The Overselling of Open


I gave two presentations yesterday, one to a faculty cohort at Coventry University about Domain of One’s Own, I also presented a session titled “The Overselling of Open” as part of the Open Education Tuesdays series through the UNLR. The series started back in May, and has been organized and hosted by Fabio Nascimbeni—a fellow Italian 🙂

The event kicked off with a talk by Andreia Inamorato from the Instituto de Prospectiva Tecnológica discussed the topic of “Open Education cases that can change your teaching and learning” (archived presentation here). it was followed up in June with a talk by Daniel Villar from Coventry University’s Disruptive Media Lab who talked about ““OER, MOOCs and beyond: the history of Open Education” (slides). And next month, October 11th to be exact, Martin Weller will be talking about the 100 best films of the 21st century, don’t miss it. There was also a suggestion towards the end of the session that this conversation would continue beyond, and there may soon be another date added with the great Catherine Cronin, so stay tuned.

They couldn’t find anyone decent (or European) for September, so they reached out to me, and they got what they deserved! I approached this talk with a certain amount of fear and trembling because I’m quite ambivalent about the open movement more generally these days. What seemed like a movement defined by an anarchic spirit of revolution from 2004-2011 (at least for me—this was a fairly personal narrative) morphed into a fairly tame, almost conservative approach to education: massive lectures and free textbooks. I’m oversimplifying here of course, but at the same time the mad scramble around corporate sponsored MOOCs for elite universities from 2012 until just about now, coupled with the re-branding of OER, at least in the U.S., as predominantly a cost-saving measure left me fairly depressed. This was not all of ed-tech, for sure, but it certainly has demanded much of the time, energy, and resources of the field for years now. And I must admit I remain somewhat bitter about the funneling of massive resources almost exclusively into these two approaches—though I’m sure that has been part a significant part of their own struggle.


Anyway, this talk was my feeble attempt to start to come to terms with that—kind of like presentation as personal therapy. In preparing the talk, if you can call it that, I kept returning to two people: Martin Weller and Audrey Watters. Specifically Weller’s The Battle for Open and just about everything Audrey has done since 2011, but probably most powerfully for me (although it’s hard to choose) was her 2013 keynote “The Education Apocalypse” wherein she frames the Silicon Valley narrative that is driving the defunding and dismantling of higher ed. That talk was like a diamond through my forehead explaining what’s really happening in ed-tech.

At the same time, I think the idea undergirding Weller’s book that while Open has won, the hard part of actually shaping what it looks like is the reality we are currently working within. The point reverberated deeply with me this time around, and I think Weller’s assessment of the situation in his book defines my confusion and frustration far more cogently than I ever could. At least in part, the reason I fell relatively quiet during the larger conversations around MOOCs and OERs has been my concerns with the obsession with scale and money (often framed as savings).* So re-reading The Battle for Open was a good reminder that in the wake of the hype there is a lot of important work to be done. I haven’t entirely been sitting on my hands given the work with ds106 and then Domain of One’s Own, which gave way to Reclaim Hosting—all of which reinforce the idea that small is beautiful—and the best way at building an open web that matters is helping as many people as possible start small and reclaim a piece of the web. I don’t think this is the one true way, but it’s what I know and what I have done—my ideas in many ways are the product of this blog.

And while this is anything but a summary of my discussion, which was even more free-ranging and incoherent, Mike Caulfield’s recent post “Putting Student-Produced OER at the Heart of the Institution” (born from a rich Twitter discussion) helped me articulate another concern I have with framing OER as an institutional concern. Caulfield notes that many of the projects he has been working on over the years have been ghost-towned, and one way to avoid this that the OER content folks have been successful is making the broader institutional, and even federal charge for managing and producing these resource that would give the open pedagogy folks far greater resources in time. In fact, institutional funding and support become the key to the life of these web-based resources:

But institutions, they are what make these things last. And my sense is that the recurring cycle of CELT and TLT center layoffs is all you need to look at to see how much of what we do is built on sand. It scares the heck out of me. It really does.

For me its that first sentence “but institutions, they are what make these things last” that I deeply question. One of the things I discussed in this regard during this talk was the amazing panel at OER16 where some impressive folks (Loran Campbell, Viv Rolfe, David Kernohan, Simon Thompson, and Pat Lockley) from all over the UK talked about how many of the openly produced OERs that were publicly funded were no longer available. And these are resources supported by public institutions, and eventually that money ran dry. I think this should be a huge cautionary tale for OER as an ongoing institutional resource.

But wait, there is more. The second part of this quote by Caulfield wherein he talks about the cuts of ed-tech groups like his former group at Keene State University (and recent cuts at Plymouth State as well) suggest that if anything the institutions have become less and less of a solution to our educational problems. And an example I kept harping on yesterday was the unprecedented faculty lockout at Long Island University, Brooklyn. I mean this highlights for me the larger context in which these conversations are happening, and the austerity we have lived through since 2008 (or since 1980 if you are counting all of it) in higher ed has put institutions of higher ed in direct conflict with those who work there. And I believe the cost-cutting promises of ed-tech more generally in the form of open courses or open resources has further fueled the politics of defunding higher-ed. This was no where apparent to me during my time in Virginia when it was apparent politicians were only interested in OERs because they could immediately point to saving people money, while at the same time stagnating, or even cutting, funds to institutions and salaries.

This look at salaries over two decades for public 2 and 4 year institutions in the US is alarming

The idea of funding stuff like textbooks or technologies rather than people may have short-term benefits for saving students money that we can see as a short-term win within the world we live, but the idea that may lead to larger long-term victories (which I read as a recognition and funding of people and pedagogies) is dubitable at best. But when you look at the state of labor and salaries in U.S. higher ed (not to mention the attack on tenure in Wisconsin) I tend to doubt that institutions, given the funding bind they find themselves in, will be the safeguards of these resources.

