Learnification [...]

Learnification is a term coined by Gert Biesta to described the philosophical and rhetorical shift from "teaching" to "learning" in higher education. Tracing the movement back to the late 1980s, Biesta problematizes this learnification as placing too much focus on the individual student and ignoring other purposes of education beyond learning. Biesta argues that learnification causes us to lose sight of the for whom and for what of education. read this

Blockchain for Education explained by Audrey Watters [...]

We hear constant references to the potential impact of blockchain for education, but what does that mean?

Audrey Watters took on this question in an introductory (but quite comprehensive for something that's introductory) look at blockchain and its uses for education.

After defining and describing blockchain (worth a read because Audrey always follows the history and the money with a much-needed critical lens), Audrey talks about how blockchain is being brought to education:

And to be clear, most of what we’re hearing right now about the blockchain and education is precisely that: marketing. There are only a very, very few organizations currently utilizing the blockchain for educational purposes, although many claim they’re actively exploring the possibility.

Blockchain is currently being heralded for potential in certification of learning:

the video hits on many of the key themes that are echoed across various other education-related blockchain discussions – that is to say, the blockchain could be utilized to better manage assessments, credentials, and transcripts.


This whole thing reeks of Learnification

Virtual Isolation [...]

Everyone talks about VR’s sensory overload, but the most troubling part for me was the sensory deprivation. It’s a blindfold. You need to clear an area to move around, yet the Rift doesn’t do a very good job of telling you when you’re nearing the edges. Unless we start building adult playpens, teeth will be lost on the sides of coffee tables. Oculus warns users during setup to “allow adequate space all around and above you” and that “loss of balance may occur.”

When I’m on the inside, I also can’t shake a feeling of paranoia. There’s no way to tell what people around you are saying and doing. The Rift needs a button you press to automatically reveal your immediate surroundings. (Oculus designers and engineers are already thinking about this.)

Another big-picture VR problem: It’s boring to be around people who are using it. Remember when you got a Nintendo Wii and invited people over for doubles tennis? Nathan came over to my house to play with the Rift, and we ignored each other for hours while he pawed at the air in silence. You can play Rift games with friends over the Internet but, despite being developed by Facebook, it offers few other ways to connect with people. (Source)

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Labster [...]

Created by MIT this app provides virtual labs: (Visit External Site)

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Using Slack with WordPress [...]

Sean and I have been looking at Slack integrations for WordPress for a couple of projects. Most integrations go from WordPress to Slack, e.g., when you publish a post to WP, something is sent to a Slack channel.

However, we also found an integration that brings Slack into WP (for a cost). One possible use would be if you're running a course on WP but want to do discussions in Slack, this would keep the students from having to navigate between two interfaces. This does not make Slack channels public. Users still have to log in to see the channels that they need to see (at least, that's my understanding).

More WPSlackSync

Photos for Class [...]

This service allows teachers to search for Creative Commons licensed images. Images are deemed as age-appropriate, automatically-attributed to the image owner based on the terms of their license, and licensed for public use.


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Indie Ed Tech & Personal API event [...]

Indie ed tech is defined in this article as a movement "that encourages students to create, not merely consume, the technology that they use."

Rikard, who also wrote an article titled "Do I own my domain if you grade it?" (Visit External Site), shares his experience of participating in a Personal API design event hosted by Davidson College and led by Kristen Eshleman and Adam Croom.

A Davidson College API would let me, with a simple piece of code, give or request information around courses, faculty, credits or even currently empty campus computers. If I had access to Davidson’s API, I could then connect it to another Twitter bot that would let me tweet, “Computer lab X has a free computer #IndieEdTech” every time a computer opens up. I could create and publish an app that displays free computers around campus. API’s let you build, hack and remix current systems.

Key to the design experience was the focus on designing with students, for students.

The session used principles of design thinking to place students like me around tables with edtech tool-builders and decision-makers in order to break down the hierarchies and drive empathy. I had a CIO asking me questions like, “What do you love to do?” “Why do you use the tools that you use?” and “What’s it like being in a classroom all day?” The goal was to use the empathetically obtained answers to create a tool that required a personal API.


Serendipitous Exchange [...]

Innovations never happen without good ideas. But what prompts people to come up with their best ideas? It’s hard to beat old-fashioned, face-to-face networking. Even Steve Jobs, renowned for his digital evangelism, recognized the importance of social interaction in achieving innovation. In his role as CEO of Pixar Animation Studios (a role he held in addition to being a cofounder and CEO of Apple Inc.), Jobs instructed the architect of Pixar’s new headquarters to design physical space that encouraged staff to get out of their offices and mingle, particularly with those with whom they normally wouldn’t interact. Jobs believed that serendipitous exchanges fueled innovation.1

A multitude of empirical studies confirm what Jobs intuitively knew.2 The more diverse a person’s social network, the more likely that person is to be innovative. A diverse network provides exposure to people from different fields who behave and think differently. Good ideas emerge when the new information received is combined with what a person already knows. But in today’s digitally connected world, many relationships are formed and maintained online through public social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Increasingly, employees are using such platforms for work-related purposes.3 (Source)

Related: Why Learning Networks Must Be Open Networks

Wikity syntax [...]

Most formatting in Wikity is done with the WordPress editor. You can add pictures, indent blockquotes, bullet lists, and soon (if we can figure out how to do it safely) embed content from places like YouTube.

