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This is a great reconstruction of just what exactly is going on with the computers on Star Trek (the original series). "The Star Trek computer, at least in the 1960s, was not ahead of its time, but *of* its time. It lacked the vision to see even five years into the future... There’ s no keyboard because there is no text, anywhere, on any computer on the Enterprise to edit... Why? Because computers were for math, stupid!"[Link] [Comment]
Interesting perspective on why people don't have or use e-learning technology like e-learning portfolios. So why wouldn't you post your best work online? Here are the four reasons:
- You're too busy
- You don't have any experience
- You don't have any e-learning software
- You signed an NDA
The author argues that none of these reasons really stands the test of intent. If you wanted to share, you'd be sharing.[Link] [Comment]
I think this post is a classic example of post hoc ergo propter hoc - "after this therefore because of this". Here's the argument: "Google didn’ t start out by organising the world’ s information. Google started out as a way to make searching the Stanford Library easier.... Facebook didn’ t start out aiming to connect everyone in the world... It started out as a way for Harvard students to hook up." But if we take these stories seriously, the best we can conclude is that these services became giants by accident. Which is partly what happened. But what also happened is that, while they were small, they developed some very big ideas. I still remember the Google beta, when the Google Logo was still written in crayon. Already at that point they intended to organize the world's information (you get a sense of this reading some of the company's early press). The message of the story should be: to get big, dream big.[Link] [Comment]
I have to say I'm completely on board with the sentiments expressed in this post from Alan Levine. He writes, "Attribution not just about following rules and avoiding getting in trouble for copyright, it’ s about paying forward the act of sharing content freely." Every single one of the 36,000 or so posts on this site attributes an author and a website, not because it's "required" but because it's the right thing to do. And that, to me, is the problem with rules - they rarely aid people in right conduct, but instead merely become the source of loopholes less scrupulous people can hide behind. (Note that unless otherwise stated, the source of the images on this site are the posts to which they are attached and credited.)[Link] [Comment]
Donald Clark defends the use of swear words and expressions in conference presentations (language warning, not surprisingly). This is also common in various online publications - I frequently see items that would otherwise be good reading except for the irrelevant eruption of an expletive mid-story. And I challenge the claim that it's more effective. I never swear, nor do I litter my online writing with swear words or similarly lazy aphorisms or innuendos. And yet - arguably - it is just as effective as Donal Clark's. Maybe more so. And my own take is that, if your message is improved by swearing, you should maybe examine the weakness in the message, rather than praise the strength in the swearing.[Link] [Comment]
Interesting article about Facebook's response to 'dangerous speech'. The article is situated with respect to "the Buddhist monk Ashin Wirathu, who spent seven years in jail for inciting violence against Muslims and now advocates exiling them from Myanmar." The article lists five criteria for identifying "dangerous speech" (and therefore presumably for the banning of it or its utterers):
- It takes place in a social or historical context ripe for violence, such as longstanding religious tensions or struggles to control valuable resources;
- The audience has grievances or fears a speaker can exploit;
- The speaker is highly influential or charismatic;
- The speech is clearly understandable as a call to violence;
- The speaker employs an influential medium— typically a radio or television station.
To me, the only criterion of any merit is the fourth: the speech is clearly understandable as a call to violence. The others are merely mechanisms for legitimizing dangerous speech emanating from more traditional agencies. I think teachers and educators should look at these criteria, and tackle the question of what counts as "dangerous speech", and what we should do about it, directly. P.S., why can't we have options like "'it’ s a rumor or has false information,' 'it promotes violence,' and 'it disturbs social harmony'?" Aren't these things dangerous in North America as well?[Link] [Comment]
Saben como son estas cosas. Cuando todos quienes nos rodeaban habían adquirido un robot aspirador (Roomba por más datos, lo que suena a “rumba”) la presión se volvió insoportable. Y pedimos a un vecino que nos lo dejara unos días, eso sí, manifestando nuestro más absoluto escepticismo.
