Stephen Downes works with the Digital Technologies Research Centre at the National Research Council of Canada specializing in new instructional media and personal learning technology. He is one of the originators of the first Massive Open Online Course, has published frequently about online and networked learning, has authored learning management and content syndication software, and is the author of the widely read e-learning newsletter OLDaily. Through a thirty year career Downes has contributed pioneering work in the fields of online learning games, learning objects and metadata, podcasting, open educational resources. Today he is developing gRSShopper, a personal learning environment, offering a course on new e-learning technologies, and supporting research and development in the use of distributed ledger technology in learning applications. He is a popular keynote speaker and has spoken in three dozen countries on six continents.


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2019 National High School Big Data Challenge: Big Data de Terre


I spent the day today as a judge in the Big Data Challenge for high school students at SAS in Toronto. This publication contains the abstracts of the finalists. "This year’s challenge provided a multidisciplinary competitive opportunity; over a period of three months, teams analysed sustainability data through the prism of computational methods. Teams worked to reveal the impact of environmental conditions on human health and well-being, diving into predictive analytics of optimal envi-ronmental characteristics for long-term, long-distance space travel.

Today: 95 Total: 95 STEM Fellowship Journal, 2019/02/21 [Direct Link]

The Unstoppable Rise of Sci-Hub: How does a new generation of researchers perceive Sci-Hub?


The author is not a Sci-Hub fan (calling its appeal "ideological" and its business model " a pure and unashamed ‘pirate’", but he does accurately capture the value of Sci-Hub vis-a-vis other reserach article sharing sites such as ResearchGate. "Sci-Hub’s attraction, unlike RG’s, is not its social media features (it has none), but that it offers free and relatively easy access to millions of papers harvested (illegally) from publishers’ websites. It is an open one-stop full-text warehouse."

Today: 93 Total: 93 David Nicholas, LSE Impact Blog, 2019/02/21 [Direct Link]

Vast amounts of data about our children are being harvested via apps used by schools. This is what is being collected and stored


This article references a recent report published by the UK Children’s Commission on data collection in schools, but the bulk of the article is dedicated to the data-collection activities of ClassDojo. The authors write, " New research examining ClassDojo is raising concerns about how student data about behaviour may be collected, accumulated and then used." The range of data collected is a bit astonishing, and includes such things as "working hard, on-task, and displaying grit." And it "may also obtain information, including personal information, from third-party sources to update or supplement the information you provided or we collected automatically." Via Aaron Davis.

Today: 92 Total: 92 Jamie Manolev, Anna Sullivan, Roger Slee, EduResearch Matters, 2019/02/21 [Direct Link]

Once hailed as unhackable, blockchains are now getting hacked


One of my colleagues, Andriy Drozdyuk, has been saying all along that there is only one real blockchain, Bitcoin, because the innovation is as much social as it is technical. It is the investment and number of distinct users that makes it secure, not the technology. The recent Ethereum Classic hack may be proving him right. In this hack, bad actors took over more than half of the nodes and then began to write 'double spend' transactions, effectively defrauding the system. Ths is th sort of attack blockchain technology - though not necessarily Bitcoin - is vulnerable to. A lesson worth noting.

Today: 180 Total: 180 Mike Orcutt, MIT Technology Review, 2019/02/21 [Direct Link]

Lessons from 6 software rewrite stories


This was a nice slow read suitable for a train ride (which is where I read it, on the way to Toronto) and it's useful not just a set of lessons about whether to rewrite software from scratch (something I'm thinking of for gRSShopper, because Perl is old and stale) but also a set of origin stories for a number of influential software products (including Firefox, Basecamp, Visal Studio Code, and Trello). It also poses the sort of problem edtech companies are faced with today as they work with legacy softwar, an entrenched user base, and a rapidly evolving internet.

Today: 63 Total: 222 Herb Caudill, Medium, 2019/02/20 [Direct Link]

Alternative digital credentials will transform higher ed within five years says UC Irvine dean


This prediction may be confounded by the non-cooperation of educational institutions. While they will face a lot of pressure to standardize certification, surely they can see what happens if they do. "They 'unbundle' learning acquisition and verification. To earn an ADC, an individual only has to demonstrate mastery of a skill and does not need to satisfy course requirements." But these institutions might not have a choice if alternative digital credentials (ADC) are independently developed and adopted.

Today: 70 Total: 251 Betsy Foresman, EdScoop, 2019/02/20 [Direct Link]

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