by Stephen Downes
Oct 26, 2016
What happens when the chatbot we think is there to help us is actually a skilled sales agent? This adds a different flavour to the use of such applications to, say, support students or provide advice. We might think that's what they're doing, but in fact they may be more interested in persuading us to buy some software or to sign up for the advanced tutorial. Or they may be programmed by some company to recommend their staff and affiliates as experts within a domian. If there's no truth in advertising, what will we then say about adbots? This article discusses Sara, an unreasonably persuasive chatbot was developed by Justine Cassell at Carnegie Mellon University.
Most readers will be familiar with responsive design - web pages and services that adapt to different device sizes and capabilities. But vertical video? These are the videos shot in vertical mode (like 'portrait mode', they're taller than they are wide), like the screen of a mobile phone. They are typically seen as "as amateurish and was resoundingly ridiculed." But "that's changing," according to Pamela Hogle. "Pairing responsive design with innovative use of vertical video, eLearning designers can create content that is appealing, usable, and attractive on phones, tablets, and laptops." Quite so - but it typically also means shooting two videos, one in each mode.
Good article about hacking. It relevant as there has been a spike in recent activity, probably timed to coincide with the election (I'm hoping so; my own website is being caught in the crossfire). It's important to note, though, as this article makes clear, the majority of hacks are really very simply technologically. Hackers often go after the must vulnerable component: the user. Whether trying commonly used passwords, or tricking people into giving up personal information, these attacks rely not on technology but on social engineering. The article also looks at other attack types, such as the 'man in the middle', SQL injection, and endpoint attacks using USBs or mobile devices. If you're not familiar with these terms, read this article. I would have includes 'denial of service' (DOS, or DDOS) attacks, not because they're hacks (technically they're not) but because they're behind so much recent disruption.
I'm looking forward more to the latter two parts of this three-part series in which Terry Anderson "explores the learning management system (LMS), social media, and personal learning environments – and how they might best be used for enhanced teaching and learning" but as only the first part is available today we'll have to settle for that. Anderson offers a brisk overview of the LMS and then examines the challenges: "as the number of features increases, so does the complexity and challenges of easy adoption," he writes, while " perhaps the greatest challenge is the inherent 'school focus' of the LMS." We don't really get to the promise of this article - how to get the most out of an LMS - but perhaps what that means is using social media or personal learning environments instead.
I spent the summer of 1981 in a basement programming every bit of a TI-99 computer in order to build a Star Trek game. It wasn't much (but for the time it was great, with a strategy view and a viewscreen view and enemies that avoided being shot). You couldn't do a lot with a computer in those days, but this was always my objective: a fully immersive Enterprise bridge crew simulation. So, some 35 years later, for me, the future has arrived. Or will arrive, when I get to play this puppy.
You can just imagine the sceptics, says this article: "You can’t build a tech site that doesn’t publish 20 times a day. You can’t build a content site that isn’t covered with advertising. You can’t build an entire business on Amazon affiliate revenue. You can’t take on Consumer Reports and expect to get any traction. You can’t pay for this level of in-depth reporting. Ok, great, you built this, but why would anyone ever come back?" If I wanted to monetize OLDaily, this would probably be the route I would take.
This is an unfinished work, but it illustrates nicely the use of academic papers as open educational resources by sequencing useful and important resources in such a way as to guide the reader through the essentials of a discipline. "The roadmap is constructed in accordance with the following four guidelines: from outline to detail; from old to state-of-the-art; from generic to specific areas (and) focus on state-of-the-art." It's best to think of this as a proto-MOOC. People can (and should) add resources (not just papers and books), and these can create branches and sub-branches. The resources themselves are all openly accessible. GitHub does provide limited social interaction, but you would expect a social network or community to grow around this collection. Actual MOOC classes would involve a self-managing cohort moving through the material together. Yes, it takes commitment and effort to learn a subject this way, and a lot of people don't have the skills. That's where educational institutions and student support should come in.
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