Bueno, pues no. Pues resulta que sí que limpió y nos privó de los pelos de Kala, la perra callejera que nos acompaña. Y, observando, observando, me di cuenta de que era un cacharro altamente eficiente que trabajaba de la forma menos eficiente que podía imaginarse. En vez de buscar las zonas sucias que debía aspirar, su único objetivo era bordear los obstáculos. Así insistía una y otra vez en zonas ya limpias. Pero si te olvidabas de él, si no pretendías que limpiara como lo haría una persona inteligente, Rufus, pues así lo habíamos bautizado, persistía y persistía y, finalmente, dejaba la casa como una patena (1*).
Y como uno siempre está pensando en estas cosas de la tecnología y la educación, caí en la cuenta de que muchas tecnologías presuntamente inteligentes que se introducen en la enseñanza lo hacen tratando de repetir el modo de actuar humano. Por ejemplo, los tutores y los tutoriales inteligentes tratan de imitar a los tutores humanos y, como era de esperar, lo hacen muy mal. El aprendizaje adaptativo trata de adaptar el currículum a cada individuo como lo podría hacer una persona, basándose en los aciertos y errores del alumno, y, de nuevo, los resultados no parecen excesivamente inteligentes ni adecuados para personas inteligentes.
La clave es que las tecnologías inteligentes en la escuela deben seguir las ideas de Alan Turing (ahora tan de moda): el que una máquina sea inteligente no quiere decir que tenga el mismo tipo de inteligencia que los humanos.
En realidad esta es una historia vieja como la tecnología. No sé si el primero que intentó hacer un lavavajillas se esforzó en construir brazos articulados que manejaran estropajos o cepillos para frotar los platos sucios, imitando el modo de hacer de las personas. Afortunadamente alguien descubrió que era mejor abandonar esa idea y lanzar chorros de agua a presión.
Una entrada en un blog no da para extenderse más en este tema. Lástima. Pero me ha parecido una buena ocasión para que quienes trabajamos en las tecnologías educativas comencemos a innovar de verdad y no a intentar que las máquinas funcionen del mismo modo que nosotros.
Ya ven, la clave en los lavavajillas era el chorrito de agua. Gracias Rufus, por enseñarnos estas cosas.
(1*) Observo que esta entrada ha quedado impregnada de la herencia religiosa: “bautizar” se utiliza como sinónimo de “poner un nombre”, mientras que “limpio como una patena” hace referencia al platillo o “patena” que utilizan los sacerdotes católicos y que limpian minuciosamente durante la ceremonia de la misa.
American Millennials Not Terribly Bright When It Comes to Pretty Much Everything That Matters, Analysis Finds
On March 1 my Fellowship with the Shuttleworth Foundation ended and I officially became an alum of the program. It was an absolutely amazing experience! If you are passionate about using openness to overcome a social problem, you should stop every single thing you are doing right now and go learn about the Shuttleworth Fellowship program. A brief quote from the site:
The Shuttleworth Foundation Fellowship Program funding consists of two components for each Fellow – the fellowship grant and the co-investment project funding.
The fellowship grant covers the cost of the Fellow’s time for a year and is guaranteed to the fellow for that year. The grant amount varies and is determined by each Fellow’s salary equivalent outside of the fellowship.
The co-investment project funding is the most unique part of the Fellowship Program, as Fellows are rewarded for investing in their own ideas. An amount of $245,000 is set aside per Fellow per year as potential project funding. This funding is unlocked through a light weight project pitch process and the Foundation tops up the Fellow’s own investment by adding at least 10 times as much funding from their project funding pool.
Despite the relatively large financial value of the Fellowship, the application process is one of the fastest and easiest I have ever seen (and I’ve applied for a lot of grants in my time). The online application form asks you to answer 16 questions, upload your resume, and provide a link to a 5 minute video of you pitching your idea. That’s it. And not only is their application process extremely simple, their reporting process is equally unobtrusive. Shuttleworth Fellows spend their time changing the world and not wrestling with administrivia.
