Miscellaneous

Itty bitty sites

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 07/05/2018 - 12:45

Nicholas Jitkoff, Itty bitty sites, Jul 20, 2018

As the itty bitty website says, "Itty bitty sites are contained entirely within their own link. (Including this one!) This means they're: portable - you don't need a server to host them; private - nothing is sent to–or stored on–this server; easy to share as a link or QR code." It's not really an exaggeration. There's some code - available at GitHub - and some samples set up in CodePen. The idea of a web site in a link is appealing.

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The Big List Of Resources On xAPI

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 07/04/2018 - 19:15

Melissa Milloway, Jul 20, 2018

This is exactly as advertised in the title, a list of xAPI resources. It's not as big as you might imagine, but it's well curated, which more than makes up for that. Some useful things: xAPI Wrapper, which will allow you to configure a way to send statements from projects where you've built out customized xAPI statements. Also, the xAPI Statement Viewer, which allows you to create an activity stream of statements that can be hosted and sent to others.

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The Matrix Calculus You Need For Deep Learning

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 07/04/2018 - 17:50

Terence Parr, Jeremy Howard, explained.ai, Jul 20, 2018

The mathematics of neural networks is daunting for most people (including me). This paper is an attempt to give readers a grounding in the basics. "This material is for those who are already familiar with the basics of neural networks, and wish to deepen their understanding of the underlying math." You'll have to read this strategically. Start at the bottom, in the section titled 'Notation'. Also review the Wikipedia article on index notation. Then go back, skim the introduction, and begin in-depth reading at the section "Review: Scalar derivative rules." Plan to spend the day. Related: Irving Wladawsky-Berger, Getting on the AI Learning Curve: A Pragmatic, Incremental Approach.

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Google launches new college search feature

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 07/04/2018 - 17:05

ICEF Monitor, Jul 20, 2018

According to this article, "LinkedIn has its University Pages, Facebook is partnering with community colleges, and now Google has quietly – to the extent that one of the world’s tech giants can do anything quietly – launched a new college search service designed to make it easier for students to 'explore educational options and find a college that meets your needs.'" As is normal for similar services, the search covers only U.S. institutions. 

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Why we shouldn’t let economists play with education

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 07/04/2018 - 16:01

Benjamin Doxtdator, A Long View on Education, Jul 20, 2018

This is a long and detailed criticism of Bryan Caplan’s The Case Against Education. Caplan isn't against education per se, he's against publicly funded education. But as Benjamin Doxtdator argues, he reduces education to purely economic incentives (and most disparagingly, as 'signaling' of social status). But this reduction becomes inevitable unless we change out perspective. "Like so much of our lives under late capitalism, education has been subjected to an 'excessive market ideology' for at least the last 50 years... If we want to get to the root causes of why the education system is broken and what can be done to fix it, we need to free ourselves from the ideology that makes Caplan’s calculations all but inevitable."

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Status of Consumer Education and Financial Education in Canada (2016)

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 07/04/2018 - 15:40

Sue L. T. McGregor, Canadian Journal of Education, Jul 20, 2018

Consumer education is “a process of gaining skills, knowledge and understanding required for living in a consumer society [in order to] make full use of the range of consumer opportunities present in today’s complex marketplace.” This article (32 page PDF) reviews the state of consumer education in Canada. I've never really been a fan of consumer education because of its bias toward consumption, a trend evidenced in a 2000 report: "Most (84%) consumer concepts pertained to resource management, followed by decision making (11%), and then citizen participation (advocacy and protection) (5%)." The currently study sets the numbers at 73%, 13% and 14% respectively. These, and the subjects taught, vary widely across provinces. And the article reflects the question of what consumer education should be: "What power does the consumerism ideology lord over people, mesmerizing them into relentless and meaningless consumption? Why are people engaging in excessive, unsustainable consumption? These larger philosophical, ideological, and moral questions (see McGregor, 2010) are more than just knowing how to make savvy and effective financial decisions when spending one’s money." Good questions, but I see few signs of a change in our current (and unsatisfactory) focus.

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Open Preservation Foundation launches new strategy

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 07/04/2018 - 14:56

Open Preservation Foundation, Jul 19, 2018

The Open Preservation Foundation has a new mission and strategy. Here it is (edited to correct punctuation): "Enabling shared solutions for effective and efficient digital preservation, the Open Preservation Foundation leads a collaborative effort to create, maintain and develop the reference set of sustainable, open source digital preservation tools and supporting resources." 12 page PDF.

