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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Podcast Club Development – Rob’s Social Ideas Exchange


This post offers me an opportunity to plug Ed Radio. I started Ed Radio in 2003, right at the beginning of the age of podcasts. Here's what it looked like back then. Today I harvest RSS feeds, extract the references to MP3 files, and redistribute the collection of links in the form of a daily podcast feed. If you are producing a podcast in the field of learning, new media, or education technology, drop me a line and I'll add it to my list.

This post is Rob Watson describing his upcoming podcast "based around the idea of what it means to be sociable in the Twenty-First Century." he's investing in audio quality, as he should: "I’ve invested in some recording equipment, with a Zoom H6 multichannel recorder with four mono microphones, and a line-in feed for music input. I’m also hoping that we can use a friends coffee shop as our base for recording the sessions, as its a great environment to relax and chill." I'm looking forward to it.

Today: 260 Total: 260 Rob Watson, Rob Watson Media, 2016/08/27 [Direct Link]

Charter Schools: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver


John Oliver examines the performance of charter schools in the United States and finds enough wrong with them to fill an 18 minute comedy video. As we can see from this report, while government may be less efficient, businesses are much less likely to behave responsibly or obey the law, which means the private sector cannot be trusted with high-stakes enterprises like education. Actually, as we see in this report, government is not less efficient either, with charter schools accounting for some of the worst outcomes in the school system. There are ways to promote choice, but privatizing the school system isn't among them.

Today: 260 Total: 260 John Oliver, YouTube, HBO, 2016/08/29 [Direct Link]

Why No One Remembers Those Who Struggle for Peace


I was at the football game last night, and as usual, there was the tribute to the troops. We should reconsider who we set up role models in society. If the only people we honour for service to the public are those who go to war, there will be a ceaseless demand for more war. I can think of many more who make sacrifices for the pubic good: doctors, postal workers, embassy officials, environmental activists, child welfare advocates, and many many more. Children learn by adopting role models, and we want to make sure they have as many anti-war advocates to choose from as they do warriors.

Today: 255 Total: 831 Adam Hochschild, Utne Reader, 2016/08/26 [Direct Link]

WhatsApp users to receive adverts


Readers of my social network accounts will know that I have shuttered my Facebook accounts and ceased using that service. The reason is that Facebook disabled the ad blocker I use in Firefox in order to force advertisements into the news stream. I have also made sure to uninstall WhatsApp (which is owned by Facebook) from my phone. You should too. It's not just that WhatsApp will start sending you advertisements (and remember, you are paying for the data transfer WhatsApp uses). WhatsApp is also going to share your phone number with Facebook, according to newly updated terms of service. Facebook asserts, "Nothing you share on WhatsApp, including your messages, photos, and account information, will be shared onto Facebook or any of the Facebook family of apps for others to see." But it should be noted that, according to the BBC report, "Facebook will still receive data in some situations." So there's that.

Today: 98 Total: 1146 BBC News, 2016/08/26 [Direct Link]

Adobe E-Learning Community


Adobe has launched a new e-learning community which they say is "a place where you can connect with peers, engage with a universe of experts, and pick top Adobe brains on just about anything. From blogs, tutorials, and product conversations, to event notifications, news and updates and much more." It seems mostly focused on Captivate, which is not surprising given their push to market their Captivate LMS, which was announced last year. Here's a review from last December. The site encourages you to "play all kinds of content seamlessly with our Fluidic Player that also allows note-taking to facilitate revision. Foster a learning culture using gamification and mobile learning." Here's a marketing piece from Adobe on the LMS.

Today: 113 Total: 1219 Adobe, 2016/08/25 [Direct Link]

Folk Psychology as a Theory


Given a substantive revision this past week, the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy's article on folk psychology is well worth reading. The idea behind folk psychology is that we can explain the behavior of humans in terms of their possessing mental states. For example, we say that a person 'knows' what the capital of Paris is, that he 'believes' Paris is in Europe, or that she 'wants' to go there. These mental states are representational states and can be thought of as holding 'mental content'. Most everyone believes some version of this theory (hence it's title as a 'folk' theory) and it permeates educational theory. That's why it's important to study this article. And it should also be noted here that my own 'belief' is that the theory is wrong, that there are no representations, mental contents, etc., and that cognitive processes are not linguistic, logical or computational processes. See eliminative materialism.

Today: 88 Total: 1218 Ian Ravenscroft, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2016/08/24 [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.
Sponsored this month by: Rory McGreal