I lead the Learning and Performance Support Systems program at the National Research Council, a multi-year effort to develop personal learning technology and learning analytics. I am one of the originators of the Massive Open Online Course, write about online and networked learning, have authored learning management and content syndication software, and am the author of the widely read e-learning newsletter OLDaily.


  • Association of Medical Educators of Europe (AMEE) E-Learning Symposium, Glasgow, Scotland, September 6, 2015.

  • Ghent, Belgium, March 30, 2015.

  • Chang School Talks 2015, Ryerson University, February 23, 2015.

  • Hackademia, Online, to Brazil, March 16, 2015.

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The Linguistics of Mass Persuasion: How Politicians Make “Fetch” Happen (Part I)


I'm not going to wait for Part 2, because this story is interesting enough already. 'Making fetch happen' (meaning to successfully start a cultural/linguistic trend) is the objective of entertainers, politicians, and yes, educators. But ultimately, it is media that makes it happen. "Mass media institutions, from the press to social media, follow them around, broadcasting, sharing, and reinterpreting their every word, on repeat, even if they actively disagree with their agenda and ideology." And this mechanism is manipulated; the article has several examples, while in Canada we have the way 'tar sands' became 'oil sands' almost overnight. And the message is deeply personal; "the subtle rhetoric in these terms seems to almost force a stance on identity and the values you hold." If you think education is free of the phenomenon, think again: think of terms like 'diploma mills', 'grade inflation', 'lifelong learning'.

Today: 144 Total: 144 Chi Luu, JSTOR Daily, 2016/02/11 [Direct Link]

Info for Romance Scam Victims


Alec Couros is hosting an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Reddit on the subject of catfishing. Couros, well known in social media and educational technology circles, has had his image used by dating and romance site scams (also known as 'catfishing') for the last decade. The social media companies do little to help. "With Facebook," writes Couros, "I've never been able to get in contact with a real person. All I can do is use their crappy reporting system that doesn't even acknowledge this kind of scam. I've gotten a few of my blog posts taken up by the media (Canadian media - CBC, Global, CTV, etc.) and Boing Boing wrote a post on my dilemma. However, I can't crack the FB wall. I spoke to a Google employee but I didn't have much luck their. Their reporting system is worse."

Today: 223 Total: 223 Alec Couros, Open Thinking, 2016/02/11 [Direct Link]

Thousands of students caught up in major college collapse


Following "a federal government crackdown on the scandal-plagued vocational education sector," thousands of Australian students have been left with large debts and unable to complete their studies. It's a fairly typical story: "The group's collapse comes despite Global Intellectual Holdings making a profit of $17.95 million in 2015. During the year it paid $14 million in dividends to its directors Roger Williams and Aloi Burgess. The accounts show the company held $19 million in debt." This underscores the danger of placing a public trust like education into private hands, especially if there's government funding involved. Those concerned about the future of the TAFE system in Australia will no doubt have taken note.

Today: 198 Total: 198 Henrietta Cook, Sarah Danckert, Sydney Morning Herald, 2016/02/11 [Direct Link]

The chips are down for Moore’s law


Quantum computing notwithstanding, Moore's law - the idea that computing power doubles every 18 months - has been in force most of my lifetime. But according to this article, there are signs it is coming to an end. Computer chip clock speeds haven't budged since 2004; instead, computers have more than one processor. But this is reaching a limit as well, the victim of heat death and mobile computing. This doesn't mean innovation will stop, but instead the direction of innovation will change - instead of thinking of things we can do with ever faster chips, we'll begin designing applications and custom-designing chips to fit them. Good article, lots of detail, and interesting insights into the thinking of the Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC) near the end.

Today: 234 Total: 234 M. Mitchell Waldrop, Nature, 2016/02/11 [Direct Link]

Manulife to offer Canadians discounts for healthy activities


How long before we're required to wear personal health tracking devices like Fitbit? If we're getting discounts for wearing them, does this mean others are being penalized for not wearing them? And at what point does trhis become intrusive: ""Manulife is moving away from being a traditional insurance company to one that actively partners with customers to help them achieve overall well-being, including physical and financial health?"

Today: 345 Total: 345 Pete Evans, CBC News, 2016/02/10 [Direct Link]

#springergate: SpringerImages for today


Your new word for the day is 'copyfraud'. Here's the definition from Wikipedia: "Copyfraud refers to false copyright claims by individuals or institutions with respect to content that is in the public domain. Such claims are wrongful because material that is not copyrighted is free for all to use, modify and reproduce." In the current case, copyfraud also applies to materials that are license CC-by. As Peter Murray-Rust writes in the GOAL mailing list, "Springer took all the images published in its journals and stamped COPYRIGHT SPRINGER over all of them and offered them for sale at 60 USD. This included all my publications in BioMedCentral, a CC-BY Open Access journal..." In another post he notes that Oxford University Press is "charging large prices for re-use of CC-BY articles (e.g. 400 USD for use in an academic course pack for 100 students."

Let's be clear, though. Far from being 'fraud', these actions on the part of Springer and OUP are not illegal. Even if you pay OUP publishing fees to license your paper as CC-by, OUP can turn around and charge $400 for it because this is allowed by the license. Currently publishers are saying these practices are "mistakes" (and Springer, for example, has removed the images). But how long before these 'mistakes' are 'policy'? And of course, "there is the additional ongoing problem when articles which authors have paid to have Open, are hidden behind a paywall." If only somebody could have predicted that CC-by licenses would be used this way!

Today: 232 Total: 232 Peter Murray-Rust, petermr's blog, 2016/02/10 [Direct Link]

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.
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