New Today

John Hattie interview
Brent Simpson, Pedagogy of the Compressed, Jan 28, 2015

I thought you might enjoy this interview with John Hattie, who promotes a concept called "visible learning". From the Visible Learning website we read, "Visible Learning means an enhanced role for teachers as they become evaluators of their own teaching. According to John Hattie Visible Learning and Teaching occurs when teachers see learning through the eyes of students and help them become their own teachers."

Michael Caulfield, Hapgood, Jan 28, 2015

Mike Caulfield writes a challenging paper on some of the debate that has swirled around recently on the relative values of 'making' and 'using'. As I read I found myself agreeing here, disagreeing there, seeing myself in one sentence, seeing someone else in another. "What would happen if we got over our love affair with creators? What would happen if we collapsed the distinction between maker and taker, consumer and producer, not by 'moving people from consumption to production', but by eliminating the distinction? What if we saw careful curation of material as better than unconsidered personal expression?" I don't know. If nobody creates, nothing gets built, and that's a bad thing. But if nobody criticizes, the wrong things get built, and that's also bad. And if nobody uses, then there was no point to building in the first lace, which is also bad. But you know, the more I think about it, the more I think the whole language of value is wrong here. The whole debate got started by some people saying some things, and some types of people, are valued more than others. And I think that's the wrong place to be.

Competency Based Education is quietly headed for the mainstream
Unattributed, Saylor, Jan 28, 2015

Actually, from where I sit, it isn't "quietly" headed for the mainstream, but is rather a great lumbering beast thrashing through the forest toward the mainstream. Competencies are this magic link between employment prospects and educational services and resources, and pave the way for the creation of a learning marketplace. This allows the ostensive creation of a privatized education system, at worst, but on a more positive note could allow people to create their own custom learning programs, private or public, to support their eventual ambition in life. In this way, competency-based education is a lot like educational technology. There are risks, but in the end its value really depends on what you're prepared to do with it. This Saylor blog post links to an Anya Kamanetz article for NPR on competency-based addressing a report from the American Enterprise Institute called The Landscape of Competency-Based Education

The Ethics, Hurdles, and Payoff of Advising an Online Student Newspaper
David Cutler, Edutopia, Jan 28, 2015

Student newspapers are close to my heart, of course, after my having spent five years working at one, and in that time learning every facet of the operation from writing, editing, photography to the print trade. And of course I've been producing newsletters ever since - like this one! Now this article focuses on high school journalism, which isn't quite as free-wheeling as the university newspaper I worked at, but this feels to me like it's too tightly controlled. The author speaks with pride about the fact that the administration has never sought to censor an article - what this tells me is that the students aren't taking enough risks.

Why Github is Important for Book Publishing
Eric Hellman, Go To Hellman, Jan 28, 2015

Something like Github could be important for book publishing. But the documentation is needlessly opaque and the applications take you back to the days of typing commands in terminal windows. In addition to a diagram without lables we get explanations like the following: "Someone working on a project will first create a 'feature branch', a copy of the repository that adds a feature or fixes a bug. When the new feature has been tested and is working, the changes will be 'committed'. Each set of changes with be given an identifier and a message explaining what has been changed." Now if you don't already understand these concepts, these sentences will not help you. And this is the simple explanation (I read the official documentation and it's a long explanation of how it's different from Subversion). I've never found a clear and non-technical description of Git or GitHub (I believe they're separate things, but who knows?) nor an easy-to-use application. Just me? Maybe. But the difficulty of understanding Git makes me really sympathetic with people who have difficulty adapting to tech.

The Power of Detentions
Sam LeDeaux, Connected Principals, Jan 28, 2015

It is worth noting that detention is essentially prison for students. However, note:
- there is no trial
- there is no defence or representation
- there is no appeal
- (probably) rich kids still get off (The Breakfast Club notwithstanding)
It is worth pondering what the real lessons are being learned when detentions are given out.

Autonomy and Value in Social and Workplace Learning
Charles Jennings, Learning Performance, Jan 28, 2015

"The ‘Jennings & Reid-Dodick C-Curve’," writes Charles Jennings, "was developed in the early stages of an L&D transformation for a Global FTSE100 company more than a decade ago." It describes a curve that travels backwards from more autonomy to less autonomy, creation of standards and controls, and gradual re-autonomy. I think it's pleasing to many managers and trainers, who appreciate the move toward steps 2 and 3 (and imagine the progression to autonomy in step 4 can happen after they retire). But despite this weakness, it reinforces the idea that value is tied to autonomy. You can only go so far with control (and not as far as depicted in the model). For real value, people need to interact and make decisions on their own at the point where problems, issues or opportunities are directly confronted.

At Davos, Technology CEOs Discuss The Digital Economy
Amie Colquhoun, Don Tapscott, Jan 28, 2015

Don Tapscott reports from Davos, where they're learned that we need alternative energy sources, that we have to deal with global warming, and that education matters. Of course, they say lots of things (publicly) at Davos. "For the first time in history, economic growth is not generating a meaningful number of new jobs. Factor in the hangover from the financial collapse of 2008 and we’re witnessing youth unemployment levels across the western world from 15 to 60 percent. But panelists said that this was a temporary problem and not a structural problem." I disagree. Half the world's wealth is in the hands of a tiny minority. That's a structural problem, and it explains today's youth are unemployed instead of solving energy problems, addressing global warming, and benefiting from a free and global education system. See also this earlier Tapscott article on Davos 2015.

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.
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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

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