Miscellaneous

Play Video Brain interface lets people with paralysis control tablet computer

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 11/27/2018 - 04:00
Kevin Stacey-Brown, Futurity, Nov 27, 2018

I've covered this sort of thing in the past and I reiterate it again here today with this latest story because it looks to me like these interfaces are getting more sophisticated as time goes by. It describes "three clinical trial participants with tetraplegia, each of whom was using the investigational BrainGate BCI that records neural activity directly from a small sensor placed in the motor cortex, were able to navigate through commonly used tablet programs, including email, chat, music-streaming, and video-sharing apps." It gives me hope for the day when I'm a brain in a vat fed nothing but artificial blood.

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AWS Ground Station – Ingest and Process Data from Orbiting Satellites

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Tue, 11/27/2018 - 04:00
Jeff Barr, AWS News Blog, Nov 27, 2018

I'm pretty sure that not every school in every country can do this. But this is what the cool kids are doing. " Today, high school and college students design, fabricate, and launch nano-, pico-, and even femto-satellites such as CubeSats, PocketQubes, and SunCubes." This information comes up in the context of a new Amazon web service called 'Ground Station' that will allow you to contact those satellites. Now I imagine most schools that can launch their own satellite have their own ground station as well. But this may be a way to allow them to share their satellite. Assuming, of course, they were so inclined.

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Contrasting LMS Adoption Patterns in Four English-Speaking Countries

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 11/26/2018 - 04:00
Phil Hill, e-Literate, Nov 26, 2018

It's nice to see e-Literate looking at more than just North America, even if their gaze reaches only Australia and the UK. A quick look at the four charts makes it clear just how overstated their 'tipping point' announcement a few months ago was. Canvas numbers may be huge in the United States but they're dwarfed everywhere else.

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Secrets of the Edu-Twitter Influencers

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 11/26/2018 - 04:00
Tara Laskowski, ASCD, Educational Leadership, Nov 26, 2018

This article makes me think we need to rethink the concept of 'influencer'. If it's just a person with a lot of Twitter followers, than the leaders of our society are Katy Perry and Justin Bieber. Well, and Barack Obama too, which is cool, but he's outvoted by Rihanna, Taylor Swift, and Lady Gaga. Aaron Davis has the most insightful comment: "What stood out was the intent of self-promotion that many started with." It's the same old story - if you spend a lot of time trying to become famous, then you become famous, but you won't have spent any time doing anything worth being famous for.

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Blockchain diplomas land in Virginia at ECPI

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 11/26/2018 - 04:00
Jacob Demmitt, The Roanoke Times, Nov 26, 2018

 It was only a matter of time. "Virginia Beach-based ECPI University has joined a group of early adopters that distribute student degrees through the same kind of decentralized computer networks that power Bitcoin... The concept behind the technology is virtually unchanged, except ECPI is using the blockchain to issue digital degrees instead of digital currencies." The plan does have a definite upside: "It’s on there for life. They never have to call the registrar’s office and order another diploma."

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Do we really need all of this 'mentoring' malarkey’?

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 11/26/2018 - 04:00
Donald Clark, Donald Clark Plan B, Nov 26, 2018

I'm not so quick to call mentoring "malarkey" as Donald Clark, but I share some of his scepticism. Like Clark, I never had a mentor (and would probably have pushed back against one if I had). And I would definitely echo this: "It is your life and career, so don’t for one minute imagine that the HR department has the solutions you need." Having said that, I think I'm much less inclined to criticize mentoring than Clark. If people are more comfortable with, and prefer the guidance of, a single person, then that seems perfectly fine with me. I think I'd want to see envidence that it's harmful before I criticized them.

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A Way to Raise money for Education Technology

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 11/26/2018 - 04:00
Terry Freedman, ICT & Computing in Education, Nov 26, 2018

I'm still waiting for the day when the Air Force needs to run bake sales to fund its operations. This, I guess, is the modern equivalent of those bake sales." Rocket Fund is a crowdfunding platform for schools. Rocket Fund modernises school fundraising, empowering schools to raise money from businesses and their community more efficiently." You know what's an even more efficient way to raise money from business and community? Taxes.

