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Memory is more than Ebbinghaus
Donald H Taylor, Jul 27, 2015

Good post which to me shows why we can't simply rely on mechanical generalizations to understand learning. Donald Taylor writes on Herman Ebbinghaus's 'forgetting curve', which basically shows how memories decline over time (and can be extended by being refreshed at increasingly long intervals). But as Taylor points out, "in memory experiments, the content you learn is meaningless." Indeed, they deliberately use nonsense syllables in order to control for the effect of meaning and context. All very fine, but learning is all about meaning and context. It's how what we are remembering fits into a pattern. Taylor points to another well-known investigation, in which Chase and Simon (1973) shows that expert chess players remember the positions of players much better than novices, simply because they recognize patterns. If you're not testing for pattern recognition, you're not testing for knowledge and learning.

Open teaching and learning
Jenny Mackness, Learning, Open teaching, Jul 27, 2015

It can be more difficult to teach in an open environment. Janny Mackness observes, "being ‘in the open’ raises security alarm bells for some tutors. What if their students post the less than perfect (in their eyes) videos they have made on Facebook? What if synchronous sessions with students, which are not intended to be viewed by anyone other than the student group involved, suddenly find their way onto the open web?"

Higher Education: Access Denied
Graham Brown-Martin, Medium, Jul 27, 2015

This is a small thing, but illustrative: the correct expression is "struck a chord", not "struck a cord". Why does that even matter? The former shows that you understand what the words mean, while the latter shows that you are parroting by rote. And this - not "a vested interest in maintaining an intellectual hegemony" - is what the three or four years of an undergraduate education is intended to produce. These minor differences in expression and presentation (citing people by their first name, use of generalizations like, "no interest in transformation", out-of-place employment of clichés like "wax lyrical") are very obvious to a person with a formal education and invisible to a person without one. The result is the difference between learning on one's own, and learning through immersion in a knowing community, the difference between remembering what words mean and being able to speak a language. I have nothing but sympathy for Graham Brown-Martin, but it's hard, especially if it wasn't part of your early life, and you can't learn to speak a language by reading books. This - and not just a bunch of stuff to remember - is what needs to be produced by online learning.

Well I wouldn't start from here anyway!
Brian Mulligan, Jul 27, 2015

One of the arguments against the longterm success of MOOCs, and of of online learning generally, is that it does not provide the two major things college students are looking for when they enrol in college: first, a mechanism for finding a husband or wife of the same demographics and social standing as them; and second, a method of signalling to future employers that you can get into a 'good' college, which demonstrates not simply academic ability but also background and pedigree, wealth and social standing. My first reaction is that if this is the real value of post secondary education, then we should reconsider funding it at all. But second, I'm not so sure a MOOC can't serve those functions. Certainly if eharmony and can become viable dating sites, then could do even better! I doubt that MOOCs can fix the second point, though - and I think you'd need a major overhaul of society to prevent the ultra-rich from self-identifying and forming mutual support networks. Not saying it shouldn't be done - just that MOOCs might not be sufficient to do it. See also Jason Potts of RMIT on "Why MOOCs will fail".

LinkedIn quietly removes tool to export contacts
Bobby Owsinski, VentureBeat, Jul 27, 2015

You may think you own your own identity, but LinkedIn has very quietly underlined the fact that no, you don't. "LinkedIn has removed the option to export your contacts. Instead, the company is asking users to request an archive of their data, but that process can take up to 72 hours to complete." This is again a warning to be sure not to depend on LinkedIn - or any of the social network platforms - for anything critical. This includes customers of, which was recently acquired by LinkedIn.

Georgia sues Carl Malamud, calls publishing state laws "terrorism"
Cory Doctorow, BoingBoing, Jul 27, 2015

Each paragraph gets more outrageous. "The State of Georgia claims that its statutes are a copyrighted work, and that rogue archivist Carl Malamud.. committed an act of piracy by making the laws of Georgia free for all to see and copy." Why? "The state makes a lot of money vending the 'Official Code of Georgia Annotated.'" But it gets worse: "Georgia claims that if Malamud is allowed to make copies of the law available, they will no longer have any incentive to make good laws, because they won't be able to profit from them." Please let this be a parody or an Onion article. See also TechDirt.

Ed Tech's Funding Frenzy
Carl Straumsheim, Inside Higher Ed, Jul 27, 2015

It used to be the case that there was no investment money in Ed Tech. This has changed. If you build something worthwhile, the money is there to take it to the next level. "Between January and June, investors poured $2,512,803,700 into ed-tech companies, eclipsing the record high $2.42 billion invested in all of 2014 -- the first year investments broke the $2 billion barrier." This is based on a white paper from market research firm Ambient Insight.

Join the Nano Open Online Courses (NOOCs) Adventure!
Zaid Ali Alsagoff, ZaidLearn, Jul 27, 2015

The idea of a nano-MOOC is that it is a very short MOOC. Zaid Ali Alsagoff writes, "Instead of having to do the whole course, I can now focus on the juice (I want), get assessed, and be certified (or Badged) on it. Yes, a NOOC is more granular, chunked, digestible, meaningful (evidence) and juicy!" My question is, can we build a meaningful network around a course that is an hour or two long? Or does it just become another way to present content?

Links and Resources

(presentations include slides and audio recordings)
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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)

Recent Popular Articles

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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.
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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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