news (external)

Beacons: A Shiny New Tool for Delivering Context-Specific Content

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Fri, 2016-12-30 18:05

Pamela Hogle, Learning Solutions Magazine, Dec 30, 2016

So - I don't know. Do I want my mobile phone to accept bluetooth messages from the ambient environment? This article touts it as a good thing. "If a beacon is addressing your mobile device, you won’ t even know it’ s there until your device responds, possibly offering up some information that you’ re only just realizing you need. If you’ re holding the beacon, personalized content might instantly appear as you approach a learning station." The problem with such systems in the past has always been spam and malware. There's no reason to believe these won't plague the current iteration.

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Fast Topic Matching

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Fri, 2016-12-30 18:05

Brave New Geek, Dec 30, 2016

I've always had in mind the idea to allow OLDaily subscribers to pick the topics they're interested in, and send them only that. I haven't, for two reasons. This article addresses the first: actually makng it work for thousands of topics and/or thousands of subscribers is a bear. The obvious method - called the "naive hashmap" - takes too long to work (I've tried it). But there are certainly speedier solutions. But the second reason I haven't done it is even harder: I want OLDaily readers to be surprised. Nobody would have selected this topic, for example, but aren't you glad you learned about it? Via Vedalgo.

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How to Replace Windows Essentials 2012 After Support Ends in January

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Fri, 2016-12-30 18:05

How-to-Geek, Dec 30, 2016

Some of these are my most-used applications, so I thought I should pass this along. The following will no longer be supported (which means no downloads, no patches, no security updates - but you can still use them). Here are the apps impacted: Movie Maker, Photo Gallery, OneDrive, Family Safety, Mail, or Live Writer. Two of them - Family safety and OneDrive - are built into Windows 10 (so you can continue renting them). For Mail you can use Outlook, but better might be eM Client, Mailbird, and Thunderbird. I use Thunderbird. For photo gallery you can use  Flickr (which I use) but there is no good replacement for simple photo viewing. To replace MovieMaker, the article recommends Ezvid or DaVinci Resolve. And LiveWriter has an open source fork, called Open Live Writer.

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This Is How Artificial Intelligence Will Shape eLearning For Good

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Fri, 2016-12-30 18:05

Kyle Hauptfleisch, e-Learning Industry, Dec 30, 2016

This is a high-level overview of how artificial intelligence works (some of it, at least) and how it will shape e-learning in the future. The article cautions (and I agree) that AI is just a tool. "Holding the creators of algorithms liable is not technically fair though. The systems learn from the data being processed, not from the algorithms themselves. And in verticals where safety and compliance is non-negotiable, such as a learning environment, this could present a radical problem." The same applies to human learning. We don't have built-in content algorithms. Learning depends on the experiences we present to learners (or the experiences they are able to find for themselves).

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A Husband-Wife Team Pays It Forward By Bringing E-Learning To The Philippines

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Fri, 2016-12-30 18:05

Casey Hynes, Forbes, Dec 30, 2016

I think this is probably a useful service but only Forbes would call starting a for-profit education business as "paying it forward". Anyhow, here's the gist: "FrontLearners offers schools an out-of-the-box, end-to-end e-learning solution. Participating classrooms receive a kit that includes a server loaded with content, a router to establish a wi-fi connection, and tablets that students use to follow their teachers’ lessons." The software offering, which is based on a Moodle platform, offers what they call a "blended mastery learning method."

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ED publishes final rules on distance education

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Fri, 2016-12-30 01:09

by Jarrett Carter, Education dive

The U.S. Department of Education has finalized its guidance on colleges and universities offering online degrees in states and territories beyond their home location, requiring that schools receive authorization from every state where domestic students do, or could pursue degrees. The guidance allows for continuation of the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement, which allows degree offerings in 44 states so far. According to Inside Higher Ed, some observers are not sure if the new guidance will be maintained under the incoming Trump Administration, which has shared on the record a desire to rollback several key elements of educational regulation.

