OLDaily, by Stephen Downes

[Home] [Top] [Archives] [Mobile] [About] [Threads] [Options]

December 16, 2011

The Feynman Series (part 1) - Beauty
Richard Feynman, YouTube, December 16, 2011.

files/images/new_buddha.PNG, size: 216901 bytes, type:  image/png I bought a new Buddha this week (pictured left) and a new bonsai tree. The Buddha is made of some kind of mixture of resin, soil and sawdust, and is happily imperfect. The bonsai tree is still very young.

We had our last #change11 session for the year, marking the half-way point in the course. I remarked on how the innovations and discoveries were progressing so rapidly I had little desire to top and write papers. It was funny - usually I worry that my best days are behind me, but today after our online session I was left with the feeling my best work is still to come.

Forget doom and gloom, said the blog post. "Journalism isn't dying, even if newspapers in the way we've always known them may be. We don't have a consumption problem for news.... the 18-, now 19-, year-olds may have it figured out more than the rest of us.... They get that the job has changed and they're fine with it.... they have a strong sense of a social mission. They want to report on the issues that matter. They’re idealistic. I love it."

I open think about what it means to be human, to live, to grow, to die. I'm come to grips with it, with the idea that my coming and going are a part of that great process. That death is necessary for change, for evolution, for life itself. Philip K. Dick, naturally, sees the art in this:

"The beautiful and imperishable comes into existence due to the suffering of individual perishable creatures who themselves are not beautiful, and must be reshaped to form a template from which the beautiful is printed (forged, extracted, converted). This is the terrible law of the universe. This is the basic law; it is a fact… Absolute suffering leads to — is the means to — absolute beauty."

This week, as physicists seek the ultimate particle, I think of people like Richard Feynman, who sought to find, not what they could get out of the universe, but through the absolute joy of discovery, what they could put into it. Who sees beauty in all dimensions, in all the shapes of things, in all the elements large and small.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Traditional and Online Courses, Web Logs, Assessment]

Share |

Letter to The Chronicle of Higher Education
lindaleea, Sail’s Pedagogy, December 16, 2011.

"The Chronicle of Higher Education," writes lindaleea,"[has] just ask[ed] a question to [its] readers — 'Who Are the Top Technology Innovators in Higher Education?'" I like her response, and not just because I'm in it, but because it raises the question of whether this is the right question to ask at all. "It is not just one person or one great teacher I am learning from nowadays. It is many. Through the Internet I have created my own personal learning network, I am creating, curating and collaborating with many though out the world." The whole idea of trying to find the 'top technology innovators' is misguided. It's not some neutral estimation of the value of someone or some thing - it is, rather, more like searching through a crowd and finding someone who looks like you and saying "you are the one I call best!" Because in calling that person best, you aggrandize your own ideas, your own way of looking at the world, your own self.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Networks]

Share |

files/images/filter_bubble.PNG, size: 222230 bytes, type:  image/png
the online filter bubble
D'Arcy Norman, D'Arcy Norman dot net, December 16, 2011.

D'Arcy Norman: "Shaun Inman just posted a link to a TED Talk by Eli Pariser on the 'filter bubble'. This is exactly why I haven’t trusted third-party online services (in addition to the data mining and privacy implications). You can’t trust that what you’re provided, even in response to a 'generic' search query, is the whole truth." The TED video suggests that the problem is just that the reality in front of you has been personalized. But it's deeper. "It’s filtered. Massaged. Processed. Tailored. In order to increase your likelihood of seeing (and hopefully clicking on) ads." And in order - I would say - to ensure you see as normal such concepts as consumerism, commoditization and commercialization.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Personalization, Video, Privacy Issues]

Share |

Khan and AI: Open Online Courses
George Siemens, elearnspace, December 16, 2011.

