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Balancing the use of social media and privacy protection in online learning
Tony Bates, online learning and distance education resources, Jan 29, 2015

The United States, Russia, China and the U.K. are all classified as "Endemic surveillance societies." India and France follow close behind as "Systemic failure to uphold safeguards." So it's clear there's a problem. We probably can't fix it within educational technology, but we need to address it. Tony Bates does address it, but he does so largely from an institutional perspective. "Institutions want to protect students from personal data collection for commercial purposes by private companies, tracking of their online learning activities by government agencies, or marketing and other unrequested commercial or political interruption to their studies." The thing is, I don't think we can trust the institutions any more than I trust the governments or the companies.

Lecture Capture Fail
Bex Ferriday, Bex Ferriday's Edutechy Wonderland, Jan 29, 2015

Linking to an article by Mark Smithers called "Is lecture capture the single worst educational technology use in higher education?" Bex Ferriday argues that the technology simply preserves what was bad in traditional education. "The thought of filming a 3 hour lecture then slapping it onto a virtual learning system and expecting students to watch this in their own time seems more like a punishment than a good idea.... By filming your 3 hour diatribe on connecting muscles in the lower leg once, you never have to repeat the lecture again! Just point students towards the film and bingo!"

iOS 8.1.3 Arrives
Darrell Etherington, TechCrunch, Jan 29, 2015

So obviously some sort of work has been happening behind the scenes as Apple's operating system iOS 8.1.3 includes the following in today's update: "Adds new configuration options for Education standardized testing." It's not clear exactly what that means. None of the dozen or so sites I visited had any information over and above this exact phrase, and it's not mentioned at all in the 8.1.3 security update. I'd I had to guess, I'd say it has something to do with tamper-proof content that can be used for testing. If you want to pursue the full list, here's everything.

The Internet of Things
FTC Staff, Federal Trade Commission, Jan 29, 2015

Released today by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the United States, this report (71 page PDF)  looks at the provacy and security implications of the Internet of Things (IoT). The idea behind the IoT is that devices and appliances can have their own internet connections and exchange information with online services. A good example is the FitBit, which a person wears on their wrist, and which exchanges information about movement and exercise with the online service. The IoT is incredibly useful, but security issues abound. The FTC report recommends building security into the devices from the outset. It also recommends full disclosure on any personal information being tracked. Companies should train their employees in security, and respond to security threats appropriately. Additionally, companies should limit the data they collect (this is a concept known as 'data minimization'). They're not recommending legislation at this point (it would be "premature") but as Ars Technica points out, the FTC has the option of civil suits to encourage compliance.

Private Eye: See who’s tracking you online
Various authors, Mozilla, Jan 29, 2015

Today is Data Privacy Day, says Firefox, and to celebrate the moment they've launched Lightbeam: "Create a 'Wizard of Oz' moment by pulling back the curtain to see who’s watching you on the Web. Turn on Mozilla’s Lightbeam tool, visit a handful of websites to see who’s tracking you, and then learn how to fight back. You’ll never look at the Web the same way again!" I tried it out and it works quite well (you may need to reload the tool to get the graph to refresh). The circles are visited sites and the triangles are applications that are tracking you as you visit the sites.

John Hattie interview
Brent Simpson, Pedagogy of the Compressed, Jan 29, 2015

I thought you might enjoy this interview with John Hattie, who promotes a concept called "visible learning". From the Visible Learning website we read, "Visible Learning means an enhanced role for teachers as they become evaluators of their own teaching. According to John Hattie Visible Learning and Teaching occurs when teachers see learning through the eyes of students and help them become their own teachers."

Michael Caulfield, Hapgood, Jan 29, 2015

Mike Caulfield writes a challenging paper on some of the debate that has swirled around recently on the relative values of 'making' and 'using'. As I read I found myself agreeing here, disagreeing there, seeing myself in one sentence, seeing someone else in another. "What would happen if we got over our love affair with creators? What would happen if we collapsed the distinction between maker and taker, consumer and producer, not by 'moving people from consumption to production', but by eliminating the distinction? What if we saw careful curation of material as better than unconsidered personal expression?" I don't know. If nobody creates, nothing gets built, and that's a bad thing. But if nobody criticizes, the wrong things get built, and that's also bad. And if nobody uses, then there was no point to building in the first lace, which is also bad. But you know, the more I think about it, the more I think the whole language of value is wrong here. The whole debate got started by some people saying some things, and some types of people, are valued more than others. And I think that's the wrong place to be.