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Four Questions For: Sebastian Thrun

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Fri, 2016-12-30 01:05

by Byron Reese, GigaOm

“In the future, education will shift from once-in-a-lifetime to lifelong. We are already seeing an increasing number of people demanding new education and new credentials as they walk through life. In the tech space, Udacity has become the go-to place for millions of people, not least because of our very strong ties to the tech industry, who eagerly hires our graduates. I also believe the sky-high tuition fees of existing universities will crumble…. AI will make us superhuman. Just as cars have made us superhuman (we can now “run” at 100mph), and phones have made us superhuman (we can now talk with people thousands of miles away), AI will give us superhuman memory, problem solving abilities, and an ability to get things done. 300 years ago, most of us worked in farming, doing the same physical task over and over again. Today, most of us work in offices, doing the same mental task over and over again. AI will do to boring repetitive mental work what the steam engine did to repetitive physical work in the fields.”

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Colleges watch changes in federal administration

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Fri, 2016-12-30 01:02

by Melissa Ezarik, University Business

Donald Trump’s pick for secretary of education, billionaire businesswoman and philanthropist Elisabeth “Betsy” DeVos, is more of a household name in K12 than higher ed circles. DeVos has worked to promote school choice and voucher programs, including creation of Detroit’s charter school system. She sits on the board of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, whose mission is “to build an American education system that equips every child to achieve his or her God-given potential.” As for what this means to the higher ed side of the fence, DeVos’ stances and potential actions as head of the department are much less clear—but there’s still much scrutiny over the announcement via social media and formal statements.

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2017 - Fri, 2016-12-30 01:00
Categories: Cartoons, Science News

Detecting Fake News

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Fri, 2016-12-30 00:04

After the spate of fake news in circulation over the last year or so numerous guides have been published to help you spot fake news. Unfortunately, few of them are effective. The reason for this is that they tend to focus on whether or not the source is authoritative. But authorities lie. Whether they're an old school newspaper, or just an old school, these days they all have a vested interest. They want you to believe them. So how do you cope? That's what this article is about.

, , Dec 29, 2016 [Link]
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A Genuine Science Of Learning

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Thu, 2016-12-29 18:04

Keith Devlin, Edge, Dec 29, 2016

There are four really good points in this quick overview of the future of learning. Keith Devlin is optimistic overall, saying we may be at the beginning of a genuine science of learning, much as medicine was at the beginning of the 20th century. This is not based on so-called neuroscience based on MRI - "A good analogy would be trying to diagnose an engine fault in a car by moving a thermometer over the hood." No, what new technology offers the hope of improved educational research - "Classroom studies invariably end up as studies of the teacher as much as of the students, and often measure the effect of the students’ home environment rather than what goes on in the classroom." It will allow us to dig deeper into real learning - "What is missing is any insight into what is actually going on in the student’ s mind— something that can be  very  different from what the evidence shows." We need to know why a student comes up with right or wrong answers - "part of what is going on is that many earlier studies measured knowledge rather than thinking ability. The learning gains found in the studies I am referring to are not knowledge acquired or algorithmic procedures mastered, rather high-level problem solving ability."

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The Little Ilustrated IT Security Guide

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Thu, 2016-12-29 18:04

École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne EPFL, Dec 29, 2016

This short guide (16 page PDF) calmly discusses the key elements of IT security for the average user. It's directed at staff and students of EPFL specifically, so there are some references that might not make sense to the general reader (such as the advice to use the EPFL VPN to read email) but in the absence of anything else I would not hesitate to distribute it.

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Finding the squishy middle (before fact-checking everything drives you nuts)

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Thu, 2016-12-29 03:04

Michael Caulfield, Hapgood, Dec 28, 2016

It's easy to say we should fact-check the internet (or at least that part of it pirporting to be news and information). Actually doing it is a lot harder. As Michael Caulfield says, fact-checking is boring unrewarding work. It's better shared with others. Enter annotation, as provided by (say) - now through the mechanism of annotation we can share our fact-checking efforts. For example, here's an annotated news article. Will this technology work where so many previous efforts at annotation have failed?