All of which reminds me of who, when all was said and done, saved more than a decade of web history in the form of Geocities from deletion at the hands of Yahoo! in 2010? Was it other corporations? Higher ed? The government? Nope, it was dozens of rogue archivists, technologists, artists, and librarians from around the world that cared, and for me that is a reminder that we can’t leave something as important as teaching and learning on the web to institutions—no less the archiving and preservation of those resources. That has to be managed by faculty and students themselves as part of a broader sense of awareness of owning and managing their digital education.

But I protest too much, I know. This is kind of what I wanted to talk about yesterday, but I’m not sure I covered it all, but I can promise it is no more coherent than this. The recording is not up yet, but when it becomes available I’ll be sure to link it here. But this post is also my attempt to stop moping about some of this and frame the open I want to see more clearly. Complaining is the easy part, working towards something else is the hard part.

*Though the fact was probably not a noticeable loss in the broader scheme given the regular, unforgiving, and often fun critique from folks in ed-tech like Audrey, Mike Caulfield, David Kernohan, and Alan Levine to name a few.

Image credits:

from bavatuesdays

Hypocrisy on stilts: Facebook (closed) celebrating the Web (open)

This morning’s Observer column:

If there were a Nobel prize for hypocrisy, then its first recipient ought to be Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook boss. On 23 August, all his 1.7 billion users were greeted by this message: “Celebrating 25 years of connecting people. The web opened up to the world 25 years ago today! We thank Sir Tim Berners-Lee and other internet pioneers for making the world more open and connected.”

Aw, isn’t that nice? From one “pioneer” to another. What a pity, then, that it is a combination of bullshit and hypocrisy. In relation to the former, the guy who invented the web, Tim Berners-Lee, is as mystified by this “anniversary” as everyone else. “Who on earth made up 23 August?” he asked on Twitter. Good question. In fact, as the Guardian pointed out: “If Facebook had asked Berners-Lee, he’d probably have told them what he’s been telling people for years: the web’s 25th birthday already happened, two years ago.”

“In 1989, I delivered a proposal to Cern for the system that went on to become the worldwide web,” he wrote in 2014. It was that year, not this one, that he said we should celebrate as the web’s 25th birthday.

It’s not the inaccuracy that grates, however, but the hypocrisy. Zuckerberg thanks Berners-Lee for “making the world more open and connected”. So do I. What Zuck conveniently omits to mention, though, is that he is embarked upon a commercial project whose sole aim is to make the world more “connected” but less open. Facebook is what we used to call a “walled garden” and now call a silo: a controlled space in which people are allowed to do things that will amuse them while enabling Facebook to monetise their data trails. One network to rule them all. If you wanted a vision of the opposite of the open web, then Facebook is it..

Read on.

from Memex 1.1

Keeping your Twitter Archive fresh and freely hosted on Github Pages


tl;dr How do you keep your downloaded Twitter archive fresh on Github Pages using Google Apps Script? By running this Google Apps Script powered web app.

If you were to ask me which of my projects was my favourite you might be surprised by the answer. Regulars to this site might think that TAGS or my Twitter follower export or, longtime followers might think even recall the work I did on Twitter captions with Tony Hirst. In fact, while these are the posts more likely to earn me a beer at the bar, the piece of code I’m most proud of is ‘Keeping your Twitter Archive fresh on Google Drive‘. If you’re not familiar with this, in essence I’ve taken the archive of tweets, which available on request from Twitter, hosted it on Google Drive and kept it up-to-date with a script that runs every day. There are a couple of reasons this is my favourite. Notably it earned me a genius card from Alan Levine (this is a lonely game most of the time and recognition from your peers fuels the journey). Another reason is simply the code is poetry.

The particular flourish I’m proud of is how the script uses the Javascript written by Twitter for the display of the archive to calculate what tweets need to be fetched from the Twitter API, writing the result back into the static archive data files so that it can be rendered. The poetic part is this is possible because Google Apps Script, which is powering the process, itself uses a Javascript syntax. Another aspect of this solution that I like is that as Google Apps Script integrates with Google Drive writing the new files is a line of code, and with what was Google Drive web hosting meant you could share your continually updating archive with the world. This simplifies the process hugely … sometimes things are just meant to be.

The important term in that last sentence is ‘you could’. Google announced last year that it was ending the ability to use Google Drive as a place to host basic web content by the end of this August (2016). I wasn’t surprised by the announcement, Google Drive web hosting always felt like a feature that escaped into the wild rather than been purposefully released, never fully being integrated into the Google Drive UI, although it’s disappearance may be more down to misuse. I have however been able to caress my original solution to keep working, using Google Apps Script’s ability to publish a web app. If you are interested here is the source code of the webapp so you can see how data from Google Drive is included. This tweak is however is not without it’s drawbacks, in particular, performance isn’t great and Google impose a nag at the top of the webpage.

Now there are many places you can freely host web content, and as touched upon in our last ‘Totally Unscripted’ episode these can be integrated into Google Apps Script. One option I’ve been interested in playing with is Github Pages. You might have come across Github before as a code versioning repository. As I (see my git post) and many others have highlighted in the past Github is not just limited to code, and has been used as a space to host, and importantly remix/modify, a range of content from books to music. An important aspect of any resource is how it is communicated to your audience.

This is where Github Pages come in. They allow you to create a website to support your repository including rich content. Github Pages are updated in a similar way to to the content you version in a Github repository, creating new or modifying existing content which is committed as the current version, this means you can read/write Pages using the existing Github API. This isn’t the first Google Apps Script project that integrates with Github. Bruce Mcpherson has the very useful gasGit script that lets you backup/release Google Apps Script projects to Github, and I recall seeing other pieces of code floating around.

I appreciate becoming a git user is somewhat daunting and I still flounder around myself. Github have however spent a lot of time and effort making versioning easier for all, particularly with their desktop clients that hide the traditional command lines. I’ve tried to take a similar approach with my little Google Apps Script powered web app and instead of my usual ‘copy this spreadsheet, setup a Twitter Dev account’ all of this is hidden behind a set of steps demonstrated in this video:

To have a go your self visit:

*** Twitter Archive on Github Pages Setup ***

If you’d like a peek at the code you can view it here or in this Github Repo. The interface is made using Semantic-UI mainly because I was looking for a step style interface.

