design: A Better Title Than Instructional Design?
Cristy Tucker, Experiencing E-Learning, Jul 02, 2015

My answer to that question would be: yes. Connie Malamed explains: "Calling ourselves Learning Experience Designers acknowledges that we design, enable or facilitate experiences rather than courses. This gives us a broad license to empower people with the tools and information they need to do their jobs, regardless of the chosen format."

Links and Resources

(presentations include slides and audio recordings)
RSS Feed:

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.
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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:

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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

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