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Presentation
A Model of Personal Learning (Take Two)
Stephen Downes, Jun 20, 2017, Learning Tech Day, Ghent, Belgium


In his talk, I look at the daily routine of a personal learner, filled with examples and demonstrations. Tagline during the whole talk will be Connectivism, the importance of a Personal Learning Network and the ARRFF model of learning activities (Aggregate Remodel Repurpose Feed Forward) . To top this off, he’ll also offer insights on some newer technologies and his personal thoughts on the future of learning. Coverage.

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Relaunching E-Learn: A magazine and online platform designed for and by the teaching and learning community
Laureano Díaz, Blackboard Blog, 2017/06/23


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This should not be confused with eLearn Magazine, which has long been published by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and in which my paper E-Learning 2.0 appeared all those years ago. It is the E-learn Magazine, a product of Nivel Siete, a Blackboard company. We read, "Functioning as a cooperative, E-Learn works with contributors to create and share meaningful dialogue, and action, around current topics in education. Topics and trends are determined by the community. E-Learn is built to be a voice for the frontline of education and technology — what’s current, what’s challenging, what’s working?" It's supposed to be "an openness initiative" but I don't see any copyright information beyond the full copyright mark at the bottom of the page.

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Iris.ai
Iris AI AS, 2017/06/23


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The idea behind Iris.ai is that you provide it with the URL of a research paper and it provides you with a set or related papers (from a database of 60 million open access papers)  organized by category. For example, I gave it New Models of Open and Distributed Learning and got 259 related papers grouped by concept.Some of them didn't relate directly. Now, given that it didn't ask me to log in, I assume you will get the same results I did. Which raises the question: does the content of a research paper (or anything, actually) determine the best set of associated resources? Probably not. I think that the easy AI question is to associate things based on their properties. That's where we get algorithms like Nearest Neighbor (NN) and the like. But the hard AI question is to associate things based on the already existing set of associations (for example, the fact that I've already read such-and-such a paper, or the fact that George cited it in a paper he wrote in 2014, etc).

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Why EdTech Sucks
Graham Brown-Martin, Learning {Re}imagined, 2017/06/23


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Over the last few months Graham Brown-Martin has authored a number of posts critical of the existing education technology (edtech) industry, and it's hard to disagree with his core points. "EdTech today doesn’t really exist," he writes. "At best it’s just education using modern appliances but at worst it’s focus is the reductive standardisation of teaching and learning to 'teacher-proof' content distribution and testing... EdTech as a thing has been hijacked and whilst there has been a period of more investment than at any time I can remember this hasn’t been matched by a commensurate increase in innovation." I think this is true. And while I wouldn't say there is no edtech any more, I think it's harder and harder to find in and among those vendors who treat education as a search problem and technology as a way to force people to ingest the right content.

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The Future of Social Learning: A Novel Approach to Connectivism
Holm Smidt, Matsu Thornton, Kaveh Abhari, Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences , 2017/06/23


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This is an interesting paper seeking to extend and apply connectivism. If I were picky I would complain about the interpretation of connectivism (for example: I don't think it's really true that "Connectivism largely treats technology as a tool independent from its context and its users." But no matter. I like the way the authors define three pillars of the learning model (learning process, learninmg content and learning environment). And I think this is a classic implementation of ARRFF: "(a) find information for hands-on assembly and installation of IoT devices; (b) agglomerate and visualize data for student-initiated reasoning on local energy challenges with the aid of mathematics and data science; (b) simulate, and examine different strategies for reduced energy consumption and improved classroom comfort; (c) discuss and collaborate on strategies using the online platform."

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US court grants Elsevier millions in damages from Sci-Hub
Quirin Schiermeier, Nature, 2017/06/23


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Most of this is not at all surprising. But I want to raise one point. “Sci-Hub is obviously illegal,” says structural biologist Stephen Curry at Imperial College London in the United Kingdom. And so "A New York district court awarded Elsevier US$15 million in damages." But if Sci-Hub is "obviously illegal" then why is the case being ehard in the United States. Elsevier is Dutch; Sci-Hub is Russian. If it's so obviously illegal, why wasn't the case heard in, say, Moscow?

