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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Update on British Columbia’s open textbook project


Tony Bates reports on the British Columbia open textbook project. Here's the bottom line: "BCcampus estimates that as of 24 November, 2015, the project has resulted in estimated savings for students of between $927,200 and $1,204,762. The calculation is based on 9,275 students across the 19 participating institutions who have adopted open textbooks." When we look at the total number of students in the system across Canada, the potential for savings from open textbooks becomes staggering. And this does not include the number of people outside the system who could benefit from free access to textbooks. You can find the open textbooks on the BCcampus OpenEd website.

Today: 338 Total: 338 Tony Bates, online learning and distance education resources, 2015/11/26 [Direct Link]

One Minute Physics


This is a nice set of short videos posted on YouTube explaining common concepts in science and physics. I was directed to this series by following the link to Why it isn't Faster to Fly West from a post on Kottke. It's a pretty smooth marketing channel. I also watched the next video in the series, How to Get into Space, featuring drawings from XKCD's Randall Munroe. I liked the completeness; not only does it explain rockets (in the ten-hundred words most frequently used), it also talks about what you have to do to become an astronaut and have other people allow you to go to space. If we could actually get ourselves organized (and there's no reason to believe that we won't, eventually) videos like these could and will form an important part of learning (not, learning will not consist of sitting in front of a computer watching eight hours of these).

Today: 338 Total: 338 YouTube, 2015/11/26 [Direct Link]

The Maker Movement is about Making Meaning


Mostly I think that the 'maker movement' is about publicity for Make magazine, but let's go with this. Jay Silver writes "The maker movement is not about the stuff we can make, it’s about the meaning we can make." I'm in agreement with the idea that new technologies enable "a direct superdemocracy of creation without permission." I'll even accept that "the strength of multiple representations of truth is celebrated as being even more true." But I don't think that you "make" meaning, no more than you "make" truth or "make" relevance. To say we "make meaning" is to confuse an act of creation with an act of perception. The former is expressive, directed outward, while the latter is receptive, directed inward. Related: Seymour Papert and Idit Harel in Situating Constructionism.

Today: 397 Total: 397 Jay Silver, Medium, 2015/11/26 [Direct Link]

CIBC CEO Victor Dodig says colleges and universities need to make more innovative grads


Let's take it as a given that "Canada... lags its international peers in training graduates in areas geared for boosting innovation. Those fields include science, engineering and mathematics" and that "Canada has likely missed out on billions of dollars because its innovation economy has shown zero growth for three decades." How do you fix this? Not simply by educating people in science, engineering and mathematics, because basic research does not by itself drive innovation. And these graduates will mostly get jobs with US-based multinationals, and if they do any real development, it will be through their US or European offices. And you can't drive innovation by directing funds toward 'Canadian' companies for 'research', because as we saw over the last ten years, they'll take the money and still not invest in research.

The best made-in-Canada (and stay-in-Canada) innovation is based on spinoffs from funded academic research that is supplemented with business innovation support and services. Instead of simply taking the R&D and giving it to a well-connected company, it is better to help the people who developed it bring it to market. The problem is, the people who really benefit from that are the people who created the innovation, and the people who are employed by them, and not the well-connected incumbent business and political interests. So it's an uphill battle getting the funding and support in place. 

Today: 137 Total: 551 Canadian Press, CBC News, 2015/11/26 [Direct Link]

How Freelance Clients Find Me


Some useful and so far as I can tell accurate advice to help people find clients as freelance instructional designers. One element you need is a portfolio - "Prospective clients need to see what kind of work you can do." Networking is another essential, but you have to do it right. Christy Ticker writes, "I’ve found it helpful to approach networking with a focus on how I can give to other people, rather than what I can get." Social networks are good places to connect with clients. Tucker writes, "You can demonstrate your expertise. I once got a major project as a result of a question I answered in a LinkedIn group. "

Today: 133 Total: 475 Christy Tucker, Experiencing E-Learning, 2015/11/26 [Direct Link]

Understanding knowledge network, learning and connectivism


This is a terrific paper that describes and explains connectivism as a learning theory. What I really like is that it demonstrates a deep understanding of connectivism, and recognizes that connectivism thinks of knowledge differently from previous theories. It spends a lot of time on this. "In Connectivism, the structure of the knowledge is described as a network. The network is a set of nodes connected to each other. These relationships/connections may not be seen as a singular link between two nodes. Instead, they are more like patterns: groups of relationships that come together as a single whole. The network is not static; it is dynamic and those patterns may change over time. Learning, according to Connectivism, is a continuous process of network exploration and patterns finding; it is a process of patterns’ recognition." So good. So well stated and correct at a deep level. The whole paper is like this. Don't miss it. (p.s. Page 17, should be "fuzzy logic" not "fussy logic" though I love the new terminology!)

Today: 569 Total: 3045 Alaa A. AlDahdouh, António J. Osório, Susana Caires, International Journal of Instructional Technology, Distance Learning, 2015/11/25 [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.