Half an Hour



2012 in Words and Pictures
Stephen DownesStephen Downes, Half an HourHalf an Hour, 2012/12/24

I reflect on the year that was.

Today: Total:89 [Comment] [Direct Link]
International MOOCs Past and Present
Stephen DownesStephen Downes, Half an HourHalf an Hour, 2012/11/07

I have made two additions to the MOOC online course list over at www.mooc.ca. The first, and most significant, is a list of international MOOCs offered by various institutions around the world. These are almost all outside the Coursera-Udacity-MITx nexus, and for the most part experimental and innovative. Be sure to send me any additions to this list, and I'll post them on this page. The second is a link to The MOOC Guide, which is a list of the first ten or so MOOCs to be created, all of which were developed before Stanford and the rest arrived on the scene.

Today: Total:88 [Comment] [Direct Link]
The Paradox of Democracy
Stephen DownesStephen Downes, Half an HourHalf an Hour, 2012/11/06

Seb Schmoller sent me this link on the naive expert, and I responded with this post. To be clear, though, the post is not a response to the naive expert link, it's just a train of thoughts that were set off reading it. I try to capture the nature, purpose and essence of democracy. "I am a radical democrat. My commitment to democracy extends well beyond support for the mechanisms of democratic decision-making, but additionally, to mechanisms and measures supporting the greatest degree of autonomy and self-governance possible."

(p.s. I'm noticing that almost nobody is reading my articles when I post the link only to Facebook, Twitter and Google+. The reason, of course, is that they are all now trying to sell online influence, as documented here (via James Baggesen). The same with my photos: posting to the social networks nets 150 views, posting here nets 600, for roughly the same number of readers. So, I'm glad I have my website and my newsletter, so my online footprint doesn't disappear when Facebook decides it's not making enough money).

Today: Total:74 [Comment] [Direct Link]
Predators and Producers: Whither Flat World
Stephen DownesStephen Downes, Half an HourHalf an Hour, 2012/11/06

My response to the Flat World announcement. "Flat Earth represented the 'have your cake and eat it' school of publishing. It represented the idea that business models would not need to adjust to the digital reality, that you could take a traditional concept - like academic publishing - and simply add free digital content on top, as marketing and promotion perhaps." (Image: Sanford Forte)

Today: Total:62 [Comment] [Direct Link]
Learning in the Digital Age: The Reality and the Myth
Stephen DownesStephen Downes, Half an HourHalf an Hour, 2012/10/29

"We project our thoughts, our ideas, our beliefs, our features onto the chaos. This is how we understand the chaos. We look at the chaos and we see ourselves. In seeing ourselves in the chaos, we comprehend the chaos, but it's a myth. A lot of the time these patterns, these projections, are primal and basic like bears, like tragedy, like fangs and hooks."

Today: Total:64 [Comment] [Direct Link]
The 'Course' in MOOC
Stephen DownesStephen Downes, Half an HourHalf an Hour, 2012/09/28

A discussion taking place on the OER-Forum Discussion List - the proposition is that MOOCs of the connectivist ilk should not really be called 'courses' or education'. Needless to say I resist this proposition. "First, MOOCs taught us that rather than depend exclusively on "knowledgeable facilitators (instructors, TAs, field experts, etc.)," which are very expensive, a community working together can support itself.... Second, MOOCs taught us that an education - properly so-called - may be obtained in this manner, and the learning thus obtained demonstrated and recognized via the production of artifacts and actions related to the subject of the learning."

Today: Total:98 [Comment] [Direct Link]
K-12 MOOCs and Communities
Stephen DownesStephen Downes, Half an HourHalf an Hour, 2012/09/17

With the recent publicity around MOOCs I've been flooded with enquiries. Some of them (like the ones asking me to outline all relevant theories and practices) I can't really answer. Others (asking for specifi courses) I can't help with either. But I've been able to respond to some of the more directed enquiries in some blog posts, including this one on the subject of K-12 MOOCs and communities, and this one with a series of questions on social networks and learning generally.

