by Stephen Downes
Oct 15, 2015
(Digital) Identity in a World that No Longer Forgets
I've been reading a lot (as has everyone else) about how politicians and others with "past transgressions dragged into the spotlight for the purposes of public judgement and shaming." On the one hand, I'm a little ssympathetic. But on the other hand, I would just as soon not elect into office people whose past include racist tirades, inappropriate behaviour with children, crack smoking in drunken stupors, questionable acts with pigs, and so on. After all, most people's histories don't include these outrages. That's why we are upset when we discover them. And maybe just maybe we can elect a person into office who lead ethically responsible lives, rather than the unthinking egotists we elect today. But - of course - such a person would be "unelectable" because they haven't been willing to cross enough lines to amass the wealth and publicity needed to make a viable run. But until then, I hope we keep outing these people on social media, so we can at least learn what kind of people we elect, even if we can't stop electing them.
Writing for Visual Thinkers: Narrative Structures
I'm including this item just to tweak the learning-styles-sceptics out there. This item has nothing to do with learning styles per se but the appeal to 'visual thinkers' comes straight from the same theory. And the question I pose here is, is the distinction drawn here nonsense: "A traditional linear narrative structure typically depends on a page-to-page reading for comprehension. A nonlinear narrative allows for the reader to move independently throughout a piece, often creating new meanings from discovering connections." I don't think it is. And I observe some people who must carefully proceed step by step through a process (a recent furniture salesperson was a classic example) and others to whom a linear process is anathema. Something to ponder (in a linear or non-linear way, whichever you prefer).
2 Universities Turn to the Cloud for Their LMS
My first experience with Blackboard many years ago involved writing a complete ethics course on the hosted platform. The ethics course is long since lost, sadly. And Blackboard became an application universities installed on their own servers. But now we're turning full circle, only today instead of calling it a 'hosted solution' we cal, it a 'cloud application'. Functionally, though, it's pretty much identical. As this aerticle reports, "Taking advantage of a NET+ cloud offering introduced last year by Blackboard. Virginia Commonwealth University and West Virginia's Marshall University, both Blackboard customers, will be tapping into a bundle of services that includes the learning management system (LMS) software, as well as collaboration, content sharing and analytics functionality." I wonder how long it will be before institutions decide gthey want better control over their course content and look to hosting their own 'cloud solution'. Image: Blackboard.
Technology Imperialism, the Californian Ideology, and the Future of Higher Education
Your new word for the day is 'synecdochal'. It's a lovely word, used by Audrey Watters in this talk. It was new to me, and means "Using an inclusive term for something included, or vice versa; using something spoken of as the whole (hand for laborer) or vice-versa (the court for the judge)." Or 'Facebook' for 'internet'? Well, that's the issue, isn't it? Facebook (synedoche for 'Silicon Valley', synedoche for 'internet', or America (your pick)) is "is interested in data extraction and monetization and standardization and scale. It is interested in markets and return on investment. 'Education is broken,' and technology will fix it. It’s an old and tired refrain, but it’s a refrain nonetheless, repeated over and over. It’s a core theme in the “Silicon Valley narrative.” Of course, the previous narrative ('the brains in Harvard and MIT will save us') is no better than the new narrative. Resisting doesn't mean going backward, in my mind. As Watters says, though, "we can resist in the name of freedom and justice and a future that isn’t dictated by the wealthiest white men in Hollywood or Silicon Valley."
Why Twitter’s Dying (And What You Can Learn From It)
Twitter is dying. No this isn't just my opinion, but the conclusion being drawn as the company lays of hundreds of staff in a bid to remain solvent. Why? Umair Haque suggests a one-word explanation: abuse. "I’ve never been to a town square where people can shove, push, taunt, bully, shout, harass, threaten, stalk, creep, and mob you… The social web became a nasty, brutish place. And that’s because the companies that make it up simply do not not just take abuse seriously…they don’t really consider it at all." Is he right? He could be.
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