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For any visitors to my home town of Plymouth (and this includes many Americans), the Mayflower Steps are ostensibly located on a stone pier in Sutton Harbour. A portico with pillars and a balcony has been erected to celebrate this famous voyage of discovery, and it is visited by thousands every month. The engraved stone at the base of the monument simply declares 'Mayflower, 1620'. Those who visit and take photos to capture the moment are largely unaware that the steps are fake. They have been built on a part of the Barbican that simply didn't exist back in 1620. Four centuries ago, the water's edge was back at least 30 metres from its current location. You see, the truth is often much more mundane than the myth.
Photo by Mick Lobb on GeographIn reality, the true Mayflower Steps are located inside a nearby public house called the Admiral McBride. Specifically, they are under the floor in the Ladies toilets. This can be confirmed by anyone who cares to visit the premises, simply by asking the bar staff. The Mayflower Steps portico has not been built there with the intention to deceive, merely to celebrate such a great feat of human endeavour. Most of the visitors to the site have no idea it is faux, and if they did many would probably not care too much. But this manipulation of historical fact is useful as a metaphor for a challenge facing contemporary society around the changing nature of 'knowledge'.
Sometimes referred to egregiously as 'alternative truth', there is plenty of fake news and manufactured 'fact' available today. Knowledge is now more vulnerable to manipulation that it has ever been, due to mass media and the proliferation of the Web. It is not hard to deceive people today, because many take content they find on the Web at face value, and some have yet to learn how to question and cross reference the information they encounter. Much as a magician or illusionist will misdirect us from what is really going on, so fake news often fulfils a similar function, distracting us from what is really going on. Certain politicians have learnt to do this.
Education has a key role to play in countering this problem. Many educators work hard to teach students how to discern fact from fiction, and how to verify the truthfulness of content on the Web. The notion of 'digital literacies' embraces a range of skills and competencies, but perhaps one of the most important is the ability to know when content is fake or real. We constantly encounter untruths, some of them subtle. The City of Plymouth markets itself as 'Britain's Ocean City', but it is actually quite a distance from the Atlantic Ocean, located on the English Channel. We will never know the true extent of all the smoke and mirrors the Web contains, but it would certainly do us no harm as a society if we possessed the skills to determine truth from fiction. However, we also need to acknowledge that people sometimes feel comfortable believing in a well-manufactured lie if it confirms their personal bias.
'Useful lies are preferred to harmful truth.' - Geoge Orwell
Smoke and mirrors 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
I ran across this concept last summer and let it slip by, but I don't want to overlook it. The idea is that the brain functions not as an intelligence or thinking instrument, but as a prediction machine. This article collects a number of resources that revolve around that idea. This is important because the function of predicing can be very different, and the requirements much lower, than for intelligence or cognition. That said, I think Julie Dirksen minsinterprets the idea in her post, and in particular, every word in the sentence "our brains use embodied simulation to construct meaning" is wrong in its own distinct way (I should write an article on just this sentence one day). You don't need any of that cognitive overhead to make predictions. In all fairness though, she's summarizing a TED talk from Anil Seth, which is the source of some of the error. That sat, the post is worth a look, and the concept definitely worth a think.[Link] [Comment]
"This article," writes Zsolt Olah, "is about why you can’t motivate humans, and the 5 design steps you should go about it." Wait - you can't motivate students? There goes about ten tons of educational theory! But this proposition is advanced by Susan Fowler in her book on the topic. The idea is that you can't motivate them because they're already motivated. "People spend significant amount of informal learning time on YouTube, social media, forums; they’re asking peers constantly for answers. They are engaged and motivated," writes Olah. Ah, but the methodology that follows reads as something similar to Gagne's nine events (reduced to five). Grab attention, challenge them, engage them, then, um, motivate them, and finally, inspire! There is a useful link to a chapter on motivation from Julie Dirksen's book on learning design with a focus on four elements: technology acceptance, user efficacy, modelling and practice, and social proof.[Link] [Comment]
You might be interested in this presentation of what I would consider a folk theory of cognition. Presented as a video by Kevin Thorn, it describes two tracks of perception and information processing - words and images. These correspond to verbal and pictorial representations, first in working memory, then in long-term memory. Why, I wonder, would we separate knowledge into two distinct types? And where are the other senses, like tactile and kinesthetic? And why would learning be depicted as nothing more than memory? Anyhow. You might also be interested in Thorn's other videos, including a 19-part (so far) series of lengthy videos (22.5 hours total) on Storyline Live. Thorn also has a blog, but with only three posts per year he leaves the readers wanting.[Link] [Comment]
This is an interesting and useful guide describing in detail how to use xAPI. It thereby serves as a good way to understand xAPI as a concept. This is the second article in a series (see the first, from last March, on getting started with xAPI and Storyline). In this article she shpws "how to create custom xAPI statements for Storyline, that is how to send data from Storyline triggers to your LRS." You need to develop the xAPI triggers at specific points in your resource, and then you can track how people are using it, whether they finished, and whether they replayed it. See more on the same topic from her blog (and pulling a live stream of the data from her example). Here's a bit more from HT2 Labs.[Link] [Comment]
Sept 14, 2017
This is basically marketing content but I'm including it today as evidence of a wider trend in learning toward workplace performance support over formal in-class training. As the headline suggests, performance support needs to be context-aware, knowing not just what the learner is doing but also what they've done (and learned) in the past. According to the site, "Today’s workers want answers fast and have little patience for training that cannot be immediately applied. Just-in-time training (JITT) is one way to meet this need by providing easy access to up-to-date microlearning content." I'd suggest that this is what people in general want, not just workers (I have certainly seen a demand for it at the executive level). Having said all that, there's still a lot of manual intervention required to make such a system work. You need to define and gathaer data on company key performance indicators (KPI). And you need to define and gather employee performance and business data.[Link] [Comment]
I don't think this author is telling us anything we don't already know, but there's a nice analogy in the retelling. Basically, there are two points being made: first, our devices (collectively known as the Internet of Things (IoT)) are reporting back to advertisers and marketers through backchannels; and second, we do not own full rights to our devices, but merely license the software that is used to run them. The analogy is feudal: "In the feudal system of medieval Europe, the king owned almost everything, and everyone else’s property rights depended on their relationship with the king." There were some differences, of course, between the feudal system and today's reality. But it's an interetsing comparison.[Link] [Comment]
The idea of an Open Access (OA) dashboard is to automate some processes related to accessing and distributing open scholarly materials. This article reports on the outcome of an OA dashboard feasibility study (41 page PDF). The results are not encouraging, as it suggests a business case cannot be made. "Although there is a gap in terms of analysing data on OA, open data sources are not mature enough to power a dashboard and may undermine the validity of its outputs."[Link] [Comment]
IBM has unveiled "a smart search engine that uses Watson’s ability to parse natural language and make recommendations with the aim of accurately matching what teachers are really looking for." Interestingly, "Populating the search engine is a collection of more than 1,000 OERs—from sources such as Achieve, UnboundED and statewide orgs like EngageNY—hand-selected by math experts assisting the program." The product is called Teacher Advisor With Watson 1.0. 1,000 OERs isn't very many, so I'm thinking this is more of a 'stake in the ground' for IBM, marking territory it intends to begin developing.[Link] [Comment]