by Stephen Downes
Oct 06, 2016
I took the test and discovered I would have rejected all five of the comments (they would have allowed three). Of course I've never really had the fine-line judgements to make on my own site (it was either well-considered criticism from a regular reader or someone selling free essay services - nothing in between). But in some previous incarnations - most notably the 'NewsTrolls' site I co-founded in 1998 - these questions came up. My attitudes have hardened a bit since those days. I don't care (much) what people wrote on their own sites, but if it's going to show up on my site (or in my news stream) I care a lot. When I reopen comments on downes.ca they will be strictly moderated (I've thought a lot about how to do this over the years, and it's going to take some tech I still need to write).
I have resisted the urge (so far) to blast OLDaily to subscribers through What's App and Messenger. But I could - and I could even make it interactive - send me some indication of what you're interested in, and I could keep you up to date. Your wrist would tingle and you'd get a new note any time something happened in the world of, say, MOOCs. But should I do this? Goodness, no. I probably shouldn't even have a Twitter channel (and I have shuttered as useless my Facebook channel). But I want to be useful - a stark contrast from advertisers, who want to be in your face, no matter what. Privacy, security, trust - these elude the world of social media, and will continue to so long as we depend on centralized platforms like Facebook.
You've been reading a lot of the same stuff by writers featured in these pages over the years. In this article, John Hagel argues that scaling learning "means developing new shared practices that can increase impact in a world of mounting performance pressure." It may seem like it's more efficient to focused on standards and best practices, but against this is the need to learn on an ongoing basis. "The key imperative in a rapidly changing environment is to find ways to develop new knowledge, rather than merely sharing existing knowledge." This has to happen where the knowledge is being used, and not in a research lab or training room. "The goal is to improve performance more rapidly – that’s why focusing on developing new shared practices is so powerful. It provides us with results that we can measure and learn from." See also: Institutional Innovation.
AR stands for 'augmented reality' and it's the idea that we can overlay the real world with digital objects. The first instance of mass-AR is probably Pokemon Go, though people have been trying with things like QR codes for decades, it seems. The trick is to make AR (a) useful, or at least, fun, and (b) easy. Using identifiers like QR codes have the advantage of being very precise, but you need a reader. Using GPS coordinates is easier, but less precise, and doesn't really work indoors. We'll probably find there are competing AR 'networks', each using the physical world, but overlaying different (and incompatible, naturally) interpretations. It won't be long where it will be as natural for a web site to have a GPS identifier (latitude and longitude, the way photos do now) as it is to have a URL.
Today's new word is 'Quasitory' and I believe it is invented (in this use) in Stevan Harnad's response to Richard Poynder on the role of institutional repositories. Poynder is clarifying emarks he made in a recent interview, and in particular responding to the Confederation of Open Access Repository (COAR) Executive Director Kathleen Shearer's response("The reports of our death have been greatly exaggerated"). Poynder writes, " 22 years after Stevan Harnad began his long campaign to persuade researchers to self-archive, it is clear there remains little or no appetite for doing so, even though researchers are more than happy to post their papers on commercial sites like Academia.edu and ResearchGate." These commercial repository sites - which Harnad calls 'Quasitories' - "are doing just as badly as IRs." And the largest Quasitory of all, Google Scholar, is waiting patiently for academia to get its act together, writes Poynder. The same story is being played out in the field of open educational resources, and (as Harnad says) "the optimal and inevitable outcome of all this will be: The Give-Away literature will be free at last online, in one global, interlinked virtual library.. and its [peer review] expenses will be paid for up-front, out of the [subscription cancellation] savings." Image: most image search results were of British politicians, but here's a picture of Laurel and Hardy which also turned up (from a MoneyAM discussion forum from 2005).
I wish people would listen to old time radio westerns. Not the kid shows from the 40s, but the so-called 'adult' westerns like GunSmoke, Fort Laramie, Frontier Gentleman, and others. They're mostly from the 1950s - a time that included post-war trauma, the Korean conflict, and the Red Scare. But they work against all that - if you can ignore the cigarette commercials, you'll be surprised to see how progressive these shows are. Now all of this has nothing to do with the Alan Levine article I'm linking to here, except for this: you see the same values in today's open learning movement that you do in those 1950s radio westerns: the value of cooperation, the need for network, the importance of every person in the community, the encouragement of diversity, and more. "Connected is the way the web is won."
This is a bit of a listicle, but I liked the way the six items selected progress from very simple stuff (Scratch, Puzzlets) to more involved coding platforms (Google CS First, Vidcode). Computer science today gets pretty deep in a hurry and developing a basic aptitude for formalization at an early age is probably essential. But like everything involving learning, students have to want to do it, so lively applications that get students creating (and seeing what they've created) right from day one are the way to go. I especially like the Karaoke machine students can create and share with VidCode.
I think the presentation is the most interesting part of this series of articles offering an overview of today's internet. The individual articles address things like the undersea cables, the physical infrastructure in pictures, and challenges of censorship and the potential break-up of the internet. At the same time, there's a well-deserved sense of awe. "What allows all this to happen is the most complex piece of physical infrastructure ever created."
My own experience with MUDs served a similar function for me, though of course I was a lot older. The closest equivalent from my childhood is, I guess, the sand pile in our back yard. ÈThe collaboration, engagement, and exploration opportunities that Minecraft provides are well-suited to give kids the experiences they need to build tomorrow’s solutions—but Minecraft is just where they start."
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