Miscellaneous

In China’s Silicon Valley, Edtech Starts at the ‘MOOC Times Building’

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - 4 hours 12 min ago
Jeffrey R. Young, EdSurge, Dec 15, 2018

Jeffrey R. Young reports on a tour he took of the building. Some companies in the building "are already well established and have much larger staffs. The tour included a stop of one such company, called Nobook, which employs 55 people and makes interactive science-learning software for schools in China." I'm just fascinated about how an idea can start in a small corner of Canada and become a building in Beijing.

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Warrant Canary Frequently Asked Questions

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 12/14/2018 - 03:37
Kurt Opsahl, EFF, Dec 13, 2018

The 'warrant canary' is a pretty good idea. When an online service provider receives a demand from the government, this demand is often accompanied with a requirement that it tell no one about the demand. So, for example, Yahoo can never inform you if the FBI demanded your personal information. The warrant canary is a statement Yahoo posts on its website that it would need to remove if it ever received such a demand. For example, the statement might say "the FBI has never demanded that we provide personal information." If the statement is ever removed, you know that this happened, even if Yahoo cannot talk about it. In my case (if I ever felt the need) my warrant canary might say "My employer has never required nor prohibited the posting of any content on this site." This statement is currently true, but if it ever became false, I would have to remove it, and you'd know.

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My advice for aspiring explainer journalists

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 12/14/2018 - 03:37
David Roberts, Vox, Dec 13, 2018

There is a cross-over, I think, between what David Roberts calls 'explainer journalism' and the field of online learning. And though this article focuses in depth on the former, it has a great deal to teach educators as well. "It’s not that there are no unique skills involved. There are. But experience teaches them a hell of a lot faster and better than journalism school. Your goal is to get good at gathering facts, perceiving patterns, and telling stories. And the way you get good at that the same way you get good at anything else — by doing it a lot."

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School Teaches Students How To Be Bad Workers: 5 Anti-Work Skills Taught In School

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 12/13/2018 - 03:46
Bernie Bleske, Medium, Dec 12, 2018

Well, I'm not sure whether I believe all this, but I'm not sure I disbelieve it either. Here's the list of things schools teach us, according to the author (quoted and/or paraphrased):

  • How to avoid work - to analyze the situation presented to you and find the easiest way around it
  • How to fake knowledge and skill... school abets, even encourages, subtle forms of faked knowledge
  • How to endure the clock (for example) a way of illicitly using time allotted for a different purpose
  • How to get credit for work you didn’t do
  • How to create excuses, for example, to manipulate teacher’s feelings or perceptions

I'd like to say I don't believe any of this, but I don't think I'd be being honest. Via Joanne Jacobs.

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Social Media and Political Engagement in Canada

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 12/13/2018 - 03:46
Philip Mai, Jenna Jacobson, Elizabeth Dubois, Anatoliy Gruzd, Ryerson University, Dec 12, 2018

This is a short but ultimately informative post describing recent social media trends in Canada. I think we have a slightly different flavour of social media use here. The major findings (quoted):

  • young Canadians are more purposeful and active posters on social media than older generations
  • most online Canadian adults ... sometimes choose not to post political messages on social media (to avoid offending others)
  • most online Canadian adult are exposed to a variety of perspectives on social media
  • online Canadian adults are generally not comfortable with the use of social media to infer public opinion

These feel pretty much like my attitudes too, and doesn't feel like it contradicts my understanding of Canadian social media. Via Philip Mai.

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Digital Learning: An overview of MOOCS

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 12/13/2018 - 03:46
Ishfaq Majid, RisingKashmir, Dec 12, 2018

This article looks at open online learning from a Kashmir perspective. It lists a number of learning initiatives important in India, for example, the National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL) formed by seven Indian Institutes of Technology, the online National Digital Library (NDL), and MooKIT, a MOOC management system built by Indian Institute of Kanpur (IITK).

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How Long Should a Podcast Be?

