by Stephen Downes
Jul 05, 2016
This is another useful attempt to help people get a base-level understanding of what a blockchain is and does. Transactions are encrypted and put into blocks. "A block is the ‘current’ part of a blockchain which records some or all of the recent transactions, and once completed goes into the blockchain as permanent database."
This article gives you a sense of where one branch of artificial intelligence is working today. Researchers are testing their neural network algorithms against four standard tasks in natural language analysis:
The challenge here is o succeed at these tasks "without needing task-specific representations or engineering." It is often the case that you can tweak the result with a hint here or there. Anyhow, this paper describes attempts to design neural networks to attempt these tasks, and how we can score the results to see how well the network is doing.
Responding to Audrey Watters's examples of how things can go badly wrong with adaptive learning, Keith Devlin and Randy Weiner argue "Watters’ bleak future will only come to pass if the algorithms continue to be both naïvely developed and naïvely applied, and moreover, in the case of mathematics learning (the area we both work in) applied to the wrong kind of learning tasks." I question the use of "only" in that sentence; there are many ways Watters's bleak future could come to pass; this is just one of them. But they still say a lot of the right things in this post
For example, "the most effective way to view K-8 education is not in terms of “content” to be covered, acquired, mastered (and regurgitated in an exam) but as an experience.... Mathematics is primarily something you do, not something you know." If you view adaptive learning as simply delivering the right content, you have the concept wrong. Also, they argue, in their adaptive learning system, "the main adaptivity is provided by the user... the mastery of specific procedures should be skills that a student acquires automatically, 'along the way,' in a meaningful context of working on a complex performance task." Again, if you think of an adaptive learning system as a 'teaching' system, you're doing it wrong. Via Larry Cuban.
Good article describing how people locked in Evennote's silo can get their data out of the system and into another product. "If you have a lot of notes, this is a pretty tedious process, but it’s the only way to get all your notes over to a new app with any sense of organization." See also Alan Levine, who comments, "Nothing lasts forever, is the appropriate bumper sticker saying. And when the free rug gets tugged, it bears more thought than impulsive indignation and panic jumps. You might not be losing much, or you might adjust, or you might shrug it off. Or maybe you will come to an understanding of paying for a service instead of always expecting free rides."
Donald Clark reviews a number of the ways artificial intelligence could replace teachers. I read this during the day yesterday and referenced it in passing when I spoke (when I mentioned Georgia Tech bot, Jill Watson; it was too late to make it into the slides). Readers will recall that I focused on three domains: content creation, management of a learning environment, and assessment. I argued that computers could fulfill the instructor's role in all three. I also suggested that the role of faculty in the future will be to act as a role model. Clark discusses this, and while agreeing "the modelling that teachers provide is certainly important to young people," he suggests that "however, we may see the development of attitudinal learning, that was never adequately delivered in classrooms, with simulations and the ability to put yourself in the shoes of others."
Clark also posted 10 important things AI teaches us about ‘learning’ before I composed my slides, and This article discusses a number of the ways AI could be used to perform typical instructional design tasks such as search and feedback, content selection, chunking, reinforcement and practice. Good articles worth reading.
The new role for faculty is to show how to be a practitioner in the field – be a carpenter, a physicist, etc. More, it is to show how you try, fail, learn, etc. To show the way you think about problems. To be open with your mistakes and your failings as well as your successes. To be a part of the learning community, the one who forges ahead, the one who discovers a new path. Speaking notes for for Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey National Faculty Meeting, Mexico City, July 4, 2016. Presentation page.
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