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Drive to get children back to school failing worldwide
Rebecca Ratcliffe, The Guardian, 2017/06/23


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This article reports on a UNESCO position paper (16 page PDF) asserting that the number of children not in school is remaining steady. "The effort to get more children into school is grinding to a halt as the numbers are stagnating, according to a new report that warns of grave consequences for world poverty... At the moment, children from the poorest 20% of families are eight times as likely to be out of school as those from the richest 20% in lower-middle-income countries."

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Preparation for Open Ed SIG webinar on shared values of the open community
Teresa MacKinnon, JISC Open Ed Sig, 2017/06/23


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In view of the conflicts between open education communities in recent months JISC's Open Ed Sig is planning a webinar. "Currently we are focussing on trying to facilitate discussions between the various manifestations of OPEN," they write, "and we have started to visualise this through this open padlet. Simply sign in to it if you would like to add your community to the collection. We would like to host a webinar which has representatives from as many of these communities as possible in order to share a discussion about the underlying shared values of OPEN." I would participate, but I'm not a community. I'm a presence.

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New Study Shows the Impact of PBL on Student Achievement
Nell K. Duke, Anne-Lise Halvorsen, Edutopia, 2017/06/21


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When I was in school my favourite and most impactful learning was project-based learning. So I've had a soft spot for it ever since. This post reports on "a large study of the effects of PBL on social studies and some aspects of literacy achievement in second-grade classrooms [called] Project PLACE: A Project Approach to Literacy and Civic Engagement." Of course, project-based learning can work in all schools, not just high-poverty schools. I would resist (where the authors do not) classifying PBL as a means of catching up to high Socio-Economic Status (SES) schools.

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Accenture and Microsoft give millions of refugees digital IDs
BBC News, 2017/06/21


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I have nothing against digital identities (provided we can have more than one of them, and provided we can choose our own usernames and email addresses). But this practoce of experimenting with new technology on disaster victms should stop. If the leaders of finance and digital commerce want us to adopt a practice, let them try it out on themselves first. Let's use the 'official documentation' to py open bank records and overseas accounts before we use it to make sure refugees aren't getting double rations.

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Micro Learning in the Workplace and How to Avoid Getting Fooled by Micro Instructionists
Christian Glahn, LO-F.AT, 2017/06/21


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"This post," writes Christian Glahn, "is a response to Mirjam Neelen and Paul Kirschner's post that comes with a lot of references but leaves out the most important aspects of micro learning and argues that micro learning is a meaningless concept. " The Neelen-Kirschener post also contains an actual photo of excrement, something that despite my sometimes-critical nature I have never done in a blog post. Glahn is careful to position microlearning as a learning strategy, to tie it to such concepts as spaced learning, and to insist on measurable outcomes. "Micro learning is primarily about the structure and the arrangement of learning activities as feedback loops," he writes. "The concepts of micro learning are useful to enrich the learning experiences and broaden the learning environment where conventional macro learning solutions are unsuitable."

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The Worst Approach to Teaching Students About Social Media
Connected Principals, 2017/06/21


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A good comment from George Couros: "This is what is so hard about social media in education. If you are too intrusive, kids will block you out (could be literally or figuratively), or they will move somewhere else." P.S. he needs to give his meme-posts a second thought. Today's, for example, neds a good edit. He posts: "In education, our learning not only impacts our own growth, but the growth of others we serve." Too many words. He means: "When we learn, others learn." Fewer comfort words (like 'we serve'), but more punch.

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To study real thinking, scientists shouldn’t give easy tasks
Mike Williams-Rice, Futurity, 2017/06/20


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I've prefaced a few of my talk recently with some caveats about models. The selection of a model, I argue, presupposes the ouycome of the research in which it is used. We have, as this article notes, a bias toward simle models. This has an impact in the design of thinking achines, and also in our understanding of thinking. Jumping from phenomenon to simple model to prediction is a lot more complex - and potentially misleding - than jumping from phenomenon straaight to prediction.

