by Stephen Downes
May 29, 2015
A Future Twitter Full of Bots
At the rate we're going, 99 percent of Twitter traffic will be robots retweeting each other. Why? Because it's not a social platform, it's a publishing platform (albeit, true, one that convinced people for a long time that it is a social platform). (GNA comments: "I’ve considered this, not the Bot-takeover, but the loss of Twitter. As you know, Twitter is my main and daily SM. Thus, sometimes I think about not having a quick, communal way to interact with folks. I wonder what medium I would use to stay in regular contact with my newest friends.") As for image attribution, as always, the image is from the article, unless otherwise noted. Follow the link to the article to find out where they got it from (most people don't say). Levine suggests we not trust Google about whether things are licensed for reuse, but I'm less and less interested in licenses, and more and more interested in asserting fair use.
Decolonizing Critical Participation and Writing: A Year of Open Access Publishing on the Margins
I don't know if there is necessarily a right answer here but on one hand we have the imperative of writing and publishing about what is being taught in class, and on the other hand we have the imperative of preserving student privacy. Marlana Eck finds herself right on that dividing line. She writes, "This was probably the point where I had to ask myself whether this was really the job for me. I knew that as a pedagogical method, blogs were highly effective with demonstrating the importance of engaging with the writing process. Personally, nothing pushes me to want to edit my writing more than being on public display. I saw the students become more concerned with the quality of their work, and felt I was getting somewhere as far as teaching methodology. When I was told 'you can’t do that,' it really cemented that I was not made “teacher” of the course, but I was more a distributor of administrator-prepared materials."
Towards a taxonomy of Open Badges for City & Guilds
There is nothing that is every created that somebody won't classify and order shortly thereafter. So too with badges. Witness: Doug Belshaw offers a simple taxonomy of badges for cities and guilds, dividing them into awards for membership, achievement, participation and capability. Is this useful? Doubtful. Would it qualify as an academic paper in a leading journal? Absolutely (provided you has a student sample size of at least 9 psych students in a midwestern university).
Learning's blind spot
This is a very nice diagram that (coincidentally) compares traditional education with what we're doing with performance support. Nick Shackleton-Jones isn't writing about LPSS but he may as well be. "In the first case, traditional course content is broken into smaller pieces and distributed using technology. In essence though, nothing has changed. The problem is that people aren’t data squirrels - they don’t work by hoarding knowledge, rather they look for guidance when they need it. Dumping content on people does not become a good idea by virtue of breaking it into smaller pieces. Instead the focus has to shift from content to context. Specifically, spending time getting to know your audience, their ‘performance context’ and spotting the gaps - i.e. the points in their working day where there is an opportunity for you to help. To redesign the experience. Resources slot neatly into these performance gaps."
Being more human at work
Here's a good rule: "If the process insists that humans act more like machines/robots/spreadsheets than real human beings, challenge that process." I approach design that way. Designers often want people to adapt data to pre-existing categories, to follow prescribed procedures, etc. But life isn't like that, and our tools shouldn't try to force us. "Insist on speaking and acting like a human being, especially in the workplace. Any time you’re not listening or not being heard, or being forced to communicate in a method or manner that doesn’t feel natural, throw up the red flags."
The cMOOC That Would Not Die
Alan Levine tells the story of the #etmooc (Educational Technology & Media massive open online course) that continues to run on its own long after it finished (it's like one of those 70s cars, I guess, with run-on). "The site remains unshuttered and the blog hub continues to aggregate posts (4746 posts from 513 blogs). The twitter archive was stopped because twitter’s dropping of RSS (it can be done again though), but still when that happened, the site had aggregated 19,000 tweets." Nice. He adds, "I will cherish and take this kind of experience any day over some massive MOOC of tens of thousands of enrollees, 2% or so who stick around, and who’s corpus remains stockpiled behind a login.
2015 Internet Trends Report
Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers,
Mary Meeker released her annual Internet Trends report yesterday. As usual, it's a daunting 198 page slide presentation. Ad Age has a nice summary of the nine most important slides:
- Tech is well-entrenched at the consumer level, but "government, health care, and education have the longest way to go"
- Desktop traffic peaked in 2011; all the growth is mobile. And the video boom hasn't slowed.