Today: Total:91 [Comment] [Direct Link]
The Robot Teachers
Stephen DownesStephen Downes, Half an HourHalf an Hour, 2012/09/03

This is an extra-long newsletter today, beginning with an article I wrote yesterday and finishing with some Labour Day themes. The article takes a resent post by Tony Bates as a starting point, in which he expresses his fear that "computers can replace teachers in higher education" and that "a number of CEOs from other companies all thought this was the right way to go." I take up this argument, and find good grounds to agree with his fears. As is lavishly documented in the article and today's newsletter (hence the length) the push toward online learning is increasingly associated with an ongoing campaign to commercialize and privatize the public education system. In my column I offer good reasons why we would not want to do this, and so am in agreement with Bates on this point. But I don't think that his response - entrench the existing system - is the answer. The existing system is designed to support corporate interests and the influence of the elite. We need to restructure the system, professionalizing teachers and instructors, while at the same time building a public learning infrastructure network.

Today: Total:78 [Comment] [Direct Link]
New Forms of Assessment
Stephen DownesStephen Downes, Half an HourHalf an Hour, 2012/08/28

Something from me today. I propose some new ways of doing assessment based on measuring what you contribute rather than what you collect - what you give rather than what you earn (whether that be grades or dollars).

Today: Total:76 [Comment] [Direct Link]
Feelings of Science
Stephen DownesStephen Downes, Half an HourHalf an Hour, 2012/06/01

When we talk about connectivism and related matters we tend to focus on the links and the network. But this philosophy also forces us to redefine how we go about doing things like measuring success and validating research methodologies. In this post I describe how success is something that we perceive rather than something we measure.

Today: Total:65 [Comment] [Direct Link]
Education as Platform: The MOOC Experience and what we can do to make it better
Stephen DownesStephen Downes, Half an HourHalf an Hour, 2012/03/23

I've just posted the full text from my presentation 'Education as Platform', the talk I gave in India last week. In this presentation I outline the motivation and design of the massive open online course (MOOC) and then outline a number of criticisms of the form as it has evolved thus far. My argument is that to the extent that a MOOC focuses on content, like a traditional course, i begins to fail. A MOOC should focus on the connections, not the content. I outline some ways of focusing on connections, using connectors. By way of an example, I discuss structured connections such as chess games and budget simulations. Today: Total:114 [Comment] [Direct Link]

What a MOOC Does
Stephen DownesStephen Downes, Half an HourHalf an Hour, 2012/03/01

Short article in which I argue - contra Clark Quinn and Tony Bates - that a MOOC should be judged on its own merits, based on what it is trying to do, rather than as an extension of what the traditional course is trying to do. Today: Total:85 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Knowledge, Learning and Community
Stephen DownesStephen Downes, Half an HourHalf an Hour, 2012/02/27

My contribution to #Change11 online course, February 27. Though I have recently become better known because of my contributions to connectivism and to the concept of the massive open online course, these are reflective of a wider philosophy that has characterized my work as a whole much more generally. In the early 2000s I took to characterizing it under the heading of knowledge, learning and community – I even
posted an eBook with that title. I’d like to return to that framework in order to describe my contributions to the field today. Today: Total:87 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Social Media: Interview
Stephen DownesStephen Downes, Half an HourHalf an Hour, 2012/02/23

I was asked to contribute my responses to interview questions on social media for a new journal called The Future of Learning and of course I was happy to send some thoughts along. Today: Total:71 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Knowledge and Recognition
Stephen DownesStephen Downes, Half an HourHalf an Hour, 2012/01/11

I've posted a few articles in my blog recently - Knowledge and Recognition talks about how one network learns from another. It's pretty dense and might not be for everyone. I also wrote a shorter article on the use of data: "The problem is not with the use of data to make decisions - the problem is with the simplistic one-dimensional use of data to make decisions." And on Saturday I drew out a distinction between memory and memorization. Today: Total:77 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Stephen DownesStephen Downes, Half an HourHalf an Hour, 2011/12/21

This morning I read a short item from Mashable describing some predictions being made for the next five year by IBM. Among more workaday predictions we've heard elsewhere - that biometrics will become mainstream, for example, or that mobile computing will end the digital divide - is a prediction that demands more attention: that mind reading will become a practical technology. See also this update from Mashable. Today: Total:71 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Online Newspaper Software
Stephen DownesStephen Downes, Half an HourHalf an Hour, 2011/12/05

I'm on the verge of starting a major new personal project that will not be a part of my work at NRC. But it will impact my work, as I'll be dedicating personal time to this rather than to online learning or other NRC projects, as I always have in the past. Over the weekend I attended an open data workshop in Fredericton (more on that topic in the future) and researched online newspaper publishing systems on Sunday. This is what I have for now - if anyone has suggestions, advice, etc., I'd be thrilled to hear it. Today: Total:102 [Comment] [Direct Link]