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Facebook and Twitter are being used to manipulate public opinion – report
Alex Hern, The Guardian, 2017/06/20


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From where I sit, this is a case of the latest centralized news media being used for the same purpose centralized news media have always been used: to, um, educate the public. 'The reports... cover nine nations including Brazil, Canada, ChinaGermany, Poland, Ukraine, and the United States. They found “the lies, the junk, the misinformation' of traditional propaganda is widespread online and 'supported by Facebook or Twitter’s algorithms” according to Philip Howard, Professor of Internet Studies at Oxford.'"

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Meet Matter Seven
Ben Werdmuller, Medium, 2017/06/20


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Ben Werdmuler: "Unlike most journalism, these stories are two-way: you can reply to the journalist and have a conversation. And unlike most conversational platforms, you’re always talking to a real person, not a bot. The result is strong audience trust and a loyal audience in a world where media companies are struggling to find either."

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Whither Moodle?
Phil Hill, e-Literate, 2017/06/20


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"The trajectory of Moodle new implementations (higher education degree-granting institutions moving from another LMS to Moodle as the primary LMS) is striking," writes Phil Hill. What's striking, of course, is the downward momentum, trending toward zero. "In 2012 and 2014 an astounding 76% of new implementations were movements towards Moodle. But we might be seeing a change. In 2016 the number was down to a still-healthy 49%, but for the first quarter of 2017 it is only 3%."

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Innovation Starts At Home…?
Tony Hirst, OUInfo, 2017/06/20


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This commentary from Tony Hirst is true not only of OU but also of every large organization - public secort and private sector - I have ever encountered. With size comes control. Here's Tony Hirst: "The OU was innovative because folk understood technologies of all sorts and made creative use of them. Many of our courses included emerging technologies that were examples of the technologies being taught in the courses. We ate the dogfood we were telling students about. Now we’ve put the dog down and just show students cat pictures given to us by consultants."

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Autonomy, technology and prediction I: some conceptual remarks
Nicklas Lundblad, Perscrutor, 2017/06/19


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I think that the people who are all concerned about whether technology can predict what we want and will do have it backwards. Who cares whether it predicts what I'm going to do. I want it to predict what other people are going to do. If it helps me get along with other people - knowing who to trust and who not, knowing what they want and what they need (and maybe even what they will pay) - that's valuable beyond measure, and not just to corporations, but to me personally. Think about it. Via Doug Belshaw.

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Khan Academy as Supplemental Instruction: A Controlled Study of a Computer-Based Mathematics Intervention
Daniel P. Kelly, Teomara Rutherford, International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning (IRRODL), 2017/06/17


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This post was published in a special issue of IRRODL on empirical studies of implementations of OER. The authors looks at the use of Khan Academy to supplement traditional mathematics instruction and found " unremarkable differences in mean post-assessment scores between the combined math and ELA supplement control and treatment groups." The authors agree that the study is limited and that the Khan Academy might have other benefits. Having said that, we need to ask about whether the analogy with medical intervention that defines this paper is appropriate. Should we consider students as equivalent to a "treatment group"? Would we evaluate culture this way ("the treatment group experienced greater self-motivation after being prescribed Led Zepplin")? I recognize researchers want education to be more like a science, but which science

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With a ‘students-first’ motto, can Udacity make ‘lifelong learning’ mainstream?
Harshith Mallya, Harshith Mallya, YourStory, 2017/06/19


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There are two stories in this item. First is the story itself, which is about Udacity's presence in India, and its provision of "education across platforms from the web to its mobile app and even offline sessions and ‘hiring drives’, codenamed ‘Propel’." The second is the YourStory platform itself, which is basically an entrepreneur's network. Not just a database, it creates opportunities for them to tell their story in an interesting and engaging way. "We have published close to 60,000 stories of entrepreneurs and change-makers and helped more than 50,000 entrepreneurs access networking and funding opportunities," they write

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Copyright 2017 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.