Stephen Downes 史蒂芬·道恩斯

Knowledge, Learning, Community

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Stephen Downes,, Casselman Canada

Where did germane cognitive load go? - by Greg Ashman


This article points to two major issues with cognitive load theory. First, "germane cognitive load makes cognitive load theory unfalsifiable... (but) Unless a theory can make predictions that can be tested as right or wrong, it is an unscientific theory." Second, the theory can't really "explain the potentially conflicting experimental results where both raising and lowering cognitive load can lead to better outcomes under different circumstances." That (to me) is why the advice coming from cognitive load theorists to always lower cognitive load sounds so unintuitive.

Today: 22 Total: 114 Greg Ashman, Filling the Pail, 2022/11/25 [Direct Link]

A bot that watched 70,000 hours of Minecraft videos could unlock AI's next big thing


This AI project uses online videos as "a vast and untapped source of training data" to help systems learn how to perform tasks in Minecraft by watching and imitating human Minecraft players. It's interesting to see the parallel between machine learning and human learning, as this project depends in a way on a process of scaffolding to make the task achievable: "The team's approach, called Video Pre-Training (VPT), gets around the bottleneck in imitation learning by training another neural network to label videos automatically." (I can't tell any more whether MIT Technology Review is using paywalls, so if you hit one, please let me know).

Today: 16 Total: 101 Will Douglas Heaven, MIT Technology Review, 2022/11/25 [Direct Link]

Cognitive Science and the Different Kinds of Computation


This is one of my core messages about cognitive science as well, though Gualtiero Piccinini is probably more qualified to make the point. He writes, " In a 2013 paper with biophysicist Sonya Bahar, I have argued that neural computation, in general, is not digital; therefore, theories of cognition need to be formulated in terms of (what we know about or expect to be possible via) neural computation."

Today: 29 Total: 146 Gualtiero Piccinini, The Brains Blog, 2022/11/25 [Direct Link]

Researchers Find Stable Diffusion Amplifies Stereotypes


This article points to how "current methods to mitigate these effects fail to prevent images perpetuating racist, misogynist and otherwise problematic stereotypes" produced by a Stable Diffusion AI. "œI think it'™s a data problem, it's a model problem, but it's also like a human problem that people are going in the direction of 'more data, bigger models, faster, faster, faster,' Hugging Face'™s Luccioni told Gizmodo." Or as a speaker at the conference said today, "AI is 98% human." In an email Alan Levine looked at the depictions of teachers. "Notice the teacher tropes, either bookshelves or chalkboards." And compared to DALL-e: "Oh my. DALL-E only places teachers in front of chalkboards! But worse, for intellectual (left) the results are weighted to balding white males in glasses." Here's the project page.

Today: 16 Total: 113 Justin Hendrix, Tech Policy Press, 2022/11/25 [Direct Link]

Automated journalism and the future of news media: INMA report


I raised the topic of AI-generated on-demand learning resources today, but was advised that, like automated cars, the technology was mostly promises and hot air. Fair enough. But, as it turns out, writing content is easier than driving a car, and in newsrooms today it's being used "to generate more coverage and deliver sections that are popular with readers but would be too labour-intensive for a human reporter to create." So I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss the idea. It may take ten years (that's how far education lags news media) but it's pretty likely to be in our future.

Today: 6 Total: 123 What's New in Publishing, 2022/11/24 [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: Nov 26, 2022 4:30 p.m.