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March 5, 2013

Auti-sim lets you experience the horror of sensory overload
Kyle Orland, Ars Technica, March 5, 2013

What is it like to be autistic? Most of us can't experience sensory overload directly, but with a simulation developed during Vancouver's Hacking Health weekend hackathon we can begin to approximate the sensation. As the article relates, "I wasn't really aiming to simulate what hypersensitivity actually is," team lead Taylan Kadayifcioglu (who goes by Taylan Kay) told Ars. "My goal was to elicit the same kind of reaction from a neurotypical person. So the goal was basically to irritate the hell out of your senses." It does that, but responses ion the coments suggest that it comes pretty close to the mark. This makes this sort of program an invaluable teaching and support aid. "So imagine you were trying to help people with an issue like this, but you have no idea what it feels like. I think in that way it's really powerful and helpful."

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Simulations, Experience, Hackers]

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The Human Brain Project
Human Brain Project, March 5, 2013

This is what real research in IT looks like. The researchers will bring in all the results from the biological and physiological literature on neural function. They will integrate these findings into a massive simulation of the human brain. This will we hope provide the most detailed and accurate pucture of the brain possible. This will then be used to attack brain diseases as well as develop new types of neural network computers. Of course, we will need much better supercomputers than we have today, so new computers - 'neuromorphic' computers - will be developed as part of the project. More. Image clipped from the project image library (specifically, this one) Via Alexander Hayes.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Project Based Learning, Simulations, Research, Google, Networks, Copyrights]

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Sugata Mitra: Slum chic? 7 reasons for doubt
Donald Clark, Donald Clark Plan B, March 5, 2013

Unlike the Nobel Prize, which rewards people for work they've done, the TED Prize is basically startup money for work they're going to do. This with the 2013 prize, which gives Sugata Mitra about $1 million to develop something called  School in the Cloud. This recent attention has caused some writers to examine the initiative that made him Gates-worthy in the first place, the 'hole in the wall' initiative, where he put computers in public places in India and watched as kids taught themselves how to use them.

Audrey Watters, for example, says people should ask critical quesions, questions about "this history of schooling as Mitra (and others) tell it," about "the funding of the initial “Hole in the Wall” project (it came from NIIT, an India-based 'enterprise learning solution' company that offers 2- and 4-year IT diplomas)," questions "about these commercial interests in 'child-driven education'."

Donald Clark assails Mitra's work. "'What we see is the idea of free learning going into free fall' said Payal Arora. When Arora came across these two ‘hole-in-the-wall’ sites, accidentally in India, she discovered not the positive tales of self-directed learning but failure."

Mike Caulfield offers heretical thoughts. "Mitra’s got a bad case of straw man disease here, but the most striking thing about his exposition is that he seems to believe our educational system was invented a specific time to solve a well-defined, identifiable problem: the production of clerical workers."

I'm not as critical as they about the concept of what Mitra calls self-organized learning. After all, that's pretty much what I'm up to. But I don't think learning will be reformed from the top down with TED talks and Gates grants, because I have my doubts that the learning provided by the corporations of today will be any more enlightened tghan the learning created to serve the needs of corporations in Victorian England. (Photo: what's left of the 'hole in the wall' project. Via Donald Clark.)

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Schools, Great Britain, Project Based Learning, Online Learning]

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Getting More Out of Student Blogging
Sue Waters, Sue Waters Blog, March 5, 2013

The whole concept of educational blogging has faded to the background recently, though you'd think that wth MOOCs it would be more important than ever. You'd think. Anyhow, this post features edublogs staffer reviewing the concept of edublogs, from her perspective, and reiterating their application in learning and how to do it well. "Almost all educators who blog well with their students use scaffolding – regardless of the age of the students," she writes. "It’s like teaching someone to drive a car.  They break down the process into key steps from learning to blog to becoming independent connected learners." Good post with a lot of detail.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Web Logs]

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VISIR Network
VISIR, March 5, 2013

Accoridng to the email, "The VISIR project – Vision, Scenarios, Insights and Recommendations – is the initiative of seven European networks, one research centre and one University involved in the open, distance and e-learning field. It aims to develop a shared vision on how ICT may help making lifelong learning a reality." They have launched their second survey.  You can download the 1st Consultation Executive Summary and the full 1st Consultation Paper. Interestingly, the first survey captured a sentiment to look more at education as it fits into wider society, looking at cultural and social-economic factors, rather than focusing effort and expense on institutional change. "A significant focus can be observed on overall learning in society as the real patrimony on which to invest (by leveraging ICT potential) as opposed to institutional learning systems, reflecting to a need to enlarge the perspective out of the borders of education systems." Exactly the right approach, in my view.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Project Based Learning, Research, European Union, Networks, Online Learning]