Big thank you to Bruce Mcpherson (@brucemcpherson), Alan Levine (@cogdog), Marjolein Hoekstra (@CleverClogs), Deborah Kay (@debbiediscovers) and Adam Croom (@acroom) for providing feedback and testing this script. I’ll be providing a follow-up post if you are interested in using Google Apps Script to commit other files to Github … stay tuned 🙂


from MASHe

Portfolio Work – Interweaving the Personal API


I know. The title is pure click-bait. That’s part of why this blog is so wildly popular.1

I’ve been building a new portfolio site2 and I think some of this is kind of interesting even if it sounds boring. There are a few different goals in play. One challenge is to create a site that stays up to date with minimal work on my end. It’s a parallel of the small-pieces-loosely-joined mentality. I want tiny-actions-over-time (from the aforementioned small pieces) rather than widely-spaced-herculean efforts. I’m also trying to make sure that it fits in well with my current workflow and that I’m capturing the work I do elsewhere in ways that make sense.

Another focus is to keep any work highly portable. I’ve had to re-enter data a number of times as I’ve migrated and I don’t want to do that any more. That’s going to be made possible mainly through some new API options and by working on my API/JSON, JavaScript skills. I’ll probably have to do chunks of it over anyway but I like to pretend I wont.

I’ve got a ways to go but I’ve made some decent progress. The basic template/visuals are handled by Bootstrap. I’ve also got some simple Angular views, Timeline JS, JSON from Google sheets, WordPress WP Rest API v2, and Pinboard’s API. So that’s kind of fun (I think).

The Front Page

portfolio details

The following is the code for the jQuery JSON parser. It displays the JSON created by the WordPress API. I opted to cache the data rather than call it live for two reasons- it seemed much faster performance-wise and I’m also hosting this on GitHub which brings up http/https issues until I turn on https for my personal site. I just use PHP to grab it and stick it in a folder every 24 hrs via a cron task.

          console.log("ready"); //just to check in the firebug console.
          url:'json/blogs.json', //gets json
          success: function(data) {
//builds the html and does a default img if there isn't one
            $.each(data, function(index, item){
                if (item.better_featured_image != null){ var photo ='<div class="pinimg"><img src="'+ item.better_featured_image.media_details.sizes.thumbnail.source_url +'" width="40px" height="40px"></div>' } else {var photo ='<div class="pinimg"><img src="imgs/default.png" width="40px" height="40px"></div>';};              
                $('#blog').append('<a href="' + + '"><div class="pinboard">' + photo + '<div class="pindetails"> ' +item.title.rendered + ' <br/> published on ' +,10) +' </div> </div></a>');              
              if (index == 10) return false; //only display 10 items
              }); //each
            } //success
          }); //ajax

For Pinboard, I did something similar.

          url:'', //from the pinboard API
          success: function(data) {
            $.each(data, function(index, item){
                $('#pinboard').append('<div class="pinboard"><a href="' + item.u + '">' + item.d
        + '</a>  -  ' + item.dt.substring(0,10) +' </div>');
              if (index == 10) return false; //only display 10 items
              }); //each
            } //success
          }); //ajax

I tried to parallel the visual elements for the blog posts and the Pinboard posts with the Twitter widget visuals since I couldn’t really change the way that looked. I should have called the class something more generic than pinboard since I used it on things that aren’t pinboard as well.

.pinboard {
  font: normal normal 12px/1.2 Helvetica,Roboto,"Segoe UI",Calibri,sans-serif;
  padding-top: 12px;
  padding-bottom: 12px;
  border-bottom: 2px solid #efefef; 
  line-height: 18px;


  background-color: #f1f7fa;

.pinboard a {
  color: #3498db;
  padding: 2px;


Screen Shot 2016-07-10 at 5.14.22 PM

This is kind of amusing. The following chunk of code uses Flickr’s API to get the total number of photos I’ve uploaded. It seems to take more code than I feel like it should but it works.

 $(document).ready(function() {

        url: '',
        dataType: 'jsonp',
        success: function(data) {
                console.log(data); //dumps the data to the console to check if the callback is made successfully.
                $.each(data, function(index, item) {
                    $('#flickrcount').prepend('<div class="bignumber">' + numberWithCommas( + '</div>');
                }); //each

function numberWithCommas(x) {
    return x.toString().replace(/\B(?=(\d{3})+(?!\d))/g, ",");
//from a stackoverflow answer to format the date nicely
function timeConverter(UNIX_timestamp) {
    var a = new Date(UNIX_timestamp * 1000);
    var months = ['January', 'February', 'March', 'April', 'May', 'June', 'July', 'August', 'September', 'October', 'November', 'December'];
    var year = a.getFullYear();
    var month = months[a.getMonth()];
    var date = a.getDate();
    var hour = a.getHours();
    var min = a.getMinutes();
    var sec = a.getSeconds();
    var time = date + ' ' + month + ' ' + year;
    return time;

The rest of the page is my more typical Angular construction pattern with Bootstrap. It feels much simpler than the jQuery version to me. It’s using the WordPress JSON in a cached manner.

var app = angular.module('myApp', ['ngSanitize']);
app.controller('SuperCtrl', function($scope, $http) {
.success(function(response) {$scope.entries = response;});
<div class="col-md-10 col-md-offset-1 col-xsm-12">
	<a href="">		 
		<div ng-repeat="entry in entries | filter: search| orderBy:'-id' : reverse" class="col-lg-2 col-md-3 col-xs-12 artist" style="background-image: url(); background-repeat: no-repeat; background-position: center; background-size: cover ">	
		<div class="artist_title"><h4 ng-bind-html="entry.title.rendered"></h4>

Screen Shot 2016-07-10 at 5.14.41 PM
The Presentations page is fairly similar. It uses Angular and Bootstrap for display and the JSON from a Google Sheets. I link to most of the evidence. I may rethink that a bit given some of the new options I have to automate things via Google Scripts and the tendency for things on the Internet to wander off.

