Landing : Athabascau University


  • This is a great little (16 minute) video that intuitively explains Bayesian probability from a variety of perspectives, but especially in visual (geometric) terms. Very useful for pretty much anyone - this is a critical thinking skill that applies...
  • Administered by the OECD, PISA is basically a set of tests, adapted to each country, that attempt to measure educational performance across a range of skills in order to rank educational systems around the world. The rankings really matter to many...
  • Well this is good news! Of course, the road to Hell is paved with good intentions and there is much that could go wrong in between plan and execution, but it seems that Twitter is recommitting itself to openness, standards, and the use of protocols...
  • Well deserved! You can find more info on the poster at Here's the abstract: Abstract: The present study is a partial replication of Heller and Procter (2009) who found that a...
  • Jon Dron published a blog post E-Learn 2019 presentation - X-literacies: beyond digital literacy November 6, 2019 - 8:35am
    Here are  my slides from E-Learn 2019, in New Orleans. The presentation was about the nature of technologies and their roles in communities (groups, networks, sets, whatever), their highly situated nature, and their deep intertwingling with...
  • Jon Dron uploaded the file X-literacies November 6, 2019 - 8:32am
    My slides from E-Learn 2019 Abstract: Dozens, if not hundreds, of literacies have been identified by academic researchers, from digital- to musical- to health- to network- literacy, as well as combinatorial terms like new-, multi-, 21st Century-,...
  • Well this is not a surprise. It turns out that social media and cellphone use have little to no effect on the mental well-being of teenagers. And, having just hung out with more than 10,000 young people in Vancouver, I'd say that they seem to be...
  • Jon Dron uploaded the file Technology, technique, and teaching October 24, 2019 - 2:45pm
    These are the slides from my recent talk with students studying the philosophy of education at Pace University. This is a mashup of various talks I have given in recent years, with a little new stuff drawn from my in-progress book. It starts with a...
  • I've been struggling a bit with writing a chapter on how we should research technologies, especially soft technologies, in the light of their innate complexity, the difficulties of identifying relevant boundaries, their situated nature, the...
    • Jon,

      Thanks for sharing this article (and your thinking).

      I have found a non-paywalled version of the piece for you. You can find it here.



      Gerald Ardito October 6, 2019 - 11:05am

  • Jon Dron commented on the blog My learning style September 17, 2019 - 3:59pm
    Thanks Nathaniel! I'd say 'no' to any technology preference. I have a passing interest in this thanks to the work done some years back by my own PhD student, Diana Andone, on which we published widely and gained a few top paper awards (though I...
  • Jon Dron published a blog post My learning style September 16, 2019 - 5:53pm
    I am a visual, aural, read/write, kinaesthetic, introvert, extravert, sensing, intuitive, analytic, thinking, feeling, judging, perceiving, independent, dependent, collaborative, competitive, participant, avoidant, wholist, analytic, verbalizing,...
    • Hello Jon

      Thank you so much for being such a continuous poster of this theme of learning styles research. A couple of articles back you linked to a paper where I believe they noted that the reason the learning styles movement still exists is because it seems to make sense. Which is nonsense when you look at all of the research...

      Here is one of quotes I really liked and will promote when I speak to educators :"Educators need not worry about their students’ learning styles. There’s no evidence that adopting instruction to learning styles provides any benefit. Nor does it seem worthwhile to identify students’ learning styles for the purpose of warning them that they may have a pointless bias to process information one way or another."

      With my obvious support of the lack of any evidence that learning styles exists - I do have a question for you. What about when GenZ (my kids aged 10-30) learners have technology (aka smartphone, or other network linked device) in their hands as compared to our older generation learners - who did not grow up with these devices imbedded in their world. Do you think that there is anything like a "technology preference?" that educators may need to consider when planning instruction, OR like the article you provided has stated - learners should be taught to deal with all types of learning with technology....? While at the PCF9 Conference this past week Dr Sugata Mitra spoke about his research (Hole in the wall, SOLE, etc) and he stated that indeed, young learners - given devices that are connected to the internet - can and will be able to answer pretty much any question given to them. I wonder if older learners can do the same? I suspect not for various reasons - So Is there something there to consider when planning technology-enabled/enhanced learning with GenZ?

      Nathaniel Ostashewski September 16, 2019 - 6:19pm

    • Thanks Nathaniel!

      I'd say 'no' to any technology preference. I have a passing interest in this thanks to the work done some years back by my own PhD student, Diana Andone, on which we published widely and gained a few top paper awards (though I suspect that was more to do with the tag-cloud approach to sharing research findings that we developed, more than the actual findings themselves). Though she desperately wanted to find otherwise and sometimes claimed as much, from her own findings and from those of many others it seems pretty clear to me that there are no significant differences between generations and their use of technology for learning, at least in a formal educational context. There are certainly birds-of-a-feather effects in use of social technologies, but that's the nature of the beast. There are also significant differences between older and younger people in how they go about learning, but I've never seen any convincing evidence that this has changed in any significant ways between one generation and another, nor that digital technologies have had anything much to do with it. It's more about inevitable demographic differences between the lifestyles and contexts of older and younger people (responsibilities in work and family, free time, available funding, experience, differently sized and constituted circles of friends, etc, etc). What is interesting is that such tools can bring everyone up, regardless of age, and they increase the adjacent possible for all.

