Landing : Athabascau University


  • Jon Dron bookmarked Small talk, big implications November 21, 2017 - 7:42pm
     An article from Quartz with some good links to studies showing the very many benefits of interacting with others, even at a very superficial level. I particularly like the report of a study showing the (quite strong) cognitive benefits of...
    • Jon,

      Thanks for sharing this article, as well as the commentary about the gaps and assumptions in the reporting.

      This is how I frequently feel when I read a great deal of educational research.

      And I look forward to reading Todd Rose's book. Thanks for the recommendation.

      Gerald Ardito November 24, 2017 - 10:20am

    • Thanks Gerald - it's a book that keeps on giving! I think you'll like it. Spells things out very clearly with some wonderful examples. I may be a little biased in its favour: though he takes a different (and I think more rigorously grounded) path to get there, Rose's thoughts on educational reform are remarkably like my own.

      Jon Dron November 24, 2017 - 11:44am

    • I will let  you knowwhat I think.

      In the meantime, I also shared your post (and the article) with the Educational Psychology class I am currently teaching. As you can probably imagine, I have had them spending a lot of time with Self Determination Theory. 

      Gerald Ardito November 24, 2017 - 1:25pm

  • Jon Dron bookmarked Firefox Quantum in the group COMP 266 November 14, 2017 - 11:10am
    The new version of Firefox is very sleek and very fast, while retaining backwards compatibility with older plugins. An easy upgrade for users of the previous version, a quick install for everyone else. An absolute must-have for any web developer....
    • I tried Firefox 57 and the experience for me was the exact opposite. Typical of a corporation programming elite controlling the world. Non of my past extensions worked (0 backward compatibility), the speed did not improve, and I lost access to my Adobe Acrobat XI plugin. But hey great advertising by Mozilla, and trying to stop the automatic updating was a displeasure, in particular updating plugins in FF 56.02 seemed to auto-update the entire web browser.  Fortunately I have backups, otherwise I would be forced to buy a whole new computer system just to use Firefox 57 on my 7 year old MAC.

      PS. The only positive was that Google docs worked better in FF 57; I am glad someone else had a better experience, but I will be frozen at FF 56.02 and use Chrome/Safari for Google docs... Smile

      Steve Swettenham November 19, 2017 - 2:03am

  • Jon Dron posted to the wire November 9, 2017 - 1:16pm
    Research demo of online learning tools by @maigac and team at 1:30pm MT today
  • Jon Dron bookmarked Addicted to learning or addicted to grades? November 3, 2017 - 11:25pm
    Figure 1: Skinner's teaching machine It is not much of a surprise that many apps are designed to be addictive, nor that there is a whole discipline behind making them so, but I was particularly interested in the delightfully named Dopamine Labs'...
  • Jon Dron bookmarked Signal : now with proper desktop apps November 2, 2017 - 2:32pm
    Signal is arguably the most open, and certainly the most secure, privacy-preserving instant messaging/video or voice-calling system available today. It is open source, ad-free, standards-based, simple, and very well designed. Though not filled with...
  • Oh drat. So Doppler Labs is no more. This is very sad. I love my Here One bluetooth earbuds, have recommended them to many people, and would do so again. For simple noise cancelling they run countless rings around every other headphones and earbuds...
  • Jon Dron bookmarked Ominous clouds October 31, 2017 - 6:01pm
    Though Microsoft has been unusually prone to the kind of chicanery described in this article for most of its existence, the problem of price hiking combined with shifting, decaying, or dying cloud services is inherent in the cloud model they are...
  • Jon Dron uploaded the file Clouds over the West Pier, Brighton October 31, 2017 - 5:17pm
    2014, Samsung phone
  • Very true - it's horribly self-reinforcing. Our educational systems tend to teach people how not to learn and, like drug pushers, to make students into grade addicts, ideally having grades mainlined via a process that demands least thought and...
  • We already know that extrinsically motivated students (mainly those driven by grades and testing) are far more likely to cheat than those who are more intrinsically motivated. I bookmarked yet another example of this effect just the other day but...
    • Jon,

      I appreciate your sharing this article. And, I agree, the results are completely consistent with other related research (and Self Determination Theory).