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Second Life's creator is building a 'WordPress for social VR'

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Thu, 2016-12-29 03:04

Nick Summers, Engadget, Dec 28, 2016

Virtual worlds and virtual reality are natural partners. So there's no real surprise that Second Life is looking to develop to support Oculus Rift and similar technologies. But getting the mix right is difficult - you don't want people to simply inhabit your environment, you want them to invest in it, to build it themselves. Hence, the WordPress analogy - what makes a blog worth reading isn't the software it was written with, it's the content that is written. But the other thing about WordPress is that each person had his or her own blog. Via The Blog Herald.

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Teaching ‘Truthiness’: Professors Offer Course On How to Write Fake News

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Thu, 2016-12-29 01:10

By Jeffrey R. Young, EdSurge

It sounds like a fake news story: Two professors plan a free online course on how to write fake news. But this course is real—as well as an act of satire. It’s called “How to Write and Read Fake News: Journalism in the Age of Trump,” and it’s being offered as a kind of performance art to draw attention to the problem of the influential falsehoods that are spreading online. The course is the latest offering from a long-running satirical project called UnderAcademy College, whose previous courses included “Grammar Porn” and “Underwater Procrastination and Advanced Desublimation Techniques.”

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The 5 biggest tech trends of 2016: ZDNet editors sound off

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Thu, 2016-12-29 01:05

by ZD Net

1. Cybersecurity: Data breaches accelerate

2. Cloud: AWS built on its lead as cloud providers mature

3. Apple: Can’t get out of its own way

4. The PC: Dead like vinyl records

5. Governments: The underfunded giants are at risk in tech

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Let there be light! Online platform lets students do science in real time

Online learning update by Ray Schroeder - Thu, 2016-12-29 01:02

by Dyllan Furness, Digital Trends

Dubbed the Biology Cloud Lab, the interactive platform is designed to engage scientists of all ages by letting them remotely control LEDs around communities of light-responsive cells. Although the single-celled organisms (Euglena) depend on light to make energy, they retreat when the light source is too strong. By manipulating the light’s direction and intensity, users can watch the Euglena react in real time and, later, hypothesize about the cells’ behavior. “Classic microscopy is just passive observation,” Stanford assistant professor of bioengineering and co-lead of the project, Ingmar Reidel-Kruse, told Digital Trends. “The Cloud Lab is interactive, i.e. a user can push a button, turn on a light, and see a cell responding. That is a paradigm change, which enables a totally new type of firsthand experience.”

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Raise the Bar: YouTube, the World's Largest LMS

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Thu, 2016-12-29 00:04

Mark Lassoff, Learning Solutions Magazine, Dec 28, 2016

Interesting thought. Certainly I turn to it any time I need to learn something hands-on and practical. "The depth and breadth of material on YouTube is astounding. In the education sector on YouTube, people are teaching everything from car repair to computer programming to personal financial management."

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Open Society Needs Defending

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Thu, 2016-12-29 00:04

George Soros, Project Syndicate, Dec 28, 2016

Argument from George Soros to the effect that, yes, the open society needs defending. "Open societies are in crisis," he writes, "and various forms of closed societies – from fascist dictatorships to mafia states – are on the rise." A bit sgtrong but we'll accept thes. He then asks, "How could this happen? The only explanation I can find is that elected leaders failed to meet voters’ legitimate expectations and aspirations and that this failure led electorates to become disenchanted with the prevailing versions of democracy and capitalism." Well, that much is true, but the prevailing institutions - including the EU, which he seeks to defend in this article - weren't showing any sign of actually meeting those legitimate expectations. How many times has the European Commission tried to sneak software patents into law, for example?

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Accessibility of MOOCs: Understanding the Provider Perspective

OLDaily by Stephen Downes - Thu, 2016-12-29 00:04

Francisco Iniesto, Patrick McAndrew, Shailey Minocha, Tim Coughlan, Journal of Interactive Media in Education (JIME), Dec 28, 2016

From the abstract: "we report the results from a study involving semi-structured interviews to investigate the perceptions and accessibility-related processes of MOOC platform accessibility managers, platform software developers and designers, and MOOC accessibility researchers."

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