var app = angular.module('myApp', ['ngSanitize','angular.filter']);
$gid = "1xG1ClBl5A0kuNca6TYJliKL-5oHSEx6OerAzAJO9f6o"
//$gid = $_GET['id'];
$gURL = "; + $gid + "/1/public/values?alt=json";
app.controller('SuperCtrl', function($scope, $http) {
    .success(function(response) {$scope.entries = response.feed.entry;});

There’s still a lot of stuff I don’t feel like I’m capturing well or efficiently. I need to think about it more and do some more work. It does bring up some larger issues that I need to think about career-wise. In the last few years, after resisting for quite some time, I have become a person who can program. I still have so very, very much to learn but I’ve learned a huge amount in the last few years- server stuff, php, WordPress, javascript, various APIs, a bit of Angular, lots of Google Script lately . . . I wonder about focusing. I know it’d help in some ways. I also realize that programming isn’t likely to be where I bring real value in terms of jobs that are likely to pay me. There are lots of younger people who can do more than I can technically. I do have a decent ability to think through things with people and to think about doing things from a variety of angles. I like to solve problems and make life better for the humans.

1 My most popular posts involve either scraping Instagram or a mouse drug game that I linked to several years ago.

2 The evisceration of one’s department will encourage a bit of attention there.

from Bionic Teaching

The importance of faculty in the higher education experience

Speaking notes for for Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey National Faculty Meeting, Mexico City, July 4, 2016. Presentation page.