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Misleading on Fair Dealing

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 11/23/2018 - 04:00
Michael Geist, Nov 23, 2018

Michael Geist is up to part five in a landmark series on how the publication industry has been misleading lawmakers about the state of educational publishing in this country. He covers:

I find it interesting that you can create a five-part series based on misrepresentations made by the publishing industry, but I am sadly not surprised.

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Autonomy and Identity

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 11/23/2018 - 04:00
Les Green, Semper Veridis, Nov 23, 2018

Short post on how autonomy and identity go hand in hand. I've argued for autonomy in the past as a core element of successful networks, and it's not hard to see why: "its value lies in creating lives for ourselves, in making up identities, in choosing and pursuing ‘conceptions of the good’." But what about cases where identity is determined by nature - whether my DNA says I'm Irish or English, for example. Even here, autonomy plays a role: I can choose to discover the truth of the matter, or not really care either way. Autonomy isn't merely about "whether, or how far, some aspect of our identity is a matter of one’s own say-so." It's about defining one's own way of life, whatever one's DNA.

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Study: It only takes a few seconds for bots to spread misinformation

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 11/23/2018 - 04:00
Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, Nov 23, 2018

According to a new study, it can take seconds for Twitter to spread false news across the internet. But in addition, the study also examined "the critical role played by so-called 'influencers:' celebrities and others with large Twitter followings who can contribute to the spread of bad information via retweets." The bots get the ball rolling, but the influencers finish the job. Bot owners depend on this. "The researchers found that, far from being random, those bots actively targeted influential Twitter users with negative content to create social conflict. Those users often did not realize they were being targeted and hence retweeted and helped spread the misinformation."

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The Future of the Public Mission of Universities

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 11/23/2018 - 04:00
Robin DeRosa, actualham, Nov 23, 2018

This is a transcript, with slides, from a teriffic talk given by Robin DeRosa  on the privatization of public infrastructure and the outsourcing of core educational functions - like online course design and hosting - to commercial entities. The first half of the talk looks at the impact of privatization in other areas and some of the problems it can cause. The talk then looks at privatization in education specifically. There`s a lot that could be said, but I think a few points are worth underlining. First, privatization represents a lost of control over key infrastructure (with resulting fee increases, reductions in service, and co-option to serve other interests). And second, privatization does not actually save governments the money it purports to save. Comprehensive and persuasive, this article deserves a slow read.

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What Does VR Have to Do With Online Education?

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 11/22/2018 - 04:00
Laura Lynch, LearnDash, Nov 22, 2018

I remember when we first created multi-user online environments back in the early 90s. They were a natural to support learning online, we reasoned. The first thing we build, of course, were classrooms, field trips, and scenarios. We were terribly naive. Then along came 3D environment like Active Worlds and Second Life, and they seemed like a good idea for education. People right away built classrooms, field trips, and scenarios, and we laughed at them for being terribly naive. Now I'm reading about the potential uses of VR in education and seeing the talk turn to classrooms, field trips, and scenarios. What can I say?

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https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/cyoa-choose-your-own-adventure-maps

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 11/22/2018 - 04:00
Sarah Laskow, Atlas Obsacura, Nov 22, 2018

The branching scenario is a classic model for learning games. These maps make the structures of these games clear. For the most part they are just trees - one correct outcome and 15 bad outcomes. Sometimes, they contain links from one banch to another, and people taking the E-Learning 3.0 course will recognize them as DAGs (Directional Acyclic Graphs). Except for the last one, which is a time travel game, and loops back to the start, making it a cyclic graph. Via Christy Tucker.

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Practice-Informed Learning: The Rise of the Dual Professional

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 11/21/2018 - 04:00
GuildHE, Nov 21, 2018

This report (64 page PDF) examines practice-informed learning, defined as "encompassing any situations where expertise from industry is brought into the classroom to inform teaching practice, or where more hands-on learning is taken out into professional settings." It offers a quick overview, notes benefits to students ("up-to-date understanding of their chosen field", "opportunities to begin to develop professional networks"), then offers the 19 case studies that constitute the bulk of the report. The 'dual professional' referenced in the title is the "practitioner-teacher" who keeps a hand in both industry and education. Via WonkHE.

