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.

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  • 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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When the scaffolding shifts under your feet

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Is this true? Sean Michael Morris writes "Any effort on my part to scaffold (and effort to scaffold learning at all) would be colonial, patriarchal, and disempowering." It's a challenge that flies in the face of the educational enterprise as a whole (and especially the learner-empowering constructivists who employ scaffolding as a proxy for didacticism). Yet at the same time, it feels wrong to say that the act of providing support is inherently disempowering. Clearly there are different versions of what is meant by 'scaffolding': Giulia Forsythe writes "I thought of the many times I’ve used scaffolding as a metaphor for good teaching in many of my visual notes. None of the examples in the twitter debate used it the way I’ve imagined it. There are hanging gallows and references to stages." My rule is this: forget the definitions, and if the people who have the least privilege argue that my support is disempowering, then I listen, but if the people making the case are the most privileged, then I wonder why they want me to cease my support.

Today: 151 Total: 151 Giulia Forsythe, G-LOG, 2016/02/09 [Direct Link]

It’s not Cyberspace anymore

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Dana boyd has a short but effective 'Fear and Loathing in Davos' moment in this article laamenting the passing of John Perry Barlow's 'A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace' into a regime where "not only was everyone attached to their iPhones and Androids, but companies like Salesforce and Palantir and Facebook took over storefronts." Sure. It was Davos. What did she expect? "We all imagined that the Internet would be the great equalizer," writes boyd, "but it hasn’t panned out that way. Only days before the Annual Meeting began, news media reported that the World Bank found that the Internet has had a role in rising inequality." Twenty years ago when Perry Barlow wrote his declaration, we didn't trust the traditional media. We still shouldn't. "Digital dividends — growth, jobs and services — have lagged behind,” writes the New York Times. Is that the fault of the internet? Or is it the fault of the club at Davos? But here's the thing: there never was a 'cyberspace' as imagined by John Perry Barlow. I said so at the time. Some of is - a lot of us - understood that to build a better future you have to spend a lifetime building that future, not a weekend waging revolution. And you can't do that at Davos.

Today: 164 Total: 164 Danah Boyd, Points, 2016/02/09 [Direct Link]

The Internet is a Global Public Resource

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The Mozilla Foundation's Mark Surman writes a longish post describing access to the internet as a basic right, akin to access to food, water or shelter. On the eve of India's decision to prevent Facebook from creating its own proprietary version of he internet, his thoughts carry additional weight. "When in comes to the health of the Internet," writes Surman, "it’s like we’re back in the 1950s. A number of us have been talking about the Internet’s fragile state for decades—Mozilla, the EFF, Snowden, Access, the ACLU, and many more. All of us can tell a clear story of why the open Internet matters and what the threats are." It's hard to see the internet as being as important as water. But I'd rank it up there with freedom of the press or freedom of the speech.

Today: 163 Total: 163 Mark Surman, Mozilla Blog, 2016/02/09 [Direct Link]

Education as a Political Institution

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Bertrand Russell: "The prevention of free inquiry is unavoidable so long as the purpose of education is to produce belief rather than thought, to compel the young to hold positive opinions on doubtful matters rather than to let them see the doubtfulness and be encouraged to independence of mind." Via Adam Goldberg. Image: India Times.

Today: 179 Total: 179 Bertrand Russell, The Atlantic, 2016/02/09 [Direct Link]

MUN cancels 1,700 journals, as national association says libraries in 'crisis'

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Canada's Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN) reports that "Journal publishers increase their price by five to 15 per cent each year." This is "compounded by the fact that MUN pays for 85 per cent of its journals in U.S. dollars." The two factors combined make journal subscriptions prohibitive. According to this report, "The Canadian Association of Research Libraries issued a statement Wednesday calling the situation a 'crisis.'" And yet - there are open access solutions. The mystery is why the universities (and especially their academic staff) will not embrace them. Forget about asking publishers to change, and forget about asking for more money to pay for subscriptions. "These publishers make profit margins of up to 40 per cent, since the authors of articles are not paid and online journals cost virtually nothing to reproduce."

Today: 139 Total: 139 Laura Howells, CBC News, 2016/02/08 [Direct Link]

AutismFather is creating A Safe Minecraft Community for Children with Autism

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This is a fundraising page (where people pledge to contribute monthly, rather than one large donation all at once) for a Minecraft community that has been created for children with autism, Autcraft (Facebook). "He set up a server for kids like his to play Minecraft in a safe space," writes a longtime reader. "The Autcraft server is the only place of its kind in cyberspace -- other Minecraft servers for children with autism have come and gone since his was started in 2013. Autcraft now has over 5000 members -- and no money." Hence the fundraising initiative.

Today: 293 Total: 1095 Stuart Duncan, Patreon, 2016/02/09 [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.
Sponsored this month by: Gavin Moodie