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Presentation
A Personal Learning Framework
Stephen Downes, Oct 18, 2017, ICDE2017 World Conference on Online Learning, Toronto, Canada


This presentation looks at the quantum mechanics of learning theory, drilling down from the idea of a subject or a piece of knowledge to the elements constituting a personal learning framework. Unfortunately the last 7 minutes of the video is clipped.

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Presentation
Change, Challenge and Opportunity
Stephen Downes, Oct 18, 2017, ICDE2017 World Conference on Online Learning, Toronto, Ontario


In this presentation I discuss six major trends impacting online learning: Machine learning and artificial intelligence; Handheld and Mobile Computing Badges and Blockchain; Internet of Things; Games, Sims and Virtual Reality; Translation and Collaborative Technology. Video includes audience and backchannel.

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Heuristics and Web Skills Acquisition in Open Learning Environments
Daniel Dominguez Figaredo, Educational Technology &
Society
, 2017/10/20


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I'm linking to this item to make sure it remains available to me in future discussions of critical literacies. Here's the argument: "Many of the frameworks... do not take into consideration the social practices governing the use and writing on the web." The frameworks are conceptually defined and focused on finding and consuming rather than creating and communicating. "The classical approach to digital literacy is the reference framework for web literacy. This approach assumes that digital skills are useful in order for people to be capable of selecting, analyzing, processing, organizing, and transforming information into knowledge based on context and personal and social needs. We believe that this approach is excessively instrumental. This is because it does not take into account the new competencies the web offers for people to be active in constructing new pathways for social participation and, especially, learning." Exactly right. Image: Sandwell and Lutz.

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Students’ Reactions to Different Levels of Game Scenarios: A Cognitive Style Approach
Zhi-Hong Chen, Sherry Y. Chen, Chih-Hao Chien, Educational Technology & Society, 2017/10/20


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More peer-reviewed literature involving the use of learning styles to describe, explain or predict learning outcomes. This study examines how students with different cognitive styles (i.e., Holist/Serialist) react to three presentation modalities (i.e., text, text with graphic, and context) in game-based scenarios." I'm willing to gfrant the learning styles sceptics the benefit of the doubt, but at some point, other than simply repeating that "there are no such things as learning styles" they will have to explain the continued persistence of learning styles in published reserach and explain why results like this are irrelevant.

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The Future of Truth and Misinformation Online
Jenna Anderson, Lee Rainie, Pew Research Center, 2017/10/20


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Pew released a big report on truth and misinformation online yesterday and I was one of those consulted to contribute to it. The overall result was that "experts are evenly split on whether the coming decade will see a reduction in false and misleading narratives online." My opinion was that the incentives aren't right to offer hope of improvement. “There is too much incentive to spread disinformation, fake news, malware and the rest. Governments and organizations are major actors in this space.” Additionally, I can't see either legislation or technology that limits what we can say helping the situation in any way. Read Umair Haque and you get the idea. More from Mic, Inside Higher Ed, Mashable, Poynter, Recode, As Week.

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Transitioning to 5G in Developing Countries
Gerard Halimi, Developing Telecoms, 2017/10/20


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Over the last decade or so ther was no end to the stories talking about how mobile phones would bring the internet to developing nations and especially to Africa. I've covered these over the years. But the mobile internet has remained a chimera as the rollout of more advanced wireless - 3G and especially 4G - has stalled. "4G deployment in Africa will only reach 32 percent in 2020, and the actual adoption of 4G will be less than 10 percent." Now we're looking at 5G. On the one hand, it's a terminus - there won't be a 6G, as 5G is a collection of protocols that will evolve independently. On the other hand, it may offer a more stable target. This article predicts that Africa will ctach up, but it will be a challenge. "Mobile networks have been optimized for phones, but 5G requires they support mobile broadband services, massive IoT and mission-critical services."

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Bringing Mixed Reality to the Web
Andre Vrignaud, Lars Bergstrom, The Mozilla Blog, 2017/10/20


Nice review of work foward mixed reality (XR) (which would include virtual reality (VR)  and augmented reality (AR)) in 2017 as well as discussion of "a draft WebXR API proposal for providing access to both augmented and virtual reality devices." Here's the review (quoted):

It's a busy time in the community for a technology that might be finally reaching it's potential. I'm sure developers and marketers will be careful not to over-hype. Even in a field which benefits directly from it like e-learning the applications are limited to specific cases.

