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What Happened To Women In Computer Science?
Steve Henn, NPR, Nov 01, 2014

It's worth looking at this phenomenon.  When I worked in computing in 1980 half the staff were women. "For decades, the number of women studying computer science was growing faster than the number of men. But in 1984, something changed. The percentage of women in computer science flattened, and then plunged." What happened? asks NPR. Well, many things. But mostly this: " The share of women in computer science started falling at roughly the same moment when personal computers started showing up in U.S. homes in significant numbers... marketed almost entirely to men and boys. This idea that computers are for boys became a narrative. It became the story we told ourselves about the computing revolution. It helped define who geeks were, and it created techie culture." Today, 20 years later, we reap the fruits of a dysfunctional misogynistic culture (p.s. don't bother with the comments unless you want to be depressed all over again).

The grassroots of learning
Ryan Tracey, E-Learning Provocateur, Nov 01, 2014

Good article looking at 'the earlier Cormier' and 'the later Cormier' on the subject of rhizomatic learning. Me, I'm not so sure that what Dave Cormier had in mind was the idea of following link to link to link - but he is in a better position to correct (or not) the author on this. At any rate, the post was engaging, which is good enough for me. P.S. don't miss the comments, beginning with Crispin Weston's criticism of the concept of content and of the dynamics behind group formation (good, informed comment, well worth the price of admission).

Competency-Based Education: No More Semesters?
Anya Kamenetz, NPR Ed, Nov 01, 2014

OK, back in 1998 I said that time would no longer be used as a measure of learning, "that time in online learning ceases to be an objective standard." I said things like "learning will be measured by the amount of information accumulated, not the amount of time spent in a chair" (I was less precise back then). Though I supported such things as prior learning assessments I've never been keen on competencies. I learned working directly with teachers (eg. at the Brandon Adult Learning centre) that you can't just break down course content into a bunch of modules; more global variables come into play as well, and are captured by such artifacts as the term paper. Now where does that go on the test? Now in our current work we're deloping algorithms to detect competencies in expert performance. One perfectly acceptable result to me here is the null result, that is, a result showing that expert performance cannot be reduced to a set of necessary and sufficient competencies.

3rd Meeting of OERu partners
Various authors, OERu, Nov 01, 2014

If I were one of those people who reads the tea leaves, I would say OERu and WikiEducator are heading for a split. Why? Here's the text of the email I received today from OERu: "The OERu is a flagship initiative of the OER Foundation and we are proud to host our planning and course development on WikiEducator as our preferred platform." Up to this point, in all previous correspondance, the two were basically synonymous. But now WikiEducator has been demoted to "preferred platform." Coincidence? Well, like I said, if I were to read tea leaves... but, ah, of course, I don't. So this is nothing more than a link to the event advertised in the email, the 3rd Meeting of OERu partners (register as a remote participant here).

The new digital workplace: How enterprises are preparing for the future of work
Dion Hinchcliffe, ZD Net, Nov 01, 2014

The educational workplace, like all others, will continue to change dramatically as the information revolution marches on. Essentially, the next wave of change in the enterprise will bring it to something like par with what people today have at home: "mart mobile devices, jam-packed app stores, wearables of every description, a constellation of game-changing sharing economy services ala Uber and Airbnb." This will have sweeping changes on the ground, accoridng to the author: "New modes of collaboration; changes in how we structure our organizations because of digital networks; new ways of developing and managing workforces and talent;  the collaborative economy as a new core business model; upgrades to the digital workplace to reflect the complexity and ubiquity of tech."

Take away the descriptors
Pam Hook, Artichoke, Nov 01, 2014

This is a fun project. "Nine notable offenders have agreed to have a go at stripping the jargon from the following educational terms... take a popular educational expression (captured in 2 words and a hyphen) and simplify it by writing 1000 words about it."

Problem: Teachers Better at Using Tech than Digital Native Students
Dian Schaffhauser, T.H.E. Journal, Nov 01, 2014

One of the problems with a term like 'better than' is that it is context-free. Even when pinned down to some extent, as in the headline "Teachers Better at Using Tech than Digital Native Students", we still don't know what is meant by 'better', and the end result is nonsense. This is exaggerated when you select as your representative teachers "early adopters to integrate technology in labs and physical experiments, hands-on activities, field trips and data collection" and you judge them on "how to use these technologies to solve sophisticated thinking problems." To conclude from this that teachers are "better at using tech" is empty and fruitless. Teachers are more adept at some things - deep thinking, say. Students are better at other things - pattern recognition, perhaps, or twitch-games maybe. Any wider generalization (and, indeed, even the two or three I just posited) are either wrong or meaningless.

Training the Trainers for Linked Data
Seth van Hooland, Ruben Verborgh, International Conference on Dublin Core, Metadata Applications DC-2014, Nov 01, 2014

I'm very much a linked-data kind of person; it suits the way I think far more than documents or even things like index cards. That's probably no real surprise to people. This post takes that way of thinking and expands it into a tutorial for practitioners. It's a set of slides (117 page PDF) that defines linked data, explains the advantages, and provides practical guidance in its application through four major steps: clean your metadata, reconcile with authoritative sources, enrich your metadata, share on the (open) web. There's a wealth of resources in this for those who look, for example, references to a number of data-cleaning tools (slide 21) or named entity extraction (NEW) (slide 57). And there is a really good discussion of representational state transfer (REST) in the second half of the deck. See also The 1:1 Principle of Linked Data, by Richard J. Urban.  See more from the same conference.

Links and Resources

(presentations include slides and audio recordings)
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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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The Cloud and Collaboration, June 15, 2009.
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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

My calendar

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