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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.Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
2018 feels like the year that my blogging had been the apprenticeship for, with the OU crisis at the fore. My most popular post by some way was this one posted the day our VC resigned. It followed on from a semi-viral Twitter rant and subsequent post a couple of weeks earlier. Prior to this life had not been good at the OU, and like anyone sensible who worked there, I began to cast around for opportunities elsewhere. It wasn’t a healthy place to be. But through these posts, and Twitter a new sense of camaraderie emerged with colleagues, students, associate lecturers and wider community. Having a well read blog meant that I could contribute to this, and during the peak crisis many people contacted me privately saying thankyou for giving voice to their frustrations, as they felt a sense of powerlessness.
Since the change, I have decided to cast my lot in with the remainers (no, a different set of remainers. But them too), despite many of my colleagues leaving. After the role in the crisis, I felt a sense of responsibility, and so I have also taken to trying to use this blog to amplify good work and talks at the OU. This is partly to counteract the narrative that became reinforced over the past 12 months that the OU needs to ‘get digital’ and become a 21st century university, which completely ignored all the work we were doing in this area.
My most enjoyable blogging action was the 25 Years of Ed Tech series, which I started on a whim in order to tie in with ALT-C’s 25th anniversary. I wasn’t sure I’d see it through, but it was a lot of fun, and received positive responses. I’m currently in a cottage on a very windswept Cornish coast attempting to turn this series into a book.
My most commented upon post was nothing to do with ed tech, but rather when I wrote about losing my dog, Bruno. I don’t often do purely personal posts, but I was inspired by Amy Collier’s heartfelt piece of writing on the loss of her dog, Sam. I found both the writing of this piece, and the kind comments helpful in dealing with it.
What these three posts (or series of posts) highlight for me once again is the value of a blog as a central identity. I could have used other media for each of them, but by having the blog it combines to a more powerful effect. For instance, I could have written about the OU for a formal outlet, such as the Times Higher (and indeed, after I posted it, much was picked up by the THES and I was asked to contribute to a couple of pieces). But I would have been behold to an editor who would decide whether to run it, and would want to shape the article. I could have proposed my blog series to a book publisher, but it was only by working through it online and getting feedback that I came to see what shape it could take. I could have posted about my dog on FB (and I did link to my post from there), but that has a limited scope of readers.
The blog was the ideal place for starting, sharing and developing all of these aspects. All those years of writing crap blog posts about VLEs and web 2.0 finally paid off this year. It’s almost as if it was worth it. As Partridge would say – cashback!
In particular, there are several philosophical debates about the nature of intelligence and how human intelligence differs from machine intelligence. One of the texts I draw from is Tegmark's Life 3.0. Here's an excerpt from the new book:
MIT physics professor Max Tegmark presents some compelling arguments for the future of AI. He argues that the benefits of AI will far surpass the threats, provided they are aligned to human intentions. One of the greatest concerns he reveals is not that computers might become sentient, or ‘evil’, but a scenario in which the goals of ‘competent’ AI become misaligned with ours. His key argument is that the discussion around whether or not computers will attain consciousness or emotional capability is spurious (Tegmark, 2017). Our future co-existence with technology will be premised on the ability of computers to make life better for humanity, not to out-think us.
For Tegmark, intelligence, whether human or artificial, is being able to accomplish complex goals (whether those goals are good or bad). He argues that intelligence ultimately relies on information and computation, not on flesh and blood or on metal and plastic. Therefore, he reasons, with the exponential developments taking place in the world of technology, there is no barrier to computers eventually attaining and even surpassing human intelligence. Such a position can be described as ‘Strong AI’, or in Tegmark’s terms, the ‘Beneficial AI movement’.
Conversely the weak AI supporters predict that computers will not reach a level of intelligence that exceeds our own. Firstly, they argue, human and machine intelligence are not the same thing. Secondly, computers blindly follow code, and have no free will to decide not to follow it (unless they are programmed to do so – which thereby defeats the notion of free will). Thirdly, suggest the weak AI theorists, it is proving extremely difficult to create computer programs that can accurately model or reproduce human attributes such as emotions, abstract thinking and intuition.
Whatever side of the argument you subscribe to, it is interesting to note the comparisons between human and machine. Arguably, all of the above attributes, such as free will, emotions, abstract thinking and intuitive action not only make us who we are, they also create a permanent and unbridgeable divide between humans and computers.
ReferenceTegmark, M. (2017) Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence. London: Penguin Books.
Humans, machines and learning by Steve Wheeler was written in Plymouth, England and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Posted by Steve Wheeler from Learning with e's
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.Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
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."Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
I decided to call the book 'Digital Learning in Organisations' from the outset because my expertise lies in learning technologies. The departure is found in the locus - organisations. I have worked with many learning and development professionals over the last decade and have come to know many personally, but L and D is a less familiar terrain to me than school and university education. However, having worked in large organisations for more than 40 years, and having watched the rapid development of new technologies during that time, I feel I can write authoritatively about the challenges and innovations that are happening.
As you would guess, I have enlisted a little of help from my friends along the way, so writing has not been as lonely a task as it might have been. I'm grateful to many who have either encouraged me to write the book, or who have advised me in any specific way. The list is long. But I'm most grateful to those who have contributed directly to the book by responding to my interview questions. I will namecheck just a few here, to give you a flavour of their contributions, which may pique your interest in reading the entire book when it hits the bookshops in April 2019!
Here's David Kelly, New York based Executive director of the e-Learning Guild, with his view on mobile devices and learning:
“Mobile technologies shouldn’t be viewed through the lens of learning. They should be viewed through the lens of problem solving. That’s what this thing we call “self-directed learning” looks like anyway; it looks like problem solving and that’s what’s emerging within the world of digital learning.”David goes on to consider a number of scenarios around the use of mobile learning in large organisations, and concludes that:
“.....mobile devices are a game changer for organizations – not in the context of mobile learning, but in the context of how they empower what it means to live, learn, and interact in a digital world. In that context, mobile devices are powering the future of digital learning.”This is at once both inspirational and daunting - thanks David. Another thoughtful contribution comes from Julian Stodd, of the UK based firm Sea Salt Learning who shared some of his views on social media and learning:“We have moved from a world where learning was substantially formal, codified, and owned, to a world where it is substantially, co-created, adaptive, geolocated, accessible, and evolutionary. Social collaborative technology has enabled the emergence of democratised, and substantially invisible, communities, where tacit, tribal, learning and sharing takes place at scale.”Julian's views delineate much of the change that has taken place in the world of learning in the workplace over the last 10-15 years. His insight adds great value to the book.
Digital Learning in Organisations is peppered with examples of innovation and change through learning, and the role digital technologies have played, especially by ground breaking companies like Sponge. You will find pithy quotes from many individuals I greatly respect in the industry, including Nigel Paine, Donald Clark, David Hopkins, Kate Graham, Harold Jarche (Canada), Helen Blunden (Australia) Donald H Taylor, Michele Ricci (Italy), Ajay Pangarkar (Canada) and Jane Bozarth (USA), and also a few of my own anecdotes, salutary tales, and humorous stories from when things didn't quite go according to plan!
Do look out for Digital Learning in Organisations, which is published by Kogan Page on 3 April 2019. Advanced orders can be placed on Amazon.
A little help from my friends by Steve Wheeler was written in Plymouth, England and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Posted by Steve Wheeler from Learning with e's
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.Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]
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.Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]