[Home] [Top] [Archives] [About] [Options]

OLWeekly

How Facebook's tentacles reach further than you think
Joe Miller, BBC News, 2017/05/26


Icon

It's frustrating not being able to click on the images in this BBC article to expand them, as the text is otherwise quite unreadable. But you'll be rewarded with much more than super-large images if you follow the references to the Share Lab website. The Facebook article (detailing the close-knit Stanford-Yale nexus infusing that company and much of Silicon Valley) makes it clear that the 'new normal' (as described by Audrey Watters) emanates from university values into Silicon Valley (and not vice versa). And there's much more: visualizations of browsing histories, maps of propaganda and information warfare, and on and on.

[Link] [Comment]


New post
Matt Bower, 2017/05/26


Icon

Matt Bower refers to himself in the third person throughout this blog post introducing us to his work with the Blended Synchronous Learning project (see www.blendsync.org). He introduces us to the idea of a "blended-reality environment" (which should really just be shortened to 'blended environment'). "Video and sound recording equipment captured activity in a F2F classroom, which was streamed live into a virtual world so that remote participants could see and hear an instructor and F2F peers. In-world activity was also simultaneously displayed on a projector screen, with the audio broadcast via speakers, for the benefit of the F2F participants." This makes sense but in my experience the key is to ensure the video is large enough to display near-life-size avatars or images, and to ensure the audio in each direction is of sufficient volume and timbre to be accepted as being an equal voice. The paper itself is behind a paywall at BJET but there's a (preprint?) copy at ResearchGate.

[Comment]


How Your Data is Stored, or, The Laws of the Imaginary Greeks
Yonatan Zunger, Hacker Noon, Medium, 2017/05/26


Icon

I could tell you that this article describes distributed data management as defined by Leslie Lamport’s invention in The Part-Time Parliament (33 page PDF) known as the Paxos algorithm, and the master election protocol called Chubby. But it's better to say that this article is an accessible description of different ways people can keep their records up to date. The systems described form the basis not only of modern file management but also distributed blockchain record keeping in systems like Ethereum. But even better, the article is illustrative of the kind of thinking it takes to work through an intractable problem in a methodical way.

[Link] [Comment]


OER Pioneer David Wiley Predicts All Community Colleges Will Dump Traditional Textbooks By 2024
Jeffrey R. Young, EdSurge, 2017/05/26


Icon

By 'all community colleges' David Wiley and Jeffrey R. Young no doubt mean 'all community colleges in the United States', because expecting a community college in, say, Namibia, to replace textbooks by 2024 is to expect the very very unlikely. But more, as insightful as Wiley is, I think he is hampered by a basic misunderstanding or misrepresentation of economics. "If it’s 25 percent cheaper to get your business degree here than it is to get it over there, you’re going to go over here," he says. But we know this isn't true: people don't select education based on price, and institutions certainly don't differentiate it by price, not even at community colleges. Perceived quality, location, reputation, networks and more all play a role. So, no, I'm not expecting Wiley's prediction to come true. Not by 2024.

[Link] [Comment]


The Story of Habitat, the Very First Large-Scale Online Role-Playing Game (1986)
Colin Marshall, Open Culture, 2017/05/26


Icon

Without diminishing the historical importance of Habitat., it should be noted that it was not the first massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG). That distinction belongs to the multi user dungeon (MUD). Descended from Adventure (1975), the first MUD was created in 1978.Habitat was probably the first graphical MUD (where 'graphical' is understood as 'using graphics rather than text to create images'). But what really makes it distinct is that it was the first commercial MUD, created by Lucasfilm Games for the  Commodore 64s. Read the Wikipedia page for more on Habitat.

[Link] [Comment]


IEEE P7006 - Standard for Personal Data Artificial Intelligence (AI) Agent
Ieee, 2017/05/26


Icon

Clearly this is an initiative that has multiple applications within the learning space. "This standard describes the technical elements required to create and grant access to a personalized Artificial Intelligence (AI) that will comprise inputs, learning, ethics, rules and values controlled by individuals." The kick-off meeting is June 14. See you there.

