This is a long (136 page PDF) and detailed report on blockchains in education. The authors work slowly and deliberately in their pursuit of accuracy and clarity, which results in a presentation that will be easily understood by most readers. There is a wealth of examples in the document describing use cases, scenarious and pilot projects, and companies involved in the space. The study is a result of a literature serach, desk reserach and interviews. The recommendations display a knowledge of both education policy and blockchain technology. I have no objections to any of the conclusions and recommendations, and would indeed underline some, for example, this: "Only ‘fully-open’ blockchain implementations can reach the real goals and promise of blockchain in education. By this, we mean solutions whose fundamental components include: a) recipient ownership; b) vendor independence and c) decentralised verification." It's still early days; there's a call to bring experts in the space together to create the necessary agreements, and this should probably happen sooner rather than later. The publication is a Science for Policy report by the Joint Research Centre (JRC), the European Commission’s science and knowledge service.
In the United States the chair of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has announced the end of 'net neutrality' policies. This will allow internet service providers to charge different rates to different content providers, to favour certain providers with faster speeds, and in a worst case scenario, could result in some content providers (eg., Netflix, Major League Baseball) to disappear entirely from certain provider networks. This article briefly describes the potential impact to education. Some more education-related coverage: Brookings ("a shameful scam that sells out consumers"), Education Dive ("larger companies will pay for faster delivery of their content"), Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) ("Internet socialism is dead; long live market forces"), Ian Bogost ("internet providers will abuse their power absent net-neutrality oversight"), TechCrunch ("no mention of the 22 million comments filed"). It's worth noting that Canada has taken a very different path and "emerged as a world leader in supporting net neutrality."
You have to read through to the last section to get to the "one thing computers can't do", and it's this: "“building and foster[ing] meaningful relationships with students.” Which, frankly, is silly. Not that we don 't need relationships; we do. But almost every person on earth is capable of providing them. My cats can provide them. And yes, computers will provide them. But even if they couldn't, this hardly seems to me to be the thing teachers should define as essential to the profession. It results in a picture where we're spending a lot of money to give a student a friend, money we could save by having student find their own friends.
This unattributed post on Moodle News largely clears Canvas of 'openwashing'. It points out that the software is released under a good open soure license, and moreover, that its APis are open. Some cracks around the foundation: a Canvas host could charge for API access, and Instructure (Canvas parent company) might not "protect the values and principles that have maintained the open source community alive and thriving" in the future. I haven't actually run an instance of Canvas (maybe I should one of these days) so I'm not sure whether there are any practical barriers. But this article makes it sound like I'd be fine.
This is a long post from Michael Feldstein on the opposition to e-Literate's recent data regarding new Moodle installations. A lot of it is irrelevant (though I did learn some things about the now-abandoned dotLRN project). There are two threads to the argument. The second is that the e-Literate analysis is based on good data. The first is that exceptions to that data (of the form, say, "but it's big in Spain") are irrelevant. Feldstein also suggests that readers misunderstood some of the finer points of the analysis. I have no reason to doubt the second (though the account of 'primary LMS' is a bit sketchy). But the first leaves me wanting; I think the international market is more important than Feldstein is willing to credit, especially today, especially to non-American companies, and especially with respect to open source software.
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Copyright 2017 Stephen Downes Contact: firstname.lastname@example.orgThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.