New Learning, New Society

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Developing a framework for teaching open courses
Alec Couros, Open Thinking, Aug 03, 2015
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Long and enormously useful post from Alec Couros describing 'semi-structured' open courses. The concept is drawn from Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown: "The new culture of learning actually comprises two elements. The first is a massive information network that provides almost unlimited and resources to learn about anything. The second is a bounded and structured environment that allows unlimited agency to build and experiment with things within those boundaries."

How big data is unfair
Moritz Hardt, Medium, Aug 03, 2015
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Is justice 'fairness'? Is there a requirement that big data be fair? That is the underlying presumption behind this paper that argues that the needs and interests of minorities are subsumed under the unflinching generalizations of big data. Empirically, I think there's no doubt that Moritz Hardt is right. This is the sort of observation that has spurred philosophers since John Stuart Mill to warn of the "tyranny of the majority". How much does it matter, though? Will it even slow down the adoption of big data? It should - but will it? In medicine, we have the "do no harm" principle to prevent doctors from unthinkingly prescribing stock solutions to special cases. But we have no equivalent in education. We don't really get an answer - and at the very end I see the purpose of the article is not to actually address the issue, but to promote a conference. How disappointing.

Employability and quality of life
George Siemens, elearnspace, Aug 03, 2015
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This is a set of slides on the employability narrative for higher education, which as George Siemens says, is becoming overpowering. "While I certainly agree that work is important," he writes, "I think the framework of 'getting a job' is too limiting for the role that higher education (can and should) play in society." I agree.

Negotiating a New Social Contract for Digital Data
Barbara Fister, Inside Higher Ed, Aug 03, 2015

I know my article from yesterday on what I learned from philosophy can be tough sledding, but seriously, it's a Rosetta Stone for understanding pretty much everything in our field. Consider the present post. The focus is on big data, and yes, that is the topic. But how is it that a new 'social contract' would work with respect to big data? Would we (and by 'we' I mean you and me) ever actually negotiate such a thing? I agree, and probably so does everyone else, that "there is a lot of good stuff that can come from using large data sets, but we need to figure out who gets to decide which uses are beneficial." But how do we get from there to here? It will take more than government transparency, regulations, and self-education.

One Thing
Andrew Nachison, We Media, Aug 03, 2015

Are newsletters making a comeback? As social media becomes less and less useful, maybe people are turning to (as this We Media updates suggests) that 'one thing' that they can rely on to be relevant. I've long since given up making any guarantees :) so I'm quite happy to pass along this notification. Because I do like media. "You can’t keep up with everything. But you can manage One Thing, the newsletter from Andrew Nachison. No promises on format or frequency. Get it by email." And Doug Belshaw, your survey kept timing out on me, but I think a daily newsletter from you would be welcome too.

That 'Useless' Liberal Arts Degree Has Become Tech's Hottest Ticket
George Anders, Forbes, Aug 03, 2015
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I like this of course because my own degrees are in philosophy. “Studying philosophy taught me two things,” says (Slack CEO Stewart) Butterfield. “I learned how to write really clearly. I learned how to follow an argument all the way down, which is invaluable in running meetings. And when I studied the history of science, I learned about the ways that everyone believes something is true–like the old notion of some kind of ether in the air propagating gravitational forces–until they realized that it wasn’t true.” This caused me to reflect on what I've learned from philosophy as well.

I am not sure what Kevin Carey is imagining here….
Steve Krause, stevendkrause.com, Aug 03, 2015

I mentioned Kevin Cartey's post in another item a few days ago; this post is a good antidote to the specious reasoning Carey offers his New York Times readership. Based on the example of college athleete cheating scandals, Carey argues, "colleges/universities are 'not coherent' when it comes to consistency, standards, classroom excellence." This is in itself a terrible argument, but then Carey goes on to argue that there isn't much difference between what you learn in the elite colleges and the other colleges. True enough. But as Steve Krause rejoinds, "then that means that there actually is a lot of consistency and coherence in higher education." The article is classic Carey, running a contradiction to prove whatever he wants. And as Krause observes, "I guess what bothers me the most about Carey’s views here and in other places, notably in The End of College, is the amount of airtime it gets in places in the mainstream media like The New York Times." Too true. 

The UdG Agora Project (part 1 of ∞)
Alan Levine, CogDogBlog, Aug 03, 2015
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I'm posting this partially because I will also be at the University of Guadalajara; for me it's the last week of August. I doubt that I will be able to manage a program as detailed and comprehensive as the one described by Alan Levine in this post, but through a talk and a couple of workshops I will be working with participants there to develop ideas around what we think personal learning should look like. So I will be seeking to build on the work done here, described in part as "the approach specified in the design and described by Tannis as focused around 'Studios'. It’s a metaphor that has long spoken to be as ideal for creativity and learning technology in a hands on design but also in proximity to others." Hence: Agora. To my Stoa, I guess. Guadalajara is a lovely city; I look forward to returning.

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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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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