Category: Social media

Digital distractions, iPads and other toys in the classroom

A must read: Clay Shirky’s verbose and well argued post on “Why I just asked my students to put their laptops away”. Clay Shirky is an author and academic interested in digital and social media.

In the same line of thought, I really liked this podcast (in French) of Montréal tech journalist and consultant Martin Lessard with Sébastien Wart who works for the Montréal school board as a technologist. They refer to the SAMR model (aka: Substitution Augmentation Modification Redefinition Model) for employing effectivee technological tools in the classroom. According to the Technology Is Learning website (where Martin Lessard point to), the SAMR model developed by Dr. Ruben Puentedura :

Substitution Augmentation Modification Redefinition Model

Substitution Augmentation Modification Redefinition Model

I blog, mainly, for myself

I like to think that this blog is read by a steady and eager group of colleagues… but really, I blog for myself. I use it to keep track of ideas, tidbits and interesting stuff. If you find it useful, great, else, well… see you around.

I liked this study from British colleagues about why academics blog. See also this post on the perils of academic blogging, namely being copied without attribution (of course, that’s why copyright laws exist).

I had to put in my 2 cents. Well, I suppose I consider myself an “academic” as I do occasionally teach, do research, sit on a wide range of committee meetings and get a university to pay my mortgage.

Tools for the digital scholar

A colleague passed on this nifty project – it aims to survey the digital authorship tools out there… Bamboo DiRT
From the Bamboo DiRT “about” page:

Bamboo DiRT is a tool, service, and collection registry of digital research tools for scholarly use. Developed by Project Bamboo, Bamboo DiRT is an evolution of Lisa Spiro’s DiRT wiki and makes it easy for digital humanists and others conducting digital research to find and compare resources ranging from content management systems to music OCR, statistical analysis packages to mindmapping software.

Review of The Filter Bubble by Eli Parizer

I just finished reading The Filter Bubble: What the Internet Is Hiding from You by Eli Pariser. It offeres a very interesting exploration into using various search tools and how we find the information that is central to our daily lives.

His main argument has to do with how “filters bubbles” emerge from the algorithms that supply the search results or news feeds for social media websites. Since 2009, Google for example supplies search results that are geared specifically to the user making the query. Gone are the days of obtaining “absolute” Google search results based on our terms (where everyone would see the same results). Now, the results we see are “relative” to our likes and features, as seen by Google – our browser, the location of where we are, and about 50 other variables Google uses to identify us as individuals. So, if two people type in the same keywords, they would see different results based on who they are. The Facebook “News Feed” works the same way, and Pariser has reason to believe that this is applied to other websites as well.

Here are some reading notes and quotes I found really interesting:

The filter bubble introduces 3 dynamics (p.9-10): “we are already in it”, “it is invisible” and “you don’t choose to enter the bubble”. In conjunction of how much information we produce, this leads to what Steve Rubel calls the attention crash (p.11).

On “our information diet” : “By definition, a world constructed from the familiar is a world in which there’s nothing to learn.” (p.15) In Robert Putman’s Bowling Alone, we are loosing (p.17) the “bonding capital” (being alike, creating bridges) and “bridging capital” (being able to talk to people not like us).

Facebook’s EdgeRank uses three variables: affinity (how much time we send interacting with someone); the relative weight of the content (relationship status updates vs. pokes); and recency (p.38).

“If trust i news agency is falling, it is rising in the new realm of amateur and algorithmic curation” (p. 66)

The CIA book on information analysis by Heuer (p. 81): The psychology of intelligence analysis also, check out this free version from the CIA website.

“Personalization can get in the way of creativity and innovation in three ways. First, the filter bubble artificially limits the size of our “solution horizon” – the mental space in which we search for solutions to problems. Second, the information environment inside the filter bubble will tend to lack some of the key traits that spur creativity. Creativity is a context dependent trait: We’re more likely to come up with new ideas in some environments than others; the contexts that filtering creates aren’t the ones best suited to creative thinking. Finally, the filter bubble encourages a more passive approach to information, which is a odds with the kind of exploration that leads to discovery.” (p. 94) Mentions The Art of Creation by Arthur Koestler.

Creativity generally has two parts: generative thinking (reshuffling and recombining) ; convergent thinking (survey options) (p. 103)

“If a self-fulfilling prophecy is a false definition of the world that through one’s actions becomes true, we’re now on the verge of self-fulfilling identities” (p. 112). […] “On sirens and children” by Yochai Benkler (p.112) “Autonomy, Benkler points out, is a tricky concept: To be free, you have to to be able not only to do what you want, but to know what’s possible to do.”