Competency Based Education is quietly headed for the mainstream
Unattributed, Saylor, Jan 29, 2015

Actually, from where I sit, it isn't "quietly" headed for the mainstream, but is rather a great lumbering beast thrashing through the forest toward the mainstream. Competencies are this magic link between employment prospects and educational services and resources, and pave the way for the creation of a learning marketplace. This allows the ostensive creation of a privatized education system, at worst, but on a more positive note could allow people to create their own custom learning programs, private or public, to support their eventual ambition in life. In this way, competency-based education is a lot like educational technology. There are risks, but in the end its value really depends on what you're prepared to do with it. This Saylor blog post links to an Anya Kamanetz article for NPR on competency-based addressing a report from the American Enterprise Institute called The Landscape of Competency-Based Education

Links and Resources

(presentations include slides and audio recordings)
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Key Articles

Scholarly Articles

Cites:294 Educational Blogging (Local copy)
264 Learning objects: Resources for distance education worldwide (Local copy)
134 E-learning 2.0 (Local copy)
126 Models for sustainable open educational resources (Local copy)
88 The future of online learning (Local copy
75 Learning networks and connective knowledge (Local copy)
70 Design and reusability of learning objects in an academic context: A new economy of education (Local copy)
59 Resource profiles (Local copy)
40 Learning networks in practice (Local copy)
33 Semantic networks and social networks (Local copy)
35 An introduction to connective knowledge (Local copy)
27 Design, standards and reusability (Local copy)
23 EduSource: Canada's learning object repository network (Local copy)
22 An introduction to RSS for educational designers (Local copy)

(Cites from Google Scholar for an H-Index = 14)

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About Stephen Downes

Stephen Downes is a senior researcher for Canada's National Research Council and a leading proponent of the use of online media and services in education. As the author of the widely-read OLDaily online newsletter, Downes has earned international recognition for his leading-edge work in the field of online learning. He developed some of Canada's first online courses at Assiniboine Community College in Brandon, Manitoba. He also built a learning management system from scratch and authored the now-classic "The Future of Online Learning".

At the University of Alberta he built a learning and research portal for the municipal sector in that province, Munimall, and another for the Engineering and Geology sector, PEGGAsus. He also pioneered the development of learning objects and was one of the first adopters and developers of RSS content syndication in education. Downes introduced the concept of e-learning 2.0 and with George Siemens developed and defined the concept of Connectivism, using the social network approach to deliver open online courses to three thousand participants over two years.

Downes has been offering courses in learning, logic, philosophy both online and off since 1987, has 135 articles published in books, magazines and academic journals, and has presented his unique perspective on learning and technology more than 250 times to audiences in 17 countries on five continents. He is a habitual photographer, plays darts for money, and can be found at home with his wife Andrea and four cats in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada.


Stephen Downes travaille pour le Conseil national de recherches du Canada, où il a servi en tant que chercheur principal, basé à Moncton, au Nouveau-Brunswick, depuis 2001. Affilié au Groupe des technologies de l'apprentissage et de la collaboration, Institut de technologie de l’information, Downes est spécialisé dans les domaines de l'apprentissage en ligne, les nouveaux médias, la pédagogie et la philosophie.

Downes est peut-être mieux connu pour son bulletin quotidien, OLDaily, qui est distribué par Internet, courriel et RSS à des milliers d'abonnés à travers le monde. Il a publié de nombreux articles à la fois en ligne et sur papier incluant The Future of Online Learning (1998), Learning Objects (2000), Resource Profiles (2003), et E-Learning 2.0 (2005). Il est un conférencier populaire, apparaissant à des centaines de manifestations à travers le monde au cours des quinze dernières années.

Vision Statement

I want and visualize and aspire toward a system of society and learning where each person is able to rise to his or her fullest potential without social or financial encumberance, where they may express themselves fully and without reservation through art, writing, athletics, invention, or even through their avocations or lifestyle.

Where they are able to form networks of meaningful and rewarding relationships with their peers, with people who share the same interests or hobbies, the same political or religious affiliations - or different interests or affiliations, as the case may be.

This to me is a society where knowledge and learning are public goods, freely created and shared, not hoarded or withheld in order to extract wealth or influence. This is what I aspire toward, this is what I work toward.

Canadians who gave their lives in service in Afghanistan

Hundreds of my IAAF Track & Field Photos from Moncton 2010

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