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Why Github is Important for Book Publishing
Eric Hellman, Go To Hellman, Jan 27, 2015

Something like Github could be important for book publishing. But the documentation is needlessly opaque and the applications take you back to the days of typing commands in terminal windows. In addition to a diagram without lables we get explanations like the following: "Someone working on a project will first create a 'feature branch', a copy of the repository that adds a feature or fixes a bug. When the new feature has been tested and is working, the changes will be 'committed'. Each set of changes with be given an identifier and a message explaining what has been changed." Now if you don't already understand these concepts, these sentences will not help you. And this is the simple explanation (I read the official documentation and it's a long explanation of how it's different from Subversion). I've never found a clear and non-technical description of Git or GitHub (I believe they're separate things, but who knows?) nor an easy-to-use application. Just me? Maybe. But the difficulty of understanding Git makes me really sympathetic with people who have difficulty adapting to tech.

The Power of Detentions
Sam LeDeaux, Connected Principals, Jan 27, 2015

It is worth noting that detention is essentially prison for students. However, note:
- there is no trial
- there is no defence or representation
- there is no appeal
- (probably) rich kids still get off (The Breakfast Club notwithstanding)
It is worth pondering what the real lessons are being learned when detentions are given out.

Autonomy and Value in Social and Workplace Learning
Charles Jennings, Learning Performance, Jan 27, 2015

"The ‘Jennings & Reid-Dodick C-Curve’," writes Charles Jennings, "was developed in the early stages of an L&D transformation for a Global FTSE100 company more than a decade ago." It describes a curve that travels backwards from more autonomy to less autonomy, creation of standards and controls, and gradual re-autonomy. I think it's pleasing to many managers and trainers, who appreciate the move toward steps 2 and 3 (and imagine the progression to autonomy in step 4 can happen after they retire). But despite this weakness, it reinforces the idea that value is tied to autonomy. You can only go so far with control (and not as far as depicted in the model). For real value, people need to interact and make decisions on their own at the point where problems, issues or opportunities are directly confronted.

At Davos, Technology CEOs Discuss The Digital Economy
Amie Colquhoun, Don Tapscott, Jan 27, 2015

Don Tapscott reports from Davos, where they're learned that we need alternative energy sources, that we have to deal with global warming, and that education matters. Of course, they say lots of things (publicly) at Davos. "For the first time in history, economic growth is not generating a meaningful number of new jobs. Factor in the hangover from the financial collapse of 2008 and we’re witnessing youth unemployment levels across the western world from 15 to 60 percent. But panelists said that this was a temporary problem and not a structural problem." I disagree. Half the world's wealth is in the hands of a tiny minority. That's a structural problem, and it explains today's youth are unemployed instead of solving energy problems, addressing global warming, and benefiting from a free and global education system. See also this earlier Tapscott article on Davos 2015.

Asian education points to the power of partnership
Dominic Collard, Pearson, Jan 27, 2015

Half the world lives in Asia and yet some writers can't resit talking about it as though it were a single entity. Of course, the real purpose of this post is to promote something else: "It will be by seizing the opportunities that technology is offering; by partnering with organisations outside the school gates, that education will be transformed." When I look at the partnerships schools have undertaken in the past - with publishers, for example, the phrase "mutual benefit" doesn't spring to mind." The words "exploitation" and "predatory" do. And the writing in this post makes Asia seem more like a place to be colonized than partnered. But hey, maybe I'm wrong this time. Maybe they will leave as much value as they take from these new Asian markets. We'll see.

'We All Felt Trapped'
Carl Straumsheim, Inside Higher Ed, Jan 27, 2015

"In all of drama and comedy there is no figure more laughable as a rich man who does not know what he is doing," writes Paul Mason. He's writing about the elites in Europe who have no understanding of why austerity failed in Greece (hint: rich people there still pay no tax). But he may as well been talking about the moguls at MIT, who can't comprehend what went wrong in the case of Walter Lewin. A couple quotes, at least, had me thinking this way. "I would call it an unprecedented area," said Erin Buzuvis, director of the Center for Gender and Sexuality Studies at Western New England University. "There isn’t even a lot of precedent for online harassment in general." Um, what? “We have never in the academic profession -- never, never -- in a collective way looked at the threat posed by professors,” (Billie Wright) Dziech (a professor of English at the University of Cincinnati) said. Because, you know, those in power would never behave badly.

Using Gamification to create a Blogging Culture
Sumeet Moghe, The Learning Generalist, Jan 27, 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 27, 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.

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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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The Cloud and Collaboration, June 15, 2009.
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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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