news (external)

The field of AI research is about to get way bigger than code

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Thu, 2017-11-16 19:15

Dave Gershgorn, Nov 16, 2017

Lots of movement on the algorithmic accountability front (this is the idea that companies need to be able to explain, and be accountable for, conclusions their software draws about people). According to this article, Kate Crawford, principal researcher at Microsoft Research, and Meredith Whittaker, founder of Open Research at Google, "announced today the AI Now Institute, a research organization to explore how AI is affecting society at large. AI Now will be cross-disciplinary, bridging the gap between data scientists, lawyers, sociologists, and economists studying the implementation of artificial intelligence.” We've been hearing this idea, in this article and elsewhere, for example from Cathy O’Neil in the New York Times, that there's no academic reserach being done in this area. But as pointed out in this Chronicle article, "the piece ignored academics and organizations that study the issues.” Said Siva Vaidhyanathan, on Twitter, “There are CS departments and engineering schools that take this very seriously. MIT, Harvard, UVA, CMU, Princeton, GaTech, VaTech, Cornell Tech, UC-Irvine, and others all have faculty and programs devoted to critical and ethical examination of data and algorithms.” 


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The Dangers of Tweeting at Conferences

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Thu, 2017-11-16 13:14

Noah Berlatsky, Chronicle of Higher Education, Nov 16, 2017

At my conference presentations I have the option of using my own backchannel system to allow attendees to use my interface, or a Twitter interface, to post comments in real time. Here's an example of it at work. There are two key differences between my system and the system described in this article, where conference organizers show a Twitter stream behind the speaker. First, I can see the comments in real time, and respond to them directly. Second, I am in control; I can turn off Twitter, and I can turn off the system entirely. This is not to excuse the harassment of women speakers in conferences where Twitter is used. There's no excuse for it, and the attackers should be ashamed of themselves. Putting the speaker in charge of the response, though, goes at least some way toward redressing the power imbalance.

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Tim Berners-Lee on the future of the web: 'The system is failing'

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Thu, 2017-11-16 13:00

Olivia Solon, The Guardian, Nov 16, 2017

It's way too late for those who argued against the commercialization of the internet to say "I told you so." Though they could. We now need to ask the same questions about the education system. By way of context, here is Ttim Berners-Lee on the current state of the web: "“The system is failing. The way ad revenue works with clickbait is not fulfilling the goal of helping humanity promote truth and democracy... We have these dark ads that target and manipulate me and then vanish because I can’t bookmark them. This is not democracy – this is putting who gets selected into the hands of the most manipulative companies out there.”

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Brainwave Headsets Are Making Their Way Into Classrooms—For Meditation and Discipline

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Thu, 2017-11-16 12:36

Sydney Johnson, EdSurge, Nov 16, 2017

This is an interesting article suggestive of future research (and future debates) but to date it is based on the flimsiest of foundations. The hook is a a Kansas State University study claiming that using a brainwave headset, Muse, reduces student office referrals by some 70 percent. But the best I can find is a small group session on the subject; neither the EdSurge article nor the university press release refer to a published study, nor is the study listed on the Muse site, nor could I find it in a search. Still. Muse won't release its algorithm, which rases questions about the method it uses to collect its data. And a related company, BrainCo, "has plans to use student EEG information to create 'the world’s biggest brainwave database.'" So who takes responsibility over how this data is used, or misused?

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Streamlining Access to Complex Data

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Thu, 2017-11-16 01:09

by David Raths, Campus Technology

Business intelligence (BI) projects are only worthwhile if users derive tangible value from them. And campus decision-makers don’t have the time to wade through complex reports, no matter how relevant the data. With that in mind, the BI team at George Washington University (DC) tapped into data visualization tools to create a dashboard tailored to the needs of busy college deans. The Dean’s Dashboard is a collection of several high-level metrics from different business areas across the university. It is one result of a five-year process of creating an enterprise data warehouse and a culture of data stewardship across the university, as well as the deployment of an agile project management process that fosters incremental improvement.

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OER will storm campuses in next 5 years

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Thu, 2017-11-16 01:05


Eighty-two percent of institutions say open educational resources (OER) will be an important source of course content in 5 years, according to a survey of CIOs detailed in an annual report that takes a look at campus IT. [Read last year’s Campus Computing results here “CIOS: 5 campus IT priorities for 2016 and beyond.“] The results of the report were released during the recent EDUCAUSE 2017 conference held in Philadelphia, Pa. This year saw small gains in formal institutions support for using OER in course materials, but faculty concerns remain about the quality of OER and updates surrounding the materials, according to the annual Campus Computing Project.

