I'm not sure I agree with the premise of this article. Andrew J. Hoffman suggests that " Many Americans are ignoring the conclusions of scientists on a variety of issues including climate change and natural selection." The suggestion is based on a Pew study arguing that while Americans value scientific research, they often disagree on politicized issues such as evolution or climate change. I don't think they disagree with scientists per se. I think they disagree with what they are told about science. They distrust the messenger. This explains why they embrace what might be called "alternative science". I do think that the best response is for scientists to speak directly to the public about their work.
Facebook and YouTube dominate, while younger users are embracing a wide range of platforms. Other services making the headlines: Pinterest, Twitter, WhatsApp, Instagramm, LinkedIn. Interestingly, according to this Pew Report (17 page PDF), "Even as a majority of Americans now use social platforms of various kinds, a relatively large share of these users feel that they could give up social media without much difficulty." And not surprisingly, "just 3% of social media users indicate that they have a lot of trust in the information they find on these sites. And relatively few have confidence in these platforms to keep their personal information safe from bad actors."
I love ants precisely because they are very simple things that can behave in very complex ways. And so I like this video. But I want to ask whether it's accurate to say "ants follow rules". When looking at their bridge-building behaviour, we could describe it normatively: "when it feels other ants walking on its back, it should freeze. In other words, a classic rule-based behaviour. But what if we described it observationally: "ants freeze when other ants walk on their backs." Now this could be the result of any number of causes, and not a rule at all. There is a danger in reducing behaviour to rules. Most behaviour isn't rule-based, and rule-based descriptions are abstractions that fail to explain most behaviour.
The the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) takes effect in May and online services are scrambling to prepare. The GDPR changes the game, requiring that services protect user privacy. GDPR "requires companies to obtain more specific consent from the user as well as explaining more clearly how their data will be used (and companies must also make it easy for users to withdraw their consent and are then required to delete the material they’ve collected." Stahmer offers some resources: "check out this rough guide to GDPR and/or this short summary directed at US corporations."
Colin Beer describes "two broad trajectories that universities tend to take when implementing learning analytics." The first is "focused on measurement and broader performativity precepts and retention interventions." The second, which he says is at odds with the first, emphasizes learning, and recognizes "that retention is consequential to broader teaching, learning and engagement experiences for students." This is brought into focus by looking at the problem of student attrition. Beer writes, "Student attrition is only rarely caused by a single problem that an external agency like a university can assist with." So prediction isn't really a strength of predictive analytics, at least, not unless the prediction is being made within a closed system.
First Monday this month is a special issue on feminist perspectives on digital labour. The collection includes this article, which looks at how social networks choose to accept or reject content for display. It's an opaque and ultimately conservative process. In a commercial service looking at a piece of content, "its value to the platform as a potentially revenue-generating commodity is actually the key criterion and the one to which all moderation decisions are ultimately reduced. The result is commercialized online spaces that have far less to offer in terms of political and democratic challenge to the status quo and which, in fact, may serve to reify and consolidate power rather than confront it." Which seems right to me.
I want to juxtapose this article with a recent post in Wired on How Trump Conquered Facebook Without Russian Ads. While it looks like good investigative journalism, it's an advertorial. It was actually written by Antonio García Martínez, a former Facebook employee "charged with turning Facebook data into money." How was this author and this subject selected by Wired? Software like NationBuilder, Custom Audiences, LookAlike Audiences and such are used by political campaigns to gather data and influence users. It costs a lot. And the people who buy products are the people who select the content we see on Faebook and in the pages of Wired. This too makes it hard to challenge the status quo and serves to reify and consolidate power. These are things educators using social networks should consider.
According to an email, "we have been working on a small project to provide to the Open Education Community a wide range of translated versions of the OER canvas. The Canvas is a tool developed to help educators and community to design OER or to convert teaching and learning materials into OER." The result can be viewed on this website. Here's the Englis one as a big PDF. I'm not a fan of the hand-drawn design, though I can understand how it would make the complex tool less intimidating. This sort of tool is a good idea in general, though, and falls under the heading of a 'scaffold' (not my terminology; read more about it here).
This is a nice bit of investigating reporting by Anya Kamenetz. She explores " a costly and bitter feud, pitting state authorities and mainstream charter school organizations on the one side, and virtual schools on the other." The way it's told here, the virtual charter schools have a very low success rate and their struggles "have split the charter school movement." In particular, they've launched a political campaign saying "that test scores and other accountability measures actually don't matter at all. What matters, they say, is parent choice." In this interview on EdSurge she says " It's pretty clear that if you can't make a case for your school based on students' performance, based on test scores, based on their learning advantage, all you have left is to say, "These schools should exist because parents want them.'"
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Copyright 2018 Stephen Downes Contact: firstname.lastname@example.orgThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.