      Though Mitra is a very likeable and passionate fellow, with whom I share many ideals, interests, and beliefs, he tends to be a bit reticent about mentioning that the hole in the wall studies essentially failed once the cheerleading researchers left. The PCs were taken over by older, more assertive kids and largely abused for almost anything apart from learning (mostly playing games). Moreover the sponsors included substantial contributions from a commercial e-learning company so they were not just plain vanilla computers with web browsers, and learning was far from totally unstructured.  Most (if not all) have been actual holes in the wall for some time, and those that persisted longer have been in regulated, closed spaces like school playgrounds, virtually all of them within a more regulated and conventional framework. The issues with them are what led to his SOLE work, which is far more conventional in its use of teachers, controlled spaces, policed access, and formally established groups/structured networks to help guide learners. I don't think of it as self-organized at all - it's just a fairly conventional and generally sound broadly constructivist approach with mentors, small groups, and a guided process. The hole in the wall project was a very good thing inasmuch as it improved access for kids that would otherwise have had no chance at all to use such tools, and Mitra's evangelism did a great deal to boost other such initiative elsewhere that had similar benefits. He's an inspiring speaker who certainly made an impact on me with his first TED talk. I'm less impressed with his 'books' (very slim volumes) on the subject, but they are still good reads that are full of sound ideas and good observations. The main one, interestingly enough, has a foreword by Nicholas Negroponte, some of whose work is in much the same territory. In particular there are close parallels with the OLPC project, that still totters along despite having lost much of its relevance, and that similarly raised awareness of a critical issue, as well as providing some really fascinating innovations, many of which have yet to hit the mainstream (but they should), from their ingenious power supply solutions to their mesh networks to their remarkably excellent and so-very-sensible low power screen technology. See for Donald Clark's scathing critique of the Hole in the Wall project, and for Donald's thoughts on SOLE (that closely match my own). I have written critically about both initiatives in my forthcoming book, albeit in much less scathing terms than Donald, observing that, when they worked, far from being self-organized, the kids were surrounded by teachers, both on the Internet and around them, and that this was not a bad thing but a cause for celebration.

      As a researcher in self-organized learning using computers, who was doing his own PhD in the topic at the time Mitra was doing his early work, I am disappointed that I somehow missed meeting Mitra or seeing the holes in the wall in action at the time they were active, when I was actually in at least two of the parts of India that they were installed (twice, over 2 years), and I maybe even passed them by. I would have loved to have integrated my CoFIND work with his - they were very complementary ideas. The EU-India project I was involved with was far more participative, and far more rooted in and driven by the communities we worked with, but we shared many of Mitra's ideals and interests. Interestingly, self-serve self-teaching kiosks for knowledge transfer (unlike Mitra's work, these were mostly for adults, and especially for women), organized from the bottom up, were among our main proposed solutions. In fairness, unlike some of our other solutions, they hadn't happened by the end of the project and I'm pretty sure they are not there now, but perhaps we planted a seed or two that might have sprung up there or elsewhere.


      Jon Dron September 17, 2019 - 3:59pm

  • For most organizations there tend to be three main good reasons to implement an information system:    to do things the organization couldn’t do before    to improve things the organization already does...
  • Tony Bates extensively referenced this report from RBC on Canadian employer demands for skills over the next few years, in his characteristically perceptive keynote at CNIE 2019 last week. It's an interesting read. Amongst its...
  • Jon Dron uploaded the file Tony Bates at CNIE 2019 May 28, 2019 - 11:59pm
    Tony Bates talking about the future of education
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  • Jon Dron bookmarked The Myth of 'Learning Styles' May 18, 2019 - 12:49pm
    A straightforward journalistic article from the Atlantic that does a decent job of explaining how and why learning styles theories simply don't work, with a particular focus on VARK. The takeaways are that, yes, people do often prefer to learn in...
  • Jon Dron posted to the wire April 27, 2019 - 1:09pm
    The exact same time as the climate.
  • Jon Dron bookmarked E-Learn 2019, Call for Proposals: Due July 8 April 24, 2019 - 1:14pm
    Call for Proposals: Due July 8 E-learn has been running since 1996 (originally under the name of WebNet) and is a great conference for researchers into online learning working in higher education and related fields. At its peak, it used to attract...
  • Jon Dron published a blog post In-person vs online teaching April 12, 2019 - 1:54am
    This is roughly the content of my 3 minute pitch to explain (some of) my research, that I gave at the OUNL research day in Heerlen, Netherlands yesterday. I was allowed one slide: This is (very roughly) what I said: Mediaeval scholars were...
    • Jon,

      That's quite a summary. Thanks for sharing it.

      As you know, this also relates strongly to my research, so I very much appreciate it. At the moment, I have been working with some elementary (4th and 5th grade) mathematics educators to develop a face to face learnign environment that is high on autonomy, competence, and relatedness support and that provides students with as much freedom of pace, etc. as is possible. 

      It has been challenging but exciting work. 

      Gerald Ardito April 12, 2019 - 3:22am

    • Thanks Jon for sharing this.  I like it and the topic of next generation pedagogy for online higher education. Oscar 

      Oscar Lin April 12, 2019 - 10:04am

  • Jon Dron uploaded the file in-person vs self-paced online learning April 12, 2019 - 1:34am
    This is the (single) slide from my 3 minute pitch at the OUNL 2019 research day in Heerlen, April 2019. It's meant to describe the inverse strengths and weaknesses of typical in-person teaching vs self-paced online learning, in terms of support for...