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Jon Dron

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Teaching Crowds cover Latest book - Teaching Crowds: Learning & Social Media: buy the book or download for free

  • Jon Dron bookmarked Premature optimism February 28, 2019 - 3:35pm
    Despite careful future-proofing and a structure that was deliberately built to evolve over time so that it would remain current, my elderly Social Computing course has pretty much reached the end of its useful life, so I have started to revise and...
  • Jon Dron published a blog post A blast from my past: Google reimplements CoFIND February 26, 2019 - 6:07pm
    A blast from my past: Google reimplements CoFIND
    While searching for a movie using Google Search last night I got (for the first time that I can recall) the option to tag the result, as described in this article. I was both very pleased and a bit disconcerted to discover that the tool they...
  • Jon Dron bookmarked A Universal Moral Code? February 14, 2019 - 11:41am
    It appears that there may be a universal moral code, at least across 60 very different cultures, at least according to this large metastudy of anthropological literature. The authors focus explicitly and exclusively on manifestations of cooperative...
  • Jon Dron uploaded the file 57 varieties February 14, 2019 - 10:26am
    Public domain image, downloaded from Flickr Commons at
  • Jon Dron posted to the wire February 12, 2019 - 3:17pm
    February 2019: Sorry for the downtime Tuesday, 12th February. It was caused by a fix gone wrong. Should be OK now.
  • I'll surely let you know, thanks Jennifer! Yes, the branching and pulling approach you suggest is pretty much exactly the cooperative pattern I have in mind, though collaborative group projects as such are mostly out of reach, thanks to...
  • Thank you Jennifer! One of my tasks between now and the start of my sabbatical in July is to revise COMP266 so I really appreciate the comments. The new version will take the student control aspect even further (for instance more flexibility in...
  • Some rambling reflections on being a Chair of a school
    • Oh interesting! Would you be able to ping me once the version is in? I'd love to be one of the first students to take it for drive. :)  I've gotten many AU courses approved by work for 2019 for reimbursement - COMP266 is currently 3rd on the list but I could take it later to wait for the revision. 

      I recall we once had a conversation about using version control tools like Git where you mentioned the added dififculties of rules concerning server locations, etc. I believe you were considering hosting your own Git server? I've only ever used Git with Bash and have no experience with other version control solutions.

      It would be quite interesting if instead of just posting on the forum to help other students that we could also review each other's code, create a branch and a pull request for our changes to be merged. And it would be neat to have the option for group projects (Group work would need to be optional as even if students had the same start date, some may aim to finish in 4 weeks, others 4 months).

      One option to help students get acquainted with git (or whatever you choose) would be to create a site listing students' project websites (perhaps with the TA being the owner). Students could then create a branch, add their url / description to the page, submit a pull request, etc. It could make for a simple/painless introduction for them.

      Time to tuck in the kid. We'll talk more later. :)

      Jennifer Davies February 9, 2019 - 8:34pm

    • I'll surely let you know, thanks Jennifer!

      Yes, the branching and pulling approach you suggest is pretty much exactly the cooperative pattern I have in mind, though collaborative group projects as such are mostly out of reach, thanks to self-pacing. I'd not want to prevent it if it occurred - I just couldn't require it. I also intend to provide some default bits of both client- and server-side code that people can simply drop in for stuff like AJAX etc, as well as to provide (largely optional) scaffolding to get started. It will make the 'fix the broken page' exercise way more straightforward, and all the stuff about reusing and repurposing code will be so much easier to track. Right now it is way too easy for students to forget to tell us which bits are theirs, which is bad whether they accidentally commit plagiarism or whether we miss the smart things they have done to improve it. As you know, the course very much applauds intelligent reuse but it's often hard to see the students' own contributions.

      Self-hosted Git is an option, as is use of the version control service provided by AWS (we have an arrangement with Amazon so I guess we might as well use it) but I'm still struggling with that: the server side is easy enough, but most client tools are too complex and/or flaky for beginners with other more important things to learn about. Finding something simple, learnable, and reliable enough, but with enough features to do the social thing, and that doesn't prevent high-fliers or those with existing experience from taking it further, is the big blocker at the moment.  Now that I have more time, I mean to spend a few days over coming weeks doing some deep investigation of the very many options. In an ideal world, as well as something foolproof, powerful, and easy, I'd like to find something with good social tool integration and Landing-like per-post/branch/project access control, but that might be tricky. If I had more time and resources I might build a plugin to do it, or to do it the other way round (embed Git, Mercurial, whatever in the Landing) but I fear I may have to make a compromise or two on that for now.

      Jon Dron February 10, 2019 - 10:59am

    • Jon,

      I really enjoyed your reflection on having been (yeah, past tense) the Chair. 

      Your experience was definitely consistent with mine time as Chair for a couple of years a couple of years ago.

      I am also very interested, as I think you know, in the same area of research. I wish you well on the next adventure, and hope we get a chance to collaborate.

      Gerald Ardito February 10, 2019 - 2:00pm

  • Jon Dron uploaded the file Empty chair February 8, 2019 - 11:41am
    chair and window. Copyright CC-BY-NC v4,  Jon Dron
  • A correlational study from Nature by Amy Orben and Andrew K. Przybylski that finds negligible effects of screen time on adolescents' psychological well-being - barely more harmful than eating potatoes and vegetables, and certainly not a cause for...