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Stephen Downes
Free Learning
Free Learning


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This is looking across the tracks from the road out front, toward the new subdivision. There are roads and streetlights but no houses yet, which produces this unusual arrangement of lights in the evening misty rain. I spent the day today analyzing interview data.
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Re: Prime Minister Trudeau’s Bad Balance Sheets are Bad News for Canada
Responding to John Reid, Prime Minister Trudeau’s Bad Balance Sheets are Bad News for Canada . As the representative of Canada’s innovation sector you have
a responsibility to promote the good of the industry as a whole. This column
does not do that, and if...
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2018 OLDaily Survey
I got 64 responses to my survey, which is a response rate of 0.3 percent, which doesn't seem very high to me, but I've read refereed academic publications based on less robust statistics. Here are the basic results: It makes sense that the existing subscrib...
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Responding to Jenny Mackness -

Great questions, which I won't try to answer here. But a few thoughts:

- it strikes me that an interesting (and disruptive) piece of philosophical literature to add to the list is B.F. Skinner's "Beyond Freedom and Dignity". Not that I'm a behaviourist. But it's important to understand that these basic concepts are artifacts.

- The idea of social harmony to me is exemplified by the slogan at the end of my article "My Canada", "In diversity, harmony".

- The idea of harmony and the idea of connectivism are connected. One of the ways we form and adjust connections is through something called Boltzmann Machine mechanisms, which are based on the laws of thermodynamics (think, again, rock breaking the surface of a pond, and the way it settles). The point of Boltzmann mechanism is that the set of connections is strengthened through a process on "annealing", which involves disruption and then settling. See

- No small part of my thinking on this is also influenced by the Tao Te Ching. Among other things, it points very clearly to the idea of harmony as a guiding principle. See

- There is a specific feeling I have from time to time when everything is right in the world. I was once asked, what is the meaning of life? I said, it is to find those moments of harmony. I hen described walking down a street by a school in the fall in Edmonton (to be precise, right here:,-113.5005885,19z?hl=en ) and watching the kids play. It was a moment of perfect calm. It wasn't nothing; I am full of thoughts. It was more like a perfect state of flow.
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On the Educause Openness Community Conversations
In my email today: As co-leaders of the Educause Openness Constituency Group, we would like to introduce an idea, solicit feedback, and invite you to participate in a planning session for a series of community conversations about openness in higher educatio...
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Ed Tech France Manifesto translated
(From )

In English (a bit liberally)

Make France the EdTech Nation.

EdTech France is the initiative of those entrepreneurs in France dedicated to the adoption of technology in education and training.

In today's knowledge economy, technology's greatest challenge is that of supporting France's 67 million people in lifelong learning.

That's why we believe the adoption of technology offers each person in education and training the best opportunity for success.

We take responsibility for developing throughout all of France tools and services that will advance education and training that supports the development of excellence to which each person aspires.

We take responsibility for connecting throughout France with all those developing and practicing new pedagogy through technology.

We take responsibility for showing throughout France the remarkable contributions of digital technology to education.

We take responsibility for spreading French knowledge of EdTech throughout the world.

We, the EdTech entrepreneurs of France, will bring our passion for this mission to each person in France - no matter their age, their condition, their lifestyle or their work - able to benefit from excellent in education.

And so, to you who are contributing to the adoption of technology in education, we say: join us as we make France an Ed Tech nation.

To contact us directly:

In French:

Faire de la France la EdTech Nation.

EdTech France est l’initiative des entrepreneurs français qui ont décidé de rendre la technologie utile à l’éducation et la formation.

À l’heure de l’économie de la connaissance, la technologie relève son défi le plus stimulant : celui d’accompagner les 67 millions de Français qui tout au long de leur vie apprennent et font apprendre.

C’est pourquoi nous croyons que rendre la technologie utile c’est offrir à chaque acteur de l’éducation et de la formation, les solutions les plus adéquates pour réussir sa mission.

Nous prenons la responsabilité d’inventer les outils et services qui partout en France font avancer l’éducation et la formation vers l’excellence à laquelle chacun aspire.

Nous prenons la responsabilité de fédérer partout en France les acteurs de l’éducation et de la formation qui contribuent à l’évolution des pratiques grâce aux technologies.

Nous prenons la responsabilité de démontrer partout en France la remarquable contribution du numérique au service de l’éducation et de la formation.

Nous prenons la responsabilité de diffuser le savoir-faire de la EdTech française sur la scène internationale.

Nous, entrepreneurs d’EdTech France, aurons accompli notre passionnante mission lorsque chaque citoyen – quel que soit son âge, sa condition, son lieu de vie ou de travail – pourra bénéficier d’une expérience d’apprentissage d’excellence.

Et donc à vous qui contribuez à rendre la technologie utile à l’éducation et la formation : Rejoignez-nous et faisons de la France la EdTech Nation !

Pour nous contacter directement :
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A Quick Definition of Neo-Liberalism
In response to Alex Usher (and in anticipation of future posts in his series): This is an interesting start, though I would have hoped for a more tightly bound definition at least by the end of part one. Each of the four senses of neo-liberalism that you ra...
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