- Advertisers are overspending on print, leaving $25 billion room for growth in mobile
- "Six of the top 10 mobile apps globally are messaging apps... messaging apps could evolve into the central hubs for communications"
- Millennials are looking for meaningful work and a sense of accomplishment, and managers aren't offering it
- The U.S. is the top market for drones, but other countries have more drone-friendly regulations
- E-commerce continues to grow, leaving physical retail in continuing jeopardy
- "India's Internet penetration in 2014 was where China was in 2008, and the U.S. in 1996." So the Indian boom is nearly upon us.
Women in Tech
The CanWIT (Women in Tech) Forum has launched a video channel to support their work. The videos are designed to foster the idea of and give examples of women as role models working in technology. Currently there are 21 videos on the Vimeo channel, including: Franca Gucciardi, CEO of the Loran Scholars Foundation, on the value of mentorship; ulie King, President & CEO, Biz-Zone, on ecosystems to support women, and more.
Why Is The University Still Here?
TechCrunch suggests Silicon Valley is beginning to learn about education. "There are few areas of startups today that continue to be as exciting as EdTech, but we have to be cautious in getting ahead of ourselves. Unlike shopping or socializing online, education is simply not as native an activity for many adults today. We can’t just assume that if we build it, they will come. Instead, we need to think more deeply about motivation and primacy in order to build a new mix that takes advantage of the internet’s best properties while competing with the quality of the university experience." Good article.
Analyzing the Social Web
Sheri Oberman sent me this link to a set of video lectures on the topic of analyzing the open web. Topics include network basics, network structure, visualization, tie strength and trust, building networks, and more. Tools used include Gephi, "an open source graph analysis and visualization tool," and NodeX, "a graph analysis and visualization plugin for Microsoft Excel. Works on certain Windows platforms only. The unique feature of NodeXL is the 'spiggots' it has to import data from other sites, like Flickr, Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook. I often use NodeXL to import data and Gephi to visualize it."
Trends 2015: Learning and Teaching in European Universities
European University Association,
This is a survey of European higher education institutions in an effort to identify trends half-way through the 2010s finding that, in essence, "the following issues should be addressed if progress is to be continued and consolidated in future:
- Lifelong access to learning for a diverse student body - "their success hinges on what takes place both inside and outside university classrooms, whether these are “click or brick”.... with a stress
on student engagement through their involvement in governance, volunteer activities in the
- Student-centred learning and preparation of graduates for the labour market and society - "the importance of promoting active learning and interdisciplinarity and ensuring that teaching is ICT-supported and research-led."
- Development and implementation of effective internationalisation strategies - "as a mechanism for preparing students for global citizenship and for developing a range of partnerships and research collaborations."
Links to a 133-page PDF.
The Big Five, self-esteem, and narcissism as predictors of the topics people write about in Facebook status updates
Tara C. Marshall, Katharina Lefringhausen, Nelli Ferenczi,
Personality and Individual Differences,
According to this study, different personality traits can effectively predict what people will write about in their Facebook status updates. For example, "extraverts more frequently updated about their social activities and everyday life, which was motivated by their use of Facebook to communicate and connect with others. People high in openness were more likely to update about intellectual topics, consistent with their use of Facebook for sharing information."
Linking Creativity to Entrepreneurship
Culture of Yes,
I like the second-last slide of the presentation, which depicts the idea as "replacing 'I wish' with 'I will'." Developing a sense of agency in people is urgent and crucial. But There's a lot more to the concept of 'entrepreneurship' in education than this, and it's all this baggage that gives me cause for concern. But according to Chris Kennedy, the concept is shifting. " I know I held a traditional view of entrepreneurship, that the area of study was really about creating people for the world of business. And yes, this is important, our schools are about so much more around the skills and qualities we want and the citizenship we want to foster."And the emphasis, he writes, is far more about the need for creativity and agency than business and finance.
Maybe, but if you look at the examples in the post the idea of business and finance are still central: in Early Entrepreneurs, "participating classrooms each get a $100 micro-loan as startup capital" and create a business to send profits to charity; in Entrepreneurship – Ignite Your Passion students "engage in topics such as leadership, communication, marketing, financial literacy, and entrepreneurship; culminating with developing their own business"; and YELL (Young Entrepreneurship Leadership Launchpad) is "a hands-on, experiential accelerator for high school students interested in gaining knowledge and developing experience in all areas of business and entrepreneurship."
Why do I dislike the idea of teaching entrepreneurship so much? Because it changes the child's perspective from the idea of serving social needs through work and learning to one of serving the needs of people with money. And when you have this perspective, you can never get at the question of why these people have all the money in the first place, and you can never perform work which changes that.
