OLDaily, by Stephen Downes

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by Stephen Downes
June 22, 2014

Un-Fathom-able: The Hidden History of Ed-Tech
Audrey Watters, Hack Education, June 22, 2014


Not that we were first - I know we weren't - but we had been offering courses online for four years by the time "the first online class" (at, and according to, MIT) was offered. By 2001, actually, I had left Assiniboine, where we put the General Business Certificate courses online, and had been at the University of Alberta for two years, where we put a municipal government learning and resource portal online. So I can persoanlly attest that the 'history' told by the founders of these new education ventures are works of fiction. This talk by Audrey Watters, by contrast, is not. It's the sober alternative to the hype.

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We Can Code It
Tasneem Raja, Mother Jones, June 22, 2014


Intelligent and literate article on computer literacy and learning to program. The focus is on encouraging girls and minorities to join the crowd, but the real strength of this article is in the first half where the author describes the sort of literacy enabled by learning to program. It leads off with Boston's adoptahydrant.org, and then lists off some examples of digital literacy: sorting, abstraction, iteration, parallel processing. And it shows the strength of this way of looking at the world: when faced with a problem, the digitally literate can devise a method that solves it, rather than being overwhelmed. And this is what creates advantages for kids who learn to code. "Computational thinking opens doors." Via Doug Belshaw.

Another bit of computational thinking not mentioned in the article is following the links (and, believe me, this is definitely a programming skill, at least for debugging). I followed the adoptahydrant.org link to find several interesting sites: one is Boston Built, which promotes code created in that city (an idea to pass along to my colleagues here in Moncton); another is Code for America, which (again following links) is a whole set of open source civic government applications created by civic volunteers, things like Textizen, a text-based civic participation platform, and many many more. Digging into Doug Belshaw's page I found EduSpam, which I may contribute to, Mozilla Thimble, Remix, and this special link.

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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