Landing : Athabascau University


  • Jon Dron added the photo congratulations to the album Convocation 2017 June 10, 2017 - 1:47pm
  • Jon Dron added the photo graduates to the album Convocation 2017 June 10, 2017 - 1:47pm
  • Jon Dron added the photo Graduates to the album Convocation 2017 June 10, 2017 - 1:47pm
  • Jon Dron added the photo staff to the album Convocation 2017 June 10, 2017 - 1:47pm
  • Jon Dron added the photo graduates to the album Convocation 2017 June 10, 2017 - 1:47pm
  • Jon Dron added the photo faculty to the album Convocation 2017 June 10, 2017 - 1:47pm
  • Jon Dron added the photo Faculty group photo to the album Convocation 2017 June 10, 2017 - 1:47pm
    Faculty group photo
  • This is a well thought-through response to a recent alarmist NYT article about cheating among programming students. The original NYT article is full of holy pronouncements about the evils of plagiarism, horrified statistics about its extent, and...
    • A couple (or more) thoughts:

      1. I too have been doing this* for some time.

      *this meaning encouraging students to 'borrow' freely available code and modify it to suit assignment problems. In fact, I've written two of our undergrad courses where the entire course is based on this principle, and rewards properly accredited, documented and discussed use of 'internet' code.

      2. I like "Computer Science", because it makes me feel all "sciency" and warm inside. It allows us to pretend this 'stuff' is a real science, instead of a collection of urban legends and pseudo-science statistical mumbo-jumbo with a large dollop of sociology trown in. :-D

      The term I really, really despise is "coding". As in "lets teach CODING to everyone in K-12". As if "coding" were a real thing beyond the good old "Typing 10" we used to get in grade 9. Sure, the machines foisted upon the trend-chasing edu-set are slightly better than 30-year-old underwood typewriters we used (at least the "k" doesn't stick), the crap and crapware loaded onto them make them amost as useless to young minds. The only "skill" actually learned in "coding" is perhaps typing.

      3. Programming, really excellent programming, is more ART than science. It's an intuition and invention to solve complex problems that involves many of the same centers of the brain as does invention and genius. That's why there are so many "drone coders" working in 21st century sweatshops today. OOPS, did I say sweatshops? I meant to say "enlighened fun, fascinating work places". Same thing, IMO.

      My god, I hate that "coding" word.


      Richard Huntrods May 31, 2017 - 11:29am

  • Hat-tip to Tim Terry (@tterry) for sharing this one from Phil Hill. tldr; - Blackboard and its acquisitions continue to shrink (great!), Canvas continues to grow (good), Moodle continues to thrive (very good), partly driven by Blackboard's hosted...
  • Oh good grief. I wonder why students would be taking such risks? Oh, right... "Modup, a website selling Modafinil, told the Guardian that during exam time the volume of Modafinil shipped to the UK doubles." Funny that, in the whole article, there...
  • Jon Dron commented on the file Two very proud fathers... April 26, 2017 - 10:48am
    Thanks Mary - yes, I am loving it!
  • Interesting MSc funding opportunity: quite a nice bursary available for a qualified candidate, to assist with some important research. From the site (see link for further details)... Master studentships in modelling of microflow and biofilm...
  • Jon Dron bookmarked Learnium April 25, 2017 - 4:55pm
    Learnium is yet another attempt to overlay a cloud-based social medium on institutional learning, in the same family as systems like Edmodo, Wikispaces Classroom, Lore, GoingOn, etc, etc. I deliberately exclude from this list the far more excellent,...
    • So @ Steve Swettenham - you're prompting several questions here.  Which two dimensions are you referring to in your response? And another question - could Net app'd learners be completely free of the digital appurtenances of the last century?

      Mary McNabb June 12, 2017 - 11:58am

    • @ Mary McNabb - 2D refers to the width and height screen interface that humans are currently using to view and navigate.

      An Australian researcher believes that she can create a quantum computer, which may qualify as a new form of computing; mix that with AI and robotics, and you have a recipe for homo sapien redundancy.  Hence, net app'd learners may be "freerer" of the digital accoutrements by developing actual survival skills (i.e., how to tell time, find your way, or understand weather patterns etc... when their Apple watch runs out of energy).

      Being tethered to an energy supply to access the digital world is tenuous compared to the ancient technology of rock paintings, clay tablets, and hemp scrolls; but being tethered to an app cloud (clouds come and go), is not independance for the enduser (rather a dependance that is reminiscent of an addiction).  As for your last question, would it not depend to some extent on the individual learners and societal interests? (i.e., a return to the Apple commercial of 1984).

      Steve Swettenham June 12, 2017 - 2:17pm

    • 2D like books and maps?