      I wanted to add that there is also this Catch-22 in the mix potentially as well. Students who are extrinsically motivated tend to dislike a course that does not exactly fit their ideas of how a course should be organized, thereby idisincentivizing instructors who are seeking more rigor or depth or an innovative design. For me, It is all part of how you say:

      We - the educators and, above all, the educational system - are the cause of cheating, as much as we are the victims of it. And we are the ones that should fix it.

      Gerald Ardito October 8, 2017 - 1:31pm

    • Very true - it's horribly self-reinforcing. Our educational systems tend to teach people how not to learn and, like drug pushers, to make students into grade addicts, ideally having grades mainlined via a process that demands least thought and effort to get the purest possible hit (cheating is a high-risk self-destructive shortcut, but it's totally understandable how and why it happens).

      To be fair, it's the whole system, not just educational institutions, that creates the addiction, and students themselves are part of that as well as employers, professional bodies, families, etc, etc.  It's a big, wicked, deeply entangled, complex problem to solve. We can patch things up locally but the problem is inherent in the design. I think that mandatory decoupling of grades and learning would go a long way towards fixing things, not because it is the answer in itself, but because the rest of the house of cards sits on top of that.

      Jon Dron October 8, 2017 - 1:50pm

    • I completely agree that the whole system is the problem. I find myself mostly doing the work of trying to patch a system that is inherently flawed if not completely broken.

      Separating grades and learning would make a big difference.

      Gerald Ardito October 8, 2017 - 1:54pm

  • I invite you to draw your own conclusions about this paywalled paper and the amount of quality control and editorial input that goes into IEEE publications nowadays. Here's the abstract, which is one of the more coherent passages in the...
    • It's from Malaysia. I wonder if it could be a direct translation gone wrong? I see that it's submitted through this computer gaming conference in Jakarta, which is associated with 'IEEE Indonesian Section', whose submission criteria says that "Non-presented papers will be pulled from submission to IEEE Xplore." These papers must slip through the cracks. I wouldn't be surprised if the conference paper peer reviewers didn't review the non-presented papers and forwarded them directly to IEEE Xplore (managed in the USA), expecting them to review them (or not really caring, since it's not being presented in their conference).

      Even [formerly] trusted big publishers like Elsevier, Wolters Kluwer, and Sage have accepted papers with no peer review (at least, they did a few years ago). I wrote about John Bohannon's experiment to get publishers to accept his purposefully and glaringly flawed paper in Science (04 Oct 2013, Vol. 342, Issue 6154, pp. 60-65, DOI 10.1126/science.342.6154.60): Who's Afraid of Peer Review?

      Vigilence, that is the price we have to pay for the proliferation of scientific resources and industry. (Yep, I'm quoting The Drumhead... again.) Informed skepticism is a skill that does not appear to be keeping pace with technology.

      Tyler Lucas October 7, 2017 - 2:21am

    • The sad part is that my 16 year old granddaughter (BC school system) still comes home with the conversation and related paperwork from her classes