1. New Forms of Learning
By now in educational institutions around the world we(*) have firmly entered into the technological era. There is no question any more of whether we should embrace new learning technologies; we have done it.
Today we employ tools such as learning management systems, digital learning resources and eBooks. We engage in online discussions, conferencing, and collaborative authoring. More, we have embraced online video, virtual reality, 3D printing, and much more.
We have also embraced 21st Century pedagogy. While there are pockets of resistance from traditionalists, we have generally recognized that teaching is not just about transmitting content. We employ active learning methodologies, project and problem-based learning. 
We create challenges for our learners and where possible let them take control. Learning today involves building drone for competitions, launching companies, doing environmental research, creating art, and participating in the community.
2. The Changing Shape of Learning
All of that said, however, even as we cling to our old ways, the shape of learning is changing yet again.
For example. If we look at the organization of learning in our own community, we can see the continued focus courses, programs, and disciplines, like biology, engineering, literature, and the like. But this is changing. On the one hand, we’re looking at microcredentials, tiny fragments of learning to small even for a course. And on the other hand, looking at overarching competencies like digital literacies such as critical thinking or collaborative decision-making.
Additionally, we have been looking at same standardized package for every student. We still see this in the push for curricular reform and standardized testing. But this, too, is changing. We’re looking for ways to adapt learning to each individual need using technologies such as adaptive learning and personalization. And if we look at the progressive school districts of today we see programs focused on art, sport, religion, science, and more.
It’s true that the old institutional silos still remain. In Canada, for example, the process of ‘articulation’ remains a challenge; moving course credits from one institution to another is complex, and there are limits to what you can transfer. As most migrants can assert, credentials created in one country are not accepted in another country. But this too is changing. There are multinational initiatives like the Bologna process, though are complex and difficult. 
And we have not advanced significantly in assessment. Tests and essays are not adequate, and while part of the community looks to PISA results, LSAT and SAT scores, others are looking for genuine learning, rejecting these traditional measures as inadequate or even irrelevant. And while issues around recognition of learning, initiatives to modernize prior learning assessment continue to make progress.
3. New Technologies Changing the Landscape
New technologies are being addressed directly at the problems described in the previous section and will drive the change into the next generation of learning.
One of the most discussed is machine learning and artificial intelligence. A lot of research is focused toward using artificial intelligence to support adaptive learning by being able to recognize individual learning needs and recommend resources and learning paths. 
But artificial intelligence is not simply for adaptive learning. We talk about predictive analytics as though finishing a course is the problem. This way of thinking is to cling to the old model of courses and programs. The next generation of learning will be structured as an environment with continuous monitoring and adaptation. The real future is in the quantified self; using technology to solve immediate needs, in context.
Another major area of innovation is handheld and mobile computing. More than three billion people have mobile devices today, according to market-watchers like Mary Meeker. But the future of learning isn’t the mobile phone; this is to depict learning as simply the consumption of content. The future is in the integrated performance support system, for example, in devices that help us learn.
A third set of technologies involve the creation of digital credentials. For example, there are the Mozilla Badges and Backpack initiatives. These allow people to display credentials in their own digital portfolio, and more importantly, allow anyone to create credentials. What happens when colleges and universities lose their monopoly on degrees?
Blockchain technologies could be used to support a microcredential system. This is a type of encryption that is used to secure digital currencies. The idea is to encrypt transactions into a series of public ‘blocks’ that cannot be changed once created. While financial transactions can be secured, so can non-financial transactions, such as the awarding of badges and degrees.
A fourth type if technology is called the ‘Internet of Things’. The most immediate use is the deployment of sensor networks to monitor for fire, floods, storms, or anything else. Beyond this, the internet of things will allow devices to communicate with each other, as for example when self-driving cars negotiate with each other on the road. 
But what happens when companies know the state of all your devices? For example, will your car insurance be increased if you drive on non-approved roads? The internet of things raises the question of personal privacy and the ownership of data. The mantra used to be that “information wants to be free” but what happens when the information in question is your bank account? 
Fifth, we are seeing a widespread interest in games, simulations and virtual reality. This could occupy an entire discussion on its own. It’s worth drawing a distinction between using this in learning, and turning learning into an instance of this. 
For example, with respect to games, there is on the one hand ‘Gamification’, in which game elements are added to learning. So for example students might compete for points, unlock levels or achievements, and compete against each other. On the other hand, there is the idea of ‘learning games’ or ‘Serious Games’, where a game is employed to facilitate learning. In the same way, simulations, virtual reality, or other visual and kinesthetic technologies can either be added to learning, or used to create instances of learning.
Finally, we should look at translation and cooperative technology. These are the tools that allow us to interact with each other and work together. Communication is already everywhere and we will continue to use text audio and video conferencing.  Automated translation and improvements to usability will make electronic communications as easy as – indeed, easier than! – talking to someone in the same room.
But this does not mean we will suddenly start working in teams, sharing common goals, or even thinking in the same way. The future lies in cooperation, not collaboration. Each of us remains individual, unique, and rooted experience. Our perspectives are our own, and communications will help us work independently, rather than in groups. If in the past we trended toward single large taxi companies, in the future we trend toward Uber. 
It should be noted that cooperation includes machines as well as people. The internet is the first large-scale example of cooperative computing. It is nothing more than a system that connects us – our commonalities lie in protocols and syntax, not (despite ‘the Digital Citizen’) shared goals or ideals. 
Imagine, if we can, a world in which we can interoperate with and use tools, services and resources as we need them (Uber meets self-driving cars) rather than owning them.
4. Learning in the Future
If we take all of this together and ask where it leads, where does it leave us? It is arguable that many of the traditional roles of the educational faculty will no longer be relevant.
Take learning contents, for example. We are entering a world of open elearning resources. Entire school divisions, entire college and university systems are embracing not merely digital resources, but free and open resources. This means far more than eBooks and course packages; it means any resource you can imagine. The MOOC, which was created as a response to open learning resources, is only the first example of what will follow.
We might think that there is still a role for faculty to write learning materials and create other resources, but we shouldn’t be too certain. A recent experiment at Stanford fooled students with an electronic tutor. Associated Press is using an artificial engine to write sports stories. The Atlantic reported on an initiative to use robots to teach classes. Computers are becoming skilled at creatingcontent, including learning content.
Even if computers don’t create learning materials, students will. The internet has already seen a proliferation of content generated by average users – social networks, photos, artwork, self-help videos, and more. As I have argued in the part, the most sustainable resources are those produced by the community for their own needs. Resources created by professional faculty may be considered unnecessary and expensive.
Today we think of these resources as fixed and immutable (hence there is a ‘discovery’ problem, or a ‘reuse’ problem). In the future these resources will be created as they are needed (the way you give advice to somebody over the telephone). They will be addressed to specific needs or competences. There won’t be the need for a faculty member to know students personally. Computers will know far more than a professor ever could.
Our future learning environments will change as well. Here I am thinking not only of MOOCs, but of a single, complex, interactive learning environment that surrounds each person like a personal bubble. I’ve called this the ‘personal learning environment’ in the past. We will be linked to our friends and relevant resource people, linked to tools, and linked to a distributed network of services we access as we need them.
People when they think of personal learning in the future tend to think of it as operating a lot like Google search. But this again is to think of the problem of learning as a problem of content. Our learning environments of the future will be based on 21st century learning and scientific methodologies. They will consist as much of services and scaffolds as they do content and videos. They will help us work through simulations or scenarios, and will transfer seamlessly into real-world applications and problems.
The practice of teaching – even the practice of coaching and support – will be irrelevant. Already people get more support from their digital technologies than they do from their professors. That’s why they carry them to class.
Assessment and recognition will also shift dramatically. While it may involve microcredentials and a variety of recognition services, it will be based less and less on tests and exams and more and more based on actual evidence. Indeed, at a certain point it will be questioned why we need credentials at all (much less tests and marking and the like). Information about what we’ve actually done will feed directly into employment or project support tools, and instead of ‘grades’ you’ll get job offers.
This is already happening; we’re working on a ‘micromissions’ project at NRC to help Canadian public service people fill jobs on a temporary basis based on their online evidence base. Artificial intelligence can very easily match specific experience to  existing problems, and does not risk losing information through the artificial mechanisms of credentials or even competencies.
5. The New Role for Faculty
We have traditionally thought of the role of faculty as having three parts: the teaching part, where they share their knowledge and expertise though classes, books and resources; the supportive part, where they coach and mentor individuals through the non-cognitive challenges they face; as the assessment part, where they observe student progress and make recommendations for recognition or remediation.
What happens when we no longer require faculty to fulfill these roles? Do they become irrelevant?
The challenges are significant. Students don’t need contents any more. Students don’t need experts any more. Indeed, we want them to figure things out, translate, try activities, work with others. They don’t need encouragement or motivation any more. Their learning will be engaging, immersive and wanted. They will want to be there, they will believethat they’re there, and they’ll believe that they are making a difference.
Think about your own learning. Think about what you do today, as a professional. For the most part, you no longer take courses. You receive learning and support from your environment. You select learning resources that are that is relevant, usable and interactive, be they friends, books, or even classes.
It’s all about context. It’s all about what you need when you need it. The airplane cockpit is no place for a two-week course. You need learning support you can use right away, and even more importantly, that directly helps you solve your current problem. Learning will be like water or electricity – or text. There when you need it. As infrastructure.
Think about your own learning, the type of learning that sticks over time, like learning a language or learning to fly. “To learn is to practise and reflect.” You need support, sometimes, but mostly you need examples and models. Then you try it. Think about learning a computer system. Learners today don’t wait for a course or even read the instruction manual – they try things and see what happens. They keep at it until they become skilled.
Think about your own learning, the way you share it with others outside the class. “To teach is to model and demonstrate.” You probably know by now that you can’t just tellpeople how to do things, you can’t convincethem that this or that is important. You showthem – you demonstrate the function, and you describe how you see it in your own mind, explaining using models and demonstrations.
As Alfie Kohn says, if we have to ask “how do we motivate people” then we’re taking the wrong approach. 
The new role for faculty is to show how to be a practitioner in the field – be a carpenter, a physicist, etc. More, it is to show how you try, fail, learn, etc. To show the way you think about problems. To be open with your mistakes and your failings as well as your successes. To be a part of the learning community, the one who forges ahead, the one who discovers a new path.
From the institutional perspective, the shift must be form management to meaning. Pre-network work and learning was about giving directions and telling people what they need to do. In the network era, we don’t do things to people, do things with people, and even more importantly, we help people do things. The success in the future economy will not be the one who takes the most, it will be the one who gives the most.
The new model of work and learning – and ultimately, the true importance of faculty in the future, will be based around three principles:
– Sharing – by working openly, modeling and demonstrating one’s own practice, including the application of specific skills, but also how we think and how we see the works, by creating linked documents, data, and objects within a distributed network
– Contributing – by helping, supporting and being there when needed, supporting their learning or work objective, responding to their priorities and interests

