OLDaily, by Stephen Downes

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February 7, 2014

Time to Retire The Simplicity of Nature vs. Nurture
Luci GutiƩrrez, Wall Street Journal, February 7, 2014

In a nutshell, if you read betweeen the lines, the verdict is in: nurture wins. Here's the redefined version of the problem: "culture is a biological phenomenon. It's a set of abilities and practices that allow members of one generation to learn and change and to pass the results of that learning on to the next generation." Except that - 'culture' is the wrong word. The right story is this: "Each generation could learn new skills for coping with new environments and could pass those skills on to the next generation." Our genetic heritage is very basic: we are creatures that lean (and not just us; any neuron-based brain has that capacity). And when we arfe in an environment - be it a culture or a rainforest - we learn from that environment. As the environment becomes more complex (as it does in a continuous culture) the so does our learning. We study culture to understand what we learned, and learning theory to understand how we learn (p.s. I now realize that Edge is associated with literary agent John Brockman, which now explains to me how they select their experts; I had always wondered about that).

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Build in Canada Innovation Program (BCIP)
Unattributed, Government of Canada, February 7, 2014

If you haven`t heard of this, "BCIP was created by the Government of Canada to help kickstart businesses and get their innovative products and services from the lab to the marketplace." In a nutshell, "the Build in Canada Innovation Program (BCIP) helps companies bridge the pre-commercialization gap by procuring and testing late stage innovative goods and services within the federal government before taking them to market."

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Suffering Massive MOOC Creep
Tom Woodward, Bionic Teaching, February 7, 2014

My thoughts exactly (and I quote):

  • If a student can’t tell if they’re the only student in the course or if there are 5,000 other students, you just have an online course. Please retract your media statements
  • If you take your 5,000 students and break them down so they are in “normal” sized cohorts that proceed independently, congratulations you have several online courses.
  • If having 5,000 students actually hurts your students, you have an online mess.
  • If you haven’t rethought things given what the Internet is — the tools, the communities, and the way information can flow . . . then you’re probably just putting stuff online.

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ALT Strategy, February 2014 to January 2017
Maren Deepwell, ALT Online Newsletter, February 7, 2014

Britain's Association for Learning Technology (ALT) has released a new strategy. The short PDF descibes the organization's objective as "to advance education through increasing, exploring and disseminating knowledge in the field of Learning Technology for the benefit of the general public." Interestingly, if you read the four sentences of the 'context' section you encounter the word 'change' three times. It reflects accurately the times we live in, but reflects also perhaps ALT's frustration in finding a mission as the world changes around it. The most important paragraph, though, is probably the last: "We have no core funding from central agencies. All our resources are derived from our own activities
and membership."

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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