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Supporting Everyday Learning
Stephen Downes, Apr 19, 2021, Canadian Network for Innovation in Education (CNIE) 2021, Online, via Zoom


Stephen Downes, National Research Council Canada (workshop)

Description: When we think of supporting learning, even everyday learning, most of us think in terms of supporting traditional students in online or in-person class environments, where the work being supported consists of subject matter acquisition, projects and labwork, discussions, assignments, and exam preparation.

Yet for most of us, this mode of learning ceases the day we are handed our diplomas. And all of us, whether traditional students or not, engage in a much more casual everyday sort of learning, sometimes called informal learning, and sometimes called self-managed learning. Based on two decades’ experience supporting everyday learning for professionals and practitioners, this workshop focuses on the thinking behind providing learning on an everyday basis where there are no classes, projects or assignments.

Based on an actual and active online learning initiative that includes occasional courses, newsletters, videos and presentations, this workshop will outline the thinking behind the design of an everyday learning experience, describe the technology used to acquire learning materials, organize them, and provide them in such a way as to offer day-to-day value for learners.

Learning Objectives: The objective of this workshop is two-fold: first, to provide participants with the chance to look at the tools needed to support everyday learning, and second, to provide participants with a sufficient insight into the thinking and model behind everyday learning so they can help subject matter experts at their own institution put it into practice.

The tools to be explored include:

By the end of the workshop participants will have experienced at least one tool from each category


WordPress wants to automatically block FloC
Nadine von Piechowski, tekdeeps, OnlineMarketing, 2021/04/19


This article (a translation of the original from OnlineMarketing.de) describes how to block Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) on older versions of WordPress and outlines plans to disable it by default on all WordPress installations in the future. "About 41 percent of the freely accessible websites on the web are operated with WordPress. The blocking of FloC on all of these websites could send a clear signal to Google to continue working more intensively on an alternative for tracking via third-party cookies."

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

Automatically Detecting Cognitive Engagement beyond Behavioral Indicators: A Case of Online Professional Learning Community
Si Zhang, Qianqian Gao, Yun Wen, Mengsiying Li, Qiyun Wang, Educational Technology & Society, 2021/04/19


This paper uses text analysis to measure cognitive engagement, a key indicator of cognitive presence. It's well worth a careful read. It identifies two dimensions of cognitive engagement: new information added, and relevance (ie., staying on topic). These are measured using neural networks against Prince's (1981) "taxonomy that can be used to hand-code discourse text for identifying given and new information." The utility here is that if the level of new information drops, the platform should "encourage learners to think from different perspectives," while if it drifts off topic, it should "remind learners of what is being discussed." There's a lot of new thinking here that could be developed further and I can easily imagine this sort of analysis being added to an automated content moderation tool.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

Google’s FLoC Is a Terrible Idea
Bennett Cyphers, Electronic Frontier Foundation, 2021/04/19


Rather than track you individually, Google's Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) puts you in a larger group of people who share your interests. This post from EFF argues that it's a bad idea. With FLoC, your browser does "the profiling that third-party trackers used to do themselves... boiling down your recent browsing activity into a behavioral label, and then sharing it with websites and advertisers." The problem, says EFF, is that you can't really turn it off. "Users begin every interaction with a confession: here’s what I’ve been up to this week, please treat me accordingly." This enables 'fingerprinting' each individual user and removes your  "right to present different aspects of your identity in different contexts."

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

Google Developer Profiles


While I was following up the news about Feedly I was given a prompt to crate a 'Google Developer Profile', which I did. It felt a lot like signing up for Google+ to me, though my social network was more developer focused (yes GitHub account, no Facebook account). It's still in beta and there isn't a lot so far, but what I did notice is the focus on 'Learn', which makes sense. It offers different pathways (you might need to sign in to see the link) with options to build for cloud, maps, apps, neural networks and chatbots. Again, the big risk of working with Google technology is the company's tendency to discontinue things - lots of things - without any real explanation.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

Upcoming changes to FeedBurner
Google Search Central Blog, 2021/04/19


This doesn't impact me at all because I learned long ago not to depend on Google for essential infrastructure. But it will impact FeedBurner users, and may be of interest to people who try to read the Google tea leaves to predict what's ahead. It's this: FeedBurner is discontinuing email subscriptions. Here's the official 'explanation': "we are transitioning FeedBurner onto a more stable, modern infrastructure... we will be turning down most non-core feed management features, including email subscriptions." That's it. Now, given that email is the most stable infrastructure of all time, we can discount the 'explanation'. On the website it says "Feedburner is going into maintenance mode." What does it really mean? Here I can only speculate...

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

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Copyright 2021 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.