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by Stephen Downes
Dec 29, 2016

Feature Article
Detecting Fake News
Stephen Downes, Dec 29, 2016.

After the spate of fake news in circulation over the last year or so numerous guides have been published to help you spot fake news. Unfortunately, few of them are effective. The reason for this is that they tend to focus on whether or not the source is authoritative. But authorities lie. Whether they're an old school newspaper, or just an old school, these days they all have a vested interest. They want you to believe them. So how do you cope? That's what this article is about.

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A Genuine Science Of Learning
Keith Devlin, Edge, 2016/12/29


There are four really good points in this quick overview of the future of learning. Keith Devlin is optimistic overall, saying we may be at the beginning of a genuine science of learning, much as medicine was at the beginning of the 20th century. This is not based on so-called neuroscience based on MRI - "A good analogy would be trying to diagnose an engine fault in a car by moving a thermometer over the hood." No, what new technology offers the hope of improved educational research - "Classroom studies invariably end up as studies of the teacher as much as of the students, and often measure the effect of the students’ home environment rather than what goes on in the classroom." It will allow us to dig deeper into real learning - "What is missing is any insight into what is actually going on in the student’s mind—something that can be very different from what the evidence shows." We need to know why a student comes up with right or wrong answers - "part of what is going on is that many earlier studies measured knowledge rather than thinking ability. The learning gains found in the studies I am referring to are not knowledge acquired or algorithmic procedures mastered, rather high-level problem solving ability."

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The Little Ilustrated IT Security Guide
École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne EPFL, 2016/12/29


This short guide (16 page PDF) calmly discusses the key elements of IT security for the average user. It's directed at staff and students of EPFL specifically, so there are some references that might not make sense to the general reader (such as the advice to use the EPFL VPN to read email) but in the absence of anything else I would not hesitate to distribute it.

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Finding the squishy middle (before fact-checking everything drives you nuts)
Michael Caulfield, Hapgood, 2016/12/29


It's easy to say we should fact-check the internet (or at least that part of it pirporting to be news and information). Actually doing it is a lot harder. As Michael Caulfield says, fact-checking is boring unrewarding work. It's better shared with others. Enter annotation, as provided by (say) hypothes.is - now through the mechanism of annotation we can share our fact-checking efforts. For example, here's an annotated news article. Will this technology work where so many previous efforts at annotation have failed?

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Second Life's creator is building a 'WordPress for social VR'
Nick Summers, Engadget, 2016/12/29


Virtual worlds and virtual reality are natural partners. So there's no real surprise that Second Life is looking to develop to support Oculus Rift and similar technologies. But getting the mix right is difficult - you don't want people to simply inhabit your environment, you want them to invest in it, to build it themselves. Hence, the WordPress analogy - what makes a blog worth reading isn't the software it was written with, it's the content that is written. But the other thing about WordPress is that each person had his or her own blog. Via The Blog Herald.

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Copyright 2016 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.