Bookmarked Change in Education and What Needs to be Done (

What we want is often expressed in terms that describe an elite education, which includes in-person residence, small classes featuring personal instruction, and the formation of communities and networks. Elite education, however, can and will be changed into a more hybrid offering that offers the best possible version of these affordances to the wider community. Learning technology supporting these is in the process of being developed, and this technology defines how we can change much of traditional education to make it more equitable and more sustainable over a lifetime.

Expect learning to be much more integrated into the community, with people learning at home or in the workplace and coming together into classrooms only for activities and events. Expect cohorts to be formed and managed by artificial intelligence and to include people from a wide range of backgrounds, cultures and workplaces. Expect pedagogies to transition for a model based on instruction to one based on learning environment design with tools and practices supporting self-managed learning. Expect credentials to continue to shift away from diplomas and degrees to much more fine-grained forms of assessment based on actual experience and practice. And finally, expect increasing decentralization of conferencing and communication.

Stephen Downes addresses what is currently unsustainable in education and what is subsequently needed in regards to change. He provides the following suggestions:

  • Focus on building adaptive capacity, rather than single solutions
  • Develop learning environments which connect with the community
  • Provide diverse learning opportunities
  • Support self-managed learning
  • Prepare for trusted social federated identity systems and personal learning dashboards

I would argue that a lot of Downes work is focused on higher-ed, it therefore makes me wonder what some of this might look look in primary years? Also, his discussion about equity, rather than elite, has me wondering about initiatives such as Bridge International and the outsourcing of education? It is a useful provocation none the less.

Replied to Remote Comments (

In order to comment, you need to enter two things: first, the comment itself, in the big comment field (I could probably have made that smaller, but I like long comments; none of this microcontent stuff for me).

And second, you need to enter the URL for comment submission on your own website. This is where your comment will actually be posted. This needs to be the exact URL (you can’t redirect it with a .htaccess, so I learned) and it needs to be able to accept a POST request.

Stephen, I kind of follow your explanation of ‘rcomments’, but the technical specifications are a bit beyond me. I just wonder how this differs from micropub clients?
Bookmarked Where Do Blog Post Ideas Come From? (Blogger)

It’s important that the purpose of these social activities is not to get but to give. It’s not about what your social network can do for you, it’s about what you can do for your social network (and – drawing connections – you’ll find this sentiment at the root of the Tao Te Ching). There are many good things, but at the heart of it, people like you more when you’re helping them and giving them things, and they in turn are more likely to do things that help the community.

Society – and your success – is based on giving, not taking.

Stephen Downes breaks down his ideas into the five steps:

  • Read and gather information widely
  • Do deeper dives
  • Link things together
  • Create some sort of response
  • Share openly

I feel that this is similar to my own process of reading RSS, linking ideas together and responding.

Bookmarked After this there will be no more good clean online fun (bavatuesdays)

With all that said, I don’t see this as a reason to say what happens for the next few weeks is not “real online learning,” but rather it might demonstrate the necessity of that expertise as well as some of the limits of those paid third-party services that provide the turn-key solution technically—are they enough to scale online learning? Maybe it can act as a cautionary tale for schools that did not have the folks on the ground to help. But given there’s a chance that this lockdown could have impact through Fall and possibly next Spring, I am afraid it will be more about big-tech and serious LMS-like solutions than anything resembling innovative and exploratory attempts to explore the very DNA of online learning given the current situation. That was the reason for my original tweaking of Brian and Matt, and let me be clear that I am not suggesting this is the time for wild experimentation, but I hope there will be space for that once the dust settles a bit and folks dig out, that’s all I meant—but I am currently curled up under my desk in the event I am unintentionally inspiring the wrath of edtechs on the ground everywhere

Jim Groom turns to his blog to elaborate some thoughts on the debate between Stephen Downes and Clint Lalonde. current turn to online learning.

The concern I have is the idea that what happens in the next few months is not considered “real online learning” might discount some of the emergent approaches born of necessity. What’s more, I tend to associate the idea of extensive planning and real, serious online learning as mandate for big, costly edtech that is overly produced, and I am assuming given his post Downes was making the same connection.

In response, Lalonde clarifies his position, explaining that his concern is around people turning to technology to replicate bad practice:

At any rate, the issue here is what is happening within the system; how higher education is reacting, how institutions are responding. Is it “real” online learning? Well, some of it is. Some educators will take this opportunity to rethink how they do things and adapt their teaching to a new modality. But right now what I see is a lot of “let’s sit 50 people in a Zoom room to listen to a lecture”. That is NOT online learning.