[Link] [Comment]


Education that Matters
Joel Westheimer, Canadian Journal of Education, 2017/05/25


Icon

The Canadian Society for the Study of Education (CSSE) and the Canadian Journal of Education (CJE) have a bouncy new website, and even better, open access to their articles, including this one (15 page PDF). It's a statement-of-principles sort of article that speaks to progressive ideals and contemporary challenges. "education in Canada and elsewhere should always embrace certain goals unique to democratic societies... Students must be exposed to multiple perspectives and taught to think and to dialogue in the kinds of expansive ways on which democracy thrives." Quite so. Now - if only the site would get an RSS feed so I can learn about new articles when they're posted - oh! here it is - unadvertised and still under construction.

[Link] [Comment]


Privileging an ideology of individualism
Scott Mcleod, Dangerously Irrelevant, 2017/05/25


Icon

Scott Mcleod comments on Audrey Watter's post (see below) remark that "These new technologies, oriented towards consumers and consumption, privilege an ideology of individualism," replying that "how we balance collective societal good versus individual learning and life success needs is incredibly challenging." It's obvious that it's challenging, of course, but also, the distinction between 'individual' and 'collective' is too simple to be useful. In the past I have offered the idea of the network as a half-way point - supporting autonomy, but creating means and mechanisms to function as a community. What other models are there? Where are the ideas? Educators and technologists have a responsibility here that goes beyond saying it's "incredibly challenging".

[Link] [Comment]


Education Technology as 'The New Normal'
Audrey Watters, 2017/05/25


Icon

A few things in this post from Audrey Watters are worth noting. First, from Ursula Franklin, a wide concept of technology. “Technology involves organizations, procedures, symbols, new words, equations, and, most of all, a mindset.” Second, the analysis (once again) of the "new normal" in education technology. "What might be subverted? What might be lost? (That is, who will lose?)" And finally, what this new normal looks like: "Silicon Valley’s ways also include individualism, neoliberalism, libertarianism, imperialism, the exclusion of people of color and white women from its workforce," she writes, "Silicon Valley’s ways and Silicon Valley’s technologies are readily subverting the values of democracy and justice." Maybe - but then what? What do we do about it. We can't simply 'resist technology' - we need to be smarter than that. What's the alternative vision? What should new educational technology look like? I've tried to articulate a vision - and I wish Watters would do the same.

[Link] [Comment]


Web Developer Security Checklist
Michael O'Brien, Simple Security, Medium, 2017/05/25


Icon

In these days of multiple hacking scandals it's easy to suppose that developers should simply create more secure websites. But as Michael O'Brien argues, "Developing secure, robust web applications in the cloud is hard, very hard." This post will give readers an indication of how hard the task is as O'Brien offers a checklist of dozens of items a developer needs to check or ensure in order to secure a website. The best point is the last: "Have a practiced security incident plan. One day, you will need it."

[Link] [Comment]


Don’t Let Personalized Learning Become the Processed Food of Education
Michael J. Petrilli, Education Next, 2017/05/25


Icon

"After seeing a version of personalized learning in action recently," writes Michael Petrilli, "I’m worried that it may be reinforcing some of the worst aspects of standards-based, data-driven instruction. Namely: It might be encouraging a reductionist type of education that breaks learning into little bits and scraps and bytes of disparate skills, disconnected from an inspiring, coherent whole." All very well but he recommends instead to "teach a wonderful, aligned curriculum. Decide what novels, stories, and books are worth students’ time and teach those to the standards." That's not really better. It's still a form of education as indoctrination. You're still feeding them, when they should be learning to shop and cook for themselves.

[Link] [Comment]


Barnes & Noble Ed Pushing Beyond Books
2017/05/25


Icon

Why would Barnes & Noble make a deal to bring predictive analytics services to universities? Phil Hill (more here) says it suggests recently acquired B&N subsidiary LoudCloud "is focusing more intently on analytics after years of being 'here, there and everywhere' in the ed-tech market." But it also represents a deeper push by the publisher to get into learning technology generally. Here's the vision: "Imagine that a system of collecting and analyzing data was created by academics for academics. You own your data; you don’t need to purchase reports or subscribe to a service to get that information. It won’t be sold to outside vendors, it is standardized, and you can, with relative ease, access de-identified data from other member institutions within the consortium for research purposes."