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Forget movie villains—it’s the “good” superheroes that are the most violent

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 11/21/2018 - 04:00
Jonathan M. Gitlin, Ars Technica, Nov 21, 2018

Watching Infinity War I found myself rooting for Thanos against the superheroes trying to stop him. Sure, he was trying to wipe out half the universe, but this paled against the wanton violence of the superheroes. Statistics back me up. "According to a new study, the 'good guys' are actually significantly more violent than the antagonists they're trying to stop." I'm certainly left wondering about their priorities and their methods when I watch a superhero movie. Why is the instinct always to resolve differences by fighting? How is it that superior strength always defines what's right? Why do they use their powers for combat rather than humanitarian purposes? If media either reflects or informs cultural values, then the recent slew of such movies must leave us wondering.

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Journal Retracts 29 Articles, Explaining Little

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 11/21/2018 - 04:00
Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, Nov 21, 2018

An IEEE Journal is retracting 29 articles published over the last two years over what appears to be editorial board impropriety. But it is not announcing which articles it is retracting. "For now, the IEEE said that 'three volunteer editors identified during the investigation as involved in the misconduct have been permanently excluded from IEEE membership.'" All the more reason why review, publication and (of course) retraction should be conducted openly.

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The value of where you earned your PhD

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 11/21/2018 - 04:00
Christine Daigle, University Affairs, Nov 21, 2018

This article poses the question, "Why do hiring committees appear to favour graduates from big-league universities?" It's the "wow factor", writes Christine Daigle, and it should be ignored. "The argument has been made for a very long time that CVs should be anonymized for hiring in order to contravene bias, implicit or not, when assessing CVs," she argues. "I think we should do the same for university credentials." I think that's a good idea, but I can't imagine that the big universities' marketing departments would be in favour of it for a minute. The "wow factor" is, after all, exactly what they are selling.

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Unbundling and Rebundling Higher Education in an Age of Inequality

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 11/21/2018 - 04:00
Laura Czerniewicz, EDUCAUSE Review, Nov 21, 2018

Doug Belshaw today reminded me to go back and look at this article from October (I subscribe to EDUCAUSE feeds and newsletters but still manage to miss articles) on the concept onbundling and rebundling education. Laura Czerniewicz based the unbundling on Michael Staton's Disaggregating the Components of a College Degree though of course there are many ways to unbundle. The major question, though, lies in how the parts are put back together. Do we retain the idea of higher education for public good, or does it become a modern day Netflix - privatized, commercialized, and available only so long as you continue to pay?

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The End of Trust

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 11/21/2018 - 04:00
McSweeney, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Nov 21, 2018

This all-nonfiction issue of McSweeney’s "is a collection of essays and interviews focusing on issues related to technology, privacy, and surveillance." It's is available as a free download (344 page PDF). It's worth a look - Cory Doctorow on privacy nihilism, Ethan Zuckerman on the ethics of distrust, Douglas Rushkoff on the media virus, Edward Snowden in a Q&A on blockchain, Edward R. Loomis on surveillance tools. The articles are short, accessible, and there's a lot of them.

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MOOC S trategies of European Institutions

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 11/21/2018 - 04:00
Lizzie Konings, Darco Jansen, European Association of Distance Teaching Universities, Nov 21, 2018

This is from last year, but I only just found it, and it remains relevant today. It's the results (71 page PDF) of a questionaire of European higher education institutes (HEI) on their approaches to MOOCs. Here's what's significant: "the  majority  of  HEIs  (66%)  are  not  connected  to  one  of  the  big  MOOC platform providers (e.g., edX, Coursera, FutureLearn, Miriada X, etc.), but offer their MOOCs in their institutional platforms or in available regional/national platforms." Additionally, "respondents (51%) agreed that MOOCs should be for everyone" and suggested a range of possibilities to reach those left behind. Reading this report was a refreshing antedote to the crass commercial perspective I read yesterday in Forbes.

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