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Presentation
A Roadmap of the Future of Teaching and Learning
Stephen Downes, Dec 07, 2017, Online Educa Berlin, Berlin, Germany


This Spotlight Stage session is for policy makers and pundits, technology designers and developers, and those who by virtue of office or inclination have the voice to speak to the future, to inform the world of what we can do and what we want to do. Join Stephen Downes as he invites you to explore the quantum leaps we can expect in teaching in our digital age.

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Presentation
gRSShopper in a Box
Stephen Downes, Dec 06, 2017, Online Educa Berlin, Berlin, Germany


Overview of server virtualization, setup of Vagrant box for gRSShopper, an overview of the gRSShopper application, including its use in a Firefox panel.

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Towards an Ethical Framework for #OpenRecognition
Serge Ravet, Learning Futures, 2017/12/08


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This is an intelligent and well-thought out account of the ethical implications of open badges. Open badges can be used for good, or they can be used to perpetuate discrimination or to reify the advantages of an already privileged group. "Open Badges are not innocuous," writes Serge Ravet. "They can heal or kill, empower or control, enable or disable, recognise or exclude. In the perspective of Open Recognition, it is critical to define an ethical framework."

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A Cengage Buffet
Lindsay McKenzie, Inside Higher Ed, 2017/12/08


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"The new offer, called Cengage Unlimited, will give students access to more than 20,000 Cengage products across 70 disciplines and 675 course areas for $119.99 a semester." That's more than twice what the going rate has been, so I'm expecting this price to drop quickly. But it reflects a trend that we've seen in other industries - mustic, for examplem with Spotify, or video with Netflix. Thee company has also "set a strategic goal of being 90 percent digital by 2019. The new strategy is a notable departure from the traditional publishing sales model, which historically has relied on the sale of individual print textbooks." 

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Hitting Reset, Knewton Tries New Strategy: Competing With Textbook Publishers
Jeffrey R. Young, EdSurge, 2017/12/08


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Remember Knewton? Pundits loved it. It positioned itself as "the world’s leading adaptive learning technology provider with the mission of bringing personalized education to the world" and drew some $157 million in funding. Now they're executing a pivot "along with mounting criticism that its founding CEO, Jose Ferreira, overhyped its technology." Now the company is trying to compete with publishers. "The secret to its swift entry into publishing was OER (open education resources). Rather than hire authors to write textbooks from scratch, the company is now curating open-educational materials already on the internet." Only the open educational resources won't be free. "Each online textbook costs $44 for two years of access, or $9.95 per month."

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IEEE Consortium Established To Support The Development Of Learning Engineering
IEEE IC Industry Consortium on Learning Engineering, 2017/12/08


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The vote to launch this was taken just a couple weeks ago and mine was the sole vote against, this based solely on the name, which I think is a bad idea. The engineers are getting far ahead of the theory in e-learning, and as a result, we're getting solutions thta are inappropriate. And I don't think that learning is something you can engineer as though it were a bridge or an electrical circuit. But it still makes sense to have a consortium supporting the development of, say, learning technology  engineering. 

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These Technologies Will Shape The Future, According To One of Silicon Valley’s Top VC Firms
Daniel Terdiman, Fast Company, 2017/12/07


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Summary of a talk by Andreessen Horowitz analyst Benedict Evans. The four technologies are autonomy, mixed-reality, cryptocurrencies, and artificial intelligence. But more interesting is some of the discussion around these, and especially the commentary on 'S-curves' which track the adoption of new technologoes. "In each case, as the curve matured, the question became less about the technology itself and more about what could be built on top of it. That’s where we are with the mobile internet, with things like ride-sharing, Instagram, Instacart, and other things we can do with our phones today."

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Insights from Campus Leaders on Current Challenges and Expectations of IT
Kathryn Gates, Joan Cheverie, EDUCAUSE Review, 2017/12/07


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New rreport from EDUCAUSE based on interviews with 17 higher education IT leaders. Analytics comes up a lot, as do the challenges of changing demographics, enrollment, fuinding, government "intervention", student success and leadership. "The theme that received the most attention by far was foundational technology. As one executive stated, 'We expect for IT to be silently awesome.' ... executives frequently mentioned security; specifically, they cited security as a growing concern and said they expect IT to keep systems secured and the institution 'out of the news.'" 

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How Canada has emerged as a leader in artificial intelligence
Michael Smith, University Affairs, 2017/12/07


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The question of 'how' is pretty easily answered: we invested in reserach. "This past spring, Ottawa might have made its best bet yet with the $125 million it has set aside over the next five years for a Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy. That money will go to three academic centres: the Montreal Institute for Learning Algorithms (MILA), the Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute (AMII) in Edmonton, and the new Vector Institute for Artificial Intelligence, based in Toronto. ... the Quebec government has allocated $100 million to its AI community in Montreal; Ontario has set aside $50 million for Vector; and, in September 2016, the Canada First Research Excellence Fund gave $93.6 million to a trio of universities – Université de Montréal, Polytechnique Montréal and HEC Montréal." In response, we've seen investments from Google, Facebook, and Microsoft. There's no shortcut, and you can't do it on the cheap. And if we waited for the private sector to take the lead on this, we'd still be waiting.