[Link] [Comment]


GraphQL
Facebook, 2017/05/25


Icon

This technology, used already by Coursera and just adopted by GitHub, has the potential to replace REpresentational State Transfer (REST) as the primary language for Application Programming Interfaces (API). This is the way web servers communicate with each other when handling requests. The website explains the difference this way: "GraphQL queries access not just the properties of one resource but also smoothly follow references between them." In other words, it returns a set of data types, and not just one data type. As a result, "While typical REST APIs require loading from multiple URLs, GraphQL APIs get all the data your app needs in a single request."

[Link] [Comment]


Signs of a Ceiling in Online Ed Market
Carl Straumsheim, Inside Higher Ed, 2017/05/24


Icon

According to this report, "A new survey of online education administrators at 104 colleges and universities released today shows -- as other studies have suggested -- that public and private four-year institutions saw healthy enrollment growth in their fully online programs." The same is not true for colleges, which saw growth rates decline. 

[Link] [Comment]


The Tools of an HTML Email Workflow
Chris Coyier, CSS-Tricks, 2017/05/24


Icon

As someone who has managed an email list for more than a decade, I appreciate the complexity of email and therefore the utility of this list of tools. Chris Coyier runs the gamut from bare metal tools to CSS formatting for email to email-sending applications. I still do it the old fashioned way, with my own software, but that's only because I'm not willing to pay money to send emails.

[Link] [Comment]


“India is of crucial importance”: An interview with Jimmy Wales
Syed Muzammiluddin, WikiMedia Blog, 2017/05/24


Icon

Good interview with the founder of Wikipedia on the place of India in the world of knowledge and culture. India "is as big and diverse as Europe, and yet it is still one nation.  There is a steady rise in access to the Internet in India, but there are obviously still difficult challenges around access and educational attainment," says Wales. "These are difficult times politically... an increase in rhetoric against foreigners or 'others' of all kinds." And we (not just Wikipedia) "can be a powerful force for peace, if we remain a powerful force for facts and free knowledge."

[Link] [Comment]


All That We Share
TV2Danmark, YouTube, 2017/05/24


Icon

I've been listening to the recent discussion on white privilege (including a show on CBC as I type). Some of the discussion centers around a worksheet being used in local schools. It makes people uncomfortable, and as has been noted, it's hard to explain white privilege to a broke white person. Race is not of course the only sort of privilege (or lack of privilege) a person can experience. The discussion brings to mind the term the term baizuo (白左), or literally, the ‘white left’, as it is used in China, "is used generally to describe those who 'only care about topics such as immigration, minorities, LGBT and the environment' and 'have no sense of real problems in the real world'". Me, I am less interested in the putative causes of oppression (because pretty much anything - race, caste, gender, religion - can be used as an excuse) as I am the effects - poverty, homelessness, injustice, violence, inhumanity, hopelessness. I feel we all have an obligation to those people who are oppressed for any reason to help and support their personal empowerment, freedom and opportunity through concrete action.

[Link] [Comment]


College makes sense for the elite, but it might not for the working class
Joan Williams, 2017/05/24


Icon

While people in the lower classes are told that attending a  good college is the ticket to success, the reality is far different, according to the author. Getting into an elite college gets you in the door, but access to opportunities depends not on your education but on your social capital. Working class kids "don’t know the unwritten social codes of professional life." Interviews are "about passing a social test—a test of belonging, of holding your own in a corporate boardroom, of making connections with potential future clients." But the solution isn't simply to accept this, as the author seems to imply. It requires broad-based social reform: eliminating preferential access to college (by eliminating tuition and class-based admission policies); eliminating class-based hiring (by imposing strict merit-based hiring policies and an end to patronage); and most importantly, the development of social networks everyone can join. 

[Link] [Comment]


New paint colors invented by neural network
Janelle C. Shane, Postcards from the Frontiers of Science, Tumblr, 2017/05/24


Icon

Do two people see the same thing when they see the colour blue? Probably not. And if one of them is a computer, almost certainly not. Computers see colours in RGB values, and humans... something else. That's what makes this story about neural network-generated colour names interesting. Some of them make sense and some of them are odd. But I don't agree that the rejects are uniformly bad. Colours like snowbonk, ronching blue, stoner blue and light of blast seem perfect to me.

