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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39 studies about human perception in 30 minutes


There' some good information about design in this article as well as some insight into how humans perceive (and even some information about how humans perceive as compared to algorithms). The studies look at how humans perceive lines, shapes, objects and colour: what we think they mean, and what insights and interpretations we draw from different types of representations. Worth a look. 

Today: 304 Total: 304 Kennedy Elliott, Medium, 2016/06/01 [Direct Link]



"The thousands of small adjustments we make each day are barely noticed," writes Simon Terry. But change is a constant in human life, and it should be a constant in organizations as well. "Their existence is almost entirely driven by competition for resources, stakeholders and attention. They must deal with the scaled change and complexity of people internally and externally every day." So far so good. But why then this fixation on purpose, as though it were some centerpiece through which all change must flow. Purpose - the reason for being - must change also. It must be responsive to the changes within a person or within an organization as well as changes in the environment.

If we think of external factors as drivers of change, then the purpose of an organization is an attractor of change - and in a chaotic environment, it becomes a movable target, a strange attractor.

Today: 261 Total: 261 Simon Terry, 2016/06/01 [Direct Link]

No, it’s not you: Google maps really did get crappy


As a cartography aficionado I also have notice the declining quality o Google maps, and in particular the disappearing city names. The author talks about the imbalance (too few cities, too many unnamed roads) at a certain scale, but if you zoom in you'll also notice it difficult to find street names and the names of rivers (you also get a totally different selection of city names). As suggested, these chages to Google maps are probably because it is optimized for mobile (lines good, text bad). "Unfortunately, these 'optimizations' only served to exacerbate the longstanding imbalances already in the maps. As is often the case with cartography: less isn’t more. Less is just less. And that’s certainly the case here."

Today: 323 Total: 323 Justin O'Beirne, Quartz, 2016/06/01 [Direct Link]

A Framework for the Ethics of Open Education


"This paper proposes a framework that focuses on the ethical significance of a particular group of educational technologies usually referred to as open education," writes Robert Farrow, noting " is “a paucity of literature” addressing the socioethical dimensions" and the suggestion that while open learning such as MOOCs is intended to extend access to learning, it tends to support the already privileged. There is also the sense in open education can be seen in the sense of non-sanctioned experimentation on human subjects, especially as " research activities are increasingly taking place outside institutions using open, publicly available data and technologies to collect and analyze data as well as disseminate findings," a practice known as "guerrilla research". The framework itself considers these questions from the perspective of three ethical views: the deontic (duty-based), consequentialist (or pragmatic), or virtue and character based theories. I think it's a bit light, but overall the subject is given a decent treatment. 17 page PDF

Today: 203 Total: 925 Robert Farrow, Open Praxis, 2016/05/31 [Direct Link]

Ten years of open practice: a reflection on the impact of OpenLearn

The best part of this article (7 page PDF) is the last page, where the author draws a number of interesting conclusions from a ten-year review of OpenLearn, an Open University open educational resources (OER) initiative. The paper itself is a bit loose (possibly because of brevity) so we don't see how these conclusions are established (presumably as results from the survey?) but it is the conclusions themselves that are work looking at:

  • closed environments with a start and finish date i.e. MOOCs, have lower completion rates than open courses with no start and finish date;
  • forced social activity encourages high drop-out;
  • select the most engaging and enticing content within a module, making a key topic accessible;
  • support induction; the OU loses many thousands of learners who have a long wait from registration;

All of these go against traditional practice (and traditional wisdom) in one way or another. But they do so in a way that makes sense to me.

More papers from the current issue of Open Praxis, selected papers presented at the Open Education Consortium Global Conference, held in Krákow (Poland) on April 12-14, 2016.

Today: 213 Total: 1015 Patrina Law, Anne Jelfs, Open Praxis, 2016/05/31 [Direct Link]

How Technology and the Changing Needs of the Workforce Will Create the Higher Education System of the Future


Good overview article looking at the evolving system of credentials management in U.S. education. But will the One True System do the job? "This new effort, which is linking previously disconnected actors, can be best understood via a new Connecting Credentials platform for these actors to learn and share from each other. Rather than a separate set of definitions for each credentialing pathway, there will be a universal taxonomy to connect all credentials." I've seen efforts like this before and their track record is not good. My preference would be to allow credentials to be expressed independently, and then to build systems that can comprehend and interpret these statements. 

Today: 162 Total: 852 Jamie Merisotis, EDUCAUSE Review, 2016/05/31 [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.
Sponsored this month by: Rory McGreal