I lead 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.


  • Association of Medical Educators of Europe (AMEE) E-Learning Symposium, Glasgow, Scotland, September 6, 2015.

  • Ghent, Belgium, March 30, 2015.

  • Chang School Talks 2015, Ryerson University, February 23, 2015.

  • Hackademia, Online, to Brazil, March 16, 2015.

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Tinker With a Neural Network Right Here in Your Browser.


This is a lovely visualization that allows you to play with a neural network by playing with some network parameters and watching the output. Even better, the authors write "We’ve open sourced it on GitHub with the hope that it can make neural networks a little more accessible and easier to learn. You’re free to use it in any way that follows our Apache License. And if you have any suggestions for additions or changes, please let us know."

Today: 348 Total: 348 Daniel Smilkov, Shan Carter, TensorFlow, 2016/05/02 [Direct Link]

If everything is a network, nothing is a network


Good article that will push your think on networks a bit. The bulk of the discussion is devoted toward convincing people that they ought to look at more than just nodes and edges "to also include flows and (as per Galloway and Thacker) protocols." This makes sense to me, and there are other network properties that should be discussed more as well (connection weights, activation functions, and more). But the author also says "networks need narrative" because "we experience life as a narrative, not as a map and certainly not as networks. A network diagram rarely represents static relations. Narrating a flow through the nodes in the network is a useful way of examining it." To me, that's a lot like saying "we need abstractions". And in a sense it comes down to being able to visualize what's happening. "Visualising algorithms is still a small fringe in the visualisation world. It is mostly academic and so far has mainly served an internal maths and computer science discourse."

Today: 322 Total: 322 Mushon Zer-Aviv, Visualising Information for Advocacy, 2016/05/02 [Direct Link]

How to Load a Website in Firefox’s Sidebar


For various reasons I've been looking at how to create and open sidebars, modals, and other embedded content windows. Now maybe it's true that the whole world uses mobile phones these days, but I still see desktops and laptops (not to mention tablets) as more important in the realm of online learning. And these, I think, will need to support content mixing a lot better than they do. (It reminds me of the days back in the 1980s working on my Atari computer where the main thing for me was to be able to have a split editing window so I could move content back and forth.) I keep hearing about how impossible it is but I see stuff like this drag-and-drop sidebar and I know it's not.

Today: 138 Total: 644 Lori Kaufman, How-to-Geek, 2016/05/02 [Direct Link]

Your Media Business Will Not Be Saved


Good article making a point with which I am in full agreement: new technology won't save traditional media because traditional media isn't offering content people want. Note: language warning, especially at the point where they describe the quality of existing media content. Where newspapers and television could get away with very low-quality coverage (not to mention biased coverage and outright propaganda) in the days where they were the only source of content, now they have to provide much better content in order to compete. And they're not set up to do this. "Compelling voices and stories, real and raw talent, new ideas that actually serve or delight an audience, brands that have meaning and ballast; these are things that matter in the next age of media."

Today: 153 Total: 607 Joshua Topolsky, Medium, 2016/05/02 [Direct Link]

Get Rid of Grade Levels: A Personalized Learning Recipe for Public School Districts


This is an interesting effort that is well worth following over the course of the next year. A school district in South Dakota is eliminating grades in favour of personal learning. To support this, they have developed a model incorporating alternative learning methodologies for active, collaborative and learner-driven learning. Instead of classes they have things like 'the daily dish', a meeting where learners plan their day around the on things happening in each of the studios, and 'CT Circles', "critical thinking discussion groups to help learners deepen their understanding of specific learning." I hope that when they review the outcomes they don't just look at standardized tests (which of course still presume classes and grade levels) and take a more all-encompassing look at student progress. I also hope they give it more than just a year.

Today: 134 Total: 612 Travis Lape, EdSurge, 2016/04/29 [Direct Link]

Why World of Warcraft won't let fans play their own game


This item shows the dangers of platform dependence. World of Warcraft (WoW) is a popular computer game. People buy the software, but it requires a web server to act as a platform for in-game interactions with other people. As time went by, new versions of WoW came out. Normally you could just play the older version of a game if you want, but in this case the original WoW server was shut down, making all those computer games worthless. An independent version of the server called Nostralius was set up, but the owners of WoW ordered it shut down, claiming it was piracy. So now the user have no legal way of playing their own purchased versions of the game. Sure, it's just a game. But it still represents millions of dollars of value simply obliterated because the company wants to push a new version of the software.

Today: 112 Total: 576 Lucy Schouten, Christian Science Monitor, 2016/04/29 [Direct Link]

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