Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

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. Through a thirty-five year career Downes has contributed pioneering work in the fields of online learning games, learning objects and metadata, podcasting, and open educational resources. Recent projects include:gRSShopper, a personal learning environment; E-Learning 3.0, a course on new e-learning technologies; research and development in the use of distributed ledger technology in learning applications; and research on ethics, analytics and the duty of care. 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.


DONATE TO DOWNES.CA ~ ~ Vision Statement ~ ~

Stephen Downes Photo
h-card: Stephen Downes,, Casselman Canada

Contact: · · · · ·
Subscribe: · · · · · · ·

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

Now is the Time to Build a New Field in Education


Like Lindsy Ogawa, I like to see myself as a proponent of learner-centered learning. However, when we talk about 'learner-centered' we have  to be very careful we are not simply substituting one person's set of interests for another's. For example, I don't see this as in any sense entailing the dismantling of the public education system. Far from it. And learner-centered learning is not about (as this document suggests) ensuring children become "constructive members of their communities, productive participants in the economy, and engaged citizens of the (nation) and the world." This is just a way of using children (and their education) to solve other people's problems. And while there's a lot in this Lexicon that I like, I don't see learner-centered learning as some sort of 21st century character education; this is just to substitute one set of imperatives for another.

Today: 58 Total: 223 Lindsy Ogawa, Getting Smart, 2022/01/14 [Direct Link]

How Signal is playing with fire


I like to use the concept of surveillance as a talking point on ethics. Most of what we read depicts surveillance as bad and something to be avoided, especially online. But (I respond) we wouldn't want to live without surveillance. Case in point: Signal considering adding cryptocurrency payments to the platform. Signal messaging is already end-to-end encrypted; adding payments would create untraceable financial transactions. This would make money-laundering and 'know your customer' (KYC) laws unenforceable. We've learned enough from some high profile leaks recently to know how bad it could get. I'm not sure many people would side with the criminals on this one.

Today: 58 Total: 178 Casey Newton, Platformer, 2022/01/14 [Direct Link]

Jarvis will do your writing for you


"Jarvis, which uses artificial intelligence to write, is offering to write blog posts and marketing material," reports Joanne Jacobs. She's clearly sceptical about the whole idea, and yet there's something about it that's compelling. "Jarvis’ writing is not very good, but it’s better than what many students turn out." This points to an important truth: AI doesn't have to be as good as the best we can produce. It only has to be better than the worst.

Today: 60 Total: 176 Joanne Jacobs, Linking and Thinking on Education, 2022/01/14 [Direct Link]

The Journal Club


This is something really simple, yet a lovely demonstration of a concept. The idea is that members of a journal club meet regularly to discuss a journal article. The site appears to have been designed for in-person meetings, though it would be effective (maybe even more so) online. It's connected to the arXiv library of papers so it's easy to recommend and select a paper for discussion. A presenter can then add slides and set up the meeting. That's it. This is a very small and seldom-used site, and I can't imagine it will become the next MeetUp or anything like that. But it really illustrates how you can create simple tools to enable self-supported learning in groups quickly and easily. I created an Ethics club and set up the first presentation in less than 5 minutes. I don't intend to actually hold it... but hey, if a bunch of members join, maybe I'll change my mind.

Today: 50 Total: 235 The Journal Club, 2022/01/14 [Direct Link]

[All the Posts]
Thanks to Reclaim Hosting for their generous donation to support this site.
Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.