New Learning, New Society

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Dropbox Delivers FTP-like Uploading Anyone Can Use
Steve Borsch, Connecting the Dots, Jul 07, 2015

I've always liked haaving my own FTP server because it means I can handle large files without really thinking about it. As well, it's easy to update scripts and web pages. But the downside of having my own FTP server is managing my own FTP server. But as this post notes, DropBox's new service will make FTP-like servers available to everyone. And then anyone will be able to fling around 1 gigabyte files with ease.

Stabilizing AWS Costs on UMW Blogs
Jim Groom, bavatuesdays, Jul 07, 2015

Amazon Web Services (AWS) isn't the only cloud hosting service out there, but it's one of the largest and most sophisticated. But as Jim Groom writes, people still get nervous about using cloud technology. " One of the reasons folks were scared of AWS is the fact that you pay monthly based on usage and resources rather than a fixed cost for a dedicated server." And it's not just web services - I get nervous about having my music on Google and my Photoshop on Adobe Cloud. Anyhow, you can keep costs under control, but you have to manage your configuration, otherwise "you could keep throwing EC2 instances at the problem," says Groom. An EC2 instance (I looked it up) is an Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud, "a web service that provides resizable compute capacity in the cloud."

Real training, real-time, real environments
Amazon, Jul 07, 2015

If you haven't explored these, you may want to take a quick look through the Amazon Web Services (AWS) online courses. Here's their pitch: "Get hands-on practice working with cloud technologies and software. Train on-demand and learn at your own pace. Choose from a variety of Learning Quests to guide you." The 'quests' are courses, more or less, composed on a dozen or so small tasks priced at between $8 and $15 each. Learners (players?) get badges for completing the courses, and can prepare for an AWS certification exam. Amazon is also making the most of its cloud environment to help others offer courses: "Partners can create, manage and run labs anytime. Labs are delivered via the public cloud to classrooms, events or online; anywhere there is access to the Internet." See also: The Cloud Academy Blog.

Body cameras making their way into Iowa schools
Mackenzie Ryan, Des Moines Register, Jul 07, 2015

According to this article, a Iowa school district is "outfitting its principals and assistant principals with small, clip-on video camera." Why? "It's personal accountability," Superintendent Pat Coen told The Des Moines Register. "Did we treat this person with dignity, honor and respect? And if we didn't, why didn't we?" He can say that, but I imagine it's just as much to protect the educators from the accusations of parents. For example: "A parent had complained about the Burlington school leader's behavior after he used de-escalation strategies to try to calm down a student. The incident was caught on a school camera, which Yeoman said he reviewed and later showed to the parent."

What happens when Facebook says you don't exist
Graham Starr, Christian Science Monitor, Jul 07, 2015

I can only imagine how violated someone may feel when they log on to Facebook and are asked to "verify" their identity by sending documents and photos. I would certainly not send any such information to Facebook. Yet, based simply on the say-so of an anonymous tipster, this is what happens to many Facebook users. It should be a sobering lesson. "The intent, according to the company, is that users know at all times who they’re talking to.... (But) Identity is such a complex issue, says Drake (Nadia Drake, who doesn't exist). 'Where does Facebook get the power to decide what 'authentic' is?'" Facebook says it needs real names to be able to combat harassment. But there's no evidence that real names reduces harassment - if anything, it seems to increase it!

Philae comet could be home to alien life, say scientists
Rebecca Ratcliffe, The Guardian, Jul 07, 2015

I couldn't let the potential discovery of alien life go uncommented in this newsletter. "One thing is for certain: there is no stopping them; the microbes will soon be here. And I for one welcome our new miccrobial overlords. I’d like to remind them that as a trusted internet personality, I can be helpful in rounding up others to toil in their underground hydrocarbon caves." Know your meme. :)

I'm Sorry, But Agile Won't Fix Your Products
Adam Pisoni, The Review, Jul 07, 2015

The point here isn't that Agile is the wrong direction to take, but rather, that it doesn't go far enough toward ensuring that projects are responsive and adaptive. "While Agile did educate a generation of software developers on the importance of experimentation and customer feedback, it failed to change the old, centralized, command-and-control system of management which remains a large part of the problem. Even with Agile, disempowered engineers working with too little context still ended up taking too long to create products customers don’t even want." the challenge thus becomes one of managing projects in an agile manner, which sounds great until attempted against a funder's requirement for specific deliverables and milestones (which is my life these days).

U.S. Digital Services Playbook
U.S. Digital Services, Jul 07, 2015

Interesting and useful resource. "Today, too many of our digital services projects do not work well, are delivered late, or are over budget. To increase the success rate of these projects, the U.S. Government needs a new approach. We created a playbook of 13 key 'plays' drawn from successful practices from the private sector and government that, if followed together, will help government build effective digital services."

Links and Resources

(presentations include slides and audio recordings)
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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)

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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