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What Harvard Business School Has Learned About Online Collaboration From HBX
Bharat Anand, Jan Hammond, V.G. Narayanan, Harvard Business Review, Apr 18, 2015

I think I have to file this under the category of "catching up" as the 'lessons' learned by Harvard Business School have long been known and studied in the wider online learning and distance education communities. Indeed, some of the recommendations they make - like having people begin by introducing each other in an online discussion, or that "norms of online collaboration can be shaped" - had become clichés long before HBS 'discovered' them. More recent work has been focused on how to adapt these long-known techniques to massive and open online courses (because, as we all know, a thread consisting of 160,000 introductions is unmanageable). And some of the 'discoveries' appear to be genuine but have been disproven by deeper investigation. Extrinsic motivation, such as paying people, or tying collaboration to grades, may appear to work in the short term, but fails in the longer term.

Education shouldn't be a zero-sum game
Andrew Parkin, Academica, Apr 18, 2015

Is Canada really over-emphasizing university graduation? It has one of the highest rates of university and post-secondary education completion rates in the world: "In Canada, 50% of the adult population has completed tertiary education, easily the highest rate in the OECD." But a recent report for the Canadian Council on Chief Executives recommended cutting back on university degrees. "Canada could dramatically improve the quality of university education by cutting enrolment as much as 25 to 30 per cent," wrote Ken Coates. But it's not clear exactly what problem this solves. As Andrew Parkin writes in Academica, "Canada does not look at all like a country that has over-emphasized university education to the detriment of colleges," he writes. "The problem is not an over-emphasis on universities but an under-emphasis on any and all forms of postsecondary education and training." And it's not clear that a more open admissions policy in either system acts to the detriment of either quality or outcome. Quite the opposite: a wider admissions policy lessens our reliance on testing and enables those without the advantages of socio-economic status find an environment where they can thrive and flourish - people like me. Image: Herald Sun.

Being There: Heidegger on Why Our Presence Matters
Lawrence Berger, New York Times, Apr 18, 2015

On reading the headline I immediately thought of Terry Anderson. He writes of the importance of 'presence' in learning "that views the creation of an effective online educational community as involving three critical components: cognitive presence, social presence, and teaching presence." As this article in the NY Times notes, the idea of presence is linked to the idea of our consciousness of external objects. Heidegger would ask, "given that I experience a stone in a more profound manner, what does that have to do with the being of the stone itself?" And Lawrence Berger offers the explanation, "Not only are we in direct contact with the people and things of this world, but also that our presence matters for how they are made manifest — how they come into presence — in the full potential that is associated with the sort of beings that they are." Now I don't believe this exactly - I don't think there's some sort of mystical projection of ourselves into the external world. But presence and consciousness are closely linked.

Website, Kifi, Apr 18, 2015

I have two major things to say about this site. First, analytics and recommendations are becoming commoditized. This is one of a number of services revolving around the concept of learning about you and recommending resources. The second this is that this is a beautiful piece of web design, gracefully introducing new users into a relatively comprehensive understanding of what it does with impressive efficiency. Find and share. Find and share. It's the new web. It's the modern version of applications like ScribeFire, which I was playing with last night after spotting it in a Doug Peterson post. Related: Jared Jacobs describes how he achieved the spotlight effect in the Kifi tutorial.

Open Web Presentation for BC Campus
Alan Levine, CogDogBlog, Apr 18, 2015

Alan Levine introduces and enmbeds a video entitled The Open Web (a) Lost (b) Reclaimed (c) Co-claimed (d) All of the above? He writes that it "was meant to get at what we see as un-necessary dichotomies in ed tech (and also to poke at multiple choice). This was the landscape setting to talk about the work we did at TRU during my stint, both the SPLOT tools and the You Show open seminar." You might also want to look at the The CogDog Show » Syndicate This - "a portfolio site built for my time as an Open Learning Scholar at Thompson Rivers University," he writes.

VR and consciousness – some truly freakish ideas
Donald Clark, Donald Clark Plan B, Apr 18, 2015

I experience the arbitrariness of consciousness every day. I put on my glasses, and my whole world changes. More recently, I have enjoyed the altered consciousness of being completely immersed in sound by means of my MP3 player and some quality earbuds. We are conscious - we experience. The two are one and the same phenomenon (think 'morning star' and 'evening star'). The varieties of experience are the varieties of consciousness. And experience is, fundamentally, in the mind, and consciousness is in part a re-experiencing, in part an imagining, in part a sensory perception, and in part, as Charles Dickens famously said, "an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of underdone potato." At a certain point, when virtual reality becomes sufficiently real, it becomes cognitively indistinguishable from actual experience, and hence, equally powerful.

