New Today

Skype Real-Time Language Translator Goes Live
Angela Moscaritolo, PC Magazine, Dec 17, 2014

It's probably really bad (though I can't wait to try it) and it's limited to English and Spanish for now, but this is the face of the future: real-time translations of online conversations. How awesome is that? "The Microsoft-owned chat service on Monday launched the first phase of its Skype Translator preview program first announced back in May. Jointly developed by Microsoft researchers and Skype engineers, the new feature uses real-time speech translation technologies to let you have a conversation with someone over the Internet who speaks a different language."

France plans elite top-10 mega-university
Sean Coughlan, BBC News, Dec 17, 2014

I'm not sure whether this counts as education technology (I guess it does, in a way) but France has announced plans to combine 19 separate institutions into one large super-university that will be large enough in scale and ambition to compete with places like Harvard and Oxford. It will be called Paris-Saclay, and according to this article, will have "a campus south of the French capital. The project has initial funding of 7.5bn euros (£5.9bn) for an endowment, buildings and transport links." I personally can think of better ways to spend $10 billion.

A business model view of changing times in higher education
Lloyd Armstrong, Changing Higher Education, Dec 17, 2014

I've been exposed to this way of thinking about education (and innovation generally) a lot over the last couple of years. Parts of it I resist, parts of it I embrace, and all of it I view with a certain scepticism. But it's important to understand that there are large masses of people (specifically, the business community) who view all systems this way, including the education system. The key elements to focus on are, in my view, the value proposition and the profit formula. The former talks about what effects you want to produce (I think the current article has far too limited a view of the value proposition, as does the business perspective generally) and the latter has to do with costs and efficiency - not only for institutions (again, a limitation of the business-centric view) but also for individuals engaged in the system.

Outlook on instruction: Class around the clock
Jessica Terrell, District Administration, Dec 17, 2014

It's only half way through December and already the predictions for next year are starting. This article features a headline that doesn't match the content, a poorly-conceived line graph that doesn't match the content, an even poorer comment (an engineer proposing multiplication chants? really?) and a few predictions. They are mostly based around the idea of personalization and self-management of learning. I expect this too. But watch for an even bigger pushback, from two directions - first, from the instructivists, who say everyone should learn common core content and eschew differentiated instruction, and from the paternalists, who insist students are incapable of managing their own learning. 2015, I expect, will be a year of retrenchment (aka the calm before the storm).

Tipping Points? Malcolm Gladwell Could Use a Few
@blippoblappo, @crushingbort, Our Bad Media, Dec 17, 2014

It does bother me a bit from time to time to see people like Malcolm Gladwell getting credit for ideas originally created by others. But I shrug, because that's the way the book-publishing racket works (I could name half a dozen pop technology writers who work, and get credit, the same way). Everyone knows someone else was the source, but easier to give Gladwell credit because everyone has heard of Gladwell.  But this article takes the criticisms a step further and accuses Gladwell of plagiarism, providing a number of examples of unattributed quotes. As one commenter says, "This is a professional setting and these editors are giving the same lame excuses students give. How can we instill a sense of ethics and integrity of the pros are cool with thieving?" This is indeed a more general question. Looking at the ethics expressed by the 'pros' in all disciplines, and the rewards they receive for 'breaking the rules', how can we expect our young to behave any differently?

Our journey is at an end...
Various authors, Aviation Industry CBT Committee, Dec 17, 2014

So this marks the end of an era: "Due to declining membership, the AICC membership has decided to dissolve the AICC. We are very proud of the AICC’s pioneering work in learning technology interoperability specifications. It is quite a legacy that is still strongly influencing how most of us learn online today." In order to understand the role of the AICC, you may want to view my overview of the development of learning technologies. The CMI-5 specification will be passed to ADL. Here is the complete archive of AICC documents.

UAlberta opens access to published research in Canada
Press Release, University of Alberta, Dec 17, 2014

This, ultimately, is the way to break the journal cartel. The "University of Alberta Libraries has opened its e-journal hosting service to all Canadian scholarly journals to help make academic material more accessible to researchers, students and policy-makers." The University uses software called Open Journal Systems, which was created by the Public Knowledge Project in British Columbia, Canada. "The service offered by the university encourages Canadian scholarly journals to step out from behind paywalls so their material is more widely accessible to researchers, students and others referencing scholarly work."

The Open Access Interviews: Dr Indrajit Banerjee, Director of UNESCO’s Knowledge Societies Division
Richard Poynder, Shut?, Open, Dec 17, 2014

"The extent to which the Knowledge Divide is narrowed, and to which we are able to create societies that are truly Knowledge Societies, will determine the pace of development. OA has the potential to lessen the existing knowledge divide." So says Indrajit Banerjee, Director of UNESCO’s Knowledge Societies Division, as interviewed by Richard Poynder. "This gap goes beyond the rifts in mere access to ICT," he continues. "It refers to the gaps that exist across all the four building blocks of Knowledge Societies, namely: Knowledge Creation; Knowledge Preservation; Knowledge Dissemination; and Use of Knowledge."

Links and Resources

(presentations include slides and audio recordings)
RSS Feed:

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:

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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

My calendar

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