However there are a few differences in Wikity syntax, especially around linking, and these differences are crucial to understand. If you don't follow the special Wikity method of linking, your content will not be easily reusable by others and may even break our federated web. So read up and follow these simple rules.

  • Use Double Brackets for Wikilinks
  • Don't Put External Links in Paragraphs
  • Use Cite Keyword for External Footnoting
  • Use Four Dashes to Create an Annotations Section

Use Double Brackets for Wikilinks

Link to other pages on your own site and other Wikity sites by using the standard wiki syntax like so:

Use Brackets

To make a new page, the easiest way is to make a link to the non-existent page and click it. This will prompt you to create a new page with that name.

It is really important that you link to other wiki pages in this way, and not by using traditional hyperlinks. Hyperlinks will break fork-ability. Breaking forkability is bad.

The rest of this tutorial can wait if you want. The only absolutely required piece is Wiki Linking.

Don't Put External Links Inside Paragraphs

This is less important than than the wiki link advice, but still important. When people browse wiki, the assumption is that links internal to paragraphs, like this one to Free To All, link to other wiki pages. This is an established wiki style. Browse Wikipedia for a bit and you will see what we mean. (Visit External Site)

Wikipedia style actually doesn't allow any external links until the references section. We've come up with a compromise. If you really need to link to something external that is referenced in a paragraph, link to it at the end using Markdown Syntax. Here's an example.

Screenshot of Markdown External Link

Here's what that would look like in context.

Screenshot of Markdown External Link

That syntax is Markdown, a popular markup language you can look up on the Google. You can use the link word however you like (here we used it to note the resource was on a site called bavatuesdays), but we recommend it be a single word. Since the paragraph preceding it generally explains the context, and a hover shows the destination, we often use the keyword to indicate what sort of resource it goes to -- a pdf, an HTML document, a Google Books citation. But if you want to link it as (bavatuesdays), knock yourself out.

Many people on Wikity use the following link words:

  • "link" for a link to to a resource mentioned in the previous paragraph.
  • "source" to link to the source of a blockquote or other used resource, such as a data table.
  • "cite" for a link to supporting documentation for a claim.

Sticking to this format gives the reader more information on what the link means, and helps them decide whether to click on it. It also reduces the visual clutter of links, and reduces issues for people using screen readers.

These three keywords (link, source, and cite) are interpreted a bit differently than others, and presented with surrounding parentheses. Here's an example of what that looks like:

In a recent post on Vox, reporter German Lopez questions whether there is any real crime wave at all. As she points out, if you pull apart any average, there will be random ups and downs, and that may be all that is happening here. (Visit External Site)

Use Cite Keyword for External Footnoting

Let's dig into the cite keyword a bit more. Sometimes you may want to get an external reference closer to a clause, for instance when citing a disputable fact. Here's an example of how to do that.

Screenshot 2015-12-29 at 2.24.41 PM

and here's how that looks on the page to the viewer:

As Braithwaite notes°, shame can be useful, but it can also lead to recidivism.

Note the style here is the same as the external link syntax, but here we've used the keyword "cite". Using the cite keyword instead of something like html, pdf, or bavatuesdays creates a little degree symbol superscript. This functions semantically as a footnote, signalling that support for this statement can be found by clicking the degree symbol, but it's not necessary to understanding.

If the URL in the paragraphing is too messy to work around, you can use Markdown's keyword syntax, which allows to to reference a keyword and put the link further down in the document.

Use Four Dashes to Create Annotations Section

Wikity pages, by convention, are split into two sections. The first is the "article" -- a tight treatment of a single idea or subject. The article should be relatively self-sufficient: someone should be able to read the article and learn something without having to click around and see what the context of the article is.

The bottom section, which we are currently calling "annotations and associations", suggests places to continue your journey. Here we put links to related articles on wiki, as well as links to external resources. Occasionally we also put notes on the page's content, things like "To do: check claim about gun violence, and add link if true."

To create the annotations section, place four or more dashes on a single line at the bottom of the page, like so:

Screenshot 2015-12-06 at 7

To the reader this will look like this:

Screenshot 2015-12-06 at 7

We've found that having this separate section for annotations is important to the culture of federated solutions like Wikity -- it allows people a low-stress way to contribute to an article without having to touch the body of it. Annotations and Associations on your page also help guide readers to other things that might help them.

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Categories are projects [...]

Like all WordPress based sites, Wikity has both "categories" and "tags". On Wikity we use tags to make things findable and categories to collect resources associated with a particular project.

What's a project? It's any sustained investigation for which you plan to create a significant body of linked work.

Mostly, it's things you work on with other people, where you've defined a community goal. So Kate Bowles and Rolin Moe put together a study group on innovation which categorizes their work as Innovation criticism. If you were working with a class on the politics of water, you might have your class categorize their work "Politics of water".

You might also categorize your own solo projects this way. If you are working on creating resources for a workshop or a class, or if you just want to do your own sustained investigation of a subject, a category can help others find your body of work and invite others to join your effort.

Because categories will be used in this way we ask that you create them sparingly. Don't use them as simple descriptors of content. Before you apply a category, ask yourself "Is this a description of the content of the post, or an indicator of the project it was created for?"

If it's the former, it's a tag. If it's the latter it's a category. Keeping to this norm will help people on the site easily identify projects they might enjoy joining, leading to a better overall Wikity experience.

One other note -- to make the menu on the bottom of the front page look consistent we ask that you write category names out with spaces, capitalizing the first letter of the category phrase. Again, "Innovation criticism"  and "Politics of water" provide the model here.