– Co-Creation – by working withother people in social networks, facilitating and acting as a role model for group communication, group communication, by being a co-creator (rather than an aloof expert or a disengaged coach)

The traditional role of the faculty – even faculty currently working with learning technologies using 21st century pedagogies – is changing. Work that today seems essential will in the future be done by students themselves or by computers.
But the role of faculty becomes something even more important. It is no longer enough to tell students what they need to know and how to learn about it, faculty must be partof this active learning process. In a rapidly changing environment, both teacher and student work and learn at the same time, and the role of the teacher is to be the role model for our students.
This is not a role we have always excelled at. Certainly our politicians, business leaders, and other officials have not excelled as role models. We, the teachers, must hold ourselves to much higher standards in the hope that they, eventually, will learn.
(*) “we” = “the educational community as a whole, in general with exceptions noted, as interpreted by me”

from Half an Hour

Profesores vs millenials una ecuación con múltiples incógnitas

Por tercer año consecutivo un plantel enorme del TEC de los 32 campuses de México (en esta oportunidad estamos hablando de 1600 docentes) se reúnen en la capital chilanga para trabajar durante una semana sin descanso, en la reinvención de los modelos pedagógicos para los tiempos que corren y los que vendrán.

Cuestionando el rol broadcast del docente, insistiendo en ayudarlos a que cada clase sea la encarnación de una big question, problem, challenge, catalizador del conocimiento (al mejor estilo Walter Levin, pero sin tanto histrionismo), reinventando una evaluación significativa, imaginando nuevas formas de inspiración, co-creación, diseño de experiencias educativas, el convite es a enseñar a que los mileniales aprendan y ivceversa.

Como en pocas otras oportunidades compartiré hoy cartel con el querido Stephen Downes (@downes) quien cerrará la jornada de hoy con un llamado a los docentes como motor de camino educativo (al mejor estilo Lila Pinto/Mariana Maggio).

Somos muchos los que creemos que la pedagogía es una tarea imposible porque el inconsciente siempre boicotea las mejores intenciones docentes, como nos enseñó Elizabeth Ellsworth y queda plasmado aquí en alguna de sus afirmaciones fuertes que compartimos a rajatabla.

– Enseñamos sin ningún conocimiento o certeza sobre cuáles serán las consecuencias que tendrán nuestras acciones como profesores.
– Precisamente, la imposibilidad de designar qué acciones, identidades y conocimientos son los “correctos” o “necesarios” es un elemento central de enseñar sobre y a través de la diferencia social y cultural.
– La pedagogía, cuando “funciona”, es irrepetible y no se puede copiar, vender o intercambiar, “no tiene valor” en la economía de los explicable en educación.
– La pedagogía es una acción que se suspende (como en una interrupción, nunca completada) en el espacio entre el yo y el otro.
– La pedagogía es una acción que está suspendida en el tiempo entre el antes y el después del aprendizaje.
– La pedagogía es una acción suspendida (pero no perdida) en el pensamiento: está suspendida en los espacios entre las categorías dominantes y los sistemas discursivos de pensamiento”. (Posiciones de la enseñanza)

Ello no impide (al contrario alienta) que la pedagogía (o la anti-pedagogía edupunk, o la post-pedagogía son hoy mas indispensables que nunca), y por ello en esta oportunidad partimos de una serie de preguntas que examinaremos a o largo de esta presentación que resume muchos años de trabajo, experimentación y sobretodo búsquedas. Confusas, complejas, interminables. Que las disfruten

1. La enseñanza está cada vez mas separada de la vida ¿pero no fue así también en los siglos XVIII, XIX y XX?

2. Los mileniales son muy distintos a nosotros (los baby boomers), ¿esas diferencias qué tipo de implicancias educativas significativas tienen?

3. Los chicos crecen cognitivamente mas rápido que nunca, aunque no maduran acorde, ¿cómo enfrenta la escuela esta contradicción?

4. Cada ves leemos mas (de todo), pero menos libros ¿eso sirve para construir mejor conocimiento, mas capacidades sintéticas, mejores caminos para la toma de decisión?

5. La cultura digital nos invade: ¿las instituciones del conocimiento (las bibliotecas, los museos, los medios masivos, los docentes, la política), podrán a reinventarse a su ritmo?

6. Tenemos cada mas conocimiento, pero correlativamente tomamos cada vez peores decisiones colectivas ¿Dónde está, si es que existe, la sabiduría de las multitudes?

7. Sabemos hackear la educación (es decir el espacio, el tiempo, los contenidos, la evaluación y los vínculos), pero lo hacemos mal y a destiempo

8. El broadcast educativo duerme a los alumnos, tenemos tecnologías de personalización, somos maestros en el arte del espectáculo (hoy llamado VR) pero la calidad educativa no mejora

9. Hay notables ejemplos de reinvención educativa, desde TeamLabs hasta Minerva, desde la Hasso Plattner d-school hasta THNK! ¿porqué no son escalables?