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Why the Civic Info Bill Is Such a Huge Deal

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 07/03/2018 - 15:12

Mike Rispoli, Free Press, Jul 19, 2018

Five universities in New Jersey are participating in a state non-profit initiative " to strengthen local news coverage and boost civic engagement in communities across the state." It's good to see higher education institutions working for the social good; this is how they survive in the technological era. "Ideas included municipal-website templates designed for easy navigation, media-literacy programs for students and adults, mini-grants for reporting projects, young-journalist fellowship programs serving overlooked communities, and local data apps to provide mobile access to key government data." Such an initiative would have been life-changing had I access to it back when I was running Moncton Free Press.

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A First Pass At An ISTE Reflection

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 07/02/2018 - 20:42

Tim Stahmer, Assorted Stuff, Jul 19, 2018

There's a little more from this year's ISTE. In this post, Tim Stahmer  argues that (at 15,000 participants) it's too big, and that it dominated by vendors. And he's still concerned about those smart badges. Gary Stager, also, raises concerns. "My greatest objection to being tagged like livestock was that it would only be a short matter of time before some bonehead referred to the fantabulous “Smart Badges” as educational technology," he writes. Of course, it already had been. And the key questions aren't being answered: who paid for the smart badges, and how much was paid? And who has the data

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Big business ideas for the future role of universities in Australia are skewed and should be called out

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 07/02/2018 - 19:54

Julie Rowlands, Jill Blackmore, Jul 19, 2018

This is discussion of the Australian EY report: Can Universities Today Lead Learning for Tomorrow (previously mentioned here). "Overall, the report characterises universities as having purely commercial purposes," write Julie Rowlands and Jill Blackmore. "Markets alone should not be allowed to determine what knowledge universities produce...  Knowledge generated by Australian universities also serves wider purposes, as stated in the National Science and Innovation Agenda, which describes research as having social, environmental and other benefits as well as economic ones."

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Aboutness in imagination

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 07/02/2018 - 19:36

Francesco Berto, Philosophical Studies, Jul 19, 2018

One of the reasons I favour a non-representational semantics is that I don't think we can really make the idea of 'aboutness' work consistently. And 'aboutness' is core to the idea of representation: we define (in language, say) the way one thing represents, or is 'about', the other. What this paper addresses in one of the problem areas for aboutness: the imagination. How can out imagination be 'about' something if it's just something we're making up? The value of this paper is the set of four conditions for successful 'aboutness in imagination' it sets up (in section 2). The bulk of the paper after this is the derivation of formal semantics that meet these criteria, which will be of little value to most readers (unless you like formal notation). Image: Helena Kučerová .

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More States Opting To 'Robo-Grade' Student Essays By Computer

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 07/02/2018 - 19:21

Tovia Smith, NPR, Jul 18, 2018

The thought of writing an essay that will be read by literally no one feels a bit odd to me, but I guess it's not a great stretch from those essays I wrote which were read by exactly one person. And "with computers already doing jobs as complicated and as fraught as driving cars, detecting cancer, and carrying on conversations, they can certainly handle grading students' essays," writes Tovia Smith. Essay-grading is at heart a categorization problem: does the candidate essay's feature set march most closely those of essays in class 'A', "b", 'C' or 'D'? The key is the feature set, which AI systems are taught (and preprogrammed) to recognize. And the test is in how well they grade - which, on balance, is pretty well. Good discussion of the issues, but I

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The market is dead: long live the market

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 07/02/2018 - 19:12

Adam Wright, Wonkhe, Jul 18, 2018

Adam Wright says it all in the first paragraph: "There is no evidence that greater competition between higher education providers will improve the quality of provision. This is the conclusion of the Public Accounts Committee’s (PAC) recent (21 page PDF well worth reading in its own right - SD) report into the higher education market. But, rather than question whether the government is right to keep pursuing a strongly market-based policy agenda in higher education, the committee appears to ignore the possibility that the market simply doesn’t work in HE."

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500px photo site abandons freely shareable images with commercialization push

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 07/02/2018 - 18:49

Stephen Shankland, Cnet, Jul 18, 2018

This is a warning sign for people sharing free and open resources: they can disappear in a flash. In this case, photo sharing site 500px deleted a million Creative Commons licensed photographs with almost no warning. As reported by Michael Zhang, "overnight, all of the CC photos that have been uploaded since 2012 have been nuked from 500px. Users can no longer choose a CC license during uploading, search for CC photos, or download them." Internet Archive volunteers "rushed at the last minute to preserve all the CC photos hosted on 500px, allowing 3 terabytes of photos to be saved." And as Creative Commons CEO Ryan Merkley said, "it's disingenuous to suggest CC works didn't fare well on the platform when they weren't given the same priority other platforms like Flickr give them." Hey, I like Flickr, but I keep a backup of every photo I have, just in case. Via Digital Koans.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Online & Blended Learning: Selections from the Field

