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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Beginning the  Conversation…A Made-in-Canada Approach  to Digital Government

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Some of the key conversations taking place in our field are echoed in this report on digital government in Canada. Most of the interestinbg stuff is near the end of the document: connecting with external tralent ("mechanisms like Interchange and newer flexible staffing regimes make it relatively easy and fast for hiring managers to bring outside professionals into government for short-term assignments"), user-centric design skills (" a skills gap that needs to be addressed in the public sector at the intersection of user-centric design and agile prototyping and development"), cloud and open source technologies ("open source platforms have become an increasingly important foundational element for digital transformation in public sector organizations across the world"), digital identity ("many participants expressed a desire for the federal government to play a stronger leadership role, and to pilot digital identity solutions"), and digital literacy ("digital literacy was identified as being needed across government, at all levels and functions, to support smart decision-making"). The resulting website - Digital Canada - keeps people up to date on the program (and incidentally leaves the antiquated 'Common Look and Feel (CLF)' standards in the dust behind it as through they weren't even there) and their Twitter feed.

Today: 118 Total: 118 Government of Canada, 2017/07/20 [Direct Link]

Evaluating personalization

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This post looks at "the constellation of meanings that are associated with the term ('personalization'), suggest a way of evaluating just how ‘personalized’ an instructional method might be, and look at recent research into ‘personalized learning’." It follows a previous post illustrating how the term has been rendered meaningless by marketers. Unfortunately, writes the author, "but perhaps not surprisingly, none of the elements that we associate with ‘personalization’ will lead to clear, demonstrable learning gains." But what counts as a gain? This is what is missing in the research. "The Gates Foundation were probably asking the wrong question. The conceptual elasticity of the term ‘personalization’ makes its operationalization in any empirical study highly problematic."

Today: 123 Total: 123 Philip Kerr, Adaptive Learning in ELT, 2017/07/20 [Direct Link]

Information Underload

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Mike Caulfiend comes out with a gem of a post questioning the concept of 'information overload'. The problem isn't too much information, he writes. The "big problem is not that it’s a firehose, but that it’s a firehose of sewage. It’s all haystack and no needle." He has numerous examples: numerous cancer studies, no cancer cure. Numerous research studies, no repoducability. Big data in education, but no idea where this data should lead us. An "algorithm could only match you with the equivalent of the films in the Walmart bargain bin, because Netflix had a matching algorithm but nothing worth watching." I keep telling people, 'education isn't a search problem'. Maybe I should be saying 'education isn't an algorithm problem'.

Today: 149 Total: 149 Mike Caulfield, Hapgood, 2017/07/20 [Direct Link]

Personalized Learning: Budget cuts spur new teaching model

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This is a post touting Momentum Schools, Oklahoma's version of personal learning. "Momentum gives students the choice of how, when and where they attend school [and]  instead of traditional group class time, students schedule meetings with individual teachers to assess schoolwork. Students work at their own pace to ensure they master the content." Doing what? I wonder. The story doesn't tell us. Digging into the Momentum site reveals it's competency-based learning. We see pictures of students at computers, so I can guess. And the reason this model was adopted was to save money, so they're cutting teacher interacton. And I don't see any real freedom in this model: students are bound to the content, bound to the machine.

Today: 129 Total: 129 Sarah Julian, NonDoc, 2017/07/20 [Direct Link]

Here (with 2 Years of Exhausting Photographic Detail) Is How To Write A Book

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This is a terrific post delivering exactly what the title promises, running from ideation, proposal, research, writing and editing, and even cover design and legal review. The value of the post isn't in giving aspiring writers a recipe they should follow - indeed, the method is completely paper-based and therefore more cumbersome than necessary. But it offers valuable suggestions about process, for example, the notecard system, which is very similar to what I do here with OLDaily (each one of these posts is like a separate notecard). It's something to show students to have them think about the process of knowing, the process of learning, the process of creating.

Today: 142 Total: 142 Ryan Holiday, The Mission, Medium, 2017/07/20 [Direct Link]

America’s hidden philosophy

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This article offers what could be an interesting explanation for the state of educational policy and while I can't say I necessarily agree with it I can't entirely dismiss it either. It tells the story of UCLA chancellor Raymond B Allen, who needed a reason to fire some Marxist professors during the McCarthy years. The argument he developed was that "members of the Communist Party have abandoned reason, the impartial search for truth." But what would 'reason' look like in this (capitalist) context? "Rational choice theory... was a plausible candidate. It holds that people make (or should make) choices rationally by ranking the alternatives presented to them."

The article doesn't extend the explanation to education policy, but I feel free to. It offers an explanation of the focus on STEM, as opposed to the non-rational theory-based disciplines in the humanities and social sciences. It explains the phenomenon of 'school choice' as an argument for privatizing schools. It explains the popularity of 'evidence-based' practice measuring concrete outcomes such as test scores. And it explains the rejection of 'social good' as an outcome in education. But as the article says, " there is much more to a good society than the affordance of maximum choice to its citizens." And indeed, offering choice (as compared to allowing people to create) is itself a mechanism of control.

Today: 108 Total: 235 John McCumber, Aeon, 2017/07/19 [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.