I work in 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.

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The Open Research Agenda

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Passing this along: "The Commonwealth of Learning (CoL) is conducting a global survey of OER ahead of the 2nd World OER Congress....You can find out more and take the survey at http://rcoer.col.org/surveys.html. If you’re feeling in a mood to contribute to a survey, please also consider sharing some thoughts on our open research consultation at http://tinyurl.com/2016ora."

Today: 281 Total: 281 OERhub, 2016/09/26 [Direct Link]

Google’s creepy Allo assistant and our rocky relationship so far

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I actually admire Google's efforts to make Allo work. Allo has a greater range than Siri, even if it does listen in to your conversations and act like a friend that's trying too hard to be liked. Eventually we'll all use an assistant like this, but they'll have to work out some of the glitches and get past the 'creepiness' factor. What concerns be about Allo and its ilk is that it's tied to the phone. The phone is our least secure device, is a consumption-only device, and is tied to things that matter, like our phone number (and hence, telcom account and billing). Here's a bit more about Allo.

Today: 247 Total: 247 Paul Bradshaw, Online Journalism Blog, 2016/09/26 [Direct Link]

Open education and the Unenlightenment

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"This desire for knowledge, the very belief that acquiring knowledge was a worthwhile pursuit, underpinned much of cultural development through to the 20th century. And although it started out as a privileged pursuit, the basic premise, which we can summarise as 'knowing stuff is good'... " writes Martin Weller. "The Unenlightenment sees a reversal of this basic principle: wilful avoidance of knowledge." It won't be enough, he argues, to simply create great OERs. "Education needs to fight not only for its own relevance, but for the culture within which it is situated. " maybe - but at the same time it needs to fight against the culture in which it is situated. The culture of education is a culture of privilege and special rights and inside favours and manipulating the law (and statistics, and whatever else needs manipulating) to ensure this never changes. And - from where I sit - the problem is that many of the people within education do not want to let go of this culture. It is, after all, how they make their living.

Today: 146 Total: 594 Martin Weller, The Ed Techie, 2016/09/23 [Direct Link]

Yahoo hack hits 500 million users, but who are the suspects?

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The lesson here is, if you put your data into a big giant data store, it's going to be hacked. And the agency that does it is probably going to be a national government. Pundits are talking about the Russians, the Chinese and even the North Koreans, but I have to consider the American NSA to be equally likely suspects (the only difference is that they're marginally less likely to get caught). On the bright side, "If this is state-sponsored I don't think they actually want the information - it is more about the impact of the data breach."

Today: 215 Total: 653 BBC, 2016/09/23 [Direct Link]

Deep neural networks for YouTube recommendations

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"The YouTube system is built on top of Google Brain, or as we now know it, TensorFlow. To give an idea of scale, the models learn approximately one billion parameters and are trained on hundreds of billions of examples. The basic problem is posed as 'given this user’s YouTube activity history, which videos are they most likely to watch next?'" The recommendations are (in my experience) not so great - they reflect my YouTube interests, but not my wider interests. The full paper is available from Google (8 page PDF)

Today: 122 Total: 564 Adrian Colyer, The Morning Paper, 2016/09/23 [Direct Link]

Blind people do math in the ‘visual’ cortex

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What I like about this item is that it speaks against the idea that there is a special area for discrete functions in the brain. “If we can make the visual cortex do math, in principle, we can make any part of the brain do anything.” Here's the original paper (6 page PDF)

Today: 76 Total: 506 Jill Rosen-Johns Hopkins, Futurity, 2016/09/23 [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.