10. Las máquinas aprenden cada vez mas, ganan a los videojuegos; descubren proteínas; manejan en las calles; etiquetan fotografías, ¿es este el principio del fin del aprendizaje humano? amanezado por la emergencia de las superinteligencias

Aquí el desarrollo aumentado por la gráfica y las aportes audiovisuales de pioneros y visionarios

Profesores vs Mileniales: una ecuación llena de incógnitas

1. Leer mejor que nunca en la era de las pantallas ubicuas

2. Hacer mas que nunca en la era de los aprendizajes distribuidos

3. Culturas cofigurativas, exaptación e inevitabilidad tecnológica

4. Del Design Thinking al Diseño especulativo (educativo)


1. Leer mejor que nunca en la era de las pantallas ubicuas

La tecnología tiene sus razones que la pedagogía no entiende. ¿O es al revés? Como sea que opere la causalidad mutua entre estas dos actividades mayúscula de la humanidad, por detrás opera con fuerza señera una operación cultural que data de 5.000 años, aunque se aceleró espectacularmente en los últimos 500. Leer es ser, ser es leer, cada vez en mas soportes, formatos, superficies y modalidades. 

Pero no leemos siempre del mismo modo sino que lo hacemos sobredeterminados por las tecnologías del conocimiento de cada época. Con la aparición masiva de lectores electrónicos en la última década (Kindle, ebooks, tabletas) por primera vez la lectura sobre papel como monopolio de la producción/transmisión del conocimiento es puesta en entredicho.

Paradojalmente la migración masiva de la lectura a los soportes de escritura digital que implica un cambio mayúscula en los procesos de producción de conocimiento, pero sobretodo en los estilos de aprendizaje, no cuestiona la existencia de los textos canónicos. Enseñar hoy es aprender a convivir con esta ecología polimorfa de textos y metatextos, siendo competentes con igual maestría en el mundo analógico como en el digital. Aprender es usar el mejor medio, del mejor modo, con la mayor pertinencia de acuerdo

2. Hacer mas que nunca en la era de los aprendizajes distribuidos

Si bien Piaget y muchos otros pedagogos construyeron mas de medio siglo atrás su epistemología sobre la base de la identificación entre conocer y hacer, hasta tanto no convergieron varias líneas meméticas (computación; cultura del bricolage; conectividad masiva; inteligencia colaborativa; design thinking; simulaciones, ahiora VR), la implementación pedagógica y psicológica de esos preceptos nunca sobrepasó ámbitos aislados; escuelas de elite o experimentos bien logrados.

El pasaje de una economía de la escasez a la abundancia de información; la baja exponencial de los costos de las computadora y la comunicación; y la difusión masiva de celulares inteligentes cambiaron para siempre la relación entre hacer, pensar y aprender.

Mientras que durante siglos aprender consistió en escuchar y repetir (salvo en el caso de los artesanos, los diseñadores y los prcatucantes); en las últimas décadas hemos visto una expansión incontenible de aprendizajes in situ, experiencias colaborativas, diseño de experiencias basadas en juegos, problemas, desafíos.

Pero mas significativo que la inversión de la clase, o que la introducción masiva de tecnología en el aula es reconocer la interrupción del diálogo entera adultos y jóvenes; la incapacidad de la transmisión como eje de la enseñanza y la posibilidad de aprender de los pares como hilo conductor en la adquisición de las nuevas competencias.

3. Culturas cofigurativas, exaptación e inevitabilidad tecnológica

Cada época se cree única y convierte a su ombligo histórico en el centro del universo. Un poco de perspectiva histórica relativiza tanto cronocentrismo. Aun así hay momentos históricos que actúan como compuertas evolutivas y dividen a la historia en dos, un  antes y después. Trátese de la invención de las urbes, de la escritura, del transporte; la imprenta y tantas otras.

Pero mientras que las innnovaciones previas se escalaron en períodos temporales que van desde los milenios hasta las décadas, en los últimos 30 años asistimos a una aceleración creciente de las innovaciones tecnoculturales con consecuencias educativas inesperadas, imprevistas y sobretodo impensables.

A fin de reducir la distancia entre el mindset adulto y el juvenil es necesario entender conceptos extraños como el de exaptación (Brian Arthur): cuando una característica de un organismo evoluciona y cambia de objetivo a otro entorno, algo que sucede cada vez mas con la tecnología donde vemos tanto como nos adaptamos a ellas, pero también como ellas se adaptan a nosotros.

Inevitabilidad tecnológica (no confundir con tecnodeterminismo) que han modificado completamente la manera en la que trabajamos, nos comunicamos y sobretodo aprendemos (Kevin Kelly) y mas específicamente el advenimiento del machine learning que supone máquinas que aprenden, programa que se autoprograman y exigen de los humanos nuevos acoples con las inteligencia sintéticas como modelo de todo aprendizaje del futuro (Domingos; Ng; Hassabis)

4. Del Design Thinking al Diseño especulativo (educativo)

Diseñar es dar cuenta de una situación, imaginar otra mejor y operar para convertirla en realidad, está en nuestros genes humanos desde siempre. Diseñar es arbitrar cursos de acción que apuntan a cambiar situaciones existentes en busca de otras mas deseadas.

Hay industrias, sectores, áreas mucho mas exitosas que otras en este terreno. Mientras que la industria aeronáutica ha reducido exponencialmente las muertes, la de la salud al revés las está multiplicando en un proceso de iatrogenia incremental (Illich, Dupuy).

¿Dónde se encuentra la industria de la educación en este continuum? Lamentablemente mucho mas cerca (simbólicamente) de la segunda que la primera. ¿Porqué? ¿Como podemos cambiar su ubicación? Podemos diseñar para mejorar el mundo que tenemos, pero tambien podemos diseñar (especulativamente) para inventar mundos que deberian existir.

¿Cuál es el rol de un nuevo tipo de enseñanza en este proceso? ¿Qué ejemplo de instituciones y docentes ejemplares muestran el camino para revertir esta tendencia y suturar la distancia que separa hoy a los profesores de los mileniales?

¿Porque las antidisciplinas pueden orientarnos en este proceso?¿Hasta qué punto podemos superar el shock del presente en el que estamos embebidos (disparado por la aceleración tecnológica) y barajar y dar de nuevo, marinando estrategias de “slow learning”, de “deep learning” y sobretodo de “bottom-up learning”?

¿Dónde se ubica el TEC en esta dinámica?

from Filosofitis

Call / Plea / Beg for Responses: What If Creative Commons Certifications?