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Majority of Australians say online privacy beyond their control
University of Sydney, 2017/12/07


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This feels like my sense of it too. "The findings, published in a report launched today (74 page PDF), show 67 percent of Australians take steps to protect their privacy online, but only 38 percent feel in control." Our hopes appear to be beyond our grasp. Forexample, "a large majority (78 percent) want to know how social media companies such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are using their personal data." This large majority will be disappointed. And while "some 79 percent say retention of phone call information is a breach of privacy" there's nothing they can really do to prevent it.

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Here’s What We Know About Google’s Chromebook Internet Outage
Sydney Johnson, EdSurge, 2017/12/06


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Atlantic explorer Ben Saunders lost access to all his Spotify music because he had been without internet for a month. Meanwhile, thousands of students lost Chromebook access this wweek as a result of a “botched WiFi policy update pushed out by Google that caused many Chromebooks to forget their approved network connection." There should be a lesson in this. The internet is a great service to access, but depending on that access creates a risk. The result: “diversifying how our devices authenticate, locally or on the cloud, is something that we will really take a look at going forward.”

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Bell Leads on Radical Proposal for CRTC-Backed Mandatory Website Blocking System
Michael Geist, 2017/12/06


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Michael Geist has a couple of posts on "a coalition that plans to file a proposal with the CRTC that would lead to the creation a mandatory website blocking system in Canada." It would be run not by the courts but by "a new “Internet Piracy Review Agency”, envisions the creation of mandatory block lists without judicial review to be enforced by the CRTC." This is a bad idea, he writes, for several reasons, not the least of which is that the purpose of such a blocking mechanism would evolve from obvious cases. "Recent history suggests that the list will quickly grow to cover tougher judgment calls." Also, "the creation of a blocking system will invariably lead to demands that it expand to other areas. Whether fake news, hate speech or unlicensed content, if blocking websites without even court oversight is viewed as fair game, the CRTC will face a steady stream of demands for more." I'm in agreement with Geist on this.

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Slush 2017 Helsinki
Mitch Weisburgh, PILOTed, 2017/12/06


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Short conference summary. The list of "snippets of advice from some of the entrepreneurs and investors" is the best bit. Included among them: "You can’t change consumer behavior by persuading them, you have to give them an alternative that’s demonstrably better." Also, "You don’t make innovation spread. Innovation spreads, or it doesn’t."

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How brands secretly buy their way into news sites
Jon Christian, The Outline, 2017/12/06


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This should be of no surprise to anyone, I'm sure. The subtitle of the story is "how brands secretly buy their way into Forbes, Fast Company, and Huffpost stories." We also read that "four contributing writers to prominent publications including MashableIncBusiness Insider, and Entrepreneur told me they have personally accepted payments in exchange for weaving promotional references to brands into their work on those sites." Ben Werdmuller wryly comments, "Trust in the media is declining, you say ..."

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The Era Of Content Delivery Integrated In LMS Is Upon Us
Moodle News, 2017/12/06


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This post references an announcement that "Beginning with up-and-coming LMS like Degreed, Digital Chalk, Cornerstone OnDemand, and Docebo, LinkedIn Learning will now let users access their vast repository, made mostly of video lessons." This makes the case in the headline, that we are now entering an era where the LMS will import and display external content. On the face of it, this is good for both producers and students, however the leveraling of exclusive deals will begin to mitigate against the advantages. Unlike 'net neutrality', there is, after all, no such thing as 'LMS neutrality'. This article could be longer and more informative, but sadly, it isn't.

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Against the 3A’s of EdTech: AI, Analytics, and Adaptive Technologies in Education
Maha Bali, Chronicle of Higher Education, 2017/12/06


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"I agree with all of Audrey Watters‘, Chris Gilliard’sAutumm Caines’ and Benjamin Doxtdator’s critiques on these topics (also: it’s scary how my Google docs app immediately recommended their websites when I started inserting the links here)," writes Maha Bali. She adds, "there tends to be a reduction of what a teacher’s role is." Teaching "is about helping learners express themselves clearly and effectively with other human beings. What value is there in a machine giving students feedback?" She also expresses concern about inherent bias in AI and about human agency being replaced by AI-decision-making. And she's concerned that computer scientists are forging ahead without regard to ethical discussions about their technology.

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Fraud and Misconduct in Research
Nick Roll, Inside Higher Ed, 2017/12/06


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Summary of a book that "serves as a look at how (academic)0 fraud, and the response to it, has changed over the years" followed by an interview with the authors.  "Fraud in research reflects a systemic problem and does not reflect only an individual level," they write. "One of our conclusions is that fraud in research probably reflects an iceberg phenomenon (e.g., we know only of a small fraction of the cases) rather than a bad apple one." Lovely.

