by Stephen Downes
Jan 21, 2015
News Feed FYI: Showing Fewer Hoaxes
Erich Owens, Udi Weinsberg,,
I'm sure it's not in reaction to my recent complaints (heh) but Facebook is announcing changes that will slow the propagation of fake news. This is hard for Facebook because everything in the service is about generating feed-forwards, comments and reactions. Facebook has none of the inherent friction a proper network would have, because it's bad for advertising. And this new change is no exception - it's based on users giving Facebook more information. So the stories will still circulate - they'll just be 'flagged' as fake. Of course, if Facebook were really serious, it would clamp down on clickbait. But again, advertising. More: the Guardian.
I've been complaining recently about the social cesspool sites like Facebook and Twitter have become. This has led some people to suggest that I've recanted connectivism. But these social media sites are not 'connectivist' in any reasonable sense of the term. First, they are not actually networks - they are destination sites intended to lure people in and keep them there. Second, they are not about interactivity, they are about publishing - they are content distribution sites where the main means of propagation is the 'share' button. As a result, content is not requested or 'pulled' by users - it is pushed with increasing insistence into the user's space. The user has little control over this (try deleting 'Facebook friends'). Related: Spark, on how social media could be changing your child's sense of self.
An Open Letter Regarding the Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education
Have we entered the age of the 'literacy wars' without even knowing it? It seems that the definition of literacy itself is up for grabs, and people and organizations are positioning themselves behind different schools (presumably for political advantage, though I will say some of the motivation escapes me). This post is a case in point, as a group of librarians argues against the idea of a literacy framework, seeking to tie it to the idea of literacy standards. " The task force has created a new document that establishes a theoretical basis for information literacy," they write. "This does not replace standards." The framework is fuzzy, "'Standards' is a powerful and clear word. It sets uniform goals and acceptable levels of achievement." And so on and on.
The Other 21st Century Skills: Educator Self-Assessment
User Generated Education,
I'm noticing a drift in recent years away from actual skills toward what might be called 'character' traits - things like resilience, grit, self-reliance, and hope. These are the dog whistles reflecting a particular view of learning and education, suggesting is based more around character than what you know or can do. It reflects a world view in which people advance because of character rather than abilities or skills - hence questions like "Do you encourage and reinforce learners' own innate resiliency?" It's an anti-intellectualist positioning, one that concerns me, and one that reflects an emphasis on background and privilege rather than skill and ability. Related: I've talked about 'grit' in particular - here and here. It's the myth used to explain why your child didn't make it into Harvard.
Seeking the unique pedagogical characteristics of social media
online learning and distance education resources,
Short brisk post about social media which touches on the pedagogical characteristics. Bates writes, "social media now enable teachers to set online group work, based on cases or projects, and students can collect data in the field, without any need for direct face-to-face contact with either the teacher or other students." We also hear the usual; bugbear: "Many students come to a learning task without the necessary skills or confidence to study independently from scratch. They need structured support, structured and selected content, and recognized accreditation." But this isn't unique to social media and I don;'t see why it's relevant at all - for any sort of learning students require literacy. Not just social media.
Gaming in Education: Gamification?
During my education my school went through several attempts to create a house system, first with six houses (named after Greek letters: I the Psi house leader), then with Canadian scientists (I was in Banting house, but the system was wrecked by the wags who named theirs the Best house). In Riverview this week the school has adopted the complete Harry Potter theme, again (of course) with houses (Riverview is across the bridge from us here in Moncton). If done well, gamification can add a lot to education, with or without technology. Elliott Bristow overviews the elements of gamification and talks about badges and levels or ranks. This which reminded me of the house system. It also makes me think about how much gamification in technology is dedicated toward individual accomplishment, rather than toward working for a house or a team. Maybe that's a mistake.
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