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Learning Creative Learning: It’s not a MOOC, it’s a community
Medium, MIT Media Lab, 2017/10/20


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MIT's Media Lab has discovered the cMOOC (which they will now rebrand as 'not a MOOC'). "The ultimate goal of LCL is to cultivate an ongoing learning community, where people from around the world can meet one another and share ideas, strategies, and practical tips on how to support creative learning,” says Resnick. Mmm hmm.

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The University Is Not a Technology
Sam Fallon, Len Gutkin, Chronicle of Higher Education, 2017/10/19


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Actually, the university is a technology, but thats periphrial to th main point. This article response to a critique of universities that has two major parts. Frst, "a small subset of elite universities are disproportionately represented in the most prestigious journals in the literary humanities." And second, it "isn’t simply that elite advantages in publication distribute prestige inequitably — it’s that they produce a damaged body of knowledge." The technology angle comes into play by metaphor: if you consider the university, then the flawed output can be predicted. Hence the objection: "the alleged need to replace the folk-knowledge of the discipline with a set of algorithms suggests a rather dim view of the basic competence of humanists to know what, in their own fields, matters." The problem with folk-knowledge - you know, like "Harvard has the best professors" - is that it is often demonstrably wrong.

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MIT Introduces Digital Diplomas
Lindsay McKenzie, Inside Higher Ed, 2017/10/19


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People have using blockchain for certification for a number of years now so it's no real surprise to see MIT's new digital diplomas. "Using a free, open-source app called Blockcerts Wallet, students can quickly access a digital diploma that can be shared on social media and verified by employers to ensure its authenticity. The digital credential is protected using block-chaintechnology. The block chain is a public ledger that offers a secure way of making and recording transactions, and is best known as the underlying technology of digital currency Bitcoin." More.

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Tracking online learning in Canadian universities and colleges
Tony Bates, Contact North, 2017/10/18


According to the press release, "Online learning is now a core form of delivery for Canadian universities and colleges." This is the result of a national survey of Canadian universities and colleges. Key findings of the report are (quoted):

The report can be downloaded from http://onlinelearningsurveycanada.ca or in French from http://formationenligneCanada

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JATS4R: Optimizing the Reusability of Scholarly Content
Mary Seligy, The Scholarly Kitchen, 2017/10/17


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Adding to the alphabet soup of standards and specifications is JATS4R - 'JATS for Reuse', where JATS is 'Journal Article Tag Suite'. Then" the Open Access Media Importer (OAMI) was the original use case for JATS4R." Released by NISO as as NISO z39.96-2015, JATS is "effectively the XML-equivalent of the Tower of Babel... it is often too flexible for the huge variety of systems and applications available for journal content." Hence the need for JATS4R, which standardized the content of the data elements.  

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The crowdsourcing fallacy
Jake Orlowitz, Wikimedia, 2017/10/16


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Jake Orlowitz makes the important point thta crowdsourcing isn't simply about assembling a crowd. A number of things need to be in place before the crowd can work effectively, and he lists a bunch of them: the crowd has to be diverse, there are areas for growth and engagement, there are mechanisms to address abuse, and there aren't hoops you have to jump through to participate, among others. "Knowing all this, next time you have a problem and want to add some crowd to it, at least consider the people, ideology, task, mission, platform, journey, adaptations, mores, resiliency, motivators, barriers to entry, prerequisites, distractions, and competitors." Good advice.

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Celebrating ORCID@5 with the launch of new resources!
Laura Wilkinson, 2017/10/16


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ORCiD is an identification system for scholars and researchers, and is often used in journals to establish unique identity. This is useful because different researchers often have the same name (in my case there's another Stephen Downes who works in philosophy of mind - very confusing). This post marks five years of ORCiD with some new resources. The resources are fairly basic and introductory, but if you're unfamiliar with ORCiD they'r the perfect place to start.