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 12/12/2018 - 03:46
James Cridland, PodNews, Dec 11, 2018

I've had people comment on the length of the videos in my course, and I assume it would apply to podcasts as well. This article certainly is in that spirit. " If you have 100,000 listeners and you edit out one useless minute you are saving 100,000 wasted minutes in the world. You’re practically a hero." I get the sentiment. "How long should I make my podcast? As long as it needs to be: but not a minute longer.... with all the fluff taken out and ensuring that every minute matters." And yet... and yet... This feels wrong. I listen to two-hour podcasts by Leo Laporte and Christopher Titus, and long camping videos by Joe Robinet. Oh sure, someone can go on too long, but media needs wasted time. It needs fluff. I don't want my podcasts to be cold and efficient. I want them to be warm and engaging. Via Jeremy Cherfas.

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With RAD, podcasters can finally learn who's listening

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 12/12/2018 - 03:46
Ben Werdmuller, Dec 11, 2018

Ben Werdmuller introduces us to Remote Audio Data, "a technology standard for sending podcast audience analytics back to their publishers," introduced by NPR today. As Werdmuller explains, RAD adds JSON-encoded remoteAudioData to a postcast MP3 file's ID3 tag; your podcast player records events (such as when you downloaded it or when you listened to it) and sends it back to the URL specified in the remoteAudioData. It's pretty simple, it's decentralized, and I assume we could turn it off, though, really, it's not costing me anything, so why would I?

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Jisc and Eduserv to merge and form UK public sector tech powerhouse

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 12/12/2018 - 03:46
JISC, Dec 11, 2018

According to this article "the two charities will begin operating as one from 1 January 2019, in a move that will retain existing staff and services." First, I never really though of them as "charities" so I wonder about that designation. Second, January 1 seems very soon. I guess you don't really need to prepare per se but my sense is that it would be more usual to get the books in order and merge at the close of a fiscal year. Third, am I the only one who doubts that the new orgaization will "retain existing staff and services?"

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The Backlash Against Personalized Learning

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 12/12/2018 - 03:46
National Education Policy Center, Dec 11, 2018

This is an archive copy of the NEPC newsletter summarizing recent negative reactions against personalized learning. There are several concerns: software glitches, concerns about data privacy, and lessons that are easy to game and trick. The bulk of the newsletter refers to a policy brief written in 2014 by Noel Enyedy which argues that personalized learning simply transfers the flaws of traditional learning to the individual level.

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Mistletoe Offline

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 12/12/2018 - 03:46
Jeremy Keith, 24 ways to impress your friends, Dec 11, 2018

The title makes no sense but the article is definitely worth a read. It is about service workers. These are "technology that you can inject into a visitor’s device from your website. Once it’s installed, it can intercept any requests made to your domain." The case described in the article is one where the service worker handles the request when the website is offline (or when the website user is offline). A service worker is what makes progressive web apps work. The article offers examples and code for some service workers.

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Repl.it Multiplayer

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 12/11/2018 - 03:46
Faris & Amjad Masad, Repl.it, Dec 10, 2018

This is a really nice teaching tool, because it's a nice working tool. "Introducing Multiplayer: code with friends in the same editor, execute programs in the same interpreter, interact with the same terminal, chat in the IDE, edit files and share the same system resources, and ship applications from the same interface!" Open a new editor on the https://repl.it/ website and then click the Multiplayer icon (upper left) to get it started. Sadly, Repl.it doesn't support Perl (complains the last living Perl coder) (though there's a Python shell that will support a limited Perl).

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Teaching and Learning with Jupyter

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 12/11/2018 - 03:46
et.al., Lorena A. Barba, GitHub, Dec 10, 2018

This is a comprehensive text that covers pretty much everything important about the use of Jupyter Notebooks in learning. As noted in these pages before, a Jupyter Notebook allows you to have not only the usual text and images, but also computer programs, such that you can view and edit the listing and see the output right on the notebook page. I have only one complaint about this textbook - it's written and published through GitHub (which allows for writing sprints and multiple authors) and is not itself a Jupyter notebook. It's so easy to read online - I wish the Jupyter Notebook functionality had been embedded and demonstrated right there and then.

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Is there a RSS revival going on?

