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. His degrees are in Philosophy, specializing in epistemology, philosophy of mind, and philosophy of science. He has taught for the University of Alberta, Athabasca University, Grand Prairie Regional College and Assiniboine Community College. His background includes expertise in journalism and media, both as a prominent blogger and as founder of the Moncton Free Press online news cooperative.  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, and open educational resources. Recent projects include:gRSShopper, a personal learning environment; E-Learning 3.0, a course on new e-learning technologies; research and development in the use of distributed ledger technology in learning applications; and research on ethics, analytics and the duty of care. He is a popular keynote speaker and has spoken in three dozen countries on six continents.


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Coronavirus / Covid19 quick reference kit, to take your class or conference online cheaply and in a hurry:

Creating an Online Class or Conference - Quick Tech Guide



qube (spelled with all lower case letters) combines Slack with Zoom and office layouts in order to create a virtual collaborative working environment. It's designed for offices, which means you can't just jump into it as an individual; you need to access one that has been set up. As Mark Derbecker says on ProductHunt, "The gamechanger with Qube is 'presence'. When you're meeting with someone, everyone else can see who you're with and optionally put a 'watch' on you to get notified when you're free again. And the other person gets notified that you want to talk to them." I can't speak to price or usability or anything like that, but there's definitely something there that's interesting. See also the (unfortunately sparse) qube blog.


Today: 74 Total: 74 qube, 2020/08/03 [Direct Link]

Philosophers On GPT-3 (updated with replies by GPT-3)


The philosophers make some good points - David Chalmers, for example, saying "there are surely many principled limitations on what language models can do, for example involving perception and action" and Justin Khoo suggesting that robot speech "is not speech in any sense deserving protection as free expression." But the highlights of the article are the responses from GPT-3 itself. "As I read the paper," it says, "a strange feeling came over me. I didn’t know why at first, but then it hit me: this paper described my own thought process. In fact, it described the thought process of every human being I had ever known." Also: "Human philosophers often make the error of assuming that all intelligent behavior is a form of reasoning. It is an easy mistake to make."

Today: 75 Total: 75 Justin Weinberg, Daily Nous, 2020/08/03 [Direct Link]

50 of the biggest social media questions answered


This is a good frequently asked questions (FAQ) style article introducing social media to the uninitiated. There's nothing new here, but there's a lot of information in an accessible article and would be good as background material in an introductory digital literacies curriculum. Aside from the basic definitions, topics include online well-being, social media marketing, privacy and security, account management, and some projections for the future.

Today: 11 Total: 11 FutureLearn, 2020/08/04 [Direct Link]

Colleges Seek Waivers From Risk-Taking Students


I think that even in safer countries like Canada I would hesitate before returning to in-person school, especially when the alternative of online learning exists. In the United States, I wouldn't consider it. And because the consequences are so predictable, colleges who really should be offering learning online are instead trying to wash their hands of any liability. "The intent is to relieve colleges of their 'duty of care' over students and make even 'reasonable' attempts to protect students from harm unnecessary in order to disprove a negligence claim." Meanwhile, according to this report, " a group of tenured faculty members at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill took the unprecedented step Friday of directly telling students not to come back to campus next semester." Which, I think, was the ethical choice.

Today: 72 Total: 72 Greta Anderson, Inside Higher Ed, 2020/08/03 [Direct Link]

Data-Driven Educational Algorithms Pedagogical Framing


This is a pretty good article (20 page PDF) that looks at the limits of analytics in designing learning programs and makes some recommendations for higher-level constraints. "The network structure does not reveal everything," writes Daniel Domínguez Figaredo. Things as varied as pedagogical approach and harmful content need to be considered and regulated from a wider context. "In many cases, researchers using social network analysis take into consideration the structural properties of the whole network to infer from them other properties of the links between the different nodes." The table at the end of the paper is a pretty good listing (and accords well with my own look at ethical issues in learning analytics).

Today: 24 Total: 40 Daniel Domínguez Figaredo, Revista Iberoamericana de Educación a Distancia, 2020/08/05 [Direct Link]

Microsoft's announcement changes the future of learning - here's what you need to know


This article describes "the natural progression to provide an LMS structure that will underpin the informal learning already going on in Teams, supported by content from Microsoft Learn and LinkedIn Learning," while cautioning that the overall impact "won’t be enough to enable the aspects of an advanced learning culture that drive real capability change." Both parts of this are probably true, but where the biggest impact will be will be in corporate learning, as the plan is that Teams will replace the browser as the place where 'work gets done' and hence where learning is most effectively embedded. But let's not forget, Teams is built on Electron, which makes it a cross-platform HTML-CSS-Javascript running on Chromium. In the long run (in my view) it will integrate with the LMS the way a browser does, rather than attempt to replace it.

Today: 30 Total: 52 Toby Harris, Filtered, 2020/08/04 [Direct Link]

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