New Today

Using Gamification to create a Blogging Culture
Sumeet Moghe, The Learning Generalist, Jan 25, 2015

I like the way this experiment begins: "How about we used the same money that we’d use to hire a journalist, to instead engage ThoughtWorkers in writing about their work lives? Not only would the communication be far more authentic, we also stood a good chance of shaping a culture where people could write freely without the fear of being judged or considering their experiences to be 'not much to write home about'."

Teaching and learning through dialogue
Steve Wheeler, Learning With Es, Jan 25, 2015

I think that dialogue is really important in learning, but then, I construe 'dialogue' much more broadly than most - I think of a walk through the woods as a dialogue with the park, or a walk through a city as a dialogue with its inhabitants. I consider scientific experimentation as dialogue, archaeological digs as dialogue, and space exploration as dialogue. I wish teachers would do all of those things more, and bring their students with them. Steve Wheeler is far more interested in the traditional role of dialogre in teaching - "The teachers who have inspired me most are those who have been accessible rather than remote, personable instead of stand-offish" - and while I agree with this, I think it's only a small part, and if you don't understand why it's important, as we see with the larger examples, it's easy to dismiss as irrelevant. P.S. I love the diagram in this post, but I think the 'Knowledge', 'Experience' and 'Creativity' lables are just wrong.

Why Finland is finished as role model in education
Donald Clark, Donald Clark Plan B, Jan 25, 2015

This is generally a good article but it has the old saw about how mono-cultural mono-lingual countries are the ones who do really well on the PISA tests. One commentator noted that Finland education supports several languages, and of course Finns typically speak English as well as their native language. And Canada, which also sits near the top of these rankings, is almost as multi-cultural as it gets, and supports numerous languages in addition to its two official languages. But more importantly, I think, the article makes the case that the Finns never really believed in the rankings in the first place. The article also shows Finland "near the bottom of the league table when they measured how happy students were at school" (of course, school is less of a privilege of the elite in Finland than it is in these other countries), comments on Finland's weak economy, and asks why it scores poorly in TIMMS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study) (which I don't think it does, really). I think the article makes some good points, but I think it also has an agenda that is not supported by those points.

A Photo A Day Keeps the Dullness Away
Alan Levine, CogDogBlog, Jan 25, 2015

One comment I saw several times in my recent survey was that people missed seeing my photos in OLDaily. I do enjoy sharing my photos, and I'll look to finding a good way to reincorporate them. But in the meantime, just like Alan Levine here, I've been participating in a photo-a-day project off and on for years. These days it's mostly on - I have the complete set from 2014 and have been at it regularly in 2015. Now I don't know whether I'll follow the guidelines in Levine's You Show’s The Daily – a site that will generate a small creative challenge every day at 8:00am PT - but it's a good source of ideas and I'll watch it for inspiration. Meanwhile, you can follow my photos ever day on my art blog. Note that I don't embed tweets the way he does because I want longer captions on my photos, so I can tell a little story each day too. I spend a fair amount of time thinking about these stories, and creating them is a source of enjoyment for me.

Making Sense of Words That Don't
Kelli Sandman-Hurley, Edutopia, Jan 25, 2015

This is an article that combines two separate concepts, does so in a confusing way, and will confuse rather than enlighten if used to teach language. The concepts are, on the one hand, prefixes and suffixes, and on the other hand, word roots and etymology (or what might be thought of as families of words). The former are pretty familiar, including the use of suffixes like '-ion' to create nouns and '-ly' to create adverbs, or '-es' to indicate person and tense in verbs. The latter is not activated through the use of suffixes, but rather the migration of a word through history, though the use of prefixes and suffixes is sometimes used here as well. Combining the two - especially with grammatically inaccurate matrices, simply confuses the two distinct concepts.

A Hippocratic Oath for Ed-Tech
Audrey Watters, Hack Education, Jan 25, 2015

I think this is a good idea. That's why I proposed it in 2008 and revisited it in 2010. "Drawing from the Hippocratic Oath, perhaps it would insist that students be recognized as humans, not as data points. It would demand a respect for student privacy. It would recognize that “the tools” are less important than compassion. It would privilege humility over techno-solutionism. It could call for more professional transparency perhaps – open doors in classrooms, open collaboration with peers, and open disclosure about relationships with industry." I don't know whether it would demand those these, particularly. But what it should demand is that rules and principles designed to apply generally should be examined in individual cases so they do not cause harm personally. As any good doctor would do.

The Mirage of Measurable Success
Matt Crosslin, EduGeek Journal, Jan 25, 2015

Interesting article that despite the title is more concerned with the evaluation of dalmooc, which I think was intended to be an instance of a dual-MOOC (ie., both cMOOC and xMOOC). The inevitable result was that some people thought it was more cMOOC than they expected, while others thought it was more xMOOC than they expected. But in assessing the MOOC, Matt Crosslin notes, "The most important questions that were asked had to deal with 'why even offer dalmooc if you don’t know what measurable success would look like?'" And he ponders that in this context and eventually says: "Most of what we call 'measurable success' in education is really just a mirage of numbers games... there is a problem with the system and the culture that drives that system that needs to be addressed before 'measurable success' becomes a trustworthy idea." Related: Terry Anderson on whether blogging is worth it for aspiring academics.

News Feed FYI: Showing Fewer Hoaxes
Erich Owens, Udi Weinsberg,, Facebook Blog, Jan 25, 2015

I'm sure it's not in reaction to my recent complaints (heh) but Facebook is announcing changes that will slow the propagation of fake news. This is hard for Facebook because everything in the service is about generating feed-forwards, comments and reactions. Facebook has none of the inherent friction a proper network would have, because it's bad for advertising. And this new change is no exception - it's based on users giving Facebook more information. So the stories will still circulate - they'll just be 'flagged' as fake. Of course, if Facebook were really serious, it would clamp down on clickbait. But again, advertising. More: the Guardian.

I've been complaining recently about the social cesspool sites like Facebook and Twitter have become. This has led some people to suggest that I've recanted connectivism. But these social media sites are not 'connectivist' in any reasonable sense of the term. First, they are not actually networks - they are destination sites intended to lure people in and keep them there. Second, they are not about interactivity, they are about publishing - they are content distribution sites where the main means of propagation is the 'share' button. As a result, content is not requested or 'pulled' by users - it is pushed with increasing insistence into the user's space. The user has little control over this (try deleting 'Facebook friends'). Related: Spark, on how social media could be changing your child's sense of self.

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:

Social Network

Skype: Downes

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

Posts viewed: 28462 today, 1923366 all time.