OLDaily, by Stephen Downes

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November 27, 2013

MOOC – Diversity and Community in Online Learning
Stephen Downes, November 27, 2013, 26e Entretiens Jacques Cartier, Lyon, France

In this presentation I outline the major elelements of a connectivist MOOC, with particular intention to distinguish it from other models of MOOCs, and to make the point that assesssments of quality and effectiveness should be related to the goal of the MOOC model we developed. In addition, in this presentation I address the subjects of diversity and community, and explain why a MOOC should not be thought of as the same thing as a community. Additionally, there was a panel discussion, mostly in French, but with contributuons in English from myself - click here for the audio of the panel. See also this web page - I know there's video out there somewhere...

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Merlin Donald - The Definition of Human Nature
William Harryman, Integral Options Cafe, November 27, 2013

Sean FitzGerald sends me this link, which is well worth a read. An excerpt: "...human beings, as a species, have evolved a completely novel way of carrying out cognitive activity: distributed cognitive-cultural networks. The human mind has evolved a symbiosis that links brain development to cognitive networks whose properties can change radically. Critical mental capabilities, such as language and symbol-based thinking (as in mathematics) are made possible only by evolving distributed systems. Culture itself has net-work properties not found in individual brains. The individual mind is thus a hybrid product, partly organismic in origin, and partly ecological, shaped by a distributed network whose properties are changing."

What I like about the article is the suggestion that humans evolved to support, not language, but a more basic cognitive function, which the author describes as Mimesis. "Mimetic skill logically precedes language, and remains independent of truly linguistic modes of representation. It is the basic human thought-skill... an intermediate layer of knowledge and culture, and the first evolutionary link between the pre-symbolic knowledge systems of animals and the symbolic systems of modern humans." If this is true (and I see no reason why it wouldn't be, at first glance) then language is an accidental byproduct of traits evolved to serve other purposes, which makes a lot of sense to me.

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Notes from Centre Jacques Cartier seminar on MOOCs, Lyon, France
Stephen Downes, Half an Hour, November 27, 2013

These are summary notes from two days of disussions on MOOCs at a conference, part of les Entretiens Jacques Cartier hosted in Lyon, France. Day 1. Day 2. Highlights included talks by John Danial and Tony Bates, thiough for me the content from less well-known people during Day 2 was probably more compelling (nothing against the first two, it's just I had seen similar talks from them before). My notes are point form aummaries of talks given mostly in French (only Tony Bates spoke in English) so they may be misrepresentationsin places of what was actually said.

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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