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by Stephen Downes
Mar 04, 2015

Design Elements in a Personal Learning Environment
Stephen Downes, Mar 04, 2015, 4th International Conference e-Learning and Distance Education, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

In this talk I address the core design elements in the development of a personal learning architecture being developed in the National Research Council's Learning and Performance Support Systems program. This program was developed and approved to address the issue of skills shortages in technical and professional industries in Canada. Please also see the supporting paper submitted for this talk. Also there are alternative PDF slides for this presentation.

[Link] [Slides] [Audio]

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Disruptive Innovation in Universities
Stephen Downes, Mar 04, 2015, 4th International Conference e-Learning and Distance Education, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Panel discussion on the nature of disruptive innovations, MOOCs and disruptive innovation, and how and whether universities should adapt.

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The troubling psychology behind how we decide who’s a scientific “expert” — and who isn’t
Chris Mooney, Washington Post, 2015/03/04


The trouble with experts, according to this article, is that they're unreliable (and our choice of who counts as an expert is unreliable as well). So we should let the wisdom of crowds prevail. Real scientific knowledge is emergent knowledge. "We should trust the scientific community as a whole but not necessarily any individual scientist. Individual scientists will have many biases, to be sure. But the community of scientists contains many voices, many different agendas, many different skill sets. The more diverse, the better."

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Journal of Online Learning Research

The Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE)  has published the premiere issue of an open journal called the Journal of Online Learning Research (JOLR), "a peer-reviewed, international journal devoted to the theoretical, empirical, and pragmatic understanding of technologies and their impact on primary and secondary pedagogy and policy in primary and secondary (K-12) online and blended environments." The firsst issue has six articles and features "the work of some of the individuals who inspired the journal’s idea in 2010," including the "call to action" from Cathy Cavanaugh, Christopher Sessums, and Wendy Drexler. It also includes an article on MOOCs and another on mentors.


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How Facebook Is Taking On "Dangerous" Speech
ReadWrite, Alicia Eler, 2015/03/04


Interesting article about Facebook's response to 'dangerous speech'. The article is situated with respect to "the Buddhist monk Ashin Wirathu, who spent seven years in jail for inciting violence against Muslims and now advocates exiling them from Myanmar." The article lists five criteria for identifying "dangerous speech" (and therefore presumably for the banning of it or its utterers):

  • It takes place in a social or historical context ripe for violence, such as longstanding religious tensions or struggles to control valuable resources;
  • The audience has grievances or fears a speaker can exploit;
  • The speaker is highly influential or charismatic;
  • The speech is clearly understandable as a call to violence;
  • The speaker employs an influential medium—typically a radio or television station.

To me, the only criterion of any merit is the fourth: the speech is clearly understandable as a call to violence. The others are merely mechanisms for legitimizing dangerous speech emanating from more traditional agencies. I think teachers and educators should look at these criteria, and tackle the question of what counts as "dangerous speech", and what we should do about it, directly. P.S., why can't we have options like "'it’s a rumor or has false information,' 'it promotes violence,' and 'it disturbs social harmony'?" Aren't these things dangerous in North America as well?

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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