New Learning, New Society

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The K12 Education Market
Rachel Norris, PILOTed, May 22, 2015

Short article making the impoirtant point that the K-12 education market is a complex array of interplaying forces, including several levels of government, corporations, lobbyists, school boards, and finally, teachers and children. If anything, I think the diagram under-represents the complexity of the market. The diagram is focused on the U.S. system but I think that the schooling system in other markets is no less complex. This diagram helps us understand why reform in education is so difficult - it means aligning a wide variety of agencies, many of which are working to serve particular outcomes and interests.

Speaking out on Elsevier’s Article “Sharing” Policy
Heather Joseph, SPARC, May 22, 2015

About three weeks ago, Elsevier released a new policy governing open access publication. The response from the academic community was immediate and unfavourable, including this statement, signed by a couple dozen groups, criticizing the policy. More. SPARC argued that "Despite the claim by Elsevier that the policy advances sharing, it actually does the opposite." The Elsevier policy extends the embargo period to as much as 48 months, and requires that authors apply a "non-commercial and no derivative works" license to self-archived work. Elsevier responded to the criticism today. Meanwhile Emerald is going after harvesting itself, requiring authors agree that "I/We will not permit others to electronically gather or harvest and save to a separate server my/our Work." The backstory here is that publishers are facing a threat from services like Academia and ResearchGate, which harvest and store works from wherever they can be found, and compile a list of publications for each author. The aggressively seek to upload versions of the works, provide access only to versions on their own website, and do not link back to original copies. The perfect walled garden.

'Hack or be hacked': Why kids need to know how technology works
Jesse Hirsh, CBC, May 22, 2015

Whose responsibility is it to prevent hacking and to promote security? I have two stories in my inbox today - this one and this one - that suggest it's the user's responsibility. In one, " Jesse Hirsh makes the case for a deeper understanding of technology as a civic duty. He says 'hack or be hacked.' The choice is yours." The rest of the story is an advertisement for Kano, a $150 computer that you build yourself. In the other story, we are told "End users are widely seen as a weak link in the enterprise security chain." The argument is that employees should receive security training. Maybe. But end users are the "weak link" because they're trying to get their job done, whether than means teaching 6-year-olds or writing reports. Network security is often a problem they need to overcome, rather than a shield that protects them. There needs to be some accord here.

Americans’ Attitudes About Privacy, Security and Surveillance
Mary Madden, Lee Rainie, Pew Research Internet Project, May 22, 2015

Privacy is really important to Americans, according to this Pew report based on two new surveys (which study only Americans), but they don't trust either governments or corporations to protect their privacy. "They have a pervasive sense that they are under surveillance when in public and very few feel they have a great deal of control over the data that is collected about them and how it is used."

The Human Capital Report 2015
Various authors, World Economic Forum, May 22, 2015

Just for the record, if there's any term I like less than the term 'human resources' (or as it's abbreviated around here, 'resources'), it's the term 'human capital'. The term implies the commodification not only of the talents and skills people possess and can apply in the workplace, but of the people themselves. But that's what we get from the World Economic Forum. So now I haven't read the full 319 page PDF (I spent the day writing a quarterly report - yay!) but it's not the sort of report you read cover-to-cover anyways, as it's mostly a set of league tables comparing countries. They employ three major concepts: learning and employment outcomes, demographics, and a standardized 'distance to the ideal state'. Learning is measured by enrollment, literacy rates (tests like PISA and TIMMS are only available for a few nations), educational attainment and workplace learning. In demographics they look at economic participation, skills, and vulnerability. So who are the 'top 10'? In order: Finland at the top, then Norway, Switzerland, Canada, Japan, Sweden, Denmark, New Zealand, the Netherlands, and Belgium.

I don't really want a 1:1 program
Doug Johnson, Blue Skunk Blog, May 22, 2015

Let's not just run onto the technology bandwagon, writes Tim Stahmer. "Why do we want every student to have a connected device in the first place? If our primary goal is improving test scores, we can probably find better, less expensive solutions." Well, yeah. But wielding an edited SAMR diagram, Doug Johnson redefines what it means to have a 1:1 program. Sure, we can think of it as one computer to one child, and we will probably have to do that in order to ensure equity, he writes. But more to the point, " LMS use will provide a launch pad that all students and teachers will use. Let's not call it a 1:1 program, unless the 1:1 stands for 1 unique learning experience to every 1 student." Yeah!

Predictive Modeling With Big Data: Is Bigger Really Better?
Junqué de Fortuny Enric, Martens David, Provost Foster, Big Data, May 22, 2015

The answer to the question posted by the authors is a qualified "yes". They write that nuanced behaviours may only become apparent when a massive number of cases is considered. Additionally, data sets that are able to have fine-grained feature sets are able to make better predictions. But it's no walk in the park, it still takes a lot of expertise to develop the algorithms, and it's expensive. (Note - I haven't cited this source before - it should be open access, but sometimes things look like they're open access when I'm working in my office, but are not open access when I'm clicking on the link from home,. so if you have problems, please tell me).

Telepresence Helps Universities Connect Virtual Students with Campus Life
Tanya Roscorla, Center for Digital Education, May 22, 2015

This is an application of technology I'm not so sure of. The idea is to give virtual students the feeling of actually being on campus. So the the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has set up live video feeds their faces on tablets mounted on top of telepresence robots they remotely move around the stage and auditorium. In another university where the same technology is being implemented, "The professors didn't have to change their curriculum or even touch the robot, and after the first three weeks of use, Mathews didn't need to supervise or be involved." It seems to me that if you're going to spend that much money - the units cost $2400 per - you should mount the on a quadracopter drone and give them real freedom of movement. See also this item.

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.
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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.
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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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