How to Get the Most out of a Conference
Stephen DownesStephen Downes, Half an HourHalf an Hour, 2011/11/28

Over the week-end I wrote a longish description of how to get the most out of a conference. There's three major types of advice: how to plan and prepare your travel, how to submit a proposal and make a presentation, and how to benefit most from the presentations and interactions at the conference. The post is intended mostly for people without a lot of experience (I've provided an MS-Word and PDF version for easy sharing). I hope people find it useful, and I would appreciate comments and suggestions on how to improve the paper. Today: Total:64 [Comment] [Direct Link]

BlogForever Interview
Stephen DownesStephen Downes, Half an HourHalf an Hour, 2011/11/21

This is an interview of me conducted by Mike Joy for the the BlogForever Consortium, a project co-funded by the European Commission within the Seventh Framework Programme. An audio version of this interview is available here. The interview explores the idea of creating a permanent archive for blogs. Today: Total:68 [Comment] [Direct Link]

The Metasociety
Stephen DownesStephen Downes, Half an HourHalf an Hour, 2011/11/04

OWS is, at its heart, a change in the way we view social change and political action. It's a recognition that the placement of too much of anything - power, money, influence - into the hands of a few is ultimately damaging to society. It's an attempt to create enough social friction to make the accumulation of so much wealth and power unbearable to the few who possess it. And its an attempt to understand how we govern ourselves in the coming era after we have rejected the attempts of the rich and powerful to do our governing for us. Today: Total:75 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Czech Course Followup Questions
Stephen DownesStephen Downes, Half an HourHalf an Hour, 2011/10/18

I was asked the following questions after my presentation yesterday:
- How to ensure any educational outcomes
- How to ensure one isn't going to be disturbed receiving so many stimulations
- Everybody just writes, doesn't read, speak and doesn't listen
- What amount of time does it take the students to work cooperatively
- Won't the borders between different school subjects get blurred
This post is my response to those questions. Today: Total:65 [Comment] [Direct Link]

A Conversation on Innovation
Stephen DownesStephen Downes, Half an HourHalf an Hour, 2011/10/10

Relatively free-form summary of the 'expert discussion' at the IMO event I am attending in Aachen. It's interesting to note how much the recent events of the Arab Sprint and the Occupy Wall Street movements have impacted on discussions of the organization of work and the nature of innovation. As, of course, they should. Today: Total:58 [Comment] [Direct Link]

How to Participate in the MOOC - 2
Stephen DownesStephen Downes, Half an HourHalf an Hour, 2011/09/14

Second part of the orientation guide being prepared for the #change11 MOOC. Today: Total:100 [Comment] [Direct Link]

How to Participate in the MOOC
Stephen DownesStephen Downes, Half an HourHalf an Hour, 2011/09/13

Post I authored today as part of 'orientation week' for the #change2011 MOOC. Today: Total:89 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Review: The Edupunks' Guide, by Anya Kamenetz
Stephen DownesStephen Downes, Half an HourHalf an Hour, 2011/08/09

Author Anya Kamenetz is the guest on this month's Institute for Distributed Creativity (iDC) list discussion. After a few comments back and forth I was moved to read her new booklet, The Edupunks Guide and offer this review. Although Kamenetz defends 'her usage' of the term (against Jim Groom, whom she says "helped" define 'edupunk'), my review makes it very clear, I think, that she offers an inferior and unhelpful view of do-it-yourself education. Today: Total:74 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Open Educational Resources: A Definition
Stephen DownesStephen Downes, Half an HourHalf an Hour, 2011/07/18

Late last week and over the weekend I became engaged in an online discussion about whether we should require that providers use open file formats in order for their materials to be considered open educational resources (OERs). This led me to rework the definition of OERs, as follows: Open educational resources are materials used to support education that may be freely accessed, reused, modified and shared by anyone. In this article, I explain the method I used to construct the definition, and my think regarding the precise wording of the definition. Today: Total:86 [Comment] [Direct Link]

The Google Plus Ecosystem
Stephen DownesStephen Downes, Half an HourHalf an Hour, 2011/07/11

This is my take on the information flow in Google+, showing pretty clearly where the points of contention are, at the Sparks input, and the (non-existent) output. Harold Jarche blogs some additional diagrams. As does Judy O'Connell.

Output from Google Plus is still broken; the only way to create an RSS feed of your stream is this hack.

Here are some Getting Started With Google Plus videos, by Chris Brogan.

