I lead the Learning and Performance Support Systems program at the National Research Council, a multi-year effort to develop personal learning technology and learning analytics. I am one of the originators of the Massive Open Online Course, write about online and networked learning, have authored learning management and content syndication software, and am the author of the widely read e-learning newsletter OLDaily.


  • Association of Medical Educators of Europe (AMEE) E-Learning Symposium, Glasgow, Scotland, September 6, 2015.

  • Ghent, Belgium, March 30, 2015.

  • Chang School Talks 2015, Ryerson University, February 23, 2015.

  • Hackademia, Online, to Brazil, March 16, 2015.

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Open Educational Resources: American Ideals, Global Questions


This article talks about "the American led movement on behalf of the MOOC" though what it really should say is something like "the MOOC movement as seen through American eyes". It depicts MOOCs and Open Educational Resources through a puzzling history beginning "the many kinds of free instructional resources in MIT’s OpenCourseWare project (and) culminating (for now) in the MOOC." There is no question of an American role and influence in these movements, but I think the article would have done better to contrast this role with the concurrent and sometimes leading roles played by people outside the U.S. Either way, though, the article's central premise holds - that what started as a benign movement supporting personal and international development can be seen as having been co-opted to support national and international ambitions. "For critics like Robert Rhoads and his UCLA colleagues the OER movement is primarily an expression of economic 'neoliberalism' and, as presently organized (in the U.S. at least), has little chance of fulfilling its lofty claims for democratizing education across the globe." It's not just the critics who see this though. It's also many of the originators of open online learning - myself included - who see this. Image: Carolyn Fox.

Today: 239 Total: 239 Steven Weiland, Global Education Review, 2016/06/28 [Direct Link]

LittleSis database of biz/gov't connections


LittleSis describes itself as "an involuntary facebook of the 1%." It is essentially a network graphic tool showing connections between the powerful and influential in (mostly Amercian) society. It " documents personal and business connections in the worlds of government and business. For instance, here's George Soros. And Dick Cheney." We really need an international version. The record for Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is just a placeholder. So is the record for Vladimir Putin. The mnoted website 'They Rule' was created with the assistance of LittleSis.

Today: 258 Total: 258 Jason Kottke, 2016/06/28 [Direct Link]

Robots won’t replace teachers because they can’t inspire us


I know a lot of people will want this to be true but it's not. I've been inspired by various people over time: John Lennon. Doug Gilmour. Neil Young. Arsinio Hall. Jose Bautista. These are my role models. These are (among others) the people who inspire me. Not one of them is a teacher. Ergo, one does not need teachers in order to be inspired. I don't think that the field of education understands, in general, how much of what it does is also done by parents, role models, friends, professional associates, and more. If the core function - to teach - can be performed by a machine, then the ancillary functions - motivation, inspiration, socialization, etc. - can be performed by everyone else in society. And, indeed, should be performed by everyone else in society.

Today: 324 Total: 324 Eric Johnson, Recode, 2016/06/27 [Direct Link]

Import Blackboard Common Cartridge into WordPress


It's hacks like this that make the world great. What we have here is basically a PHP script that read a Blackboard-produced common cartridge (the URL is hard-coded and inaccessible to me; you will need to substitute your own), creates an array of resources from the manifest, gets the resources as necessary, and then saves them as WordPress posts. There's no guarantee that this script would work on any cartridge other than the one which was tested. The point is, if you create resources using open standards, people will find a way to use them creatively. Even if they come from Blackboard. Related: Importing Moodle into WordPress.

Today: 131 Total: 819 Tom Woodward, Bionic Teaching, 2016/06/27 [Direct Link]

Talking numbers about open publishing and online learning

I think I've always known this, but Tony Bates, who has a foot placed firmly in each camp, has the data to support it: "open, online publishing will almost certainly reach more readers than a commercial publication or an academic journal." FWIW this is probably the one and only time I'll ever be lumped in with Justin Bieber and Donald Trump. Good plug for the BC Campus Open Textbook Project.

Today: 139 Total: 751 Tony Bates, online learning and distance education resources, 2016/06/27 [Direct Link]

Six centuries of secularism


Interesting thesis: "by elaborating mechanical processes and spelling out how things worked – in striking contrast to the well-documented secrecy of the guilds – writers began to transform the mechanical arts from personal know-how into scientific knowledge... The world of the crafts – like that of politics – lost its magic; it broke free of its yoke to the divine.... Because secularisation subverted the notion of cosmic and metaphysical order, the rise of how-to books sowed the seeds of a more open and tolerant view of humanity."

Today: 123 Total: 675 William Eamon, Aeon, 2016/06/27 [Direct Link]

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.
Sponsored this month by: Rory McGreal