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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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

What is Albert Camus’ The Plague About? An Introduction


I didn't descend deeply into existentialist angst the way some philosophy students do, but I did experience its outer fringes in reading works like Albert Camus's The Plague (which I read around the same time as Ernest Becker's The Denial of Death. I'm a pretty serious person, but these books remind me of the limits of that. Josh Jones  writes, "The recognition of finitude, of failure, ignorance, and repetition—what philosopher Miguel de Unamuno called “the tragic sense of life”—can instead cure us of the behaviors Camus abhorred: a hardness of heart, an obsession with status, a refusal of joy and gratitude, a tendency to moralize and judge. Whatever else The Plague is about, Camus shows that in a struggle for survival, these attitudes can prove worse than useless and can be the first to go."

Today: 35 Total: 35 Josh Jones, Open Culture, 2020/04/10 [Direct Link]

Dyson creates engineering challenges for kids in lockdown


This item showed up in our research centre Slack channel this week. "The initiative, which is made up of 44 Challenge Cards (91 page PDF), aims to provide young people with ample stimulation as families adjust to spending more time at home because of the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent shut down of schools." I also noticed Ewan McIntosh's article along the same lines. I like the Dyson projects (and did many of them myself when I was younger) but it occurs to me that today scientists and engineers wouldn't think of engaging in such projects without documenting them. Because there are four stages to these projects, if done properly: design, build, test, document. The Dyson challenges describe how to do things, but skimp on methods for sharing your results.

Today: 41 Total: 41 Molly Long, Design Week, 2020/04/10 [Direct Link]

“Doing no harm” in and through education


I have long advocated an educational equivalent of 'do no harm'. I've thought of this principle specifically in terms of inflicting harm. For example, "A lack of alternatives is no reason to delay removing classroom material that incites hatred against a minority." But 'do no harm' can be an absolutist principle (or, in the jargon of ethicists, 'monist'). "Do no harm means this decision should not be made by balancing probabilities; it must err on the side of not making the situation worse by accident, not by gambling on promises coming true." OK, fair enough. But what about this: "The Philadelphia School District... has decided that it will not offer remote instruction during the coronavirus shutdown citing equity concerns. 'If that’s not available to all children, we cannot make it available to some.'" I'm not as comfortable as this. I don't think you lessen the harm to some by inflicting equal harm on everybody. On the other hand...

Today: 43 Total: 43 2020/04/09 [Direct Link]

Four Core Priorities for Trauma-Informed Distance Learning


No doubt educators are being flooded with advice on how to teach online in a crisis. I'm trying not to add to this deluge, but also to highlight tose articles that are genuinely worthwhile (at least in my own opinion). This is one. Kara Newhouse draws on the expertise of Alex Shevrin Venet, who facilitates professional development on implementing trauma-informed practices. The four priorities (pointedly not 'strategies') are predictibility, flexibility, connection and empowerment. Each responds to something trauma can disrupt or take away entirely, and which are important to well-being and resiliance. It's a well thought-out presentation

Today: 118 Total: 118 Kara Newhouse, Mind/Shift, 2020/04/06 [Direct Link]

Learner skills in open virtual mobility


This article combines the concept of Open Education (OE) with something new, Virtual Mobility (VM), defined as "a set of ICT supported activities, organized at institutional level, that realize or facilitate international, collaborative experiences in a context of teaching and/or learning." That gives us Open Virtual Mobility (OVM). The discussion of OVM is this article's main contribution, though there is also a 'research' component consisting of "group concept mapping (GCM)" which "supports knowledge construction through collecting and organising ideas of individuals so that a collective visual geography of a concept can be created to be further analysed." The quantitative results are meaningless, but the resulting discussion provides a good overview of the benefits of OVM, which is a worthwhile result.

Today: 51 Total: 51 Kamakshi Rajagopal, Olga Firssova, Ilse Op de Beeck, Elke Van der Stappen, Slavi Stoyanov, Piet Henderikx, Ilona Buchem, Research in Learning Technology, 2020/04/08 [Direct Link]

The seven principles of online learning: Feedback from faculty and alumni on its importance for teaching and learning


The point of departure for this article is Chickering and Gamson's (1987) Seven Principles For Good Practice in Undergraduate Education. The author revisits these principles, draws out some examples of what they look like in practice, and then surveys academic staff and alumni on the importance of these examples, thus describing the relevance of these principles today. Not surprisingly all seven principles were rated as important. But the quantitative results don't really matter because (frustratingly) the sample size and selection are so inadequate. Still, it's an interesting discussion of some old theory that might maybe motivate someone to mount a similar study with a truly representative sample size.

Today: 54 Total: 54 Cynthia Janet Tanis, Research in Learning Technology, 2020/04/07 [Direct Link]

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