Like I’ve done in the past, to some degree of success, I am asking for people to help out on a project with a video response to questions related to my new project with Creative Commons, helping to design/build a system, process for offering a “certification” in Creative Commons.

Yes, I put that in quotes, because we are still figuring out what a certification really is or means. Your responses will help! Part of the work I hope to finish this week is to get our web site up that will document thew project progress openly, as we go. I have nothing but feeble excuses why it is taking me so long.

The idea I had was to ask people these questions before I fully explain the project, so I do not seed them with expectations. I want to hear their ideas as to “What If…” such a thing existed, what they might expect of it or think how it should work.

I tried it out Monday on a video call with Bill Fitzgerald— he kind of sets a high bar with his thoughtful responses!

This is not something I want to necessarily do myself or as interviews. So soon there will be a site on our new blog with a form where you can send us a URL for your own video (it should be licensed creative commons shared via YouTube or vimeo). I have it close to worked out (meaning in my head) so the submitted videos (done in WordPress with Gravity Forms) will populate a gallery of the videos.

It will help tremendously if I can seed it with a good set of existing responses, so that’s where YOU come in. Yes YOU. Do not try to hide from me. Some of you will get direct nag messages. Some of you I will see and thrust a camera in your face.

Do you have 5 minutes to record, 5 to upload, and send a link? You can put in the comments below, send me a tweet (@cogdog), or fold it up and send it to me in an envelope. These are the questions I’d like you to answer in your video, done in whatever format you prefer, but something 2-5 minutes is awesome.

  • Who are you? Introduce yourself, first name fine, where in the world you live, what kind of work you do.
  • What role does Creative Commons play in the things you do? This could be related to work/teaching, but also in terms of media sharing for content created. Or it could be “none”.
  • What would it mean to you to have a Creative Commons certification? What would you do with it, how would it play into the things you do. What is its value? And like in Bill’s video, that answer might be “nothing”.
  • What might it look like to earn a certification? Imagine, project a vision for what it would take for you to get a Creative Commons certification, how/where is it done (in person, workshop, course, online)? How long does it take? What kinds of things are you doing to earn it?

The responses, hopefully from a wide range of people, will help our design process (which you will read about SOON on that site, SOON!)

What if? a Creative Commons Certification existed? What if? I asked for help? What if!

Creative Commons licensed image from Wikimedia Commons
Creative Commons licensed image from Wikimedia Commons

Top / Featured Image: The search in Google Images (the only way to do it, with the option set for results licensed for reuse. They won’t make it the default, but you ought to) was for the words “What if”.

I almost used a Wikimedia Commons Creative Commons licensed image with the words on Scrabble tiles (I might still use it because I like it); the adjacent images in the result showed another Scrabble tile one I really liked.

But this is the sneaky faulty aspect of Google Image search- these related images are not ones with the same license limit. The image is used in a blog post, and was uploaded to the blog, but lacks any caption, credit, yup, zero attribution. Shall I assume it is the author’s? Not safe. So a reverse Google Image search lead me to the original photo, a flickr photo by Lisa M. And her image is restricted, All Rights Reserved.

And thus the conundrum of open sharing. If Lisa had shared her photo under Creative Commons, I could have used it. But that is her choice, and I have to respect it (I could always ask permission- All Results Reserved does not mean you cannot use it, it means you might have to get permission. This is friction in the sharing machine. If the blog author where I found the post understood Creative Commons, they would not have used it, or would have gotten permission and shown so in their post. But I guess showing gratitude is just too much work.

I went back to the well, and found the image you see is from a Creative Commons licensed YouTube video “WHAT IF | Cinematic Music (Emotional Piano) | Joachim Heinrich”

(of course the credits there for the image is a broken link to a wall paper image at alphacoders, where there is, from what I can see, no kind of license/usage provided). I have to stop somewhere…

This image credit is almost a blog post on its own!

The post "Call / Plea / Beg for Responses: What If Creative Commons Certifications?" was originally cracked open and scrambled from a rotten egg at CogDogBlog ( on June 9, 2016.

from CogDogBlog

Read more blogs

Other than writing a daily blog (a practice that’s free, and priceless), reading more blogs is one of the best ways to become smarter, more effective and more engaged in what’s going on. The last great online bargain. 

Good blogs aren’t focused on the vapid race for clicks that other forms of social media encourage. Instead, they patiently inform and challenge, using your time with respect.

Here’s the thing: Google doesn’t want you to read blogs. They shut down their RSS reader and they’re dumping many blog subscriptions into the gmail promo folder, where they languish unread.

And Facebook doesn’t want you to read blogs either. They have cut back the organic sharing some blogs benefitted from so that those bloggers will pay to ‘boost’ their traffic to what it used to be.


RSS still works. It’s still free. It’s still unfiltered, uncensored and spam-free.

follow us in feedly

Here’s how to get into the RSS game. Go ahead and click the green button above. It will take you to Feedly, where you can add this blog. You can then add blogs on food, life, business and even chocolate. I read more than fifty blogs every day. Worth it.

If you’re a desktop user, go ahead and bookmark the Feedly page after you set up an account, add some more blogs (they have more than a million to choose from) and visit the page every day. You can easily keep up to date in less time than it takes you to watch a lousy TV show.

If you’re on mobile, go ahead and sign up and then download the Feedly app.


For those of you that have been engaging with this blog for months or years, please share this post with ten friends you care about. We don’t have to sit idly by while powerful choke points push us toward ad-filled noisy media.


from Seth Godin’s Blog on marketing, tribes and respect

A supercut of Stanley Kubrick references in The Simpsons

A supercut of Stanley Kubrick references in The Simpsons  JUN 01 2016

There are tons of movie references in The Simpsons, but the show leans more heavily on referencing Stanley Kubrick’s films than perhaps any other director. As you can see in the video, there are dozens of references to 2001, Dr. Strangelove, The Shining, and even Eyes Wide Shut sprinkled throughout the series.