by Stephen Downes
Aug 08, 2015
How to do a learning (r)evolution: perspective from Finland
Education has to do more than adapt to change, write the authors of the SITRA’s New Education Forum (20 page PDF). "We insist that education must not settle for adapting to change, but also act as a driver. To raise brave, compassionate citizens capable of independent thought and bearing the responsibility for themselves and for others; curious people, capable of finding things out for themselves and assessing the reliability of whatever information they come across." Or as Tiina Silander says: "“We have long ridden the wave of Pisa hysteria, telling ourselves that our schools are good. And they are excellent – by yesterday’s standards. Our schools do not meet current or future needs.”
First, the background: "A blockchain is like a place where you store any data semi-publicly in a linear container space (the block). Anyone can verify that you’ve placed that information because the container has your signature on it, but only you (or a program) can unlock what’s inside the container because only you hold the private keys to that data, securely."
Now, the cool bit: "Ethereum announced its first developer release a week ago. What is Ethereum? According to the video it's a "planetary scale computer powered by blockchain technology." Why is this important? "This computing paradigm is important because it is a catalyst for the creation of decentralized applications, a next-step evolution from distributed computing architectural constructs.... a system with the benefits of a centralised, shared infrastructure but without the centralised point of control: if the data and business logic is shared and replicated, no one firm can assert control, or so the argument goes." Image: Etherscripter.
The Teen Who Exposed a Professor’s Myth
The Daily Beast,
After University of Illinois-Chicago history professor Richard J. Jensen published a paper saying that the "no Irish need apply" signs were a myth, 14-year-old Rebecca Fried did some research on her own and disproved the paper. This article is a good account of that exchange, noteworthy not only because it shows that anyone can be a scholar with the right tools, but also because of the intransigence Jensen displayed when confronted with the evidence.
Art is a Verb
Northern Art Teacher,
Short post that accurately captures the value of artistic endeavours: "The purpose of art is not to produce a product. The purpose of art is to produce thinking. The secret is not the mechanics or technical skill that create art - but the process of introspection and different levels of contemplation that generate it." Via Doug Peterson.
Drawing Energy: Exploring perceptions of the invisible
Flora Bowden, Dan Lockton, Rama Gheerawo, Clare Brass,
So good. "The drawings clearly show diverse interpretations of energy and most are vastly different from the ways in which energy is regularly communicated by energy companies through the media and the energy infrastructure. As we have seen, none of these drawings show energy meters or bills and none of them use the visual language of these dominant interfaces. Numbers primarily feature in mathematical equations, not in relation to amounts of energy used." This could be done with almost any term you care to name, and the results would make clear the complex and divergent interpretations each of us has on what are otherwise seen as basic and core concepts. 47 page PDF.
Teach yourself — or be poor
I basically never agree with either Tyler Cowan or Joanne Jacobs. But there's a core of truth in this message. Not the explicit threat of poverty, which should be unacceptable in a developed country (but which is fair retribution according to these two authors, which makes them detestable). No, it is in the idea that people should teach themselves. I often tell people that I work where my four areas of specialization intersect: philosophy, media, computers and education. But equally important is that I am self-taught in three of them. And it is this, and not my formal education, which gives me an edge in the current environment. It is this which makes me unique.
Windows 10 is spying on almost everything you do
Why is Windows 10 free? Well, here's one reason: "we will access, disclose and preserve personal data, including your content (such as the content of your emails, other private communications or files in private folders), when we have a good faith belief that doing so is necessary." Microsoft is doing this to catch up to Google. Via Boing Boing: "By default, Microsoft gets to see your location, keystrokes and browser history -- and listen to your microphone, and some of that stuff is shared with 'trusted [by Microsoft, not by you] partners.'"
National Post View: Helping students, without burdening everyone else
"There’s little doubt," write the editors of the National Post, "that students with some skin in the game — i.e., some financial stake in their own education — will be more apt to ensure they stay the course and complete their degrees." But where is the evidence for this? Is the higher education system failing in countries like Germany or Sweden, where tuitions are free? No. And against the 'skin in the game' argument is the documented evidence that tuition fees "discourage young people who do not have a traditional academic family background from taking up study." And, of course, they leave a significant burden of debt tor years or decades after graduation. The National Post editorial is a classic case of favouring ideology over evidence.
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