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Why Numbers Exist
Stephen Downes, Half an Hour, March 4, 2013

People just take their existence for granted. But on Sunday I got a bug in my head about why they exist at all, and I couldn't get past it. So all work had to be set aside until I had worked it out. Sometimes it's rough being a polymath.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: none]

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Reading McLuhan’s Understanding Media: Join Me! (#umrg)
Hans de Zwart, Technology, , , Innovation, Education, March 4, 2013

I like this kind of project. I don't know if I can participate (and if it doesn't come in the form of email reminders I most likely won't) but it's definitely worth sharing. "We will read Understanding Media in 10 weeks (from March 18th till May 27th, less than 50 pages a week). Every week will have the same rhythm:

  • We read a specific part of the book for that week
  • Two people will write a summary for that part and will ask a set of questions about the text (every Friday)
  • We have a virtual event (using Blackboard Collaborate) to discuss the questions (every Monday)"

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Books, Project Based Learning, Blackboard Inc.]

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BigData in HR: Why it's Here and What it Means
Josh Bersin, Bersin by Deloitte, March 4, 2013

What's interesting about the diagram above is that it presents analytics (properly so-called) as its own discipline, and represents human resources (HR) and (hence) education as the latest thing in the progression of analytics through the years. This is not an inaccurate way to look at it, and it should remind us (or at least those who have 'discovered' learning analytics) that there is a tradition here with a lot of background, best practices and history. Like, for example, the starting point. "If you start an analytics project by collecting all the data you can find, you may never come to an end. Rather you have to start with the problem: What big decisions would you like to be able to make? What problems would you like to solve?"

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Project Based Learning]

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Classes start tomorrow!
Kelli McGraw, March 4, 2013

I'm sending this along because, well, how can you say no to My Little Pony? (For those who didn't know, My Little Pony is a thing.)  This is Kelli McGraw's opening submission to her course focusing on the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers and the Productive Pedgagogies framework.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Australia]

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ere Comes ACTA: Canadian Government Introduces Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement Compliance Bill
Michael Geist, March 4, 2013

ACTA - the hated anti-counterfeiting trade legislation rejected outright in Europe and else where - is experiencing a North American revival. Critics complained (justly) that ACTA was negotiated in secret and "would profoundly restrict the fundamental rights and freedoms of European citizens, most notably the freedom of expression and communication privacy." But it is nonetheless the subject of implementation legistation both here in Canada and also in the United States. "For the U.S., which spent years pressuring ACTA participants to strike a deal, the strategy now appears to revive the agreement by at least garnering the necessary six ratifications for it to take effect," reports Michael Geist. (Icon photo by me,  of a storefront in Poznan, Poland).

[Link] [Comment][Tags: European Union, United States, Canada, Wikipedia, Privacy Issues]

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Ten Years Later: Why Open Educational Resources Have Not Noticeably Affected Higher Education, and Why We Should Care
Gerd Kortemeyer, EDUCAUSE Review, March 4, 2013

Wait... what? Actually, the headline overstates the case. Here is is, precisely: "OERs have failed to significantly affect the day-to-day teaching of the vast majority of higher education institutions. Traditional textbooks and readings still dominate most teaching venues even though essentially all students are online: Course management systems are used only for the dissemination of syllabi, class notes, general communications, and as a grade book." The article nicely lists some adoption hurdles: discoverability, quality, last mile, acquisition. And it suggests as a solution a "a 'supersized' CMS" and helpfully notes "amodel system does exist - The LON-CAPA system established in 1999." But what the article does not do, beyond that original statement, is make the case that OERs have not impacted higher education. David Kernohan writes, "this is an egregious example of a tendency that suggests that OER would be a far better idea if it was just under more control, better organised and more structured." Lorna Campbell writes, "I don’t think a “global enterprise-level system” is the answer to anything." But Kortemeyer rejoinds, "I think people are overlooking a word in the title: 'traditional'... i.e., campus-based for-credit universities like the one I work at, Michigan State University? Why are the students still forced to buy textbooks for $180 if all of the content is indeed freely available?" Why, indeed?

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Open Educational Resources, EDUCAUSE, Content Management Systems]

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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