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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Austrade sets target of 110 million MOOC students for Australia by 2025


I'm attending an expert meeting on MOOC quality for the Commonwealth of Learning in Malaysia right now, so it was interesting (and yes, amusing) to read about Australia's plans to grab a large share of the MOOC 'market'. The 110 million student represents 10% of the potential market (and 21,900 per cent growth). It may sound crazy, but "International education is already Australia's third-largest export industry, garnering nearly $19 billion in 2015, beaten only by coal and iron ore." You might wonder how Australia can earn money on 'open' learning, but of course online learning has developed into a lucrative market, as witness these courses that Dave Cormier introduced me to this week.

Today: 119 Total: 119 Tim Dodd, Financial Review, 2016/05/04 [Direct Link]

We are the Monkeys of Rum


This is a great story. I wonder how many people have stories like this - certainly most of the people I know and talk to and work with have their own internet origin stories. I did. I started by playing on a MUD, used this to learn internet programming, built an LMS, and the rest is history. What I like about Werdmuller's story is that it is on the one hand so typical and on the other hand so unique. And I remember the same sort of macro-phenomena he observes - the trolls, for example, that swarmed discussion boards in 2002 or so. It was a special moment in history, that wonderful few years when the web was created and people could use it for almost anything. 

Today: 244 Total: 244 Ben Werdmuller, Medium, 2016/05/03 [Direct Link]

Toronto students create emoji to reflect themselves


There's a very involved emoji-approval process (which is how we end up with an unrepresentative set of emogis) but it'd good to see these students speaking out against it and creating their own alternatives. “I thought this would be a good way to spark them thinking about what emojis represent — if they represent them as young women,” said Daniel Pupulin, the students’ communication technology teacher.

Today: 132 Total: 390 Katrina Clarke, Toronto Star, 2016/05/03 [Direct Link]

Tinker With a Neural Network Right Here in Your Browser.


This is a lovely visualization that allows you to play with a neural network by playing with some network parameters and watching the output. Even better, the authors write "We’ve open sourced it on GitHub with the hope that it can make neural networks a little more accessible and easier to learn. You’re free to use it in any way that follows our Apache License. And if you have any suggestions for additions or changes, please let us know."

Today: 88 Total: 1088 Daniel Smilkov, Shan Carter, TensorFlow, 2016/05/02 [Direct Link]

If everything is a network, nothing is a network


Good article that will push your think on networks a bit. The bulk of the discussion is devoted toward convincing people that they ought to look at more than just nodes and edges "to also include flows and (as per Galloway and Thacker) protocols." This makes sense to me, and there are other network properties that should be discussed more as well (connection weights, activation functions, and more). But the author also says "networks need narrative" because "we experience life as a narrative, not as a map and certainly not as networks. A network diagram rarely represents static relations. Narrating a flow through the nodes in the network is a useful way of examining it." To me, that's a lot like saying "we need abstractions". And in a sense it comes down to being able to visualize what's happening. "Visualising algorithms is still a small fringe in the visualisation world. It is mostly academic and so far has mainly served an internal maths and computer science discourse."

Today: 98 Total: 874 Mushon Zer-Aviv, Visualising Information for Advocacy, 2016/05/02 [Direct Link]

How to Load a Website in Firefox’s Sidebar


For various reasons I've been looking at how to create and open sidebars, modals, and other embedded content windows. Now maybe it's true that the whole world uses mobile phones these days, but I still see desktops and laptops (not to mention tablets) as more important in the realm of online learning. And these, I think, will need to support content mixing a lot better than they do. (It reminds me of the days back in the 1980s working on my Atari computer where the main thing for me was to be able to have a split editing window so I could move content back and forth.) I keep hearing about how impossible it is but I see stuff like this drag-and-drop sidebar and I know it's not.

Today: 39 Total: 901 Lori Kaufman, How-to-Geek, 2016/05/02 [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