by Stephen Downes
Feb 25, 2016
As the author writes, "Slack is communication software popular for handling workplace information flow, project management, customer support, and all kinds of other things." It's popular in the developer and project management communities. But how is it as a learning application? Well, it doesn't have a system for keeping grades (but who would want one, really?). But typical tasks, such as sharing files or commenting on each others' work, are easy. Is it working? Maybe. "There’s a sense of community from Slack that I don’t think I would every get from Canvas, because sometimes it’s just fun, and that’s part of what makes it work." But that might just be that new-product shininess.
I'm addressed the topic of blockchains a couple of times recently, mostly in relation to badges and certificates. But as Audrey Watters writes here, it may be too early to determine whether there's any 'there' there. "But with news this week that Sony plans to launch a testing platform powered by blockchain and that IBM plans to offer 'blockchain-as-a-service,'" it might be time to take the phenomenon more seriously. Blockchain is the technology behind digital currencies and they basically register transactions in an unchangeable way. Watters has questions and you can leave a comment there.)
This is the third part of a series (part 1, part 2, part 3) on the eXperience API, and in particular, linked data. "Linked Data, frequently described as “the Semantic Web done right” by the Inventor of the World Wide Web Tim Berners-Lee, has emerged as the de facto standard for sharing semantic data on the web," writes the author. "Scholars doing social network analytics found that putting object nodes together with learner nodes can better reveal how interactions between persons happen." This is an important concept, because it changes out way of thinking about resources. For example, instead of relying on their properties and metadata alone, we can begin to classify them according to when and where they are used. This information is captured as part of activity data, which is the foundation for the eXperience API.
So if I pushed my Personal Learning course into Facebook, would it be more popular? Should I abandon the idea of having participants do work in blogs? I ponder this after comments in Twitter that the first week of the course was "like I am in a desert". Of course, as someone who ran a radio station for years with zero listeners, I'm not overly concerned (I really should get it up and running again; the Ed Radio podcast just isn't the same (I also have to fix my harvester, which currently doesn't post feed names)). There will be a record of the course; people will be able to benefit from it for a long time coming.
None of this has anything to do with Mike Caulfield's post; it just seemed related. Caulfield is asking whether people have examples of blog-based courses (that's what made me think of all this). And there are examples, of course, but they're scattered to the four winds. "This is the Tragedy of the Stream, folks. The conversations of yesterday, which contain so much useful information, are locked into those conversations, frozen in time. To extract the useful information from them becomes an unrewarding and at times impossible endeavor. Few people, if any, stop to refactor, rearrange the resources, gloss or introduce them to outsiders. We don’t go back to old pieces to add links on them to the things we have learned since, or rewrite them for clarity or timelessness."
I have my issues with the rhizome metaphor (in particular, that it does not demonstrate a network of diverse entities, but rather an extended growth of identical entities). But it's a popular metaphor and does demonstrait one key aspect of learning: "When we learn we grow. We grow intellectually, but we also make actual, physical connections in our brains which count as physical growth." Additionally, it points to the decentralized aspect of cognition. "A rhizomatic plant has no center and no defined boundary; rather, it is made up of a number of semi-independent nodes, each of which is capable of growing and spreading on its own, bounded only by the limits of its habitat."
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