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What is Innovation in Education?
Mar 30, 2015. , (Keynote). Share

Learning the Netflix way
David Hopkins, Technology Enhanced Learning Blog, Apr 02, 2015

I came back from my trip last night to find my Netflix payments had expired. This puts me into the mode of questioning whether I want to renew. I'm not so sure I do. I'm learning that access to programming on Netflix is ephemeral - I discovered this at the end of the first year when a number of old westerns disappeared, then more recently when I discovered I could no longer access Xena. Dozens of other shows are also gone. And I still can't watch Battlestar or the last few seasons of Weeds via the Canadian service. And that's not the sort of model I'm interested in promoting for learning. You never know when you'll need those old trigonometry lessons again, or how to build a Stirling engine.

3 Important Shifts in Education
George Couros, Connected Principals, Apr 02, 2015

I honestly don't think any of these three shifts is a real thing. I could be wrong of course. But they have the air and feel of representing things that (some) people would like to happen, rather than what's actually happening. Here are the shifts:

  • from 'digital citizenship' to 'digital empathy'
  • from 'student voice' to 'student leadership'
  • from 'growth mindset' to 'innovator mindset'

It's not that I actually oppose any of these. But I'd really want to reframe them, because they feel like a marketing campaign looking for a product. I just don't think they address core issues. Indeed, they seem to me like ways to avoiding core issues.

Techno Fantasies
Audrey Watters, Hack Education, Apr 02, 2015

Audrey Watters takes on Kevin Carey's book The End of College and does so with what is, I think, exactly the right tone, which is to say, distrust, scepticism and outright hostility. "The University of Everywhere is the response, led by venture capitalists and ed-tech entrepreneurs, to 'ancient institutions in their last days of decadence,' Carey argues. And we are to believe that an end will come soon for the oppressive regime created by colleges and universities, as he personally has numbered the days until they either 'adapt' or become extinct." Universities are lots of things, but they are not oppressive; they are indeed liberators, which is why admission to them is so valued, and why the forces of oppression target them for control and dismantling. Yes we need to fix education, but we need to be very careful to preserve what we value in education. Carey's vision does not do that, and indeed, undermines it.

Unattributed, Twitter, Apr 02, 2015

Twitter is accepting applications to use Curator. "Curator enables media publishers to discover, curate and display the best Twitter content on any screen." I put my name in but I probably don't qualify. Via Robin Good. Some related items from his list: EpicBeat, a relevant content finding service. A curation tool for apps: Stacks. Create your favourite topic: Hubub. Here Robin Good's Facebook Page.

Career ready: Towards a national strategy for the mobilization of Canadian potential
Ken Coates, Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE), Apr 02, 2015

The core of the message is in the headlines: cut university enrolment and expand colleges. It is a shot across the bow. "Canada needs to become more effective in matching skills, training and education with workforce requirements," writes Ken Coates for the Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE). "Canada needs to shift away from this open-access approach — based on the idea that everyone 'deserves' a degree, or at least the chance to try to earn one — to one that is based on achievement, motivation and compatibility with national needs." How should the education system respond? Canadian companies do not invest a lot in learning; they "look to public institutions and government programs to prepare the workforce," and then complain about the result. In my view, educators should demand corporations vote with their dollars. The less corporations pay toward sustaining the system of education, the less say they should have in the outcome. See also: CBC Coverage. Also, see the CCCE skills website.

Major publisher retracts 43 scientific papers amid wider fake peer-review scandal
Fred Barbash, Washington Post, Apr 02, 2015

This has been in the news for the last week or so. To me it suggests peer review is struggling to maintain its viability. Thee main scandal is a ring of people who manipulated the peer review system to support each others' works. I think personally that they are distinguished only by virtue of the fact that they were caught. Peer review is basically an insider's game. As if to underscore that, Nature Publishing Group has announced it will provide 'expedited' peer review for a fee. An editor has quit in response. "The flap shines a light on a fledgling industry where several companies are now making millions of dollars by privatizing peer review." Oh yeah, that will keep things honest! See also Retraction Watch, COPE Statement, Science. Via Academica.

Stop Saying “High Quality”
David Wiley, iterating toward openness, Apr 02, 2015

I've been at the Hewlett OER grantees conference in Sausalito the last few days and I find myself agreeing with David Wiley in this post: "The biggest surprises to me were the number of times the phrase “high quality” came up, and what a strong, negative reaction I had each time I heard the word." Same here! "'High quality' sounds like it’s dealing with a core issue, while actually dodging the core issue. The phrase is sneaky and deceptive.... when people say “high quality” they actually mean all these things (author credentials, review by faculty, copyediting, etc.) except effectiveness." Wiley won't say this, but in my view it's a way for publishers to weasel into a position of being the sole provider of open educational resources, because of course nobody else could produce "high quality" materials.

State of the Commons
Various authors, Creative Commons, Apr 02, 2015

Report from Creative Commons on, well, the state of Creative Commons. A.k.a. "the Commons". The short version: we are up to 882 million CC-licensed works (I have maybe 30K of those, counting OLDaily posts and photographs). According to the table, more works are licenses as CC-by than of non-commercial variants (which I don't believe). And they continue (erroneously) to lable licenses allowing commercial licensing as "more open" (tell that to some poor schmuck staring at a paywall). I'm frankly this close to dropping support for Creative Commons over this issue. 14 countries (they say) have made national commitments to open education (according to this, Scotland is a country). Update Cable Green writes to state that the data are here. If we don't count each of 111 million Wikipedia articles as a separate item, the statistics look very different.

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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

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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

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