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Educators Question AltSchool’s Pivot: Where Does Silicon Valley’s Philanthropy End and Profits Begin?
Jenny Abamu, EdSurge, 2017/12/06


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This is another story where a Silicon Valley technologist convinces investors to offer millions of dollars to reshape schools only to see them flounder in search of a business model. A big part of the reason is that while they may be well-connected and while they may even understand technology, they don't understand schools and have no background in the history of educational technology. Now if I had $175 million to spend on educational technology.... 

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The world’s slowest, most boring bus simulator finally has a VR version
Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, 2017/12/05


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Stuff like this is what makes the internet great. "After roughly 22 years, one of the worst video games of all time, Desert Bus, finally has a sequel. In very good news for anybody who hears "notorious game's sequel" and flinches, this new take, dubbed Desert Bus VR, is now completely free to own for PC gamers, whether they own a virtual reality headset or not... You drive forward for quite some time, with nothing in the way of turns or oncoming traffic to deal with. If you wanna add some "pizzazz" to the gameplay, you can reach with your hands for a latch that opens the bus's door, or you can drive long enough to see things like the sun go up, the sun go down, and the occasional bug colliding with your windshield." Yeah! And you can't just let it run on its own; it will go off the road. You have to sit there and drive the bus.

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Is Private Education in Africa the Solution to Failing Education Aid?
Danish Faruqui, Sudeep Laad, Mary Abdo, Priyanka Thapar , Stanford Social Innovation Review, 2017/12/05


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The answer the author provides is "yes". But the actual answer is, of course, "no". Let me explain how private education offers a "solution": it charges fees to prospective students. This means that it avoids the messy need to teach the really poor; it teaches those who can afford to pay. Read this article and tell me that this isn't what they're proposing! But this is no solution at all! For one thing, those who actually receive an education pay more than they would have otherwise. But worse, a large number of people receive no education at all, perpetuating the economic issues that have kept the country from progressing. Even worse, this article suggests that this is the approach charities should be taking. Let there be no mistake: societies progress as a whole, not by privileging an elite.

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Citations and the fallacy of division
Cameron Neylon, Wonkhe, 2017/12/05


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I've seen various promotion criteria worded "candidates will need 100 publications..." as though that were a measure of anything real (it also demanded a certain H-index as well). But there is no correlation between citations and academic merit. "Not only are the statistics flawed but no rigorous and comprehensive theoretical link can be made between what we are measuring and what we want to evaluate."

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How to reach high achievement through listening skills
Jennifer Abrams, eSchool News, 2017/12/05


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Listening is a type of literacy and one I didn't learn properly (if at all!) until adulthood. t was part of a self-study course I took at Texas Instruments in 1981 (the same one that taight the feel-want-willing style of communications, called "On the Way Up"). It promoted "active listening" where I would respond by testing my understanding by repeating back, in my own words, what I was hearing. This article discusses some of the "set asides" people use incorrectly, including autobiographical listening, dishing the dirt listening, and solution-oriented learning.

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Stewardship in the “Age of Algorithms”
Clifford Lynch, First Monday, 2017/12/04


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Suppose we wanted to preserve the content in Facebook as it exists right now. What would it take? We might think that if we save the database, that would be sufficient. Not so, argues Clifford Lynch. Without the training data Facebook relies upon, and the algorithms that process that data to show you what you see, we haven't preserved Facebook. But this may be beyond our reach, not simply because Facebook won't release it, but because it may be impossible to capture. The best we can hope to do, maybe, is to document output, via "robotic witnesses", or "new Nielson families." These, though, would be small, labour-intensive, and partial attempts.

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Get Ready for the AWS Serverless Application Repository
Jeff Barr, Amazon Web Services, 2017/12/04


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I wanted to address the topic of serverless aplications in my talk on Friday but left the discussion out because of a lack of time. But it's an important dimension to next generation virtual learning. Here is an announcement from AWS that frames the concept nicely: "we followed up with the Serverless Application Model (SAM) to further simplify the process of deploying and managing serverless applications on AWS. We have also published serverless reference architectures for web apps, mobile backends, image recognition & processing, real-time file processing, IoT, MapReduce, real-time stream processing, and image moderation for chatbots." The challenge for developers of open learning is to ensure that these applications (and more) remain accessible. See also AWS Cloud 9, a web-based IDE for application code developers.

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Containing the Future of OER
Jim Groom, bavatuesdays, 2017/12/04


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Jim Groom summarizes my talk from last Friday. In doing so he adds that "getting a sense of how this all works and what it might mean is important for educational technologists" and scans the horizon looking for other people doing similar work.

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Note On My Emerging Workflow for Working With Binderhub
OUseful Info, 2017/12/04


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Tony Hirst writes about "the public reboot of Binder / MyBinder (which I first wrote about a couple of years ago here), as reported in The Jupyter project blog post Binder 2.0, a Tech Guide and this practical guide: Introducing Binder 2.0 — share your interactive research environment." The idea is that Binder notebooks can be shared ion GitHub. Hirst writes, "I’d love to see the OU get behind this, either directly or under the banner of OpenLearn, as part of an effort to help make Jupyter powered interactive open educational materials available without the need to install any software."

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Copyright 2017 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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