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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Competency-Based Education and Extended Transcripts: IMS Global Learning Consortium Enabling Better Digital Credentialing

In a nutshell: "IMS initiatives in digital credentialing enable interoperable competency ecosystems and empower institutions to award credentials beyond the traditional transcript." In addition, "The prevalence of informal and community learning on the web, a renewed appreciation for the value of service learning, and recognition of workplace and experiential learning are all expanding conceptions of what could/should be included in a person’s learning record." Organizations working with IMS on this include collegiate registrars and AACRAO, the Competency Based Education Network C-BEN, and the Badge Alliance. The competency data model itself includes four key data elements:

  • competency hierarchy - these "help institutions sustain coherent programming across many technology tools."
  • competency type - these "empower institutions to control and clearly communicate their curricular models."
  • competency code - this "is a logical reference to the full competency statement."
  • competency scores - this "enables institutions to report student-level competency scores based on the institution’s assessment strategy."

The idea is "to support an extended transcript for CBE as well as general interoperability among higher education institutional systems." There is a working prototype showing how an extended transcript might be displayed in a web browser. The next task to to see widespread adoption, implementation in learning technology, testing and evaluation. 9 page PDF.

Today: 272 Total: 900 Deborah Everhart, Lea, Jeff Grann, Mark Leuba, Joellen Shendy, IMS Global, 2016/05/23 [Direct Link]

Are OERs Sustainable?

This is an excellent posts looking at five key questions regarding the sustainability of open educational resources (OERs), backed with examples and references. Here they are

  1. "Is the production of OERs sustainable?" After the end of the UKOER funding stream, there was "a dramatic decline in the number of resources added to JORUM." But a "huge amount" of content is being produced on other platforms. "I see this not as a petering out of OER production, but a shift in its context."
  2. "Are OER platforms sustainable?" We don't know yet. "Entire platforms can disappear. In the non-open world, the closing of a platform means the loss of its content. We don’t have that problem in the OER world."
  3. "Are communities of open practice sustainable?" There are examples both ways, but "the continuation of the OER conference itself suggests a positive answer to the question about communities."
  4. "Are the OERs themselves sustainable: are they being updated so as not to lose relevance?" A tiny number of resources get remixed, but is that bad? Most academic publications aren't cited, but a small number get a huge number of citations. "To decide whether too much or too little adaptation is happening, we need to know the distribution that “'should' exist, and it’s not clear how to do this." 
  5. "Do OERs promote an awareness of sustainability across all subjects?" We don't know.

Great stuff. I read this as argumentation in support for the community-based approach to OERs, rather than institutionally funded and supported. But having said that, I would be loathe to withdraw all funding from the field: what's needed are the tools, supports and scaffolds to help communities build and share their own OERs.

Today: 362 Total: 1552 Martin Poulter, OPENEDSIG Archives, 2016/05/23 [Direct Link]

Documents are the new Email


The idea of this post is to point to the new role of documents as communications tools. Of course, they're always been communications tools, but only as attachments, or worse, printed paper. The new role of documents will see them stored in places like Google Drive, Dropbox, and Sharepoint. Of course many companies already do this, and are beginning to see the second trend identified here: the shifting of a lot of incidental communications to social networks (or social-network-like systems).  They're quick, informal, and can be used to refer to documents. But there's also a third trend, hinted at but not explicitly stated: documents themselves will disappear over time, becoming instead entities in a linked database. We need a better approach to databases to make this work, but this is just on the horizon. Via Doug Belshaw.

Today: 176 Total: 896 Stowe Boyd, Work Futures, 2016/05/23 [Direct Link]



George Siemens wrote a nice tribute to Gardner Campbell that was interpreted as a critique of Jim Groom. "Gardner was an originator of what eventually became the DIY/edupunk movement," wrote Siemens. "Unfortunately, his influence is rarely acknowledged." That's not Groom's fault; I was the fourth person on the edupunk panel at SxSW along with Jim and Gardner and Barbara Ganley and at the time everybody was given credit. But you know how it is with media. And it's hard now because a lot of us (including Campbell) are losing the positions we had in both our own institution and in the open access movement generally. This is partially media, partially corporatization, and partially the unyielding force of history. But as Michael Caulfield says, we "You have to assume your allies have good intentions and are being thoughtful and reflective about their practice. You have to treat differences in approach as differences in personal theories of change, not as tests of moral fiber."

Today: 81 Total: 1203 Michael Caulfield, Hapgood, 2016/05/20 [Direct Link]

Small is Beautiful: A Study of Ed-Tech as if People Mattered


Of course it would be Jim Groom who channels E.F. Schumacher in the context of education technology, "of how small is beautiful in terms of  IT, experimentation, community, open infrastructure, and individual empowerment. I ended on the note that rather than big companies and governments archiving the web, it’s often small, renegade outfits like Archive Team that have preserved 15 years of Geocities sites before they were deleted by Yahoo!" I suppose I would want to amend that original formulation to say that small and connected is beautiful. "The individual web archivist, the marginal group of distributed “hobbyists,” the small nodes of people that make the web great are the one’s that empower it’s possibilities and fuel the long revolution." Yeah.

Today: 32 Total: 874 Jim Groom, bavatuesdays, 2016/05/20 [Direct Link]

Artificial intelligence, cognitive systems and biosocial spaces of education


This article looks at two approaches to AI in education. First, "in the Pearson view, a marketplace of AI applications will both be able to provide detailed real-time data analytics on education and learning, and also lead to far greater levels of achievement." They're working on this now. A lot of what I've talked about in the past - "real-time intelligent analytics conducted up-close within the pedagogic routines" - forms part of this vision.

Second, in the IBM view, educational technology is moving toward a 'cognitive vision' of software that is not preprogrammed with learning tools, but is like instead, for example, "a ‘classroom that will learn you‘ through constant and symbiotic interaction between cognizing human subjects and nonhuman cognitive systems designed according to a model of the human brain." This of course resembles the model of LPSS that i was trying to develop here at NRC. As IBM says, "It’s true that cognitive systems are machines that are inspired by the human brain. But it’s also true that these machines will inspire the human brain, increase our capacity for reason and rewire the ways in which we learn."

There's a third part to the article which looks at 'biosocial spaces': "The brainy space of the educational environment interacts with human actors, getting ‘under the skin’ by becoming encoded in the embodied human learning brain. Human brain functions are augmented, extended and optimized by machine intelligences." I think this is exactly right. This is next-generation educational technology, not previous-generation educational technology. This is overall quite a good article, with numerous links to original sources. 

Today: 52 Total: 902 Ben Williamson, Code Acts in Education, 2016/05/20 [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.
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