New Today

Revealed: how Whisper app tracks ‘anonymous’ users
Paul Lewis, Dominic Rushe, The Guardian, Oct 19, 2014

The Guardian is standing by its story that Whisper, the application that guarantees complete anonymity to users, is tracking and sharing their locations. For its part, although Whisper dismisses the Guardian story as a pack of lies, it has also altered its terms of service to allow such tracking. And according to American Journalism Review, "Whisper in particular is aggressively pushing its content to reporters as potential sources for news stories." It also had a partnership with Buzzfeed and the cable news channel Fusion. The thing is, you can't be an anonymous app and a news source at the same time. Some links via American Press Institute 'Need to Know'.

Our Digital Futuire: A Crowdsourced Agenda for Free Expression
Various authors, Open Media, Oct 19, 2014

"At its best," reads the executive summary of this report, "the Internet encourages us to share, use our creativity, and express ourselves freely. It fosters the same key experiences that help us preserve our imaginations and our capacity to learn as we grow from children into adults." Drawing from contributions from the community, the report makes three main recommendations:

  1. Respect creators
  2. Priorize free expression
  3. Embrace democratic processes

"Citizens, particularly young people, are increasingly questioning the legitimacy and effectiveness of traditional models of governance and hierarchical processes of decision-making; a new method befitting the era of participation is sorely needed."

Louise Brown, Toronto Star, Oct 19, 2014

It's not exactly what I had in mind when I talked about alternative assessment mechanisms recently, but you can see how this website, which rates students based on groupwork, easily fits the category. "A York University MBA grad has launched a website where college and university students can rate their classmates — up to five stars, with room for comments — on how they perform on the pillars of group work: teamwork, competence, dependability, work ethic and communication skills."

MOOCs: A Review of the State-of-the-Art
Ahmed Mohamed Fahmy Yousef, Mohamed Amine Chatti, Ulrik Schroeder, Marold Wosnitza, Harald Jakobs, CSEDU 2014 - 6th International Conference on Computer Supported Education, Oct 19, 2014

This is quite a good overview of the current state of MOOCs with a number of good images, statistics and definitions, making it a great reference paper for future discussions. "84 peer reviewed papers were selected in this study. A template analysis was applied to analyze and categorize the MOOCs literature into 7 dimensions, namely concept, design, learning theories, case studies, business models, target groups, and assessment."

Launching the new Open Access Button. Push Button. Get Research. Make Progress.
Unattributed, Open Access Button Blog, Oct 19, 2014

I'm sure every research has had the same experience: we do a search on Google or follow up a promising reference form some other paper, access the link, and are faced with nothing but a subscription wall. It's a daily occurrence for me, and to my min, these search results are nothing but spam. The Open Access Button is intended as a remedy. "We have gone from an idea to a really useful, workable bookmarklet which has helped track thousands of people running into paywalls. Our bookmarklet was great, we love it but we want to grow and make the Open Access Button better, we’re launching the new Open Access Button on Tuesday October 21st." See also: "Researchers want to be read, acknowledged and quoted."

New LMS Market Data: Edutechnica provides one-year update
Phil Hill, e-Literate, Oct 19, 2014

Phil Hill gives us a look at a rich source of information about the LMS market, Edutechnica'a one-year update. Although the study is US-focused, it does also have data for the "anglosphere" (Canada, the US, the UK and Australia) (do read the Edutechnica post for an update on the nature of institutions studied). The major news is: Blackboard still leads, Canvas has overtaken D2L, and Moodle has a significant and still growing market share.

Where Has All the Learning Gone?
Rob Reynolds, The Learning Lot, Oct 19, 2014

It has been a couple weeks since the EDUCAUSE conference, but this retrospective is worth reading (and I was in Brazil so I can be forgiven for being a bit slow with this item). Rob Reynolds observes, "At EDUCAUSE, it seemed evident that the problem we are trying to solve is that of making our businesses -- our institutions, companies, products -- more successful." From where I sit, I think that this is probably the result of the withdrawal of public money from education - educators and technology companies look to where the money is, and increasingly, it's not students, it's business and industry.

Why Germany Is So Much Better at Training Its Workers
Tamar Jacoby, The Atlantic, Oct 19, 2014

It is tempting to want to simply import Germany's successful apprenticeship training model to the United States, says Tamar Jacoby, but such an idea should be approached with caution. For one thing, the system is expensive - from $25K -to $80K per apprentice. It also depends on significant government involvement in industry in order to create and maintain cross-industry standards. And it is focused on blue-collar training, which is seen as second-rate on this side of the ocean. But, on the other hand, the system is flexible and effective, it is popular, and it trains highly skilled workers who produce world-class machinery. But note the attitude: “German companies want to train,” one trade association executive told us, “because they know the schools can’t do it. Especially in today’s tech economy, vocational schools alone can’t prepare the workers we need.”

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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)

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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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