I work in the Learning and Performance Support Systems program at the National Research Council, a multi-year effort to develop personal learning technology and learning analytics. I am one of the originators of the Massive Open Online Course, write about online and networked learning, have authored learning management and content syndication software, and am the author of the widely read e-learning newsletter OLDaily.


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Twitter exploring premium subscription service


The suggestion is that Twitter might roll out an enhanced 'tweet-deck' application for a monthly fee. "The premium version would be aimed at marketers, journalists and professionals." Twitter is stalled at just over 300 million users and low ad revenue. This news comes on the heels on an announcement that Medium will start charging a 'membership' fee no long after officially giving up on an ad-supported business model. The move has drawn some harsh criticism from pundits. But here's the problem: it's really hard to find any other sustainability model. I suggested a number of possibilities a decade ago, but most do not fit the private enterprise VC-funded model.

Today: 59 Total: 301 Mike Murphy, Market Watch, 2017/03/24 [Direct Link]

Voice Is the Next Big Platform, Unless You Have an Accent


I have mixed feelings about the importance of voice commands. Yes, we will need voice - we frequently need to communicate with a computer when we are otherwise occupied, as for example when we are driving. And a computer can be a participant in a conversation, as for example on Star Trek. But voice commands can be appropriate in crowds and public spaces, or for activities where privacy is important. Also, voice, like a lot of things, depends on artificial intelligence (AI), and as this story suggests, bias can be built into AI. Hence Alexa's inability to understand an accented voice. This will eventually become a security feature, as voice learns to train on specific voices, accent and all. But for now it's a problem.

Today: 37 Total: 467 Sonia Paul, Backchannel, 2017/03/23 [Direct Link]

This Article Won’t Change Your Mind


Some time about 20 years ago I decided that i would stop arguing, and start explaining. It was no longer about convincing others, it was about making my own reasoning clear. Why? because after almost two decades in philosophy I concluded that nobody is convinced by argumentation. Yes, I have relapses, because I'm temperamentally argumentative, but these are exclamations, not exhortations. "Tell him you disagree and he turns away. Show him facts or figures and he questions your sources. Appeal to logic and he fails to see your point..." This, in a nutshell, is the history of philosophy. What will change minds? Personal experience, interactions with friends, and cognitive dissonance. That's why to teach really is 'to model and demonstrate'. Anyhow. Good article. Won't change your mind, but is worth reading in any case.

Today: 35 Total: 468 Julie Beck, The Atlantic, 2017/03/23 [Direct Link]

Brace Yourself For The Bitcoin Hard Fork


There's a lot of history behind this one, but essentially the split is between the original developers, who want to keep the size of a block limited, and Bitcoin miners (ie., the people who actually encrypt the blocks), who want the size of the block to grow. This can happen in distributed systems. It's not necessarily a bug; think of it as being like mitosis, where a simple network begins to develop into a complex network. But the short term message is risk. Lots of it, because this sort of thing hasn't happened a lot yet (though it has happened to Ethereum).

Today: 20 Total: 388 Rob Blasetti, Decentralize Today, 2017/03/23 [Direct Link]

Thoughts on the UMUC IT Spin Off


This article offers reflections on a recent University of Maryland University College (UMUC) initiative to spin off its IT department into a for-profit company.  Joshua Kim writes, "The new company, to be called AccelerEd, will be made up of the 100 or so professionals who work for UMUC’s Office of Information Technology. This moves follows the previous spin off of UMUC analytics unit into a for-profit company called HelioCampus." What about online learning, though? "In online learning, there is not a place where teaching ends and technology starts. How do you separate the two?" I don't see this experiment working out well.

Today: 23 Total: 618 Joshua Kim, Inside Higher Ed, 2017/03/23 [Direct Link]

Scholars Behind Bars


Summary and discussion of two books about teaching college classes in prison. "Just as a poor education transports people into prison, a rich one can transform them beyond it." It's focused especially on the Bard Prison Initiative (BPI). It shades into an interesting discussion of the value of an arts-focused education as compared to business or trades.

Today: 21 Total: 476 Jonathan Zimmerman, New York Review of Books, 2017/03/22 [Direct Link]

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.