Stephen Downes 史蒂芬·道恩斯

Knowledge, Learning, Community

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Stephen Downes,, Casselman Canada

“It’s hard to feel a part of something when you’ve never met people”: defining “learning community” in an online era


This article (16 page PDF) is your traditional social sciences survey of a class of psychology students (the most representative sample group anywhere!). The observation is that "there was a general sense that it was difficult to obtain a feeling of learning community when learning was delivered exclusively online and for some this was not a possibility at all." Specifically, "central to this sense of isolation was the inability to physically see, meet and share space with fellow students." Moreover, "a sense of mutuality and shared experience appeared crucial to the underpinning of learning communities." Let me propose an alternative interpretation: students are unable to feel a sense of privilege when they're not physically connected. They don't feel they get exclusive access to services (for example, "visibility and accessibility of academic teaching staff"). They feel this loss as a devaluing of their education, as it becomes something anyone could obtain, and not specific to their own particular cultural and ethical community identified by a range of cues, practices, and tokens developed by their out-of-classroom interactions with each other. Image: Myers & Ogino.

Today: 38 Total: 768 Lucy Prodgers, Elizabeth Travis, Madeleine Pownall, Higher Education, 2022/08/05 [Direct Link]

The Metaverse Is Not a Place


"What if," asks Tim O'Reilly, "instead of thinking of the metaverse as a set of interconnected virtual places, we think of it as a communications medium?" Then the metaverse is "about a time when immersive digital worlds become the primary way that we communicate and share digital experiences." I think this is very much applying a web 2.0 lens to web3. The distinguishing characteristic of the metaverse and web3 is object permanence in a digital space. And yes, we could think of a set of objects as a place, or as a communications medium, and any number of other things. But what's actually new is that we can now use digital objects in ways previously reserved for physical objects only - as keys, tokens, currency, credentials, identifiers, and the like (use your imagination to extend this list).

Today: 37 Total: 712 Tim O’Reilly, O'Reilly, 2022/08/05 [Direct Link]

Dog Whistles, Covertly Coded Speech, and the Practices that Enable Them


What I like about this analysis (57 page PDF) of the phenomenon of 'dog whistles' is that it embeds it into the idea of linguistic practice as (in part) characterizing a community. A 'dog whistle' is "speech that seems ordinary but sends a hidden, often derogatory message to a subset of the audience." The author provides several examples. The question is, is it a dog whistle only if the speaker intends it to be a dog whistle. Anne Quaranto argues that dog whistles can be unintentional, but conditions apply. "Covertly coded speech is only possible because there's something a speaker and hearer are both part of - a linguistic practice, an established usage learned from others and shaped by others' past performances." We see this a lot in the community not just in the form of dog whistles but also as memes, popular expressions, abbreviations, slang, and many other forms. The idea that we're all speaking 'one common language' with mutual understanding and shared meaning is, to my mind, wrong. Image: Vox.

Today: 39 Total: 864 Anne Quaranto, PhilPapers, 2022/08/05 [Direct Link]

The Malagasy Ideal of Fihavanana and Western Ethics


This (17 page PDF)(also) is a clear and direct presentation of Malagasy ethics and in particular the principle of fihavanana. "As a first pass, we can say that fihavanana is a state of peace or harmony that people can achieve with others within their communities; it is modeled on the peace, harmony, solidarity, love, and closeness that is often seen in family ties." Source materials are Malagasy proverbs (ohabolana) that either directly use the term or talk about it without using its name. It's worth noting some of the distinction between this concept and the Western approach to ethics that many pundits say are 'universal': the allowance that "emotion and feelings have a role to play in deciding what one ought to do," the idea that "one should do good for others out of a feeling of love and not out of a sense of requirement," and some clear limitations of the scope of the moral community. Image: Pharos.

Today: 39 Total: 877 Casey Woodling, Comparative Philosophy, 2022/08/05 [Direct Link]

4 scenarios for the future of postsecondary data and analytics


This short post summarizes the 2022 EDUCAUSE Horizon Report: Data and Analytics Edition (54 page PDF) and focuses on the 15 trends across five categories it outlines: data-supported social equity, lagging technology, economic challenges from external competitors, the influence of environmental issues, and the interplay between politics and education. These lead to the four scenarios, which are, respectively: only measurement matters, budget-imposed constraint, institutional collapse, and institutional transformation. The report itself also outlines key analytics technologies and trends (p. 12) which include emphases on data management, data sources, architecture, data literacy, diversity equity and inclusion (DEI), and assessment.

Today: 37 Total: 729 Laura Ascione, eCampus News, 2022/08/05 [Direct Link]

Project Zero's Thinking Routine Toolbox


This toolbox reminds me of de Bono's lateral thinking more than anything else, not in terms of content (they are quite different) but in terms of providing a series of 'tips and tricks' to improve thinking habits and to break us out of bland complacence. It's also much more extensive than de Bono, divided into ten categories each of which has a number of specific items. Via Doug Peterson.

Today: 36 Total: 787 Harvard Graduate School of Education, 2022/08/05 [Direct Link]

Ethics, Analytics and the Duty of Care

This MOOC covers all applications of analytics in learning, surveys criticisms, describes ethical approaches, and examines the ethics of analytics with a view to recent ethical theory.


This paper presents an overview of connectivism, offering a connectivist account of learning and a detailed analysis of how learning occurs in networks.
Coronavirus / Covid19 quick reference kit, to take your class or conference online cheaply and in a hurry:

Creating an Online Class or Conference - Quick Tech Guide

Stephen Downes works with the Digital Technologies Research Centre at the National Research Council of Canada specializing in new instructional media and personal learning technology. His degrees are in Philosophy, specializing in epistemology, philosophy of mind, and philosophy of science. He has taught for the University of Alberta, Athabasca University, Grand Prairie Regional College and Assiniboine Community College. His background includes expertise in journalism and media, both as a prominent blogger and as founder of the Moncton Free Press online news cooperative. He is one of the originators of the first Massive Open Online Course, has published frequently about online and networked learning, has authored learning management and content syndication software, and is the author of the widely read e-learning newsletter OLDaily. Downes is a member of NRC's Research Ethics Board. He is a popular keynote speaker and has spoken in three dozen countries on six continents.

  • The Future of Online Learning 2020, April 28, 2020.

  • TSupporting Open Educational Resources, January 7, 2022.

  • The Agile Approach to Learning Design, Online Educa Berlin, December 7, 2015.

  • Your Instant Decentralized Learning Community, April 6, 2021.

  • The MOOC Ecosystem, Association of Medical Educators of Europe (AMEE) E-Learning Symposium, Glasgow, Scotland, September 6, 2015.

  • LMS vs PLE, July 10, 2012.

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Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.

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Last Updated: Aug 17, 2022 4:30 p.m.