New Learning, New Society

New Today

Micro-credential badges becoming a serious commodity
Matt Zalaznick, University Business, Oct 08, 2015

Badges are quietly becoming mainstream. As this article notes, a number of universities are now offering them "as a form of micro-credential or 'subdegree' to students who pass individual courses or certifications, and want to show potential employers what they’ve learned." The badges can be posted to LinkedIn or to e-portfolios and offer details about the course or sub-program completed.

Photos from Pompeii
Stephen Downes, Flickr, Oct 08, 2015


MyLearningMentor: A Mobile App to Support Learners Participating in MOOCs
Carlos Alario-Hoyos,, Journal of Universal Computer Science, Oct 08, 2015

Description of a mobile application supporting MOOCs.  (19 page PDF) As the abstract states, "MyLearningMentor (MLM) is a mobile application that addresses the lack of support and personalized advice for learners in MOOCs. This paper presents the architecture of MLM and practical examples of use." Of most interest to me is the context-aware recommender system. "MLM goes beyond current research on MOOCs by considering the affordances of mobile and context-aware technologies to provide a more adaptive environment to improve learners’ learning experience. "

Social media history could provide alternative to credit checks
Jason Osler, CBC, Oct 08, 2015

I still get sceptical looks when I talk about using social media and network connections to evaluate a student (instead of the usual tests and assignments). My reasoning is that we can use the willingness of other people in the field to engage with a person (say) to evaluate his or her academic credibility. OK, it may be out there - but the same sort of idea has occurred to other people, including the people proposing to use social media to replace credit checks. "Facebook recently secured a patent for a technology which, among other things, could help determine your credit-worthiness based on the friends you keep on the social network."

Effectiveness of Integrating MOOCs in Traditional Classrooms for Undergraduate Students
Maria Joseph Israel, The International Review of Research in Open, Distance Learning (IRRODL), Oct 08, 2015

This paper examines the use of MOOCs in a classroom setting (a phenomenon called 'wrapped MOOCs', though I haven't heard the expression used recently). "Students in blended MOOCs in traditional classrooms performed almost equal or slightly better than students in only face-to-face class environment, no significant evidence of negative effects for any subgroups in the hybrid model, lower levels of student satisfaction, and limited participation in discussion forums provided by MOOCs." Which seems to be a bit of a wash. But then again, the primary use of the MOOC is not deployment in a traditional classroom setting.

The 'no-tech' school where screens are off limits – even at home
Sally Weale, The Guardian, Oct 08, 2015

Doug Belshaw shared this item this week (in his newly and inappropriately named 'Thought Shrapnel' newsletter). It's a paean from the Guardian to a school that has banned all screens and electronics at home and in the classroom. The parents are concerned about the impact of technology; I would be far more concerned about the lack of it. But don't take my word for it. Belshaw also recommends "this eviscerating takedown by Laura Hilliger." She writes, "Teaching kids how to think about technology and be digital citizens is not going to become outdated. There are literacies to be explored, we have to teach people how to live and participate with new technologies. In 50 years the only thing that’s going to be outdated is the idea that you can get by in this world without some basic understandings about tech, networks, human communications."

Towards an inclusive global knowledge society
Patrick Blessinger, University World News, Oct 08, 2015

I think this assertion is correct: "a chief aim of higher education should be to cultivate higher degrees of personal agency within students. As a result, the demands placed on higher education institutions have become much more complex." The reasons for this are myriad, but stem essentially from the fact that it is not possible to identify a single set of competencies (beyond the very basics) that will ensure successful lives for graduates. The environment just changes too often and too quickly. And I agree with this: "access to and participation in meaningful lifelong educational opportunities is one of the chief human rights issues of our generation."

Receive Files into Your Google Drive, Dropbox, or OneDrive
Tony Vincent, Learning in Hand, Oct 08, 2015

I've used this service before and will probably use it again. In a nutshell, it enables you to create a place where people can send files to our cloud storage accounts (like, say, Dropbox) without having to give out credentials to your cloud storage account. They simply send to DropItToMe and this service sends it to your cloud storage.

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.
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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

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