[Link] [Comment]


Canadians 'reluctant' to accept new police powers, prefer privacy online, government finds
Matthew Braga, CBC News, 2017/05/23


Icon

I think we already knew that Canadians expect online privacy and security, but in true Canadian tradition the government conducted an inquiry. They found that large majorities (on the order of four fifths) expect even basic subscriber information (such as name, home address, phone number, and email address) to remain private, and they  a law mandating telecom companies maintain interception capabilities. There are also concerns that the government won't respect their wishes. ""The Liberals promised to do this (to roll back surveillance allowed by Bill C-51), and they've been in office for two years, and we're getting to a point where there's a certain amount of anxiety as to whether they're going to follow through."

[Link] [Comment]


The Internet Is Broken’: @ev Is Trying to Salvage It
David Streitfeld, New York Times, 2017/05/22


Icon

@ev is Evan Williams, known for co-creating such things as Blogger, Twitter and Medium. One sold out to Google. The other simply sold out. The third is trying to sell memberships. There's a nice analogy in this: "The trouble with the internet, Mr. Williams says, is that it rewards extremes. Say you’re driving down the road and see a car crash. Of course you look. Everyone looks. The internet interprets behavior like this to mean everyone is asking for car crashes, so it tries to supply them." 

[Link] [Comment]


New AWS Training and Certification Portal
Amazon Web Services, 2017/05/22


Icon

Technical Certificate programs have been around for a while now - long-time professionals will recall things like the Certified Novell Engineer (CNE) exams, for example. So this portal by Amazon isn't new, particularly, except that oit's connected to their cloud environment so that when they say yopu need "one or more years of hands-on experience designing available, cost efficient, fault tolerant, and scalable distributed systems on AWS" to qualify for an exam, they don't have to take you at your word. All of this surveillance is broken by ad blockers, though. 

[Link] [Comment]


These are the arguments against net neutrality — and why they’re wrong
Devin Coldewey, TechCrunch, 2017/05/22


Icon

I am unambiguously in favour of net neutrality, but I think that the strongest argument against it isn't any of the arguments listed here but the unassailable fact that the net is not neutral now and that therefore 'net neutrality' pits one form of unequal distribution of wealth against another. Today, because of asynchronous internet access, people cannot run web servers from their homes. Additionally, because of content distribution networks, professional content will run more quickly than private content. Finally, overhead costs and technology (for example, digital certificates) make it more difficult for individuals to offer online content. These all favour technology companies, but their dominance is being challenged by media and telecommunication companies who feel their advantageous position ought also to be favoured by pricing advantages.

[Link] [Comment]


From Pikachu to Patients: The Rise and Rise of Augmented Reality
Jeremy Miles, GP Strategies, 2017/05/22


Icon

It's an unusual "rise and rise" that includes a significant retrenchment, but that's what's documented here: "In 2012 AR, along with virtual reality (VR), was being hailed as the next generation technology to watch, with markets estimated at £600 billion (approximately $776 billion) by 2016. Today those estimates have been revised (reflecting passage along the Gartner Hype Cycle) to a more conservative $90 billion annually by 2020." Yes, there is a role for AR to play in online learning. But no, it's never going to be the whole.

[Link] [Comment]


Toward an open empowered learning model of pedagogy in higher education
Shirley Reushle, Amy Antonio, Mike Keppell, ResearchGate, 2017/05/22


Icon

Relevant and realistic: "The separation of assessment from learning could have significant ramifications for the outcomes of learning because a schism could appear in the alignment of the curriculum in a disaggregated model. Quality assurance of learning and certification of its outputs become problematic so new ways of aligning and assessing learning outcomes and arranging academic support for students will be needed." We've been gradually drifting toward this outcome, and when we reach a tipping point higher education will appear to have been enveloped in crisis overnight. 21 page PDF. Image: Patricia B. Arinto.

[Link] [Comment]


This newsletter is sent only at the request of subscribers. If you would like to unsubscribe, Click here.

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.

Copyright 2017 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.