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 07/02/2018 - 17:52

Online Learning Consortium, Routledge, Jul 18, 2018

This eBook is actually a collection of excepts from other books. There isn't a direct PDF download - the PDF is "generated" when you click a button on the page (it's like publishers can never do anything in a straightforward manner - there always has to be something fishy or skeevy about the download). As I read through the eBook (which did not require that I sign in - yay) it felt odd to me thinking about all these concepts being read in books as opposed to the blog posts and white papers where they originated on the web (and originated there some number of years ago). Anyhow, there are interesting bits about the process of blending learning, about what you can do online that you can't do on campus, and about OERs and blended learning.

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“I Was Devastated”: Tim Berners-Lee, the Man Who Created the World Wide Web, Has Some Regrets

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 07/02/2018 - 13:44

Katrina Brooker, Vanity Fair, Jul 18, 2018

This is a superficial look at the effort to re-decentralize the web. It focuses mostly on Tim Berners-Lee and his Solid distributed web application. " The system aims to give users a platform by which they can control access to the data and content they generate on the Web. This way, users can choose how that data gets used rather than, say, Facebook and Google doing with it as they please." This project has been in the works for several years; I've covered it previously. The article also mentions some other decentralized web projects, such as Mastodon and Peertube.

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Is strong AI inevitable?

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 07/02/2018 - 13:04

Peter Sweeney, Towards Data Science, Medium, Jul 17, 2018

'Strong AI' in this article is characterized as AI that cannot only make predictions, as today's AI can, but as AI that can also create explanations. This is what is needed to progress from pre-scientific reasoning to scientific reasoning. The creation of explanations poses unique challenges to AI because it consists of things like interpretations (that is, things like models and world views) and formalisms (like math and language and other abstractions) along with predictions. Could AI produce these? Sure - humans do. But how likely is it? In my view, pretty likely. Interpretations and abstractions aren't magical things that appear from nowhere. They are the result of a knowable computational process. So I think computers will begin to be able to explain things. And as the clickbait headlines say, what they say will surprise you.

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‘Evidence’ and the EEF toolkit: Reliable science or a blunt set of tools?

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 06/29/2018 - 19:24

Terry Wrigley, BERA Blog, Jul 17, 2018

This article looks at issues related to the idea of ‘Evidence-based teaching’. There are several specific problems, but the primary issue (in my mind) is this: "It would be foolish for educators to reject evidence out of hand, as if tradition or instinct were enough, but what now stands proxy for the breadth of evidence is statistical averaging. This abstraction neglects practitioners’ accumulated experience, students’ needs and wishes, feedback, and an understanding of social context." It doesn't matter how people, on average, learn. It matters how I learn.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

There are a lot of rote tasks a good AI interviewer could do for you

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 06/29/2018 - 19:15

Nicholas Diakopoulos, Columbia Journalism Review, Jul 17, 2018

We're not that far from seeing this sort of technology applied in day-to-day interactions. It will be mainstream within 20 years, I'd say. Already the technology exists to do narrowly-bounded applications. Consider: "There are a variety of unexpected but routine events that get reported on every day in the news, such as fires, sports, and crimes where basic structured information about the event could be collected by such a system." I can imagine such a system performing routine tests, exams and screening interviews. And, eventually, a lot more.

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Hacking the ISTE18 Smart Badge

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 06/29/2018 - 18:45

Doug Levin, K-12 Cybersecurity Resource Center, Jul 17, 2018

At ISTE this year participants were given 'smart badges' - these tracked your movements and after the conference will provide participants with a report "listing of all the sessions you attended and links to any digital resources the session offered." More importantly, ISTE itself was provided "with information on session attendance and traffic flow in the expo hall and other open spaces, including playgrounds and poster sessions." Well, "ISTE calls this 'personalized learning,'" writes Audrey Watters. "I call it surveillance pedagogy and an act of violence against women just waiting to happen." Doug Levin took one apart and from the data inside found a user manual for the surveillance tags. In a follow-up post Levin serached for tag readers and found not only them but also surveillance cameras placed unobtrusively next to them. "I’ve made sure to keep my references to the ISTE ‘smart badge’ in quotes," writes Levin. "It is not smart. It is a Bluetooth location tracker – commonly used to locate lost cats, keys, and luggage – branded with words that connote innovation and trendiness and hence make it socially acceptable to track people."

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