The OER15 conference
Grainne Conole,, Apr 18, 2015

Grainne Conole summarizes two of four keynotes at the OER15 conference taking place in Cardiff, one by Cable Green and the other by Josie Fraser. According to Green (Conole writes) "it was time for an OER implementation strategy, and in particular a focus on what is needed to achieve change and mainstream OER? He invited us to look at and comment on a consultation document on OER " I find this interesting, because I did not get the sense that there was a support for "an OER implementation strategy" at the meeting in Sausalito last month - people felt there should be a diversity of approaches, not one coordinated approach. Fraser, meanwhile (says Conole) "questioned how we could do this (mainstreaming), referring Martin Wellers book The battle for open. She suggested that we think of mainstreaming as inclusive, valuing difference; and that the Internet is now part of everyday life."

Call for OER Stories
OER World Map, Rob Farrow, Apr 18, 2015

Do you have a story about creating or using a free and open learning resource? A project creating a global 'map' of open educational resources (OERs) has issued a call for OER stories. "These could be OER projects or initiatives, Open Educational Practices like someone generating OER or teaching with OER, the development of guidelines & institutional policies on OER, new insights and research on OER, as well as the development or use of helpful infrastructure tools for OER." This addresses one of my major concerns about an OEE mapping exercise, which is that such an initiative will tend to favour established and institutional OER repositories, and to ignore the much large bulk of creativity and sharing that happens outside the institutional space. So I encourage you to send your story, and give them a wider perspective on the creation and use of free and open learning resources.

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Key Articles

Scholarly Articles

Cites:294 Educational Blogging (Local copy)
264 Learning objects: Resources for distance education worldwide (Local copy)
134 E-learning 2.0 (Local copy)
126 Models for sustainable open educational resources (Local copy)
88 The future of online learning (Local copy
75 Learning networks and connective knowledge (Local copy)
70 Design and reusability of learning objects in an academic context: A new economy of education (Local copy)
59 Resource profiles (Local copy)
40 Learning networks in practice (Local copy)
33 Semantic networks and social networks (Local copy)
35 An introduction to connective knowledge (Local copy)
27 Design, standards and reusability (Local copy)
23 EduSource: Canada's learning object repository network (Local copy)
22 An introduction to RSS for educational designers (Local copy)

(Cites from Google Scholar for an H-Index = 14)

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About Stephen Downes

Stephen Downes is a senior researcher for Canada's National Research Council and a leading proponent of the use of online media and services in education. As the author of the widely-read OLDaily online newsletter, Downes has earned international recognition for his leading-edge work in the field of online learning. He developed some of Canada's first online courses at Assiniboine Community College in Brandon, Manitoba. He also built a learning management system from scratch and authored the now-classic "The Future of Online Learning".

At the University of Alberta he built a learning and research portal for the municipal sector in that province, Munimall, and another for the Engineering and Geology sector, PEGGAsus. He also pioneered the development of learning objects and was one of the first adopters and developers of RSS content syndication in education. Downes introduced the concept of e-learning 2.0 and with George Siemens developed and defined the concept of Connectivism, using the social network approach to deliver open online courses to three thousand participants over two years.

Downes has been offering courses in learning, logic, philosophy both online and off since 1987, has 135 articles published in books, magazines and academic journals, and has presented his unique perspective on learning and technology more than 250 times to audiences in 17 countries on five continents. He is a habitual photographer, plays darts for money, and can be found at home with his wife Andrea and four cats in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada.


Stephen Downes travaille pour le Conseil national de recherches du Canada, où il a servi en tant que chercheur principal, basé à Moncton, au Nouveau-Brunswick, depuis 2001. Affilié au Groupe des technologies de l'apprentissage et de la collaboration, Institut de technologie de l’information, Downes est spécialisé dans les domaines de l'apprentissage en ligne, les nouveaux médias, la pédagogie et la philosophie.

Downes est peut-être mieux connu pour son bulletin quotidien, OLDaily, qui est distribué par Internet, courriel et RSS à des milliers d'abonnés à travers le monde. Il a publié de nombreux articles à la fois en ligne et sur papier incluant The Future of Online Learning (1998), Learning Objects (2000), Resource Profiles (2003), et E-Learning 2.0 (2005). Il est un conférencier populaire, apparaissant à des centaines de manifestations à travers le monde au cours des quinze dernières années.

Vision Statement

I want and visualize and aspire toward a system of society and learning where each person is able to rise to his or her fullest potential without social or financial encumberance, where they may express themselves fully and without reservation through art, writing, athletics, invention, or even through their avocations or lifestyle.

Where they are able to form networks of meaningful and rewarding relationships with their peers, with people who share the same interests or hobbies, the same political or religious affiliations - or different interests or affiliations, as the case may be.

This to me is a society where knowledge and learning are public goods, freely created and shared, not hoarded or withheld in order to extract wealth or influence. This is what I aspire toward, this is what I work toward.

Canadians who gave their lives in service in Afghanistan

Hundreds of my IAAF Track & Field Photos from Moncton 2010

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