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How the technology behind Bitcoin could change marketing forever

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Thu, 2017-11-16 01:03

by Jeremy Epstein, ClickZ

In the mid ‘90s, marketers heard about email and the web. Ten years later, it happened again, with Facebook and Twitter. Finally, they began to understand and adapt to the implications that customers are connected and empowered in a way previously unimaginable. Marketers who recognize that blockchains represent another seismic shift have a large opportunity in front of them. History may be repeating itself.

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Actualizing the Online Community College

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Wed, 2017-11-15 21:52

Kelvin Bentley, EDUCAUSE Review, Nov 15, 2017

This is a bit of an odd article, but I'm including it here to keep at the top of mind an important initiative where "California Governor Jerry Brown asked the head of the state's community college system to develop a proposal for a fully online community college by November 2017." Why do I say it's odd? Well, for example, were he begins by saying "community colleges are open-access institutions" as a lead-in to accessibility issues. Yes, accessibility is important, and we should design for accessibility first, but it's not what people usually mean when people say something is an open access institution. Another is the suggestion that the college "using a model course approach". Does he mean a pilot course? A course template? Course design standards? The article also conflates flexible start-times with competency-based learning, the need for "online and face-to-face " faculty meetings. None of this is wrong per se but feels odd. Could be me.

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The Real Goal of Open Educational Resources

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Wed, 2017-11-15 21:43

I continue to debate David Wiley in this post (skip if you're not interested). I believe the goal of OER is access for all. This is my goal, though I don't think it's just my goal. But it's not David Wiley's goal, and it bothers me when he says we should reframe our advocacy of OER to de-emphasize cost and access.

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Does Avoiding Social Media Limit An Alt-Ac Career?

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Wed, 2017-11-15 15:44

Joshua Kim, Inside Higher Ed, Nov 15, 2017

The short answer to this is "no". I work in a building full of academics who are not university professors and who are almost invisible on social media in any professional sense. I know hundreds of others in other government, corporate and private research facilities. Their careers are doing just fine. Joshua Kim argues that social media is pretty essential, though. "Alternative academics, lacking many of the traditional disciplinary-based assets that bind traditional academics (journals, conferences, professional organizations etc.), have seemingly adopted social media our medium of communication, collaboration, and exchange." The key word here is seemingly. You can't judge the world by what you see on Twitter. You just can't. Image: University Affairs.

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Texas A&M Offers Art History Video Game as Credit-Bearing Course

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Wed, 2017-11-15 01:10

By Rhea Kelly, Campus Technology

A video game about 15th and 16th century art is the center of a new course this fall at Texas A&M University. Offered in the College of Architecture’s Department of Visualization, ARTS 489: World of Medici combines faculty-led lectures with ARTé: Mecenas, an art history game developed by Triseum in collaboration with the department’s LIVE Lab to immerse students in the course subject matter. Students are given many attempts to complete the game, which requires them to learn and retain the course material as they build and maintain a financial empire in Medici-era Florence. Those who achieve 100 percent mastery in the game earn one credit hour.

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Campus Expands Effort to Make Course Materials Affordable

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Wed, 2017-11-15 01:05

By CSU Fullerton

Beginning in January, students at Cal State Fullerton have another choice when they select their college courses: to pick classes that offer free digital materials or low-cost print versions. With the passage of state Senate Bill 1359, all college campuses are required to highlight on their online course schedules those classes that exclusively use free digital materials or low-cost print versions. The effort is but one way the University is developing ways to help students get the courses and the materials they need to succeed in their educational goal of a college degree. Cal State Fullerton is one of 11 universities and schools across the nation taking part in the OpenStax Institutional Partnership Program to encourage the use of free, peer-reviewed textbooks and other Open Educational Resources — free digital teaching, learning and research materials — on campus.

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10 Best Websites Like Coursera, Udacity and Other MOOCs

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Wed, 2017-11-15 01:03


If you can overlook the lack of clout of an MOOC, then you’d actually be a prime learner. Gaining new skills for a lower price and shorter time than by going to University, look here: 10 best websites like Coursera, Udacity and other MOOCs. In addition to the self-satisfaction that accompanies newly acquired skills, you’re also more likely to land a job with a bigger salary and opportunities for further development. With the increase of technology and internet development, you can access that spectrum of information and knowledge anyplace and anytime.


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Virtual Reality as Possibility Space

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Tue, 2017-11-14 19:16

monika bielskyte, Medium, Nov 14, 2017

Here are some resources from a sidebar discussion on virtual reality in learning. The first, Virtual Reality as Possibility Space, suggests that "The advent of digital realities is an opportunity for us to rethink the way we could be experiencing information. We are leaving the glowing rectangular screens behind to step into computational space where the world is our desktop." But what there is isn't necessarily what we see. We need to ensure that our new VR worlds are humane, shared, collaboprative, and human. We project our ideas into the world (as in this world of dogs). And VR can project other people's images of reality back to us, creating and shaping those objects in our mind. As this third item notes, "Reality’s portrayal and depiction varies depending upon how it is being represented, and by who is doing or producing the representation of reality. It affects our ethical judgments about how to act and treat other people in the real world."