      Of course, our intelligence is and has long been tethered to and totally dependent on not only others around us but also the embedded knowledge of our forebears in the tools, products, and processes they create. It's not an optional extra - it is the nature of our engagement with the world and an inextricable  part of our very thinking. As we build more of that into the tools themselves there are huge potential gains - we get smarter and more powerful - and huge potential losses, including great risks of taking away our power to control the things that matter most to us. Power supplies and network dependence are very tangible frailties (and two that will hopefully be solved in the not too distant future), but we must inevitably become more and more dependent on others of our species too, sharing the cognitive load as well as the artefacts. That has been the essential thrust of the past few thousand years. I think part of the longer game is augmentation - at first, the clunky head-mounted or phone-based stuff but, later, a far more invisible and symbiotic relationship, in which we share in an enhanced and shared reality to which many contribute, and in which those 2D screens and separate information devices largely disappear from the physical space (though many will reappear virtually). Whether this turns us into the Borg (Mark Zuckerberg as the Borg Queen?) or whether we become a more connected, enlightened, caring species in the process hinges quite a bit on the decisions we make now. Interesting times!

      Jon Dron June 12, 2017 - 2:51pm

  • Researchers analyzing millions of posts across an assortment of popular social media assert that 63% of antisemitic posts were to be found on Twitter. The writers suggest: "The larger proportion of such hate speech found on Twitter could be because...
    • Jon,

      I agree with your comments:

      The only thing that the researchers could really have been looking at here was not the extent of antisemitism on different social media, but the ease with which they could find it.

      Thanks for sharing.


      Gerald Ardito March 29, 2017 - 5:01pm

  • Jon Dron bookmarked Every attempt to manage academia makes it worse March 22, 2017 - 12:09pm
    Excellent post from Mike Taylor on the inevitable consequences of the use of incentives to shape a system (in this case, an educational system). As Mike notes, the problem is well-known and well understood, yet  otherwise intelligent people...
  • Jon Dron commented on a bookmark Babies in the learning-style bathwater March 15, 2017 - 10:18am
    I'd still love to supervise a comparative study into the use of learning styles vs use of astrology or phrenology to pick a teaching strategy. I strongly suspect there'd be no significant difference. It would be equally good fun to invent a...
  • Jon Dron bookmarked Babies in the learning-style bathwater March 14, 2017 - 1:00pm
    A recent Guardian article reports on a letter sent to the paper by 30 eminent academics from neuroscience, education, and psychology disciplines, voicing concerns about the absurd popularity of learning styles among teachers. They are, of course,...
    • I'd still love to supervise a comparative study into the use of learning styles vs use of astrology or phrenology to pick a teaching strategy. I strongly suspect there'd be no significant difference. It would be equally good fun to invent a plausible but totally unfounded learning style theory and compare that. Maybe something based on the big 5 personality types so that it seems sciencey.

      Your comment on personalization is spot on. In some ways it would actually be worse if it worked. Even if a system does increase the speed/efficiency of learning as a result (as measured in tests) the assumption that the teacher-specified outcome is the one and only point of the learning process describes pretty much everything that is wrong with our educational systems today. Not a recipe for cognitive flexibility, not transformative, not life-changing, just a better form of indoctrination.


      Jon Dron March 15, 2017 - 10:18am

    • I think we could get a grant for a phrenology study. Surely, it will be resurrected as a new fad in education any day now.

      So, you are saying indoctrination is a bad thing? Laughing

      Gerald Ardito March 15, 2017 - 12:35pm

    • Interesting article Jon. I can believe that 80% of teachers in the UK and the Netherlands believe that student learn best in their prefered style. (I wonder what the percentage would be in Canada.)

      I used various learning style inventories for quite a few Septembers for a couple of reasons. They gave me a chance to learn a lot about students and their approaches to things like following directions in a way that engaged them - who doesn't like thinking about themselves? It also gave me the opportunity to introduce the concept of metacognition and using strategies for learning. I was also curious about the whole idea and noticed that although I had inventories that were designed to be age appropriate, students didn't develop preferences until they were 10 or 11. Until then their profiles were flat. 

      In the end, if they prompt teachers to accept learning strategies that are different from their own and encourage students to think about how they learn, there is some good in them, but they're a long way from science. 

      Mary McNabb March 15, 2017 - 10:30pm

  • Jon Dron uploaded the file The teaching crowd vs the teaching mob February 24, 2017 - 6:30pm
    Slides for my keynote at ICRPE, Islamabad, today. In this talk I will be talking about fundamental weaknesses in both existing educational systems - especially the notion of the course - and in the open online social alternatives that are currently...
  • Jon Dron commented on the blog University Culture in the group AU Anthropology Interest Group February 20, 2017 - 10:31am
    A very important discussion. I've cited the same show in a post I'm writing (if I find the time, should be on the Landing today or tomorrow but, if not, quite soon) in part because I devoutly share the authors' concerns about the corporatization of...
  • Machines might be very good at *identifying* problems, and that's great, but humans are needed to react to and deal with them: there are infinite possible ways to do that, and there are always vastly many opportunities to heal rifts, and make things...