New Today

The new digital workplace: How enterprises are preparing for the future of work
Dion Hinchcliffe, ZD Net, Oct 31, 2014

The educational workplace, like all others, will continue to change dramatically as the information revolution marches on. Essentially, the next wave of change in the enterprise will bring it to something like par with what people today have at home: "mart mobile devices, jam-packed app stores, wearables of every description, a constellation of game-changing sharing economy services ala Uber and Airbnb." This will have sweeping changes on the ground, accoridng to the author: "New modes of collaboration; changes in how we structure our organizations because of digital networks; new ways of developing and managing workforces and talent;  the collaborative economy as a new core business model; upgrades to the digital workplace to reflect the complexity and ubiquity of tech."

Take away the descriptors
Pam Hook, Artichoke, Oct 31, 2014

This is a fun project. "Nine notable offenders have agreed to have a go at stripping the jargon from the following educational terms... take a popular educational expression (captured in 2 words and a hyphen) and simplify it by writing 1000 words about it."

Problem: Teachers Better at Using Tech than Digital Native Students
Dian Schaffhauser, T.H.E. Journal, Oct 31, 2014

One of the problems with a term like 'better than' is that it is context-free. Even when pinned down to some extent, as in the headline "Teachers Better at Using Tech than Digital Native Students", we still don't know what is meant by 'better', and the end result is nonsense. This is exaggerated when you select as your representative teachers "early adopters to integrate technology in labs and physical experiments, hands-on activities, field trips and data collection" and you judge them on "how to use these technologies to solve sophisticated thinking problems." To conclude from this that teachers are "better at using tech" is empty and fruitless. Teachers are more adept at some things - deep thinking, say. Students are better at other things - pattern recognition, perhaps, or twitch-games maybe. Any wider generalization (and, indeed, even the two or three I just posited) are either wrong or meaningless.

Training the Trainers for Linked Data
Seth van Hooland, Ruben Verborgh, International Conference on Dublin Core, Metadata Applications DC-2014, Oct 31, 2014

I'm very much a linked-data kind of person; it suits the way I think far more than documents or even things like index cards. That's probably no real surprise to people. This post takes that way of thinking and expands it into a tutorial for practitioners. It's a set of slides (117 page PDF) that defines linked data, explains the advantages, and provides practical guidance in its application through four major steps: clean your metadata, reconcile with authoritative sources, enrich your metadata, share on the (open) web. There's a wealth of resources in this for those who look, for example, references to a number of data-cleaning tools (slide 21) or named entity extraction (NEW) (slide 57). And there is a really good discussion of representational state transfer (REST) in the second half of the deck. See also The 1:1 Principle of Linked Data, by Richard J. Urban.  See more from the same conference.

Stop Being So Positive
Gabriele Oettingen, Harvard Business Review, Oct 31, 2014

Although it addresses an important point, the title is very misleading. The study cited in the article (Future thought and behaviour change) is actually pretty interesting, but it divides future thoughts (ie., thoughts about the future) into 'fantasies' and 'beliefs'. The former are forms of wishful thinking, not based in rehearsal or past performance. The latter are based on experience and practice. And as the author says, "empirical research reliably finds that high expectations of success and and optimistic beliefs indeed foster motivation and successful performance." There are good grounds for expecting specific forms of 'positive thinking' to work. For example, "teaching mental contrasting of feasible desired future outcomes would result in better academic performance than teaching students to only think positively about the respective future."

The Modern Workplace Learning Landscape: it’s more than telling people what to learn
Jane Hart, Learning in the Modern Social Workplace, Oct 31, 2014

Short overview article with a useful diagram touching on all aspects of workplace learning. The key message: "A L&D department that only focuses on Directed Learning is simply a Training Dept. The L&D Dept of the future will need to support learning in all its forms. But to do this it will need to shake off its command-and-control training mindset, and it will need to develop new roles, activities and new skills." I'm sure the diagram (or versions of it) will populate dozens of slide shows in the future.

Research information management systems - a new service category?
Lorcan Dempsey, Lorcan Dempsey's Weblog, Oct 31, 2014

The aim of research information management (RIM) is "is to synchronize data across parts of the university, reducing the burden to all involved of collecting and managing data about the research process. An outcome is to provide greater visibility onto institutional research activity." I'm not sure it's a new category per se but it's cl;early an important institutional function (and in a best-case scenario supports open access). Anyhow, the article has a lot of good links to resources, including RIM standards: "two are especially relevant here:CERIF (Common European Research Information Format) from EuroCRIS, which provides a format for exchange of data between RIM systems, and the Casrai dictionary. CASRAI is the Consortia Advancing Standards in Research Administration Information."

Teacher resistance against school reform: reflecting an inconvenient truth
Ewald Terhart, School Leadership & Management, Oct 31, 2014

This is a really interesting article. It considers at length the nature and causes of teacher hostility toward educational reform, especially that reform imposed from the outside. "Innovation and change impulses are at best used as long as they fit or can be adapted to the beliefs, attitudes and needs of teacher culture in general and the needs and problems of each single teacher in particular. This process of transforming or adapting change impulses from the outside sometimes even disfigures or distorts the impulse." This is why in my own practice I have attempted to describe and implement (what might be called) reform outside the traditional academic milieu, with the idea that it can and will be transferred by teachers and professors into their own practice once (and once once) it is seen to be useful.

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.
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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