New Learning, New Society

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Design Elements in a Personal Learning Environment
[Sept] 01, 2015. Invited Talk, Guadalajara, Mexico (Lecture). Share

Interview with Braulio Perdigao, Petrolessons: Innovators in E-Learning Series
Susan Smith Nash, E-Learning Queen, [Sept] 02, 2015

Learning and development in the oil and gas industry is in the spotlight these days as the industry rides out the downturn, retools, and pays more attention to productivity and staff development. In this post Susan Smith Nash interviews Braulio Perdigao from Petrolessons (the oil and gas industry has a comprehensive training and development network with a lot of collaboration across companies). "I noticed the common thread around training, skills gap which in oil and gas is called The Big Crew Change," said Perdigao. "There is so much project intelligence that is lost, over 4MM professionals leaving the industry in the next 5 years and over 1.8MM coming in and there is a huge gap here. The knowledge gap in O&G is due to a hiring freeze between the 80's and early 2000's, and it represents a MAJOR challenge for the industry."

Amazon Underground – New Business Model for Android Apps
Jeff Barr, Amazon Web Services, [Sept] 02, 2015

This is a really interesting business model - I'm not sure exactly how the finances work at the other end, but on the producer side it appears very attractive, especially for education: "As an app developer, you get paid $0.002 (1/5th of a cent) for every minute that a customer is using your Amazon Underground app. You can now focus on building apps that engage your users over the long term. You can build up long-term story lines, roll out additional content over time, and count on a continued revenue stream that is based on actual usage."

10 things Teachers Want in Professional Development
Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach, Powerful Learning Practice, [Sept] 02, 2015

Nice graphic and article depicting what 'teachers want' in professional development. I'm not sure how representative it is, but no matter. What's interesting to me is the gulf between what 'teachers want' in their own development, and what they provide in the classroom. Would they really allow students a "voice and choice" in the subject matter? Would they really provide learning "conducted by professionals with (field) expeerience"? Would they really provide learning experiences that allow them to "collaborate and speak honestly"? I don't know.

The six pillars of innovation at Blackboard
Mark Strassman, Blackboard, [Sept] 02, 2015

If you're wondering where Blackboard plans to go with technology development in the future, these six pillars might be a guide (quoted):

  • Focus on the learner: Be the advocate for the ‘new learner’ and integrate this thinking into the way we build products and solutions
  • Support life-long learning: Commit to supporting the new learner on their entire life-long journey
  • Drive design thinking: Build delightful user experiences that respond to learners’ emotional needs
  • Build workflows, not products: Build solutions for learner workflows
  • Embrace the cloud: Provide an accessible, up-to-date, and always-on environment
  • Make data actionable with integrated data and analytics

I think these are all reasonable objectives, though of course it's in the details software survives or fails. Can Blackboard make the shift from focusing on institutions and publishers to individual learners? It's an open question.

Higher Education's Faulty Economics: How We Got Here
Tom Lindsay, Forbes, [Sept] 02, 2015

I take it with a grain of salt when Forbes accuses something of "faulty economics", especially a public service such as education. And true to form, Forbes lays the blame at the feet of access: "tuition hyperinflation, burdensome student-loan debt, and poor student learning—are to some extent branches of the same tree, whose roots are found in the well-intentioned but what has proved to be catastrophically naïve assumption that virtually all high school graduates should go to college." What is naïve, I think, is the presumption that we could pick some elite subset of society and treat them to an education, leaving the rest of us to depend on their beneficence. The problem is that too much of the education system is in the hands of private industry, a sector noted for raising prices, increasing debt, and cutting back on quality. The suggestion that this would suddenly change were we to limit access to education is nonsense.

Serious Games Directory
Serious Games Association, [Sept] 02, 2015

I'm sure it could have more listings, but in all fairness, it's still in beta, and the Serious Games Directory seems like a pretty good start from the Serious Games Association (I still don't like the term 'serious games' because it suggests (a) that some games are not serious, which every gamer knows is false, and (b) serious games are not fun, which may be true, but if so, indicates only that they were badly designed). "The Association offers programs and services for all games for learning and training market segments - education, healthcare/medical, corporate, government/military, visitor centers and nonprofit organizations." Enjoy. Really, enjoy.

Estimating the reproducibility of psychological science
Brian A. Nosek, Science, [Sept] 02, 2015

I would not be surprised to see similar results in educational research as well. As the abstract of this study states, "Ninety-seven percent of original studies had statistically significant results. Thirty-six percent of replications had statistically significant results." Of course the reason for this is a mixture of small sample sizes, disproportional representation, and statistical variability. It shows again that we can't rely on (nor cite) individual studies as proof of anything. Especially when they are 'a class of students at a midwestern university'. Academica has the full rundown of links to this widely covered story: CBC | National Post | New York Times | Inside Higher Ed.

Connecting industry professionals to every classroom!
Nepris, [Sept] 02, 2015

Interesting concept for a website. According to the promo blurb, "We make it easy for teachers to virtually invite industry professionals into the classroom to bring real world relevance to curriculum topics, to help evaluate student projects and to engage and inspire students in STEAM!" By 'STEAM" they mean Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (poor old Humanities just can't catch a break). The site is called Nepris.

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.
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:

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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

My calendar

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