Setting the PACE: Teacher Assessment Practices in a Competency-based Education System
Good though overly pandering discussion of the application of an accountability strategy called PACE (Performance Assessment for Competency Education) in competency-based classrooms. "The best performance assessments integrate multiple subject areas and are requiring students to be engaged in deeper levels of learning," writes Jonathan VanderEls. " Our teachers are now building cross-disciplinary assessments that require students to demonstrate varied competencies whereas initially we were generally focusing on one subject area."
The mass university is good for equity, but must it also be bad for learning?
This article drifts a bit but is nonetheless an insightful look at the relation between mass learning, the academic tradition of informal learning, and class or background. People pine for the days when students eagerly discussed ideas at the café or in the pub, writes Hannah Forsyth, and they think the mass university brings that experience to everybody, but they forget that it is class, culture pedigree and background that gives them the skills necessary to flourish in this environment. I would argue that this is why so-called elite universities are values for their functions as selectors of people based on class, culture pedigree and background, and not (merely) as academic institutions. That's why their graduates continue to be favoured by employers, despite no obvious difference in experience or education. We need to understand in open online learning that what we are fostering is not just equitable access to a bunch of facts, but actual equity in the job market and society as a whole.
How IT and the Role of the CIO is Changing in the Era of Networked Organizations
On Digital Strategy,
I know that this is the way we want to go. But I also know it's really difficult. If I need a product built, say, how do I get that large cluster of self-managing units to do it? If I need email to function on the weekends, what motivation does the SaaS provider to do that? If I need to connect my laptop to the network, why would IT security enable that? A network structure does away with command and control, but to work it has to replace that with mechanisms that motivate mutually supportive practices. And these are hard to design.
Working Out Loud 101 | Some Thoughts
ID and Other Reflections,
This post is a good overview of the concept of "working out loud", something we've visited in these pages from time to time. Here's John Stepper: "Working Out Loud starts with making your work visible in such a way that it might help others. When you do that – when you work in a more open, connected way – you can build a purposeful network that makes you more effective and provides access to more opportunities."
A Licence With Limited Value: Copyright Board Delivers Devastating Defeat to Access Copyright
The Copyright Board of Canada delivered what Michael Geist calls a devastating defeat to Access Copyright on Friday. Access Copyright is the organization that putatively collects royalties for the copying of books and articles at universities and public institutions. Basically, every one of their claims was rejected (Geist provides an handy-dandy table). The Board pointed out that Access Copyright only has agreements covering 0.005% of the copied works and that its incredibly narrow notion of 'fair dealing' is not accurate. The fact that Access Copyright does not actually own the right it's selling licenses for is to me the telling blow.
The OU is closing doors
Times Higher Education,
According to this letter in the Times Higher Education supplement, the Open University is closing regional offices in places like Leeds, Gateshead, Manchester, Oxford, Bristol, Birmingham and Nottingham. The author writes, "It seems to be odd timing when the political direction is to devolve power to English cities, with the university in an enviable position to take advantage of the possibilities that such devolution could bring." But the model of one central office with a bunch of branch offices isn't the same as decentralized. So what would a proper model look like? Each city and town with its own office, locally managed, with access provided to a variety of institutions, including OU, but also any other institution. Back in the 90s I called this 'the Triad Model' (I did not coin the term, but it fits perfectly).
PhD: is the doctoral thesis obsolete?
Times Higher Education,
If it were not for the requirement of a doctoral thesis, I would have a doctorate (that is literally what "All but Dissertation" means). So, yeah, I think it's obsolete. But maybe I'm a bit biased. Sure, I could have finished, I suppose, but I couldn't justify spending a year of my life writing something that would be read by four people. As Jeremy Farrar says, "An awful lot is going unused and unread. Is this really appropriate for the modern world? Communication within the science world and with the public is becoming shorter and snappier, yet our PhDs still seem to be stuck in the 1960s." Or maybe the 1860s.
My website in a Dropbox
I'm not sure how this works exactly, but I've long been an aficionado of personal websites for everybody, so this idea - using some node.js code to create your own website on Dropbox - is a natural. Dave Winer writes, "The server is called PagePark. Of all my latest tools, it's my favorite. I love tweaking it, adding little shortcuts. Things that make it work really well for the kind of content I serve." See also.
This newsletter is sent only at the request of subscribers. If you would like to unsubscribe,
Know a friend who might enjoy this newsletter? Feel free to forward OLDaily to your colleagues. If you received this issue from a friend and would like a free subscription of your own,
you can join our mailing list. Click here to subscribe.