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Social Learning is Voluntary; Collaboration Platforms are Enablers
Sahana Chattopadhyay, ID and Other Reflections, Oct 21, 2014
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I've used the phrase 'free learning and control learning' in the past to highlight the same distinction, but while my terminology didn't really take off, perhaps Jane Hart's 'social learning and fauxial learning' will fare better. I'm not betting on it. But the distinction is valid, and so is the recognition that people can depend on people other than teachers to support their own learning. "Organizations can no longer exist in silos -- either internally or in relation to the external ecosystem. Cooperation and collaboration will yield greater benefits than competitiveness. Employees will no longer tolerate being treated like replaceable cogs."

Learners don’t know what’s best for them
Mark Guzdial, Computing Education Blog, Oct 21, 2014

Can autodidacticism be taught? That is, can you learn how to learn for yourself? It would seem obvious that you can - for example, you can be taught to read, which is a major component of learning for yourself, you can be taught experimentation through examples such as Mythbusters, and you can be taught learning strategies, logic and inference. Most of us could be taught these at a fairly young age. I was, through a standard public school education supplemented with a voracious reading of classic literature. But, I guess, most people aren't.

Why does this matter? It matters because I have encountered yet another blog post (citing people like Paul A. Kirschner yet again) making the claim that "learners don’t know what’s best for them." The argument boils down to two major premises: that students can't (or won't) make good choices, and they can't (or won't) tackle difficult tasks. The slightest observation of people out there on their own actually learning (everything from digital photography to road cycling to bird-watching to home repair) refutes both points. But evidence isn't sufficient for people like the aforementioned Kirschner, who prefers to use cherrypicked facts and carefully designed studies. But this should give people pause: what is the evidence that people cannot learn how to learn for themselves? I contend that it does not exist, and that merely citing studies of people (like hairdressing students) who have not yet learned proves nothing.

Review of ‘Online Distance Education: Towards a Research Agenda.’
Tony Bates, online learning and distance education resources, Oct 21, 2014

Although Tony Bates considers this book "essential reading for anyone who wants to take a professional, evidence-based approach to online learning (distance or otherwise)" he suggests that "we need a better way to disseminate this research than a 500 page printed text that only those already expert in the field are likely to access." It doesn't help that there's no open access version (at least that I could find). Moreover, writes Bates, "I groaned when I first saw the list of contributors. The same old, same old list of distance education experts with a heavy bias towards open universities."

The strengths and weaknesses of MOOCs: Part I
Tony Bates, online learning and distance eductaion resources, Oct 21, 2014
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Tony Bates surveys some advantages and disadvantages of MOOCs. One item he focuses on is the demographics of MOOC users. "most MOOC participants are already well-educated and employed. The work by Kop and Fournier (collected here (I don’t know why everyone cites the 2014 EdX research but ignores this earlier research)) on the population served by MOOCs also found that it was an older and well-credentialed demographic. But I wonder how relevant this is. The 1994 surveys of internet users show that the average user was North American, educated and professional. They were also overwhelmingly male. But it would have been incorrect to conclude from this data that the internet would not have a broad society-wide utility or appeal. It shows, simply, that there is a characteristic demographic that benefits from innovation earlier than everyone else.

On the Question of Validity in Learning Analytics
Adam Cooper, CETIS Blogs, Oct 21, 2014
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So your learning analytics have produced a result. How do you know you should rely on it? As Adam Cooper writes in this post, there are two dimensions of assessment of analytics results: reliability (or, how closely focused the results are on a single value), and validity (or, how closely the results are to the correct result). Note, he writes, that mere predictive accuracy is not enough to establish validity. How does the prediction compare to a random result? How many false positives and false negatives were there? The prediction could be accurate, in other words, but lucky. But more, we need to ask whether the tool could ever be used in practise and whether the results generalize or are reproducible.

Revealed: how Whisper app tracks ‘anonymous’ users
Paul Lewis, Dominic Rushe, The Guardian, Oct 21, 2014
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The Guardian is standing by its story that Whisper, the application that guarantees complete anonymity to users, is tracking and sharing their locations. For its part, although Whisper dismisses the Guardian story as a pack of lies, it has also altered its terms of service to allow such tracking. And according to American Journalism Review, "Whisper in particular is aggressively pushing its content to reporters as potential sources for news stories." It also had a partnership with Buzzfeed and the cable news channel Fusion. The thing is, you can't be an anonymous app and a news source at the same time. Some links via American Press Institute 'Need to Know'.

Our Digital Futuire: A Crowdsourced Agenda for Free Expression
Various authors, Open Media, Oct 21, 2014

"At its best," reads the executive summary of this report, "the Internet encourages us to share, use our creativity, and express ourselves freely. It fosters the same key experiences that help us preserve our imaginations and our capacity to learn as we grow from children into adults." Drawing from contributions from the community, the report makes three main recommendations:

  1. Respect creators
  2. Priorize free expression
  3. Embrace democratic processes

"Citizens, particularly young people, are increasingly questioning the legitimacy and effectiveness of traditional models of governance and hierarchical processes of decision-making; a new method befitting the era of participation is sorely needed."

MOOCs: A Review of the State-of-the-Art
Ahmed Mohamed Fahmy Yousef, Mohamed Amine Chatti, Ulrik Schroeder, Marold Wosnitza, Harald Jakobs, CSEDU 2014 - 6th International Conference on Computer Supported Education, Oct 21, 2014
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This is quite a good overview of the current state of MOOCs with a number of good images, statistics and definitions, making it a great reference paper for future discussions. "84 peer reviewed papers were selected in this study. A template analysis was applied to analyze and categorize the MOOCs literature into 7 dimensions, namely concept, design, learning theories, case studies, business models, target groups, and assessment."

Links and Resources

(presentations include slides and audio recordings)
Videos: http://www.downes.ca/me/videos.htm
RSS Feed: http://www.downes.ca/news/OLDaily.xml
Podcast: http://www.downes.ca/news/audio.xml

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)

Recent Popular Articles

The Purpose of Learning, February 2, 2011.
The Role of the Educator, December 6, 2010.
Deinstitutionalizing Education, November 5, 2010.
Agents Provocateurs, October 28, 2010.
What Is Democracy In Education, October 22, 2010.
A World To Change, October 19, 2010.
Connectivism and Transculturality, May 16, 2010.
An Operating System for the Mind, September 19, 2009.
The Cloud and Collaboration, June 15, 2009.
Critical Thinking in the Classroom, June 5, 2009.
The Future of Online Learning: Ten Years On, November 16, 2008.
Things You Really Need to learn: http://www.downes.ca/post/38502

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Contact: stephen@downes.ca Stephen.Downes@nrc-cnrc.gc.ca
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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.

Biographie

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

My calendar

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