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Pattern recognition: neither deduction nor induction
John Wilkins, Evolving Thoughts, Nov 20, 2014

I've spoken many times about the idea that to know is to recognize and yet I've rarely (if ever) followed it up with a reference. Part of the reason is that I'm lazy, and part of the reason is that I've slowly developed this idea over time. Still. It's not like I'm alone here. So we have this article by John Wilkins making the distinction between pattern recognition and traditional epistemology (which views knowledge as a type of deductive or inductive inference). I don't see pattern recognition as a means of classification so much; rather, I see recognition as a process that stimulates memories directly, without the need for the mechanism (and language) of classification. A lot has been written on pattern recognition and I think we should take it seriously as a way of representing knowledge tasks as types of direct perception rather than as inferential or encoding processes.

Why podcasts are suddenly “back”
Marco Arment,, Nov 20, 2014

Today's big story is the podcast renaissance (making me feel like a genius for devoting a recent keynote to Ed Radio (though I'd feel like more of a genius if it was working properly, and not cutting off audio files before they've finished playing)). But of course, it's not really a renaissance; podcasting has been growing steadily over the years. Indeed, as I've tried to explain to people, this is a golden age of audio. I've never seen so many or such diverse new musical acts. As Tom Hjelm from New York Public Radio exoplains, “Our backbones, our radio stations, are still going strong, but we’re seeing this tremendous growth in the on-demand part of the business.” Me, I'm a habitual listener of Old Time Radio. But modern radio drama has made a comeback with something like five million people downloading Serial. Links via the American Press Institute.

Digital Learning Research Network (dLRN)
George Siemens, elearnspace, Nov 20, 2014

George Siemens writes about receiving Gates Foundation funding for the Digital Learning Research Network at the University of Texas in Arlington. The Gates Foundation is a bit like the Pulitizer Prize - the recipients claim world status, but only entries from the United States are eligible for awards. You have to think trhis will skew the results of any research. That's why Siemens wants to "internationalize the research network to include global partners to advance exploration of research topics and pursue research funding internationally" and writes that "an important aspect of this is involving international universities" but cautions "we don’t have funds to support these systems." Or more topical interest is his shift of interest toward what he calls "personal knowledge graphs (PKG) and profiles." He writes, "I’ve been whining about this for a while." Meanwhile, we in Canada have been developing this for a while, even without Gates money.

L&D's Role in the VUCA World: Part 1
Sahana Chattopadhyay, ID, Other Reflections, Nov 20, 2014

VUCA stands for 'volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity'. It describes the world we face: "The external conditions and environment are not going to stabilize enough for us to take a step back and come up with a solid plan and blue print of organizational learning. We'll have to become deft at designing as we go while keeping an eye on the big picture." So how do learning and design cope? "Focus on re-generating skills like learning agility, resilience, and creativity."

The Long Life of a Data Trail
Bill Fitzgerald, Funny Monkey, Nov 20, 2014

This article outlines five ways data is collected and used by schools (and their providers). Why does this matter? The New York Times makes it clear: "They have created lists of victims of sexual assault, and lists of people with sexually transmitted diseases. Lists of people who have Alzheimer’s, dementia and AIDS. Lists of the impotent and the depressed. There are lists of “impulse buyers.” Lists of suckers: gullible consumers who have shown that they are susceptible to “vulnerability-based marketing.” And lists of those deemed commercially undesirable because they live in or near trailer parks or nursing homes. Not to mention lists of people who have been accused of wrongdoing, even if they were not charged or convicted." See also What Kids are Reading from Learnanalytics and Carnegie Mellon's list of apps graded for privacy

OERRH OER Evidence Report 2013-2014
de los Arcos, B., Farrow, R., Perryman, L.-A., Pitt, R. & Weller, M., OER Research Hub, Nov 20, 2014

The OER Research Hub has published what it calls the 'OER Evidence Repoirt' for 2013-14 (36 page PDF). The report summarizes targeted research "combining surveys, interviews, focus groups and data analytics." While we see some expected results, like discussions on the use of open educational resources (OERs) ("OER repositories remain relatively unused and unknown compared with the main three educational resource sites of YouTube, Khan Academy and TED") other hypotheses tested seem like a bit of a stretch ("The two main hypotheses under investigation were (A) that OER improves student performance; and (B) that openly licenced material is used differently to other online material"). The best evidence is saved for last: "There is strong evidence for savings with Open Textbooks that are used to replace compulsory set texts."

For a more narrowly focused report on OERs viewed specifically from a U.S. context, see the Babson Report. (52 page PDF) See Michael Feldstein on this item: "the best way to view this report is not to look for earth-shaking findings or to be disappointed if there are no surprises, but rather to see data-backed answers on the teaching resource adoption process." That said, I still think the most significant decisions about adoption and use of OERs are not made by faculty, but by students. Of course you'll never discover this when you survey faculty only, as this report does.

The Future of AI: a Ubiquitous, Invisible, Smart Utility
Irving Wladawsky-Berger, Weblog, Nov 20, 2014

I've talked about learning this way. But there's no reason why it can't apply to artificial intelligence (AI) as well: "The AI he (Kevin Kelly) foresees is more like a kind of cheap, reliable, industrial-grade digital smartness running behind everything, and almost invisible except when it blinks off.  This common utility will serve you as much IQ as you want but no more than you need.  Like all utilities, AI will be supremely boring, even as it transforms the Internet, the global economy, and civilization.'"

The Teenager's Sense of Social Self
Sarah-Jayne Blakemore, Edge, Nov 20, 2014

Hardly the final word on the subject, but nonetheless interesting reading. Things like this put things in context:

There's nothing like teenage diaries for putting momentous, historical occasions into perspective. This is my entry for the 20th July, 1969.

'I went to arts center in yellow cords and blouse. Ian was there but he didn't speak to me. Got rhyme put in my handbag by someone who's apparently got a crush on me. It's Nicholas I think. Ugh.

Man landed on moon.'

Peers and social life have a disproportionate influence on adolescents. Why is that? If I had to judge by my own reflections on personal opinion, I would say it is because we learn by imitating. We watch, then we practice. And at that age we are actively seeking out things to imitate. But I'm sure that's not the whole story. (By the way, I was 10 at the time of the Moon landing and I was much more interested in it that this writer).


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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

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