by Stephen Downes
Nov 14, 2014
Educational Technology Conferences #32 January to June 2015
Clayton R Wright,
Clayton R Wright has once again compiled and distributed his enormously useful list of education and education technology conferences. The list "covers selected events that primarily focus on the use of technology in educational settings and on teaching, learning, and educational administration. Only listings until June 2015 are complete as dates, locations, or Internet addresses (URLs) were not available for a number of events held from July 2015 onward."
Ask Not What Your Country Can Do For You but What Coursera Can Do For Your Country, Part 1
Tressie McMillan Cottom,
Coursera has obtained the endorsement of the U.S. government, which is promoting it to some 21 million U.S. military veterans. The "partnership provides one free Coursera Verified Certificate to every US Veteran to help improve employability skills in high-demand fields such as data science and entrepreneurship." Tressie McMillan Cottom responds: "I emailed my chair and said, 'they’re turning my dissertation and manuscript into a satire.'" Coursera, she writes, probably found "employers aren’t nearly as interested in training workers as we seem to think they are." So what they need to do is convince the labour market to pay a premium for their credentials. "Endorsements are not a small matter when you’re trying to convince people that your piece of paper is valuable.
Data is Just A Clue to the End Truth
The Scholarly Kitchen,
"Show them pieces of the picture, so they can stand back for a little bit and let it pass, and come away with a deeper understanding." And "look after truth and goodness, and the beauty will look after itself." These are the essences of data visualization. This, and the idea that it is a human trait (and capacity) to look at complex disparate data and to identify meaningful information that emerges from the chaos. To me (and not to the video) this means that misperception is as important as perception. An example: I originally read the title of this article as "Data is Just A Clue to the End of Truth" and this altered my perception of the article and the video, and let me see something different in it. Any data visualization employs the designer, the data, and the viewer - perception (and recognition) require all three. In what sense, therefore, does data 'reveal' truth? No - truth should go into data visualization, but what comes out is beyond truth.
Convivial Tools in an Age of Surveillance
Audrey Watters talks about "how we can push back on the hype surrounding ed-tech disruption and revolution, how we can ask questions about whose revolution this might be — to what end, for whose benefit — and how we can, should, must begin to talk more seriously about education technologies that are not [built] upon control and surveillance." I like especially the section about Alan Kay "pushing forward a vision of what we now call 'personal computing.' Not business computing. Not cryptography. Personal computing.... It’s 'personal' because you pour yourself into it — your thoughts, your programming." Why then is education technology about "control, surveillance, and data extraction?" I also like the suggestion that "what we need to build are more consensus-building not consensus-demanding tools." Except, of course, we shouldn't care about the outcome of such tools. We should care about the process. See also The Future of Education: Programmed or Programmable.
Mozilla Open Badges
If you want to get started with badges and don't know where to start, this is the place to start. It's the Mozilla Open Badges wiki page, and it has the basic information, likes to starter kits, and links to a bunch of other resources. "A digital badge is an online representation of a skill you’ve earned. Open Badges take that concept one step further, and allows you to verify your skills, interests and achievements through credible organizations and attaches that information to the badge image file, hard-coding the metadata for future access and review."
How Online Journals Increase Student Communication Skills
Kids Learn to Blog,
Oh hey, remember when blogging was the next great thing to help kids learn to communicate on the web? They still are! The trick is to get started. "We encourage starting things simply. Have your child start by describing his day. What did he eat for breakfast? What did he and his friends talk about at recess? Did anything good happen today? Bad? This will get the child in the writing mood and get the basics down quickly." Nothing fancy. Just write. It doesn't have to be good. Just write. This applies to everyone, not just kids.
Keep on Co-Claiming
I don't know whether "co-claim the web' will earn as much traction as "reclaim the web" but I enjoy Alan Levine's efforts to find something like a middle ground here. The middle ground is more or less what I do as well - I still use services like Flickr and Twitter and Facebook but I would not be lost or despondent should they suddenly shut down. Anything I actually value that I host on those services is well backed-up elsewhere. And so I can use them for their primary purpose: to share, to intermingle, to fine weirdness and serendipity (like the 'default' tag on Flickr).
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