Gina Minks adds, Google+ really is all about you:
- You decide how to arrange your social networks in circles
- You are responsible for scanning and filtering the firehose of information
- You can talk to anyone, and anyone can talk to you

This item shows how you can hide the list of people you're following. I never followed on Twitter because I didn't want to show preferences. Now that I've found this, I can keep my list to myself on Google+ as well. Today: Total:107 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Setting Up Windows 7
Stephen DownesStephen Downes, Half an HourHalf an Hour, 2011/06/07

I upgraded to Windows 7 at home a number of months ago, but only this week installed it in the office. It seemed like a good time, and with the benefit of hindsight, to describe in some detail the software environment I have set up myself. The article isn't done, but I figured that after a couple day's worth of work I had something to share - and could benefit from advice. Today: Total:64 [Comment] [Direct Link]

The OER Debate, In Full
Stephen Downes, David Wiley, Wayne Mackintosh, and othersStephen Downes, David Wiley, Wayne Mackintosh, , others, Half an HourHalf an Hour, 2011/05/09

Over the last couple of weeks I participated in a debate on whether OER projects should favour commercial use. The debate, hosted on the WSIS Community Platform, was quite an interesting debate, but there were numerous complaints from people who wanted to read and comment that the debate platform was inaccessible, that it was not possible to simply read a post and comment without going through a laborious vetting process by UNESCO staff. So I've decided to post the entire debate, from beginning to end, including postings, comments and everything, on this blog. Enjoy, and feel free to comment as you wish at the conclusion of the post. Today: Total:107 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Martin Dougiamas on Moodle
Stephen DownesStephen Downes, Half an HourHalf an Hour, 2011/05/04

Siummary of Martian Dougiamas's talk about Moodle, current prospects and future directions. "An LMS can be like a community, where every member is a teacher and learner, where connected activities use different strategies to gather and reuse data, integrated with the rest of the Internet, whe assessment takes place continuously in a number of ways." Today: Total:75 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Hard is Easy, Soft is Hard
Stephen Downes Half an Hour 2011/05/04

Partial summary of presentation by Terry Anderson and George Siemens of Jon Dron's preconference workshop, a discussion of how making software more flexible ('soft') makes it harder to design and to use, while making ti less flexible ('hard') makes it easier to design and to use. Today: Total:250 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Five Key Questions
Stephen Downes Half an Hour 2011/03/17

In its 2010 Speech from the Throne, the Government of Ontario, Canada announced its intention to create an Ontario Online Institute (OOI) to support online learning in the province as part of the Open Ontario Plan. I was asked to provide some initial recommendations for that initiative, in the form of responses to five questions. This is my response.

Today: Total:280 [Comment] [Direct Link]
Progress and Learning
Stephen Downes Half an Hour 2011/03/07

I commented, here, "The best learning I've ever done has been on my own, working through a hard problem, by reading and then writing, either text, or software, or derivations. This is also the hardest learning I've done; most of the people I could talk to don't understand it well enough to explain it, and attempting to work it through leads to more confusion than clarity." Harvested from Half an Hour. Today: Total:228 [Comment] [Direct Link]

What Networks Have In Common
Stephen Downes Half an Hour 2011/03/07

David T. Jones asks, "Does connectivism conflate or equate the knowledge/connections with these two levels ("neuronal" and "networked")? Regardless of whether the answer is yes or no, what are the implications that arise from that response?" The answer to the first question is 'yes', but with some caveats. Harvested from Half an Hour. Today: Total:263 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Brakeless Trains - My Take
Stephen Downes Half an Hour 2011/03/07

if the phrase 'brakeless trains' does not refer to, or even represent, some external reality, none of the words in that sentence does. There are not special cases where some words refer and other words do not; all the words are, as it were, in the same boat. The case of 'brakeless trains' illustrates a case that applies to all words, even if it is only most evident in this particular example. Harvested from Half an Hour. Today: Total:228 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Moncton's Future
Stephen Downes Half an Hour 2011/03/07

I attended an open house to discuss the city planning exercise with various city officials on Wednesday at the city's L'Odyssée High School. I had a number of good discussions with officials on trees, road placements, the transit system, and the city's economy in general. Harvested from Half an Hour. Today: Total:225 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Easy RSS
Stephen Downes Half an Hour 2011/03/07

RSS is ridiculously easy to create. It should be available to everyone, without the need for a specialized blogging application. Here's a Perl script that will create an RSS feed from a tab separated document. Harvested from Half an Hour. Today: Total:225 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Six Tweets on Self
Stephen Downes Half an Hour 2011/03/07

