I work in the Learning and Performance Support Systems program at the National Research Council, a multi-year effort to develop personal learning technology and learning analytics. I am one of the originators of the Massive Open Online Course, write about online and networked learning, have authored learning management and content syndication software, and am the author of the widely read e-learning newsletter OLDaily.


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Source: Getty Images Top Hat Raises $22.5 Million to Go After Pearson, McGraw-Hill


Bloomberg offers coverage to this Canadian company that has set up an online bookstore for textbooks. Many of the offerings come from OpenStax (Rice University's former Connexions service) and are offered for free while the rest appear to be authored using TopHat's own authoring tool ad sell for various prices. Presumably the company has something else going for it, or they're just a really swell bunch of guys, to account for $40 million in venture capital funding. Top Hat CEO Mike Silagadze "started by selling software tools to professors that help them engage their students, such as smartphone apps that let them tell lecturers if they understand new concepts in real-time."

Today: 39 Total: 261 Gerrit De Vynck, Bloomberg, 2017/02/20 [Direct Link]

Trust Score (Beta) for Ethereum


I agree with Nantium OÜ that "decentralization will lead to a more fair society where monopolies lose their stranglehold over some of our key economic sectors (and possibly even government sectors)." I'm less convinced that trust is a key part of this, but I'm willing to listen. In any case, what OÜ has done is to create a (beta) trust mechanism for Ethereum. Basically, it uses the same mechanism for trust as it does for payment: "you can file a complaint through an Ethereum contract that will ultimately penalize the other party’s score." This mechanism has already been suggested for credentials, such as academic achievement or badges. I'm more inclined to think that trust (and achievement) will be derived by AIs mining publicly accessible data. But we'll see.

Today: 34 Total: 291 Nantium OÜ, Decentralize Today, 2017/02/20 [Direct Link]

Global Sentiment in L&D


Donald Taylor has released the results of his 'global sentiments' survey of around 800 people in learning and development from around the world. The main result is that personalization is the top trend, collaboration is dipping, microlearning is becoming more important, and alignment with business (including showing value) is becoming a core concern. I found it odd that all the charts were (to me) backwards, running chronologically right-to-left instead of left-to-right.

Today: 28 Total: 295 Donald Taylor, 2017/02/20 [Direct Link]

Geek Career Paths


The is a cogent and clear article (laced with some off-colour language because it's tech) on what tech people (programmers, developers, designers) should think about doing later in their careers. The advice was accurate so far as my own experience can attest. Keeping up to date in tech is hard work, because it's constantly changing. The biggest jump for most tech people, I think, is the jump into people-oriented positions, like management or sales. The biggest risk for tech people is exposure to toxic environments, like the world of venture capitalism. And government isn't as bad as people say. Image: Mcleans.

Today: 32 Total: 483 Tim Bray, Ongoing, 2017/02/20 [Direct Link]

These are the science concepts you need to know to understand political life in 2017

These concepts don't all relate to education, and their importance most certainly isn't limited to political life, but it's a good list and educators should be aware of all of them. Here's the one-minute version:

  • Scepticism - "a willingness to evenly assess the scientific evidence available."
  • Iatrogenesis - illness “brought forth by the healer," like the opioid epidemic
  • Social cost of carbon - the damage each ton of CO2 emission costs society
  • Clean coal - expensive, but "captures the carbon dioxide and buries it"
  • Gene drives - increase a gene's chance of being inherited
  • CRISPR - being widely used to manipulate DNA with extraordinary precision
  • NgAgo - new tech which might manipulate DNA with even greater precision
  • Confrmation bias - the tendency to select information that supports our existing beliefs
  • IPFS - makes copies of everything instead of relying on links
  • PFOA - unregulated cancer agent turning up in drinking water
  • Neonicotinoids - the pesticide that caused widespread bee colony collapse
  • SETI - search for extra-terrestrial intelligence using powerful new tools

Now you's caught up. :)


Today: 29 Total: 679 Akshat Rathi, et.al., Quartz, 2017/02/20 [Direct Link]

Maybe College Isn't the Great Equalizer


Two things have held up through decades of research on education and its impact. First, socio-economic background is the single best predictor of educational outcomes. And second, education is a necessary but not sufficient precursor to increased socio-economic outcomes. These are the findings that are rediscovered in the current study published in the journal Social Forces. But Facebook devotes a substantial portion of this article repeating criticism from an outlier study (more here) "finding that college is in fact the great equalizer." According to that outlier critics, "students who graduate from the same Ivy League college -- or any college -- tend to earn similar amounts of money in their adult lives." Well sure - if you ignore selection bias, graduation rates, and the fact that income at age 30 is not an educational outcome, you get similar results. I would caution against making this study the basis of criticism of future studies.

Today: 11 Total: 647 Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, 2017/02/17 [Direct Link]

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.