      Stuart Berry September 16, 2019 - 6:11pm

  • Jon Dron bookmarked The NGDLE: We Are the Architects | EDUCAUSE October 3, 2017 - 11:44pm
    A nice overview of where the NGDLE concept was earlier this year. We really need to be thinking about this at AU because the LMS alone will not take us where we need to be. One of the nice things about this article is that it talks quite clearly...
  • Jon Dron bookmarked The return of the weblog – Ethical Tech September 28, 2017 - 11:58am
    Blogs have evolved a bit over the past 20 years or so, and diversified. The always terrific Ben Werdmuller here makes the distinction between thinkpieces (what I tend to think of as vaguely equivalent to keynote presentations at a conference, less...
  • Another in a long line of algorithm fails from the Facebook stable, this time from Instagram... This is a postcard from our future when AI and robots rule the planet. Intelligence without wisdom is a very dangerous thing. See my recent post on...
  • A straightforward and briefly reported study that supports the rather obvious hypothesis that quite young (15-month-old) children can and do learn from observing adults, at least in the short term. The twist here is that adults in the study were...
  • Jon Dron commented on a bookmark Amazon helps and teaches bomb makers September 23, 2017 - 1:34pm
    As in all things, it ain't what you do, it's the way that you do it. Having worked on recommender systems, especially adaptive ones, for my PhD and for some years afterwards, I do see that there are many ways they can have a place. But there are...
  • Jon Dron bookmarked No, you aren't a 'visual' learner September 21, 2017 - 7:16pm
    It's a damning indictment of our collective resistance to truth that the point of this article still has to be restated, yet again. Amazingly, 93% of the general public and 76% of educators still erroneously believe that we should be taught in ways...
  • Jon Dron bookmarked Amazon helps and teaches bomb makers September 19, 2017 - 5:30pm
    Amazon's recommender algorithm works pretty well: if people start to gather together ingredients needed for making a thermite bomb, Amazon helpfully suggests other items that may be needed to make it, including hardware like ball bearings, switches,...
    • Jon,

      I agree with the points you are raising here.

      There is a pervsuasive (and generally inaccurate) notion that learning is the acquisition of simple sets of skills. We seem to believe that out of that acquisition of skill sets that higher order thinking and problem solving simply emerge magically.

      If that were the case then the recommender engine model would work great. Students would have the much heralded (of late) playlists of lessons to build those skills and viola!

      However, this model excludes the most basic truth about learning which is that it is labor intensive, experience dependent, and therefore not realy programmable in the way that Sal Khan and other ed tech gurus seem to believe. 

      Gerald Ardito September 23, 2017 - 12:33pm

    • As in all things, it ain't what you do, it's the way that you do it.

      Having worked on recommender systems, especially adaptive ones, for my PhD and for some years afterwards, I do see that there are many ways they can have a place. But there are also enormous dangers and, as you suggest, having them drive a teacher-determined learning agenda is not smart. Collaborative filters of the sort used by Amazon, Netflix, etc, turn out to be less promising than you might at first think, sadly: either too crude to work (it's not about relatively static preferences, as in books or music, but about evolving learning needs that change as you learn) or too difficult to use (e.g. my PhD systems!).

      I find small chunks of stuff to learn from (YouTube videos, StackExchange dialogues, etc) can be immensely useful when used by learners to achieve goals they have set for themselves: I have learned a great many skills that way, which are a necessary part of (but only part of) learning. And there is great value within a small, known community to sharing and ranking stuff that the group uses - the objects the bind, the ideas that connect, the shared cognitive artefacts - which can be greatly enriched with added visualization, analytics, and rich qualitative metadata, as long as these simply support, rather than drive learning, and reflect rather than dominate the group's dynamics.

      As an interesting addendum to my post, Amazon's recommendations turn out to be far more benign than the media at first suggested: the recommendations come about as a result of people making backyard fireworks and doing science experiments. Context is everything, and context gets lost in large-scale recommender systems whose purpose is to sell stuff, not to support learning!

      Jon Dron September 23, 2017 - 1:34pm

    • Jon,

      I think that recommender systems can be good (and I know yours were/are). I was responding to the corporate instantiations in education in particular. 

      Mike Caulfield had a nice piece about Netflix recommender engines not really recommended things for you, but rather recommending things you might like that they have rights to.

      I also agree that I have sought out YouTube and Stack Overflow and other similar places to support my own learning, and they have been immensely helpful. The difference there is the self-directed piece I think. 

      Gerald Ardito September 23, 2017 - 1:43pm

  • 'Suggests' is the operative word in the title here. The title is a sensationalist interpretation of an inconclusive and careful study, and I don't think this is what the authors of the study mean to say at all. Indeed, they express caution in...