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The Unexamined Algorithm Is Not Worth Using
Ruben Mancha, Haslina Ali, Stanford Social Innovation Review, 2017/10/20


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"Algorithms can be an asset to nonprofit organizations, reducing costs and making processes more efficient," write Mancha and Ali, "but they can also be an ethical liability. "There are many examples of algorithms making unethical decisions. For example, " in mid-September, when Hurricane Irma battered the Florida peninsula, the algorithms airline companies use to price flights increased rates in response to peaks in demand." Uber's surge pricing did the same during the London attacks and New York Bombing. The simple principle that's it's not ethical to profit from tragedy eluded these systems. Algorithms also violated basic ethical codes when making hiringlending and face recognition decisions. These lapses are problems with the technology per se, they're the result of companies that don't care about ethics. This article makes recommendations to change that: make ethics important in your organization, hire employees well-versed in ethics, and test your algorithms against ethical standards.

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You Probably Need a Public Portfolio Even If You're Not a Freelancer or a "Creative"
Nick Douglas, LifeHacker, 2017/10/19


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The messaging for personal portfolios, as in this post, is that people with online portfolios will stand out when being considered for work, interviews, or any other thing related to their profession. As more and more people create portfolios, though, this advantage will slowly disappear (of course, if everyone stays on Facebook and Twitter, the advantage of having your own personal portfolio will never go away). I think what this author (and most authors) don't see yet is that these portfolios will be the basis for automated talent searching algorithms. The cheap and easy algorithms will focus on things like LinkedIn or resume searches on Monster. But the good systems will be looking through personal websites (or whatever we use for portfolios in 20 years). As I've said before, the credentials of the future won't be credentials. They'll be your own work, and you'll be recognized with job offers.

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Udacity Official Declares MOOCs ‘Dead’ (Though the Company Still Offers Them)
Jeffrey R. Young , EdSurge, 2017/10/16


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Udacity's latest word on MOOCs, reported first by Economic Times in India: “Our mission is to bring relevant education which advances people in careers and socio-economic activities, and MOOCs aren't the way.” I don't think that's an accurate statement of Udacity's mission. I think that what drives the company is investor demands for profits. Really, I don't know why for-profit companies bother with a mission statement that says anything else, because we all know that they're in it for the money, nothing else - that's not a criticism, just a statement of fact. But Udacity's not having it. "It’s not a comment on our business model, but on what we aim for as success metrics with our students... As you can see on our site, free content is still available." Henry Kronk points out (accurately) that "MOOCs are not dead." Inside Higher Ed's John Warner wonders, "Udacity was truly limited by its failure to impact a marketplace. Adaptive software has a much more welcoming host. How much money will be wasted on this latest fad?"

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Open Badges: A Low-Cost Toolkit for Measuring Team Communication and Dynamics
Oren Lederman, Dan Calacci, Angus MacMullen, Daniel C. Fehder, Fiona E.
Murray
, Alex “Sandy” Pentland , arXiv, 2017/10/19


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This article came to me via the Badge News newsletter, but it has nothing to do with what we think of as open badges. "The Open Badge system consists of three main components: (1) an electronic “badge” that is worn around the neck and is capable of continuously collecting social interaction data from teams in real-time, (2) a smart phone version of the system, and (3) a modular visualization platform that creates summary visual feedback from the data collected by the badges." So: post-apocalyptic surveillance from the MIT Media Lab. Though I doubt whether this system would distinguish between Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde interactions (which is really kind of relevant).

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Certified Membership (CMALT)
https://www.alt.ac.uk/certified-membership, Association for Learning Technology, 2017/10/19


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This is a badge-based initiative from the Association for Learning Technology. "CMALT, our Certified Membership scheme,  is a peer-based professional accreditation scheme developed by ALT to enable people whose work involves learning technology to have their experience and capabilities certified by peers and demonstrate that they are taking a committed and serious approach to their professional development." There are some webinars and guides, including information about portfolio reviews. More guidelines. Though ALT is for people based in the UK, the CMALT registration includes special sections for Australasia and Hong Kong. Fees apply, of course. I like this as an experiment in portfolio-based badge-based assessment. 