“fundamental attribution error. We tend to attribute peoples’ behavior to their inner traits and personality rather than to the situation they’re placed in,” (p. 116)

“In the future, we want to be all well-rounded, well-informed intellectual virtuoso, but right now we want to watch Jersey Shore. Behavioral economists call this present bias – the gap between your preferences for your future self and your preferences in the current moment.” (p. 117)

“Priming effect” (p. 124) – getting people to learn a sequence of words with a theme primes them to think in a way.

“With information as with food, we are what we consume. […] Your identity shapes your media, and your media then shapes what you believe and what you care about. […] You become trapped in a you loop” (p. 125)

“If identity loops aren’t counteracted through randomness and serendipity, you could end up stuck in the foothills of your identity” (p.127) – adapted from Matt Cohler’s “Local-Maximum Problem” – when trying to maximize something – try to go up a mountain, you should always rise – byt you could be stuck on a hill next to the mountain.

Overfitting: being stuck in a class that does not fit us – “a regression to the social norm” (p. 129) “But the overfitting problem gets to one of the central, irreducible problems of the filter bubble: Stereotyping and overfitting are synonyms” (p.131) The problem of finding a pattern in the data that is there and the problem of finding a pattern that is really not there.

David Hume and Karl Popper in the induction problem (p.133) All swans I see are white, therefore all swans are white.

“Fyodor Dostoyevsky, whose Notes from the Underground was a passionate critique of the utopian scientific rationalism of the day.” (p. 135) “But algorithmic induction can lead to a kind of information determinism” (p.135)

“China’s objective isn’t so much to blot out unsavory information as to alter the physics around it – to create friction for problematic information and to route public attention to progovernment forums. While it can’t block all of the people from all of the news all of the time, it doesn’t need to. «What the government cares about,» Atlantic journalist James Fellows writes, «is making the quest for information just enough of a nuisance that people generally won’t bother» The strategy, says Xiao Qiang of the University of California at Berkeley, is «about social control, human survailance, peer pressure, and self-censorship.»” (p.139)

“James Mulvenon, the head of the Center for Intelligence Research and Analysis, puts it this way: ” There’s a randomness to their enforcement, and that creates a sense that they’re looking at everything.” (p. 140)

On governments manipulate the truth “Rather than simply banning certain words or opinions outright, it’ll increasingly revolve around second-order censorship – the manipulation of curation, context, and the flow of information and attention.” (p.141)

Sir Francis Bacon = “Knowledge is power” “If knowledge is power, then asymmetries in knowledge are asymmetries in power” (p. 147)

David Bohm On Dialogue “To communicate, Bohm wrote, literally means to make something common” (p.162-3) Jurgen Habermas “the dean of media theory for much of the twentieth century, had similar views”

«Kranzberg’s first law: “Technology is neither good or bad, nor is it neutral”» (p.188)

“In this book, I’ve argued that the rise of pervasive, embedded filtering is changing the way we experience the Internet and ultimately the world. […] Technology designed to give us more control over our lives is actually taking control away.” (p. 218-9)

“Appointing an independent ombudsman and giving the world more insight into how the powerful filtering algorithms work would be an important first step.” (p. 231)

UNESCO releases Paris Open Education Resources (OER) Declaration

UNESCO releases Paris Open Education Resources (OER) Declaration:

OERs are teaching, learning or research materials that are in the public domain or released with an open license that allows for free use, adaptation, and distribution. UNESCO has long been a champion of OERs and continues to promote them through its Education, and Communication and Information Sectors.

“Based on the Paris OER Declaration, a comprehensive UNESCO OER Programme and strong global partnerships, we hope that at least 12 Member States will adopt national OER policies by 2015,” said Abel Caine, Congress organizer and UNESCO Programme Specialist for OER.

