by Stephen Downes
Jul 11, 2016
Useful paper from Daniel Dennett summarizing some of his major arguments about consciousness. What he says about the origin of consciousness seems right to me: "the rich and complex interplay between neurons, hundreds of neuromodulators, and hormones." Crucially, there isn't some sort of internal 'viewing screen', there isn't some 'viewer', and these basic elements of perception ('qualia') are not used as 'raw materials' by some other sort of cognition, but are cognition itself. Everything we thing cognition does is actually happening in the interplay between neurons, hundreds of neuromodulators, and hormones. Because as Dennett says, where else would it be happening? The later stages of the paper are more challenging and less well supported by evidence, in my view, but constitute essentially the view that this interplay is moderated not only by our experiences of the world, but also of others' experiences of us. Consciousness is, in other words, a community phenomenon, and not merely an individual phenomenon. It becomes something like a lingua franca that enables us to interact effectively.
The newly released Pokemon Go is an instant hit, though the technology has been growing for a while. What's interesting about it is that it creates virtual entities that inhabit the real world. More, you can interact with them by capturing them, training them, and pitting them in combat against each other. It's funny that Google ran this as an April Fools prank a couple of years ago. The Wikipedia article is a good overview. There will no doubt now be a slew of articles from the usual suspects about the impact of Pokemon Go in the classroom, the dangers of interacting with strangers, and the problem of people being too involved in playing the Pokemon game.
Effects of Group Awareness and Self-Regulation Level on Online Learning Behaviors
Jian-Wei Lin, Yu-Chin Szu, Ching-Neng La, The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 2016/07/11
Group awareness and self-regulation separately influence student learning, write the authors, but how well do they work together? Specifically, how do they influence assessment, participation and peer interaction? That's the focus of this study. In a nutshell, the two working together increase task completion and requests for help, but not whether people respond, which seems to be governed solely by group awareness, and not influenced by self-regulation. But of course all sorts of other things might have played a role, as they admit in their conclusion; for example, the quality of the requests for help may have mattered. As usual, I caution that the numbers involved are so small that no generalizations can be drawn from this data; the paper is relevant only for the questions it asks and the experimental design. More from the current issue of IRRODL.
The publicity - for and against - MOOCs did not hurt Coursera a bit. Rather, it gave it the exposure it needed, and served to help them refine their business model. So says Daphne Koller: “It’s impossible to learn quickly enough and iterate enough to make massive improvements, [but online courses change that] because of the number of students that engage and because a new cohort starts every two weeks, so you tweak something and a couple of weeks later you already know if it’s working." P.S. I notice the Time Higher Education has a new policy that limits the number of articles you can view, and an aannoying lock icon that follows you as you read. A response to recent events in Britain? As always, subscription fees smack of desperation.
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