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Self-Regulated Learning as a Critical Attribute for Successful Teaching and Learning
Darren H. Iwamoto, Jace Hargis, Richard Bordner, Pomaika'inani Chandler, International Journal for the Scholarship of
Teaching and Learning
, 2017/10/18


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My worst year in university was my first and I studied like the students described in this article studied, by reading the text and my notes. In the summer before my third year I learned to approach it more methodically, taking these apart and reconstructing the knowledge from scratch (classic constructivism, I know). This is the sort of self-regulation described in this paper (12 page PDF). For example, "Self-regulated learning refers to learning that occurs largely from the influence of student’s self-generated thoughts, feelings, strategies, and behaviors, which are oriented toward the attainment of goals (Schunk & Zimmerman, 1998, p. viii)." This plus skill in clear journalistic writing developed at the student newspapers was the key to success and straight As by the time I graduated. The research in this paper lies mostly in documenting the inability of the students described to do this, but several promising lines of inquiry are suggested in the conclusion: would 'grit' promote self-regulation? Would presence? Is self-regulation influenced by cultural factors? Would an artificial tutor help? Image: Dörrenbächer and Perels.

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Learning styles terminology: What is the researcher talking about?
Warren W. Lake, William E. Boyd, Wendy Boyd, International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 2017/10/17


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Despite the learning style sceptics, academic papers devoted to learning styles continue to appear. This paper (8 page PDF) serves the useful function of calling for people writing about learning styles to be clear about terminology and of describing and clarifying some learning approaches to learning styles in terms of their meaning, reproduction and orientation, "making inconsistencies appear to be less of an issue." They also seek clarity on whether the author thinks the dimension in question is fixed or changeable. All of this goes to show, I think, that thinking of 'learning styles' as a simple four-dimensional taxonomy used for differentiating instruction is narrow and unhelpful. We can look at factors related to intrinsic interest, the relation of ideas and evidence, the structure of critical reasoning processes, intention, and more. Additionally, "the author should, if possible, refer to an overarching term such as learning patterns or learning dimensions as suggested in this paper, and most importantly specify the model used if based on existing models, as well as the tradition to which the research has been most based." That should apply to critics as well as researchers.

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Steve Wozniak just created his own online university
Mallory Locklear, Engadget, 2017/10/17


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I'm thinking that this is exactly the opposite of what the world needs: "our goal is to identify and develop the most elite talent through our Online and Academy platforms and place them into the fastest growing, top technology companies around the world." This is the goal of Woz U, which will run this 'elite talent' through "an aggressive 12-16 month fully-immersive program" of "entrepreneur programs (and) how to finance and capital raise for start-ups." This seems to me to be more like brainwashing than education. This sham initiative is run through Exeter Education and is "considered" part of Southern Careers Institute (SCI).

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Raising Robot Literacy: Universal Robots Expands Unique Online Academy, Offering Free Interactive Modules in Robotics Programming
Press Release, Business Wire, 2017/10/16


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OK, this is just a press release for a free course in robot programming, though of course its claims that you can "become a robot programmer in only 87 minutes" is obviously ridiculous. Don't follow this link; it will only encourage them. It reminds me once again that advertising is the original fake news. But it sent my mind off in a different direction: robot literacy training. After all, eventually we will madd produce robots, and they will learn using artificial intelligence, but artificial intelligence needs to be trained. Right now all that is pretty specialized but eventually there will be a new field of employment: robot training. There will be robot training academies, a discipline of instructional design for robot training, and all the rest. And I'm wondering how much overlap there will be with human training, and how much each field will learn from the other.

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Why Is Live Interactive Video Streaming So Rare Among MOOCs and LMSs?
Henry Kronk, eLearning Inside News, 2017/10/16


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I can answer that question from my own experience. It's really hard to put hundreds of people, let alone thousands, into a live interactive streaming conference. This article doesn't seem to recognize that difficulty. "It’s possible—in a course with scheduled lectures—for students to tune in, listen to a lecture in real time, ask questions, and participate in discussion from a remote location." Well yes, it's possible, but not in video. We've had interactive sessions in things like Big Blue Button or Google Hangouts, but you have to limit the number of participants. This means that the rest are relegated to tyoing comments in the chat. That's what Arc - touted in this article - also does. But even that can get out of hand if you have thousands of participants. 

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Copyright 2017 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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