George Siemens writes, "I’ve been a bit frustrated in the past (actually, I still am) that the history of open courses has not been fully reflected in conversation about the Stanford AI class. People like David Wiley, Alec Couros, Stephen Downes and others have been running open courses since 2007 (this insidehighered article does touch on the history). Audrey Watters captures my thinking when she states: 'What does it mean — culturally, pedagogically, politically, financially — that Stanford garners so much buzz for its free online courses while other MOOCs (Massively Open Online Courses) go unheralded?'."

This is not - contra George - just a question about ego. There are deeper issues. I tried to capture some of them when I talked about the nature of free software and free content during a debate earlier this year: "I find it a point well worth making that there is an entire history of open source and open licensing that originated outside the Berkeley-Stanford-Harvard nexus that is now regarded as authoritative." The result of attributing the concept of free software to people working in this nexus is that it acquired the nature of commodity and the essence of commercialization. Agree or disagree, it's hard to argue that the appropriation of the concept didn't change it into something more palatable to a certain crowd. And that's what's happening here.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Connectivism, Traditional and Online Courses, Open Source, Online Learning]

Share |

Teaching the On-Line Stanford class at UMass Lowell
Fred Martin, Computing Education Blog, December 16, 2011.

Fred Martin reflects on his experience participating in the Stanford Artificial Intelligence MOOC. "I don’t have to lecture the material. When we meet, my students have (largely) worked through the lectures and homeworks. So I don’t have to explain things to students for the first time. Instead, we use in-class time to have an interesting conversation about the parts of the material that people found confusing or disagreed upon. We’ve had some great arguments this semester." Interesting how we are told "Thrun’s colleague at the Stanford AI Lab, Prof. Daphne Koller, is a pioneer of this approach, and discussed it in a recent NYT essay.... a lot like the approach suggested in 2006 by Day and Foley in their HCI course at Georgia Tech. They recorded web lectures, and then used classroom time for hands-on learning activities. Koller calls this 'the flipped classroom.'" Someone tell Karl Fisch.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Personalization, Experience]

Share |

files/images/screenshot0206.jpg, size: 203532 bytes, type:  image/jpeg
What I Saw at the End of the Galaxy
Wilhelm Arcturus, The Ancient Gaming Noob, December 16, 2011.

Pondering the end of a massive multi-player gaming world: "From my first day to the last, Star Wars Galaxies was, and will always be, a meaningful and memorable part of my life, an experience I’ll treasure and share with anyone who wants to hear a good story. It has been an honor to take this journey with you, the community and all of the team members who have made Star Wars Galaxies such an awesome game." I never played the game, but I've been there at the end of a world. It's sad. And uplifting.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Gaming, Experience]

Share |

Top Ed-Tech Trends of 2011: The Business of Ed-Tech
Audrey Watters, Hack Education, December 16, 2011.

Audrey Watters has wrapped up her 'top 10 tech trends of 2011' series. I'm not going to do very much 'year in retrospect' coverage this year (almost none, actually) but I will do this one, at least with links.
- the iPad
- Social media - adoption & crackdown
- Text messaging
- Data (which still means mostly 'standardized testing')
- The digital library
- Khan Academy
- STEM education's Sputnik moment
- The higher education bubble
- Open
- The business of ed tech
Just for the record, I think Audrey Watters is one of the best things to come along in education technology in 2011, her style of journalism sharp and analytic, yet still a fresh change from the constant wingeing and negativity found on so many other sites.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Tests and Testing]

Share |

COMING SOON: The Edudemic iPad Magazine!
Jeff Dunn and Terry Heick, Edudemic, December 16, 2011.

Edudemic is launching a new monthly iPad magazine. The first issue will be free; they'll charge 99 cents per issue thereafter. They say "This small price actually makes the whole magazine possible." I'm not so sure the numbers work, but hey, I could be wrong.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: none]

Share |

This newsletter is sent only at the request of subscribers. If you would like to unsubscribe, Click here.

Know a friend who might enjoy this newsletter? Feel free to forward OLDaily to your colleagues. If you received this issue from a friend and would like a free subscription of your own, you can join our mailing list. Click here to subscribe.

Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.