New Learning, New Society

New Today

Personal Learning Graphs (PLeG)
George Siemens, elearnspace, Jul 03, 2015

After connectivism and MOOCs George Siemens followed the path leading to learning analytics, while I took the path leading to personal learning. In this article it looks like he sees the paths as converging. Certainly a lot of what he is saying here is what has been current in personal learning. Witness this: "Many of the personalized learning systems now available begin with an articulation of the knowledge space – i.e. what the learner needs to know. What the learner knows is somewhat peripheral and is only a focal point after the learner has started interacting with content. Additionally, the data that is built around learner profiles is owned by either the educational institution or the software company. This isn’t a good idea. Learners should own the representation of what they know." There's a longish slide presentation to support the short post.

Digital Storytelling for Transformative Global Citizenship Education
Hoa Truong-White, Lorna McLean, Canadian Journal of Education, Jul 03, 2015

From the abstract: "This article explores how digital storytelling offers the potential to support transformative global citizenship education (TGCE) through a case study of the Bridges to Understanding program that connected middle and high school students globally using digital storytelling." I'm not really a fan of storytelling, but I think that this is just my own personal preferences; other people love stories and swear by them. Having said that, my interest in storytelling is probably more around the way the teller is transformed in the telling of the story than in the way the listener is transformed in the listening to it. More articles form the just-released issue of the Canadian Journal of Education.

U of Phoenix: Losing hundreds of millions of dollars on adaptive-learning LMS bet
Phil Hill, e-Literate, Jul 03, 2015

Adaptive learning is one of those ideas that sounds great in theory but is virtually impossible to make effective in practice. People familiar with the early days of video games (and especially the first video-disc games) will understand why - the best games are open-ended environments in which you attempt to achieve goals in increasingly challenging circumstances, rather than closed processes that take you through branches and loops based on specific responses and outcomes. And so the University of Phoenix, which is learning this lesson the hard way. "And after spending years and untold millions on developing its own digital course platform that it said would revolutionize online learning, Mr. Cappelli said the university would drop its proprietary learning systems in favor of commercially available products."

Nine Ways to Help Students Embrace the Revision Process
John Spencer, Jul 03, 2015

I am really of two minds about this. On the one hand, I understand the need to refine and revise your work, especially if you're just developing your writing style and your voice. So I can see how these tips would be useful. On the other hand, I hate doing revisions. Almost everything you see that I've written - from blog posts to published articles - is first-draft work. If I must revisit the same ideas again, I'd rather write a new first-draft from scratch, because enough will have changed between yesterday and today so as to make it necessary. I view writing as - at best - a snapshot, not something that captures eternal truths to be treasured for all time. Perhaps it's my background in journalism and writing for tight deadlines. So instead of honing skills to help me revise, I hone skills that help me get it right the first time. All in perspective, I guess.

What Sports Teaches Kids About Bigger Roles in Life
Patti Neighmond, NPR | Mind/Shift, Jul 03, 2015

Some people think that it is odd that I am interested in and follow sports. Why, I even have a signed and framed photo of Jose Bautista on my wall. Why would I, a putative philosopher, thinker and researcher, be interested in sports? And the answer, quite simply, is that sports teaches me lessons, sports offers me role models, and sports inspires me. And even in my (ahem) advanced years, I need all three. "Parents think that the organized way you participate in sports — the leadership and fellowship — is actually preparing people not only for the next game but for much broader roles in life." I think this is true. It means that someone needs to be there to help kids cope not only with the thrill of victory but also the agony of defeat - how you can train hard, do everything right, perform at your best - and still lose.

Man, Machine and Work
Irving Wladawsky-Berger, Jul 03, 2015

This is my take as well: "What if, rather than asking the traditional question - What tasks currently performed by humans will soon be done more cheaply and rapidly by machines? - we ask a new one: What new feats might people achieve if they had better thinking machines to assist them?"

Jul 03, 2015

From Robin Good's list today - this website lets me find out what any website is built with. See it in action for my website. It covers everything from encoding formats to javascript libraries to frameworks, servers and platforms. "Know your prospects platform before you talk to them. Improve your conversions with validated market adoption." You can also use the site to research technology and e-commerce trends.

When a Company Is Put Up for Sale, in Many Cases, Your Personal Data Is, Too
Natasha Singer, Jeremy B. Merrill, New York Times, Jul 03, 2015

The story is in the headline. That's why it doesn't matter how much a company reassures you that "all your data is safe with us." As soon as the company is sold, all bets are off. The definition of "us" has just changed dramatically. That's why some of these startup companies become so valuable. Microsoft didn't simply buy Minecraft technology for $2.5 billion, for example - it bought access to data on millions of children using Minecraft, which is now being leveraged to support its educational offerings.

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)

Recent Popular Articles

The Purpose of Learning, February 2, 2011.
The Role of the Educator, December 6, 2010.
Deinstitutionalizing Education, November 5, 2010.
Agents Provocateurs, October 28, 2010.
What Is Democracy In Education, October 22, 2010.
A World To Change, October 19, 2010.
Connectivism and Transculturality, May 16, 2010.
An Operating System for the Mind, September 19, 2009.
The Cloud and Collaboration, June 15, 2009.
Critical Thinking in the Classroom, June 5, 2009.
The Future of Online Learning: Ten Years On, November 16, 2008.
Things You Really Need to learn:

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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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