by Stephen Downes
Mar 01, 2017
I think I would choose some other term than 'insertable' but I would certainly agree that this represents a new device classification. An 'insertable' is a piece of technology one inserts inside one's body (for example, sub-cutaneous electronic door keys). They are distinguished from 'implants' in that they are non-surgical and removable, not medically necessary, and non-specialist. Educational uses for such technology might include personal identification (for access to records from remote systems), cues and reminders (I'll call this category 'twitches'), and eventually, direct neural access to data, messages from other people, and visual information (for augmented displays in artificial lenses).
Social Networks and the Building of Learning Communities: An Experimental Study of a Social MOOC
Mariana de Lima, Marta Zorrilla, The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning (IRRODL), 2017/03/01
What I like about this paper it its honesty in reporting negative results. "We have not managed to generate a strong learning community either during the course or at its completion: the networks were created around teachers' feedback, learners basically commented once per topic and, after the course ended, people did not return to Facebook or to the forum to participate." We can now ask: why not? The low number of participants? Their preference for traditional instruction? Weaknesses in course registration procedures? From the IRRODL special issue on advances in research on social networking in open and distributed learning.
I wouldn't link to this except for the funding for ResearchGate in the news today. It examines uses of this site as well as Academia.edu and provides some background information. I have two major criticisms of this study. First, I question the use of 'the uses and gratifications theory' to frame the research, on the ground that you don't need a 'theory' to frame this enquiry, and especially not a theory so empirically dubious. Second, I think the survey could have been rather more ambitious than three institutions in one (small) country, especially when generating statistical (quantitative) results, and especially when making claims like "this study points at the centrality of the self-promotion and ego-bolstering motive." From the IRRODL special issue on advances in research on social networking in open and distributed learning.
The diagram depicted here has been out for quite some time, but it has always bothered me in a way. The central message is correct - you can gerrymander electoral districts to produce a win based on a minority vote. But how can you have 'compact but unfair' distribution? It came back to me today. The real message of this infographic is: 'compact can be unfair'. I puzzled over it a bit, and then I realized: the 'compact' diagram isn't really compact! It shows five districts each 5 wide and two deep. That isn't compact at all! The most compact would be 3x3 grids plus 1. In a 10x5 region you couldn't get that exactly, but still you could keep most squares in a district within 3 of each other, as in my diagram, above. If I haven't lost you yet, the lesson is this: don't take these infographics for granted.
Many of my papers can be found in ResearchGate as the company harvested them from various open access repositories. It also sends me regular appears to upload more, which I resist, because it's hard to search and use unless you're logged in. Anyhow, it has received a large investment from various funders (including Wellcome Trust and Gates), which I hope doesn't turn it into another Coursera desperate to monetize open access. "The latest investment is partially going into this effort to store and structure scientific data in ways that help scientists make progress today and in the future." See also Business Insider and New York Times. Worth noting: article asserting more than 50 percent of the articles on ResearchGate violate copyright. Via Richard Poynder, Tom Bishop on GOAL.
This article lists five areas that are 'forbidden to science'. I find it interesting that I am in some way implicated in all five. Here they are (and how I'm implicated):
Now, yes, my involvement isn't exactly what they're talking about. But that's a technical limit, not an administrative limit. I would do all five of those things in a minute if I could (especially the first, so I don't have to die).
This is a special report from University Business. It's interesting in its own right, but readers may be interested in the full-length interview with me on MOOC and the future of online learning. A couple of notes: first, there's a really bad typo on page 6, where it says MOOCs were invented in 2005. They were invented in 2008. Second, it mentions work by Tim Berners-Lee without referencing it. What I'm talking about here is the Solid project, which is working toward a decentralized web. Otherwise it's an accurate representation of what I said during the interview.
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