by Stephen Downes
Mar 18, 2015
The difference between social learning and social collaboration
Learning in the Social Workplace,
"Social learning," writes Jane Hart, "is too often deemed to be achieved primarily through an organised educational or training experience that involves people brought together explicitly to learn from one another." This presumes that learning objectives and the rest have been defined in advance. But "most social learning takes place well outside of formal learning interventions and in the workplace, in particular." Hence the need for a term, she argues, where the result may be learning, but where the instent is not definitively to create a learning experience. I wouldn't so easily give up the term "learning" to the formalists; "education" may require defined outcomes, but learning is a thing people do whether or not outcomes have been defined in advance. Still, I like her diagram.
UNESCO's Open Access (OA) Curriculum is now online
As the headline says, UNESCO has released its new open access curriculum. Here it is:
Curriculum for Library Schools
Curriculum for Researchers
Each of these is a substantial document in its own right, consisting of several units worth of information and examples. Below is one of the many resources available:
Dutch student protests ignite movement against management of universities
While I don't think anyone wants universities to be unmanaged, as the headline suggests, the protests nonetheless are a response to an approach typified under the heading of 'managerialism', wherein fiscal considerations are paramount, while social and human issues are shunted to the sidelines. There shouldn't be an overlap with online learning, but there is, as we have seen technology often employed in the service of this new style of management. It's interesting that "ongoing financialisation and managerialism that is increasingly coming to dominate academic life" seems also to be associated with "an unprecedented crisis in the university’s finances."
Do We Have an Inborn Moral Sense?
Open Journal of Philosophy,
When we want people to behave appropriately, either online or offline, to what exactly are we appealing? One school of thought argues that morality is based on reason - this, for example, gives us utilitarianism or the categorical imperative. But what if morality is more like a sensation, as Hume argued, rather than reason? What might it look like? This paper examines a number of possibilities suggested by recent neuroscience:
- Altruism - "a neurological adaptation of the mechanisms that support maternal-infant bonding"
- Emotional contagion - "a form of somatic mimicry; i.e., the tendency to automatically
mimic and synchronize facial expressions, vocalizations, postures and movements..."
- Attachment theory - "the initial caring by a parent for an infant and of filial and pair-bonding" and extensible to groups or ideas
- Empathy - "to experience the psychological life of that person…"
- Empathy Altruism - "empathic concern-other oriented emotion elicited by and congruent with the perceived welfare of others in need"
- Fear - "tendency to freeze in place in mid-task was tightly correlated with their bodily reactions such as speeded-up heartbeat and elevated levels of stress hormones"
Clearly the different explanations of moral behaviour suggest very different strategies to elicit it. Until recently the primary mechanism was fear. But perhaps we can find our way to evoking less traumatic mechanisms.
Down With Selfie Sticks?
Rob Watson Media,
I saw my first selfie stick last September and the reaction since then has been, well, negative. Rob Watson questions this. "It seems that users of selfie sticks have broken some kind of taboo? A taboo that says that we shouldn’t be so obvious when we take our self-images using our phones?" But they've been banned from some museums and are the subject of scorn. But Watson resists this response, and I agree, "Just consider for moment what you would be trashing," he says. "The active participation of people as a social group who have strong social ties, and that are embedded in a location or a venue. How can anyone complain about that?" Photo: me!
How Valve's secret meeting got devs on board with Steam VR
If I had to place my wager on whether usable VR will be created by either sketchy Kickstarter start-up Oculus Rift or game developers Valve, I'd place my money on Valve? Why? Well, Valve didn't enter the world by betraying its supporters, it has a strong history of game development, and it has a 21st century management style. Plus, there's the Winnipeg connection, which means the [project has strong Canadian genes. Also, their stuff appears to work really well (after all, it it doesn't create nausea in the woman eight-months pregnant with twins, it probably won't create nausea in me).
If you've never read Philosophical Investigations you owe it to yourself to do so. This is not an easy book; it doesn't have a neat narrative and structure (though Wittgenstein's students tried to create one when assembling the notes from which it is comprised). Take your time with it, read only a few pages a day. Pause to think of the implications of passages like this one: "The more narrowly we examine actual language, the sharper becomes the conflict between it and our requirement... Philosophy is a battle against the bewitchment of our intelligence by means of language." (paras 107, 109) Or this: "A main source of our failure to understand is that we do not command a clear view of the use of our words.—Our grammar is lacking in this sort of perspicuity. A perspicuous representation produces just that understanding which consists in 'seeing connexions'." (para 122)
This newsletter is sent only at the request of subscribers. If you would like to unsubscribe,
Know a friend who might enjoy this newsletter? Feel free to forward OLDaily to your colleagues. If you received this issue from a friend and would like a free subscription of your own,
you can join our mailing list. Click here to subscribe.