And did I mention how awesome the other Fellows are? When you receive a Fellowship, you become part of an absolutely incredible network of people working on projects far cooler than you had ever imagined possible before. My mind is repeatedly blown every six months when I read about the work the new group of Fellows will be doing. And the Shuttleworth Foundation staff themselves are awesome, too.
In short, I can’t say enough good things about the Shuttleworth Fellowship. It’s been an incredible experience. I look forward to staying connected to the network of Fellows as I continue working on the cost and quality issues facing education. Will you be joining the network? You should!
Some time ago we received the sad news that David Raffe, professor of Sociology of Education at the University of Edinburgh had died unexpectedly. For us David was a colleague who had been very strongly present during the early years of the European Conference on Educational Research (ECER) and the early phase of the VETNET network (for research in Vocational Education and Training). Also, many of us had worked together with him in European projects and conferences. For us he was not just one of the colleagues but a person from whom we learned a lot in many respects. Therefore, it is appropriate stop for a moment to remember David.
We have already prepared a joint text in the name of the VETNET network and sent it to the University of Edinburgh to be included in their condolence book and we have sent it out via the VETNET mailing list. In this process the veterans of VETNET who had known David for years (like Sabine, Johanna, Martin, Graham and Karen) shared views with those who joined VETNET later and had less chances get acquainted with him. We all were hit by the news and we felt that we want to share our memories with the community. During this process several personal memories came to my mind. Here I would like to share some of them shortly.
My first encounter with David was at the pilot-ECER in Enschede, the Netherlands, in June 1992. I was participating as a relatively young researcher, just entering the European arenas. David was there as a well-known scholar and as one of the keynote speakers of the whole conference. He put into discussion the issue :”Is modularisation becoming a common currency in European education and training?” I still remember the way he started to explore different concepts of flexibility that were attached to modularisation as well as different prospects for progression and growth of knowledge. He also drew our attention to main effects and side effects of reforms and alerted us of one-sided views (affirmation vs. rejection). Altogether, he gave us a lesson, how to avoid easy answers and how to get deeper into the complexity of reform processes.
Later on I had the chance to observe the work of a European project (“Post-16 strategies”) in which England and Scotland were participating as different countries. This project avoided the pitfall of getting different systems into competition with each other. Instead, the partners tried to identify, what kind of strategies for promoting parity of esteem (between general and vocational learning) have success chances in their countries – and how they can learn from each other. To me it was striking that the ‘big names’ assembled in this project accepted the role of contributors instead of claiming the leadership for themselves. Here, David was a good contributor. As an annexed event I had the chance to witness a session of an Anglo-Scottish comparative project in which English and Scottish researchers were in genuine dialogue on recent developments in their respective countries.
A third memory is related to my former employer Cedefop (European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training) shortly after it had moved from Berlin to Thessaloniki. Cedefop was in the process of new start and repositioning and was re-establishing its contacts to different stakeholders. The Management Board had a special session in which Commissioner Edith Cresson was attending. David was invited as a representative of the research community to discuss the development policies in vocational education and training (VET) and the role of Cedefop. To me it seemed that David’s speech was very helpful in creating an air of listening to and learning from research (rather than assigning researchers as sub-contractors to promote given policy priorities).
Later on we realised that David was putting priority on working in Scotland – or on comparisons between England & Wales, Scotland, North Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Here again, he could surprise us with findings on unexpected diversity – brought together with common language and seemingly common vocabulary.
Now that we have shared the news of David’s death we have received several reactions from colleagues of old from different parts of Europe – Alan from England, Eduardo from Portugal, Georg from Germany, Jose Luis from Spain, Sören from Denmark … We all have come together with our thoughts to remember David and to respect his life work.
Rest in peace, David