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 12/11/2018 - 03:46
Andy Sylvester, Dec 10, 2018

Short item raising the possibility and linking to some commentary suggesting it might be true. Some of us (ahem) never left RSS at all. In a world of social media algorithm-driven content streams I've considered RSS to be my secret weapon over the last decade. It allows me to see all the stuff that Facebook and Twitter don't profit from me seeing. We probably need a next-generation RSS for the revival to really take off, but it might just be a matter of time.

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New Bose AR Glasses give you audio Augmented Reality

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 12/11/2018 - 03:46
Emory Craig, Digital Bodies, Dec 10, 2018

I can't imagine trying to read an AR screen on my glasses (my eyes have enough trouble with the real world) but augmentation-by-audio is something that could work for me. It's still pretty basic; " the glasses will use GPS and a 9-axis motion sensor to recognize where the wearer is and what they are looking at, and then connecting that location with informative audio." The content comes from Alexa or Siri or some such. What would help a lot is image recognition or RFID that would let it do things like read lables for me. One thing at a time, I guess.

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Highlighting passages doesn’t aid my memory, but speaking them does

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 12/11/2018 - 03:46
Jon Udell, Dec 10, 2018

Neither highlighting nor speaking aloud has ever helped me (though if it works for Jon Udell more power to him). For me the secret has always been to reinterpret and reconstruct. When studying somehting really closely I would break it down and create an outline. Understanding the structure helped me remember the whole. To really understand something I would recreate it in my own words (or my own code, or whatever). That's the origin of this newsletter and most of my software projects.

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Creating and Implementing Alternatives to Traditional Textbooks

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 12/11/2018 - 03:46
Cathy Bill, SoftChalk Talk Blog, Dec 10, 2018

The impetus for creating digital alternatives to textbooks was "both reducing cost and having control over the content." However I question Columbus State Community College's decision to use Apple iBooks. As Cathy Bill notes, "A little more than 50% of our student population has an Apple device. Therefore, about half of our students would not be able to access the material, unless they used campus computers." They provided access to Apple devices to those who didn't had them, but this misses the point - the Apple content isn't interoperable with anything but Apple devices. Which in my mind means that they're broken.

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Personality Prostheses

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 12/11/2018 - 03:46
Alan Dix, Medium, Dec 10, 2018

The learning style sceptics say there are no learning styles. This is squarely contrary to the idea of 'personality prostheses' advanced by Alan Dix. The idea is, just as we use a lever if we're too weak to move a rock, we use other tools to help out other aspects of our character. If we have a desk, we each set up our desk differently, to accommodate our personalities. People are quick to make moral judgements about our character - maybe too quick. We have to work with what we've got. And if that means a prosthesis, either to support our legs, our eyes, our character or our learning - so be it.

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Roundtable on Bryan Van Norden's Taking Back Philosophy: A Multicultural Manifesto

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 12/08/2018 - 03:46
Expositions, Dec 07, 2018

I was engaged in this collection of essays not because I am concerned with the content of philosophy classes in American universities but because while I call myself a philosopher I am very much outside what contemporary philosophy would call itself. The focus of the work is to discuss the call to increase the emphasis on teaching LCTP (Less Commonly Taught Philosophers) and especially those of diverse cultures. But really, the point should be whether the definition of philosophy - as defined and taught by professors in western institutions makes any sense at all.

In this light, if you read only one of these essays, it should probably be Grant J. Silva on Professional Philosophy, “Diversity,” and Racist Exclusion. He writes, "increasing the number of white people (men in particular) studying 'non-Western' philosophy does not diversify philosophy; neither does offering admission into 'club philosophy' to racialized minorities, women, and those from the 'formerly' colonized world albeit on terms requiring their assimilation into well-established philosophical questions, methods, and problematics."

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Defining the Data Stack

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 12/08/2018 - 03:46
Joe Pilla, IAB Data Center of Excellence, Dec 07, 2018

This report (18 page PDF) looks at data from a marketing and brand perspective, but offers a useful perspective for any digital enterprise, including education. It is based on "the need for a baseline understanding of how different types of data can enhance business performance for brands when used properly." It surveys four levels of data needs (and uses), a number of dataset types, and a typology based on data ownership. It's terse, but it draws out and makes clear some key aspects of data.

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