Thinking:Our concept of 'self' is not created through internal reflection. It is created via our perception of self from the external world. Today: Total:228 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Success Verbs
Stephen Downes Half an Hour 2011/03/07

A 'success verb' is a verb that refers not only to an action or set of actions, but also tacitly to the outcome of that action. Such verbs are often used to imply that one hopes to achieve the outcome. Harvested from Half an Hour. Today: Total:266 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Enabling Economic Development in New Brunswick
Stephen Downes Half an Hour 2011/03/07

We should be talking about what sort of infrastructure we should be pursuing and how to evaluate the economic activity and (government) return on the investment. Right now, these are talked about almost entirely as though they were expenses, which means they are the subject of government largess, and become the targets of companies wanting lower taxes. Harvested from Half an Hour. Today: Total:206 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Discovered Intersect
Stephen Downes Half an Hour 2011/02/08

I really like Intersect, a lot. At this point I would consider using it as a primary event content entry point, assuming it allows easy access to upload sites like Flickr or Blip.tv. It is elegantly designed, potentially very powerful. Harvested from Half an Hour. Today: Total:209 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Connectivism, Peirce, and All That
Stephen Downes Half an Hour 2011/02/08

The approach to meaning I have adopted and understand to be a better way of thinking about it: the meaning of the word does not lie in anything distinct from actual instances of the word (by analogy: the colour 'red' does not lie in anything distinct from instances of the colour 'red'; the quantity '1' does not lie in anything other than instances of the quantity '1'). Harvested from Half an Hour Today: Total:245 [Comment] [Direct Link]

The Argument Against Usage Based Billing
Stephen Downes Half an Hour 2011/02/08

I don't agree with you that the roads should be tolled, and for the same sort of reasons I don't support usage based billing for internet services. From Half an Hour. Today: Total:230 [Comment] [Direct Link]

On Populist Social Media, Twitter and Egypt
Stephen Downes Half an Hour 2011/02/08

We see several waves – first, the event, which may or may not have been triggered by social media, second, the mass media coverage, and then third, the commodified social media traffic-driving coverage (which has a self-interest in pretending that the second step of the process did not happen). Harvested from Half an Hour. Today: Total:234 [Comment] [Direct Link]

The Purpose of Learning
Stephen Downes Half an Hour 2011/02/08

In the right meter, and in combination with the right experiences, an education is sufficient to lift a person into a life of self-awareness and reflection. It is the great liberator, and even should an educated person never rise out of poverty, that person will never again be poor. Submitted as my contribution to Purpos/ed. Today: Total:672 [Comment] [Direct Link]

ds106 Radio
Stephen Downes Half an Hour 2011/01/31

I like this a lot. It took me a bit to figure out what to do (the post never actually tells you how to *listen* to #ds106 radio, but eventually I took a flyer and just clicked on the link titled "streams that audio out to a play list" and it launched and simply started playing in VNC Player (and I assume it would do the same in iTunes if iTunes were my default audio application). Today: Total:241 [Comment] [Direct Link]

When Words Lose Meaning
Stephen Downes Half an Hour 2011/01/31

In which I explain what I meant by my comment to this post from Doug Johnson. I commented, "If the word is not the thing, how do you evaluate the sentence 'Dragons are green?'" Today: Total:287 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Networks, Neighbourhoods and Communities: A Reflection
Stephen Downes Half an Hour 2011/01/31

So much discussion in the field of education is based in loosely defined terminology and concepts. Take, for example, the advice to 'form community'. There are many things this advice could be manifest as, including any of the three accounts of community given above, and a wide variety of other permutations. We can use network terminology to explain much more clearly complex phenomena such as instruction, communities and interaction. Today: Total:367 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Live Skype on Radio #ds106
Stephen Downes Half an Hour 2011/01/31

Today I ran a test on Radio #ds106 to see whether I could stream a live Skype conversation over internet radio. The answer to that question is: yes. Here's what I did. Today: Total:319 [Comment] [Direct Link]

On Being Offended
Stephen Downes Half an Hour 2011/01/31

The thing with punk is that it's in your face. To some people, that's the essence of punk. But to me, the heart of punk lies in being free, not being offensive. We can all strive to be a bit nicer, to throw salve, not grit, into the mechanisms of our interactions. An ideology based on nastiness is not for me. And it is out of the presumption that it's OK to be nasty that most of the things I find truly offensive find fertile ground to breed. Today: Total:226 [Comment] [Direct Link]


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