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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Extending a little thought experiment

At what point does something personal - like writing a nice note to congratulate someone - become something impersonal - like writing a script that automatically selects and congratulates people. David Wiley poses this question in a thought experiment and David T. Jones carries the discussion a bit further. What if it isn't a congratulatory note, but something that sends a note asking people who have stalled whether they need any help? And, ultimately, "What about the apparently holy grail of many to automate the teacher out of the learning experience? Are we fearful that technology will replace teachers? Can technology replace teachers?" Image: PC Mag.

Today: 266 Total: 266 David T. Jones, The Weblog of (a) David Jones, 2016/02/05 [Direct Link]

Vancouver’s Just10 launches privacy oriented, ad free social network


I'm thinking 'no' but I still want to send this along, because the service might succeed after all. "Vancouver-based Just10 has unveiled a new social network that promises to be ad free, to never track your movements for selling to third-party marketers, and to emphasize privacy through end-to-end encryption." The catch? You only get to have 10 friends.

Today: 283 Total: 283 Terry Dawes, CanTech Letter, 2016/02/05 [Direct Link]

On Old School Social Bookmarking


Interesting look back at what we used to call 'social bookmarking' - that's where you record the URLs of interesting links and then 'tag' them with meaningful (to you) words and phrases. These bookmarks could be shared, or searched by tag, which made an excellent discovery tool. As Alan Levine notes, it seems to have become less popular. "It’s one of those brilliant ideas that still make tons of sense yet never really caught on beyond the people who can get compulsive about tagging," he writes. Maybe. But I think what's missing is on the 'read' end - there's no really good way to read what people have found. We depend on things like Twitter and Facebook, and these really deaden the experience.

Today: 343 Total: 343 Alan Levine, CogDogBlog, 2016/02/05 [Direct Link]

Why kids — now more than ever — need to learn philosophy. Yes, philosophy.


If you read this more closely (like a philosopher would) you can see that what Valerie Strauss really means here is that kids should be taught how to reason more effectively. "The teacher’s job is to guide and inform student inquiries, helping them pay attention to the quality of their reasoning, and making sure they realize they’re meeting on terms of equality and mutual respect." This is a far larger endeavour than it sounds, as effective reasoning isn't simply a matter of memorizing some logical forms and fallacies. And while it is laudable to encourage kids to become better citizens, it's not clear exactly what that means - should they question assumptions, as Strauss suggests, or simply accept some things as fact, as many leaders suggest? And what is a better citizen anyways?

Today: 352 Total: 352 Valerie Strauss, Washington Post, 2016/02/05 [Direct Link]

LearningStudio and OpenClass End-Of-Life: Pearson is getting out of LMS market


With Pearson getting out of the LMS market, writes Hill, " there will now be more than 100 LMS changes triggered by this announcement... there are still some very large online programs that now have to select a new LMS." But maybe this is a good point for them to pause and think about whether they need to run a learning management system at all. Pearson says, "we believe our learning applications and services are truly 'where the learning happens.'" That's a bit misleading (and anyways, learning happens in the human brain) but the point is sound: you could remove most of the infrastructure of an LMS, and still support learning. See also Inside Higher Ed.

Today: 223 Total: 695 Phil Hill, e-Literate, 2016/02/05 [Direct Link]

Searching for the Algorithms Underlying Life


I've also come to think there's probably one algorithm underlying perception, evolution, thought and consciousness. Here's how it's represented here: "Valiant’s self-stated goal is to find 'mathematical definitions of learning and evolution which can address all ways in which information can get into systems.' If successful, the resulting 'theory of everything' — a phrase Valiant himself uses, only half-jokingly — would literally fuse life science and computer science together." Or, at least, one family of algorithms (or, whatever comes after algorithms).

Today: 142 Total: 664 John Pavlas, Quanta Magazine, 2016/02/04 [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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