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

From Web3 to Ed3 - Reimagining Education in a Decentralized World


The ideas outlined in E-Learning 3.0 are becoming more real, as we see in this post (and if you note the URL you'll note that the post is distributed on IPFS, the distributed content addresisble resource network). As the authors here write, "Web3 has enabled creators to own their work online, ed3 enables students to own their education. Nascent ed3 models are improving access, affordability, and accreditation, but more work needs to be done." There's a lot to this article - it's a nice Saturday read. (p.s. if all this intrigues you, you'll want to look at Mirror, the Ethereum-powered platform these posts have been written on - more here). Too bad Mirror doesn't support RSS.

Today: 1 Total: 1 Atish Mistry, Blair Rorani, Scott Meyer, Vriti Saraf, ed3.eth, 2022/01/21 [Direct Link]

My Notion of Microsoft Loop


At first I thought Microsoft Loop was their version of Miro, an application that allows people to collaboratively create planning diagrams. But on closer look, it seems more similar to Jira, which is a project management tool. That seems to be Loop's focus. I've used both over the years and they're, um, OK, but I don't love them. Helen Blunden says, "the beauty of these canvases is that you can share them to others (they sit in your OneDrive); they do away with the need for access and privileges to the full Microsoft programs (if your organisation allows that!) and it’s like ‘your brain’. Everything is there connected to each other." Bonus: there's a lovely Easter Egg in the Microsoft promotional video, where the collaborators are Jim and Mira - an obvious (to me) homage to Jira (and maybe Miro).

Today: 88 Total: 88 Helen Blunden, Activate Learning, 2022/01/21 [Direct Link]



After having seen one too many Urchin Tracking Module (UTM) tracking elements in website addresses (I have been removing these manually from the links I post in OLDaily) I decided to search for a way to eliminate them. There are some untrusted browser extensions that will do this, but ClearURLs is recommended by Mozilla. Works like a charm. Life is good again. No more tracking, no more fixing URLs manually. If you use Chrome (or Edge) like might be tougher since Google has removed ClearURLs from the extension store; it's still gone as of today, but you can load it manually. Image: Search Engine Journal.

Today: 92 Total: 92 Kevin Röbert, Firefox, 2022/01/21 [Direct Link]

The Heart of the Learner


This is a light article describing "five steps educators can implement to ensure that we are approaching our work from a learner first perspective." Here they are (quoted):

  • Model practices for empathy and inclusivity.
  • Put out the welcome mat.
  • Ensure every voice is heard.
  • Enable students with the power to reach their highest goals.
  • Offer timely feedback – early and often.

It's hardly authoritative, but a handy list, and I don't think many proponents of learner-centered learning would disagree with any of these points, though of course a lot more could be said on the subject.

Today: 88 Total: 88 Carrie O’Donnell, WCET Frontiers, 2022/01/21 [Direct Link]

How Healthy Is The Sakai Community? Sakai Virtual Conference Highlights


This is a summary report from the Sakai conference last November. Sakai is an open source LMS developed and used primarily by huge universities. This summary is chock-full of fantastic tidbits. There's a video, for example, on the Sakai Commons Tool, which emphasizes authentic rather than forced community. There's Comfortable PandA, a Japanese browser extension (supports Firefox, Chrome, Edge...) that helps students easily check new assignments, find notifications, etc. And there's Tsugi, a tool that handles the learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) level to help teachers build learning sites, tools and content. And more. I still don't know how healthy the Sakai community is, but I love the ideas here. The Sakai community is coordinated by the Apereo Foundation.

Today: 125 Total: 125 Gabriela Duque, LMS Pulse, 2022/01/21 [Direct Link]

A tentative guide for new student employees


Students who work with employers (on a co-op basis, say) are often unprepared for what that entails. Employers, meanwhile, might be equally unprepared (this is certainly the case in academia and often the case where I work). This guide is a great start to help employer and student find common ground. Although it's directed to the student, it should be read by the employer as well, to define expectations. And it has some great unexpected bits, like the idea of 'managing up', the process where the employee prompts and reminds the employer of things they should be doing. Some other good bits: the project charter, learning to be wrong, and talking about what you don't know. Image: Peterson's.

Today: 115 Total: 115 Dave Cormier, Dave's Educational Blog, 2022/01/21 [Direct Link]

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