Here is the full text of the Paris OER Declaration

The World OER Congress held at UNESCO, Paris on 20-22 June 2012, Mindful of relevant international statements including:
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 26.1), which states that: “Everyone has the right to education”;
The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (Article 13.1), which recognizes “the right of everyone to education”;
The 1971 Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works and the 1996 WIPO Copyright Treaty;
The Millennium Declaration and the 2000 Dakar Framework for Action, which made global commitments to provide quality basic education for all children, youth and adults;
The 2003 World Summit on the Information Society, Declaration of Principles, committing “to build a people- centred, inclusive and development-oriented Information Society where everyone can create, access, utilize and share information and knowledge”;
The 2003 UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Promotion and Use of Multilingualism and Universal Access to Cyberspace;
The 2005 UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expression, which states that: “Equitable access to a rich and diversified range of cultural expressions from all over the world and access of cultures to the means of expressions and dissemination constitute important elements for enhancing cultural diversity and encouraging mutual understanding”;
The 2006 Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (Article 24), which recognises the rights of persons with disabilities to education;
The declarations of the six International Conference on Adult Education (CONFINTEA) Conferences emphasising the fundamental role of Adult Learning and Education.
Emphasizing that the term Open Educational Resources (OER) was coined at UNESCO’s 2002 Forum on Open Courseware and designates “teaching, learning and research materials in any medium, digital or otherwise, that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits no-cost access, use, adaptation and redistribution by others with no or limited restrictions. Open licensing is built within the existing framework of intellectual property rights as defined by relevant international conventions and respects the authorship of the work”;
Recalling existing Declarations and Guidelines on Open Educational Resources such as the 2007 Cape Town Open Education Declaration, the 2009 Dakar Declaration on Open Educational Resources and the 2011 Commonwealth of Learning and UNESCO Guidelines on Open Educational Resources in Higher Education;
Noting that Open Educational Resources (OER) promote the aims of the international statements quoted above;
Recommends that States, within their capacities and authority:
a. Foster awareness and use of OER.
Promote and use OER to widen access to education at all levels, both formal and non-formal, in a perspective of lifelong learning, thus contributing to social inclusion, gender equity and special needs education. Improve both cost-efficiency and quality of teaching and learning outcomes through greater use of OER.
b. Facilitate enabling environments for use of Information and Communications Technologies (ICT).
Bridge the digital divide by developing adequate infrastructure, in particular, affordable broadband connectivity,
widespread mobile technology and reliable electrical power supply. Improve media and information literacy and encourage the development and use of OER in open standard digital formats.
c. Reinforce the development of strategies and policies on OER.
Promote the development of specific policies for the production and use of OER within wider strategies for advancing education.
d. Promote the understanding and use of open licensing frameworks.
Facilitate the re-use, revision, remixing and redistribution of educational materials across the world through open licensing, which refers to a range of frameworks that allow different kinds of uses, while respecting the rights of any copyright holder.
e. Support capacity building for the sustainable development of quality learning materials.
Support institutions, train and motivate teachers and other personnel to produce and share high-quality, accessible educational resources, taking into account local needs and the full diversity of learners. Promote quality assurance and peer review of OER. Encourage the development of mechanisms for the assessment and certification of learning outcomes achieved through OER.
f. Foster strategic alliances for OER.
Take advantage of evolving technology to create opportunities for sharing materials which have been released under an open license in diverse media and ensure sustainability through new strategic partnerships within and among the education, industry, library, media and telecommunications sectors.
g. Encourage the development and adaptation of OER in a variety of languages and cultural contexts.
Favour the production and use of OER in local languages and diverse cultural contexts to ensure their relevance and accessibility. Intergovernmental organisations should encourage the sharing of OER across languages and cultures, respecting indigenous knowledge and rights.
h. Encourage research on OER.
Foster research on the development, use, evaluation and re-contextualisation of OER as well as on the opportunities and challenges they present, and their impact on the quality and cost-efficiency of teaching and learning in order to strengthen the evidence base for public investment in OER.
i. Facilitate finding, retrieving and sharing of OER.
Encourage the development of user-friendly tools to locate and retrieve OER that are specific and relevant to particular needs. Adopt appropriate open standards to ensure interoperability and to facilitate the use of OER in diverse media.
j. Encourage the open licensing of educational materials produced with public funds.
Governments/competent authorities can create substantial benefits for their citizens by ensuring that educational materials developed with public funds be made available under open licenses (with any restrictions they deem necessary) in order to maximize the impact of the investment.

20 ideas for digital literacy in Higher Ed

The Guardian’s Higher Ed blog has an interesting piece on “digital literacy” in the university classroom. Beyond skills, the post covers specific ideas from engaged faculty.

For example, Sue Thomas, professor of new media, De Montfort University has this to say about transliteracy:

Digital literacy as an important part of transliteracy: Transliteracy is the ability to read, write and interact across a range of platforms, tools and media from signing and orality through handwriting, print, TV, radio and film, to digital social networks. It is the literacy of convergence, unifying literacies past and present across different platforms, media and cultures. This means it encompasses all kinds of communications from scratching pictures in the sand to editing photos in Instagram, or from inscribing tablets to text-messaging. When promoting digital literacy on its own, we can alienate people who are already very literate in other areas, and that’s why I prefer to take an holistic approach and be as inclusive as possible.