by Stephen Downes
Jul 01, 2015
Were All Those Rainbow Profile Photos Another Facebook Study?
J. Nathan Matias,
Although I was on one of those celebrating the recent Supreme Court decision in the United States, I did not join the roughly one million Facebook users who converted their profile photos to rainbows. Why? Not because I'm insufficiently enthusiastic, but because I don't trust Facebook, and I trust Facebook applications even less. This lack of trust is well-founded. "Even with same-sex marriage now legal across the United States, coming out or claiming those rights by getting married will continue to be a socially courageous act., Facebook's past research on marriage equality has helped answer a question we all face when deciding to act politically: Does the courage to visibly—if virtually—stand up for what a person believes in have an effect on that person’s social network." Sure, I'd love to know the answer to this. But conducting research on uninformed subjects facing potentially serious consequences is unethical.
Related: if the government told you to change your profile image, would you comply? What would research on this look like? The other day in India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called on people to takee selfies with their daughters. India's netizens responded in the thousands. It's a good cause - "Gender inequality has long been a major problem in India’s highly patriarchal society, where female children are being perceived as inferior and even killed in the womb or as infants — a phenomenon Modi has fought to reverse." But at a certain point, call-and-response becomes compliance.
Schema for Courses
One of the things we encountered when harvesting things like Coursera courses is that they are complex entities - you have the 'course', which is the course itself, the 'course section', which is a particular offering of the course, and 'courase events', which are individual online classes and other events. These are all over and above any learning resources that may be used. We're not the only aggregators to encounter this, obviously, and this structure has not made its way to the standards community. Phil Barker provides two links, one raising the issue in the LRMI shema.org Github, and a work package in the the DCMI LRMI Task Group.
Year One With a 3D Printer: 17 Tips
The very first piece of advice makes this item worthwhile: "Find a video about loading the filament properly. After an hour of frustration with the written directions, I watched a video and did it perfectly." Online learning FTW! And here's a shout dfor personal learning: "Let students use software that's comfortable for them. Most 3D printers can import any kind of .STL file. You can use the software that came with your printer, but don't stop there. Free programs including Google Sketchup might be easier."
ISTE 2015 Roundup: All the Company News You Need to Know
Mary Jo Madda,
Good overview of the announcements made at the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference in Philadelphia, which is just wrapping up. ISTE is a schools-based organization mostly centred in the U.S. Some of the more interesting announcements (quoted):
- Samsung and McGraw-Hill announced “Classroom in a Box,” a collection of hardware, software and services geared at K-12 schools.
- Software company Follett announced Lightbox, a collection of tools and resources that function like e-books, but with quizzes, read-aloud support
- updates to the iTunes U store - now features a “Free Books by Educators” section, and a “Real-World Learning” section
In social networks, group boundaries promote the spread of ideas, study finds
Katherine Unger Baillie,
Here's the proposition: "breaking down group boundaries to increase the spread of knowledge across populations may ultimately result in less-effective knowledge sharing. Instead, his research shows that best practices and complex ideas are more readily integrated across populations if some degree of group boundaries is preserved." Like so many things, though, there are different ways of looking at the same thing. Where he sees boundaries, I see clustering. It is well known that there is a 'sweet spot' of connectivity somewhere in the middle between zero connectivity and 100% connectivity, between zero signal and total static. The shape of the network matters. But do we describe this shape in terms of boundaries? "When a society is too grouped, people do not have any social contact with people from other groups," Centola said. "People with the same job all attended the same school, live in the same neighborhood and frequent the same clubs. Their networks do not expand beyond that group."
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