by Stephen Downes
Jul 10, 2015
An executive’s guide to machine learning
Dorian Pyle, Cristina San Jose,
I think this is a pretty good article overall. It tells the executive officer what machine learning is without making the mistake of telling them what machine learning is. That is, it focuses more on value and use than it does on technology and mechanics. I think this is a bit of a cop-out, though: "Without strategy as a starting point, machine learning risks becoming a tool buried inside a company’s routine operations." That's like saying, "without learning objectives you can't rely on machine learning to recommend learning resources." In one sense, this is true, but in another, deeper, sense, you want the machine learning to tell you what the strategic (or learning) options are. You don't know what you don't know, but good AI should help you with that.
Open Letter on Sustainable Development Goals, Research and Higher Education
Here's a question. If you have stated explicitly in a United Nations document that you support "inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all" do you need to add "notably through open educational resources and open access to scientific and technical information"? And if you support "resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation," do you need to add "socially responsible technological and social innovation and research capacity with affordable access to the Internet for all"? Let me note: I support the content of both additions. But are they necessary? It could be argued that they restrict the application of the principles to only open access and internet for all. Maybe it should be? Or maybe not.
Doing Something About the ‘Impossible Problem’ of Abuse in Online Games
On the creepy side, players are finding themselves being admonished for bad behaviour by machines. On the positive side, it is at long last a mechanism that enables a platform to deal with abuse and harassment. "How do you introduce structure and governance into a society that didn’t have one before? The answer wasn’t as simple as abolishing anonymity.... While anonymity can be a catalyst for online toxicity, we focused on the more powerful factor of whether or not there are consequences (both negative and positive) for behaviors."
MIT and German research on the [appalling] use of video in xMOOCs
online learning and distance eductaion resources,
Here's the recommendation from Hansch, A. et al. (2015) Video and Online Learning: Critical Reflections and Findings From the Field, as cited by Tony Bates: "Think twice before using video.... it seems problematic that online learning pedagogy is concentrated so heavily in this medium." Bates responds, first, that the authors haven't done their research ("the failure in the main text to recognise properly Richard Mayer’s contribution to what we know about using video for teaching and learning is unforgivable"), second, that he nonetheless agrees with the conclusion, and third, "those designing xMOOCs have made the most egregious of errors in effective design through sheer ignorance of prior research in the area. Since those making these stupid mistakes in course design come from elite, research-based institutions, the sin of ignoring prior research is even more unforgivable," and fourth, "the real value of this paper comes from the authors’ typology of video production styles." But finally, and he puts it in bold: "we should stop taking xMOOCs seriously. They are badly designed by amateurs who don’t know what they are doing." Hear, hear.
News outlets vie for global audiences with translated stories
What happens in news media usually happens in education not too long after. In this case what we are seeing is the increasing impact of automated translation on media services. It's not quite there yet. But it's close enough that we can begin to plan for automated translation as a way to extend our reach. Certainly educators and content authors are looking to extend readership across languages in anticipation of easy interaction in the future. “Our goal in growing internationally is to build a global network of locally relevant sites, so we also work with our international teams to highlight great stories that are going viral around the world and bring them to a wider audience,” said Liz Wasden, vice president of communications for BuzzFeed.
How Not to Let Work Explode Your Life
The Book of Life,
This is part of the much larger "Book of Life", which is being written iteratively by a number of authors. I don't always agree with its themes and emphases but this item caught my eye, and seems to me to be fundamentally right. "Although so often it seems incredibly personal that one fails to combine work harmoniously with family life or with exercise or with maintaining old friendships, the charge should not really be laid primarily against oneself. The fault lies with something much larger than our own individual failings (real though those are)."
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