I work in the Learning and Performance Support Systems program at the National Research Council, a multi-year effort to develop personal learning technology and learning analytics. I am one of the originators of the Massive Open Online Course, write about online and networked learning, have authored learning management and content syndication software, and am the author of the widely read e-learning newsletter OLDaily.


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Anatomy of a Moral Panic


Those of us in education have experience no end to the moral panics about this and that over the years. This article is an extended take on moral panics in the media over sales of charcol, suphur and saltpeter on the internet. These, of course, are the ingredients to make black powder, a favourite of hobbyists worldwide. It reminded me of my own efforts to make rockets when I was a kid. These were not successful; the most notable result was an inch-deep hole gouged in the neighbour's porch (which truly was impressive). But of course, the panic is not just about black powder, it's about cryptography and algorithms and technology in general. "The real story in this mess is not the threat that algorithms pose to Amazon shoppers, but the threat that algorithms pose to journalism.... Moral panics like this one are not just harmful to musket owners and model rocket builders. They distract and discredit journalists, making it harder to perform the essential function of serving as a check on the powerful." Right. Via Doug Belshaw.

Today: 114 Total: 114 Maciej Cegłowski, Idle Words, 2017/09/25 [Direct Link]

4 Ways We Can Fund Personalized Learning to Create More Equitable Schools

The four methods are listed about half way through the post, and seem reasonable to me:

  • close group-based opportunity gaps and support best practices in teaching traditionally disadvantaged populations
  • acess to learning opportunities such as Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB)...  through strategies such as universal design for learning
  • targeted and supplemental investments can include support around professional development
  • create equity-based professional-development opportunities for district and school leaders.

The idea here, as I see it, is to fund personalization in such a way as to target those most in need, and to have that funding follow that need through direct investment in learning support, as well as investment in those providing that support. This is quite a contrast from what we usually see in personalized learning, where efforts go to fund initiatives directed at thoe who already have significant advantages.

Today: 89 Total: 89 Ace Parsi, Bryant Best, Getting Smart, 2017/09/25 [Direct Link]

Bell Calls for CRTC-Backed Website Blocking System and Complete Criminalization of Copyright in NAFTA


To understand why Bell is calling for ISPs to block infringing sites without any sort of judicial review (and to criminalize commercial copyright infringement) we need to understand that the telecom company is also a content publisher, Bell Media, owning dozens of television stations, radio stations and websites. As Michael Geist argues, "the company’s position as a common carrier representing the concerns of ISPs and their subscribers is long over." This is why carriers and content providers should be separate companies. The carrier should not be responsible for enforcing censorship, especially when the carrier has its own content it is trying to sell. These proposals are about eliminating competition, in my view, and have nothinbg to do with protecting content creators or fostering innovation.

Today: 80 Total: 167 Michael Geist, 2017/09/25 [Direct Link]

The Media Has A Probability Problem


This is an excellent article, and while Nate Silver talks about presidential elections, the article really has nothing to do with them. And, interestingly, it begins with hurricane forecasting. The article is an extended discussion of probability that should be required reading for any educator or journalist. The presentations of alternatives as simple on-off or right-wrong decisions is a misrepresentation of a complex world. "properly measuring the uncertainty is at least as important a part of the forecast as plotting the single most likely course." And "most experts — including most journalists — make overconfident forecasts." Things to remember when reading my work, or anyone's.

Today: 142 Total: 252 Nate Silver, FiveThirtyEight, 2017/09/25 [Direct Link]

ABC – Taking African scholarly books to the world


After the collapse of its traditonal business in 2007, African Book Collective (ABC) bounced back as a virtual bookseller. "Rather than restricting access it placed the books in as many channels as it could find. In print the books were published in paperback so prices remained competitive... Discoverability drives sales and access can drive sales of printed books; one channel has not consumed another and the market for African published scholarship is healthy." This is having a beeficial effect generally. "Research output in Africa is on the increase.... By working together to bring down the barriers of access to scholarly books in Africa they can fill an important gap in the market and increase their own options."

Today: 88 Total: 181 Justin Cox, University World News, 2017/09/25 [Direct Link]

Clickbait and impact: how academia has been hacked


I am sometimes challenged to distinguish between networks and marketplaces, and in particular, to explain why advocacy of networks isn't the same as advocacy of libertarianism. My response points to cases of network failure, showing that scale should not dominate, but rather, should be limited, so that other principles prevail. I reference two cases here where this applies. The first is a Washington Post article showing how libertarianism is distinct from meritocracy. Libertarianism enables prejudices, such as preferences for race, pretty people, or relatives, to prevail. The second, from the London School of economics, shows how academic merit has been 'hacked': "When academia is... framed as a confrontation, it favours confrontational people. This has gendered and racialised effects." The marketplace is defined by mass; the laws of supply and demand are laws of mass. But mass fails. Merit and impact are not determined by mass effects. They are determined by relationships. Both items via Daily Nous.

Today: 44 Total: 258 Portia Roelofs, Max Gallien, LSE Impact Blog, 2017/09/22 [Direct Link]

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Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.