I work in the Learning and Performance Support Systems program at the National Research Council, a multi-year effort to develop personal learning technology and learning analytics. I am one of the originators of the Massive Open Online Course, write about online and networked learning, have authored learning management and content syndication software, and am the author of the widely read e-learning newsletter OLDaily.


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Distilling Canvas LMS Accusations Of ‘Openwashing’


This unattributed post on Moodle News largely clears Canvas of 'openwashing'. It points out that the software is released under a good open soure license, and moreover, that its APis are open. Some cracks around the foundation: a Canvas host could charge for API access, and Instructure (Canvas parent company) might not "protect the values and principles that have maintained the open source community alive and thriving" in the future. I haven't actually run an instance of Canvas (maybe I should one of these days) so I'm not sure whether there are any practical barriers. But this article makes it sound like I'd be fine.

Today: 83 Total: 83 Moodle News, 2017/11/23 [Direct Link]

Fear and Loathing in the Moodle Community


This is a long post from Michael Feldstein on the opposition to e-Literate's recent data regarding new Moodle installations. A lot of it is irrelevant (though I did learn some things about the now-abandoned dotLRN project). There are two threads to the argument. The second is that the e-Literate analysis is based on good data. The first is that exceptions to that data (of the form, say, "but it's big in Spain") are irrelevant. Feldstein also suggests that readers misunderstood some of the finer points of the analysis. I have no reason to doubt the second (though the account of 'primary LMS' is a bit sketchy). But the first leaves me wanting; I think the international market is more important than Feldstein is willing to credit, especially today, especially to non-American companies, and especially with respect to open source software. 

Today: 82 Total: 82 Michael Feldstein, e-Literate, 2017/11/23 [Direct Link]

Peppa Pig's tale of torture? Why parents can't rely on platforms like YouTube Kids for child-friendly fare


A full mont after reports surfaced on Mashable, via a James Briddle column, BBC News report, and a NY Times paywalled article, the story of the dangerously inappropriate YouTube videos being marketed to kids has surfaced on CBC News. This is a sad reflection on the national broadcaster, which has all but abandoned coverage of science, technology and education. We are told "when it comes to protecting children from content, we can never rely solely on algorithms," but this is the same old 'algorithm as black box' treatment. Algorithms could perform the task perfectly well (in this case all they have to do is scan for guns and fangs!) but we have to be ready to hold companies accoubtable for what their algorithms produce (and what their 'kid friendly' sites contain).

Today: 124 Total: 124 Ramona Pringle, CBC News, 2017/11/22 [Direct Link]

A.I. Will Serve Humans - But Only About 1% of Them


This is another post about the limitations of AI, both in terms of their effectiveness and in terms of their explainability. In terms of effectiveness, they depend on the data they're given (which explains racist AIs) and on the uses to which they're put (which explains selective blindness in AIs). We are also told “We can’t look inside the black box that makes the decisions.” But we can know a lot about it - its data sources, its algorithms, its deployment. These are covered in Europe's new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). What about explainability? Because there are so many input variables, we cannot understand AI in terms of simple rules. But we can understand the range of possible outcomes, whichc allows us to create a portrait of how a given AI operates. 

Today: 122 Total: 122 Robby Berman, 2017/11/22 [Direct Link]

The rise of the campus meme


If there's one thing people at elite colleges know how to do really well, it's how to create an in-group. Thus so with memes. The typical meme has been around for ages; I wrote about them in 1999, before the first image meme. These appeared as "I can has cheezburger" in 2007. Since then the format has thrived; sites like Imgur keep the tradition alive. And, of course, so do blogging sites like Tumblr and social media, like Facebook, which of course had its own history as an elite thing. This article is about the latest in-group thing, the campus meme. The idea is that the memes are so obscure you'd have to be a student of the campus in order to get them. But they also become a way for outsiders to look in. "Meme groups have become a mainstay of the United States’ elite universities, and at many schools, there are far more members than students." The meme groups are all in Facbook (natch) and though you have to be logged in to Facebook to view the group home page, you can jump directly to specific images from the listings at the bottom of the article (someone did a lot of work collecting and collating them).

Today: 111 Total: 205 Sahil Chinoy, Ella Jensen, The Daily Californian, 2017/11/21 [Direct Link]



Matthias Melcher diagrams my post on Consciousness and extracts some of the essential elements in an easy-to-follow list of key concepts and ideas. "The greatest takeaway so far," he writes, "was the explanation of the mysterious ‘suddenness’ through recognition, see the last entry of my list."

Today: 106 Total: 212 Matthias Melcher, x21s New Blog, 2017/11/21 [Direct Link]

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Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.