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Introducing Spirited Media 2.0

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Tue, 2017-11-14 18:44

Chris Krewson, Medium, Nov 14, 2017

If you're not charging for content, and you're not running advertisements, then how are you going to make money with educational content (or any other content) in the future? Spirited Media answers this question with a three-part business model: it will sell memberships, it will have sponsored events, and it will offer consulting. All of these preserve the accessibility (and mobility) of content, and yet allow the company to trade on its reputation for knwoledge and insight in a way that offers specific services for compensation. If I were still in the local news game, that's what I'd be doing. And as a content provider in the future, something like this is probably my future business model. 

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The Neuroscience of Consciousness – with Anil Seth

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Tue, 2017-11-14 18:01

Anil Seth, YouTube, Nov 14, 2017

This is a nice talk recommended as part of a collection of resources from Theodore Hoppe in a comment on my consciousness post and it prompted me to add a couple of paragraphs to the work. One is the idea that there are degrees of consciousness, and that the degree is proportional to the complexity of neural interactions taking place. There's a discussion of how the brain fills in perceptions with its own expectations - don't miss the video of the doggy university courtyard. Another is the idea that the human brain, as a neural network, is not a knowing system, but rather, a predictive system. I mentioned this back in September. I don't agree with the idea that prediction "is the brain trying to understand what causes our perceptions" - we don't need to involve causation to make predictions, but this isn't a comment about the content, just the way it's expressed.  It's a great talk, well worth the how to view it. You can also download this talk as audio and watch the Q&A. If you don't have an hour there's a short and poppy TED version.

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OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Tue, 2017-11-14 17:56

Consciousness seems to be mysterious to most people. How does subjective experience arise? What is the relation between the perception of redness, say, or the thought that "Paris is the capital of France," and the purely physical mechanisms that philosopher Daniel Dennett believes - and I believe - constitute human processes of thought? In this article I use David Bentley Hart's article criticizing Dennett as a frame through which to offer my own thoughts on consciousness. Note that at 14,500 words this is one of my longer articles. Also note that I'm still making edits and updates, not so much to polish it, but to fill gaps and round it out where needed.

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Revisiting 70:20:10

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Tue, 2017-11-14 15:31

Clark Quinn, Learnlets, Nov 14, 2017

I think that Twitter is a terrible place to hold a conversation, but if you can get past how annoying these tweets would be to a non-participant you get what is actually a pretty good stream of comments in Will Thalheimer's debunk session. What are my takeways from it? Well, first of all, the numbers don't matter - what the phrase expressdes is the idea that there is a split between formal, social and espetiental forms of learning (except the numbers do matter; if it's 90% formal we're not having this debate). Also, that the numbers report activities as reported by learners, as opposed to impact on outcomes. And what would a measurement of outcomes even look like - Thalheimer seems at one point to suggest that since there's no way to evaluate the outcomes of informal learning, it doesn't exist. Finally, we find near the end of the chat a pretty good diagram using much better termionology, using education-exposure-experience instead of formal-social-informal.

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Why philosophy is so important in science education

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Tue, 2017-11-14 15:11

Subrena E Smith, Aeon, Nov 14, 2017

"Why," asks Subrena Smith, "do college students so often treat philosophy as wholly distinct from and subordinate to science?" She suggests four reasons: a lack of historical awareness, the desire for concrete results, the idea that science is purely objective, and the philosophers' violation of the preceeding three expectations. "Why do they think this way?" she asks. "It’s  not because this is the way that science is practised but rather, because this is how science is normally taught." So she argues that they could be - and should be - taught differently. "Our scientist colleagues should continue to teach the fundamentals of science, but they can help by making clear to their students that science brims with important conceptual, interpretative, methodological and ethical issues."

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Working memory

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Tue, 2017-11-14 12:23

Matthias Melcher, x28s new Blog, Nov 14, 2017

I while back I addressed the topic of working memory in a post pushing back against the idea that it is simply a buffer for storage in long-term memory. Matthias Melcher finds some antecedents to the idea in "Baddeley’s model (which) contains, among others, the 'phonological loop' (audio over time) and the 'visuo-spatial sketchpad'." Now there's a lot to the model I don't subscribe to, especially the idea (shared by many others) of an 'executive function'. It (and Baddeley's model as a whole) resembles a web platform more than it resembles a mind. But the idea that short-term memory plays "a great role in processing both temporal and spatial perceptions" makes sense to me.

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