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.

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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


How Dx Powers the Post-Pandemic Institution

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This recent initiative and roadmap from Educause is based on the concept of Digital Transformation (Dx). It includes a strategy design framework (slides) and ongoing conversation around the challenges created by the need for a digital strategy. There's also a checklist and self-assessment tool for institutions (more). The strategy itself is a straightforward planning model that begins with 'Purpose' (why are you undertaking the process), the context and input (sometimes called the 'drivers', but not here), desired outcomes and outputs, and then finally inputs (or resources). I think the main contribution here is the rebranding of 'x' to mean 'transformation' (instead of 'additional' or 'extra', as in EdX or TEDx).

Today: 46 Total: 46 EDUCAUSE, 2021/09/22 [Direct Link]

Possible Actions to Operationalize the UNESCO OER Recommendation

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The UNESCO Recommendations on Open Educational Resources (OER) (covered here; my response), adopted in late 2019, have helped guide work internationally on OER in the years since. This document, shared during the Creative Commons Open Education Platform meeting, outlines strategies to put the recommendations into practice. There's a lot there; there are detailed suggestions for both governmental initiatives and institutional initiatives over its 14 pages.

Today: 51 Total: 51 Cable Green, Google Docs, 2021/09/22 [Direct Link]

An Artificial Neural Network (ANN)-Based Learning Agent for Classifying Learning Styles in Self-Regulated Smart Learning Environment

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"Every student learns and processes information differently, mainly due to their behavioral or cultural differences." To me, it would be surprising if this were not true. Despite the repeated assertions in several quarters that there are no such things as learning styles, research on them continues to be published. In this article the authors use an artificial neural network (ANN) to identify individuals' learning styles based on their work. It's not the first such study, and I expect that future data mining research will continue to find differences in the way students study and learn. And if studies continue to find them it becomes absurd to continue saying they don't exist. The best that can be said, I think, is that knowledge of learning styles is not relevant to instructional design or selection of learning materials. The authors report that "the findings of this study are now being used in the development of a self-regulated smart learning environment to support students learning experiences." So even these latter assertions become more difficult to sustain.

Today: 111 Total: 125 Yusufu Gambo, Muhammad Zeeshan Shakir, International Journal of Emerging Technologies in Learning, 2021/09/22 [Direct Link]

Crowdsourced U: designing a university in 60 minutes or less

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This is an interesting thought experiment, though of course a large part of the outcome is defined in the question (designing a university) and in the participants (100 attendees at a session at Wonkfest), and even more so in the design prompts. So it's utterly no surprise that in the resulting university, "services will be outsourced in some form or fashion", they would "focus on a few areas of specialty" and "prioritise relationships with local employers." The more interesting discussion is in the section about trade-offs. Being distinctive is nice, but carries risk. Providing services is great, but requires a wide range of capabilities. People would like universities to be more flexible, but that creates a lot of complexity in management and organization.

Today: 78 Total: 102 Gary Guadagnolo, WonkHe, 2021/09/22 [Direct Link]

How corporate universities fit into hybrid learning strategies of the future

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This article describes how consulting companies like KPMG and Deloitte have adapted their learning strategies in response to the shift to digital. Some of the shifts are telling. For example, "The organization began to focus on skills-based learning rather than role-based learning." Also, "we’re also focusing on culture, connection and community.” Good lessons to learn, if a bit late for their clients. And in a bit of reverse logic, the article suggests that "As the workplace becomes more hybrid, the (in-person) university will become more important to the organization’s culture... since many people will have even fewer opportunities to meet their teammates in person."

Today: 86 Total: 107 Andie Burjek, Chief Learning Officer, 2021/09/22 [Direct Link]

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