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

Some Misgivings about the 2020 PhilPapers Survey


This article is a criticism of the survey of philosophers conducted recently by David Bourget and David Chalmers (I covered it here). The form of the survey suggests that "philosophers are in the business of developing arguments in support of one or another answer to a set question." As usual, the same could be said of theorists in other disciplines, including education. But "a lot of the philosophical work that I find most meaningful doesn’t take this form. Instead, it challenges the questions themselves." As has become so clear in my own MOOC this fall, things like ethics are more a matter of perception than decision, as Martha Nussbaum and Iris Murdoch propose. A lot of people still feel we can argue our way to knowledge in our field, and that we should stake out a position (constructivist, behaviourist), select a 'lens', and advance a thesis. I don't think it works that way at all.

Today: 108 Total: 108 David Egan, David Egan Philosophy, 2021/11/26 [Direct Link]

10 questions ignored by philosophy


These are interesting questions and are mostly overlooked in contemporary thought, though I think they're implied in a lot of thinking. For example: "what is the role of personal judgement in rational thought?" Or this question, which applies especially to educators: "how do we reconcile our moral intuition that all humans have an intrinsic value, with our intuition that some people are better than others?" They depict, I think, a discipline in flux, as people are becoming less forgiving of abstract theory that misleads, rather than informs, about day-to-day life (the same criticisms are being made in other disciplines).

Today: 127 Total: 127 Institute of Art and Ideas, 2021/11/26 [Direct Link]

A Design Thinking Roadmap for Process Improvement and Organizational Change


Design thinking, according to the article, "is a framework that provides a human-centered approach for problem-solving that provides a powerful set of techniques and tools for organizations to focus their attention on the most important problems that need to be solved." Most of my own research would probably be categorized under the heading of design thinking, although rather less formally than described here. This article offers a detailed step-by-step account, and it seems to me that this would translate really well into a structure for an online course. It's really detailed, with loads of activities and examples, and people interested in the concept won't want to miss it.

Today: 83 Total: 83 Lymari Castro, Ben Linders, InfoQ, 2021/11/26 [Direct Link]

Kahoot Guide to Creating Engaging and Fun Learning Games


As we learn in this post, "Kahoot is a game-based learning website that allows teachers and students to create, explore, and play a wide variety of educational games." The templates give a sense of what Kahoot can do: " Kahoot for formative assessment, Spark discussions with polls, Teach with slides, Practice spelling and adjectives with puzzle, Introduce new topics with a 'Blind' kahoot, and a Template inspired by a higher ed instructor." Or you can create a new Kahoot from scratch. I haven't used Kahoot, so I can only speak from second hand reports here, but again, a lot of people swear by it. The article describes Kahoot in detail and points to a Kahoot library that "embeds over 100 million public ready-to-use kahoots for you to choose from."

Today: 86 Total: 86 Med Kharbach, Educational Technology and Mobile Learning, 2021/11/26 [Direct Link]

What Is Padlet? Teachers Step by Step Guide


Padlet demands that I login before I can see or do anything, which takes me aback a bit, but many teachers I know swear by it, so it's certainly worth mentioning again (it has been around for quite a number of years). It's "an online bulletin board that teachers and students can use to collaborate, curate, and share digital content." Post content, and have others interact with it. You can upload content, draw it, record video, use a screen recorder, add links, or search and load content from YouTube, Spotify or the web. This article describes the application and links to a Padlet gallery.

Today: 80 Total: 80 Med Kharbach, Educational Technology and Mobile Learning, 2021/11/26 [Direct Link]

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