Downes explains that this is still online learning, even if it is poor practice.

I don’t think it’s fair to say to people that this is not online learning. It *is* online learning. It might be poor online learning, but it may well be a necessary first step that people need to take. People are, as you say, doing what they know. They’re trying to do it online.

I am left wondering if ‘online learning’ risks becoming (or already is) a dead metaphor? Not sure what Doug Belshaw would think?

Replied to Google Classroom rubrics and originality reports exit beta by Stephen Downes (

It makes me think – why can’t I have a tool that just reads what I type, and lets me know who has said the same (or similar thing) before, automatically finds and inserts references, and alerts me of any reports or studies that contradict what I’m saying?

I really like this idea Stephen. I guess the question as always is a question of who would fund/pay for it.
Replied to Higher Education and Rich People (Blogger)

Look. I’m glad this thing has blown up on them. I hope the whole lot of them are taken down. They disgust me. But it should have happened a long time ago. But it didn’t, and this shows just how tight this nexus is, how close the connections are between billionaires, corporations, government, media, and academia. And they’re not going to be taken down by this, not even by this, because there’s no end to the supply of people willing to give up just a little in order to work for the rich and the powerful.

This is an interesting reflection Stephen. It is easy to say that you would never have followed the same paths, but these paths are complicated where small compromises can compound. I liked your point about being ‘unattractive’.
Replied to HyperDocs: Evolution, Purpose & Intention – EdTechTeacher by Stephen Downes (EdTechTeacher)

This is part Google rolling a great new service and part Google taking one more step to destroy the open web. The concept of ‘HyperDocs’ emerges from the tools GSuite provides enabling teachers and students to create using Google Docs. Greg Kulowiec doesn’t define ‘HyperDocs’ directly but instead talks about the ways student and teachers can interact using Google Docs. What would be really great would be an open web designed with that capacity – much the way Tim Berners-Lee intended it in the first place. Maybe something like that is coming. In the meantime, we can use Google Docs.

I find the whole ‘HyperDocs‘ thing interesting Stephen. I think that the online nature of GSuite has led to the association. However, as Alan Levine has shown with thinks like SplotPoint, the answer does not always have to be Google. The challenge is the ease of use, especially in regards to the ability to copy a template. I am not sure if this is what Doug Belshaw is trying to achieve with
Liked Value (Half an Hour)

When I talk about people belonging to a network, for example, the only relevant thing to me is that the person is a part of the network – not how many connections they have, not what weight their words have within the network, not whether the person is a desirable contact to have. All of these are ways of trying to characterize the person’s participation in economic terms, when the fact of their participation in a network has no economic properties at all.

Replied to What is the Value of OLDaily? by Stephen Downes (

But in 2019 there’s no community that encompasses all of these things. Indeed, each one of these topics has not only blossomed its own community, but each one of these communities is at least as complex as the entire field of education technology was some twenty years ago. It’s not simply that change is exponential or that change is moving more and more rapidly, it’s that change is combinatorial – with each generation, the piece that was previously simple gets more and more complex.

This is an interesting reflection on the development of a blog over time. For me, it highlights the role of connections with community and the other) voices. When I think about my own work I can’t help but be influenced by the work that I am engaged in. As much as I would like to think that I am covering ‘learning and teaching’ in my newsletter. However, it cannot help but be learning and teaching based on my current experiences and perceptions.
Liked The Wrong Choice by Stephen Downes (Half an Hour)

Just remember – the degree isn’t the goal. It’s the pathway. You are the goal.

And even if you find yourself still in debt at 28 like Keri Savoca, keep working, keep developing skills and experience, and don’t give up. Make of yourself everything you can, don’t look back, and savour the experience. Life – even when it is hard – is beautiful.

Listened Why Personal Learning by Stephen Downes from

In this presentation I examine the difference between personal and personalized learning, show how this informs the design of the personal learning environment, and draw from that the reasons for preferring personal learning.

Stephen Downes provides an alternative take on ‘personal’ learning. This touches on the work of the Domain of Your Own project, as well as the #IndieWeb movement. Maybe Grsshopper is what Kin Lane meant by ‘peraonal API’.

via Doug Belshaw