My take on “IBM and Desire2Learn Take On Education Data Challenge”

It’s all over Twitter today:

This is an interesting step in data management and analysis and predictive analytics in education. I think what this brings to the front is that analytics is very much a business application, and that applying it to learning changes the education game, considerably. I’m not saying that it’s all bad. In fact, I think there can be a lot of good in it. With any discourse around this, I feel compelled to throw in a couple “let’s be cautious” and “consider the implications” type comments. I’m excited by predictive analytics. They’re neat, and I love all the pretty graphs. Should IBM and D2L be making conclusions and interventions based on the mass of data available? What are the implications and potential pitfalls of having edu-business-borgs making conclusions and giving advice? Consider what can’t and shouldn’t be counted. Let’s be sure to question the robots when they make decisions based on logic like this:

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Gladys, Take a memo, and please clean up my dirty mouth

shorthand class

cc: flickr.com/photos/70251312@N00

“Writing obscures language; it is not a guise for language but a disguise.”
– (Saussure, Course in General Linguistics)

In September, I started to experiment with voice recognition software. The results were interesting, humourous, and inaccurate. I wrote a post about it on the blog I set up for my graduate research. At the time, I was experimenting to see what it means to capture the analytics of performance (or here, speech) to be replicated later. This experiment resonated with some of the work I’ve done in the past couple years with accessibility, speech recognition and voice commands.

Then this happened:
apple dictation

Apple’s new iPad (generation 3), has a Dictation option. The features page, suggests that:

Write an email. Send a text. Search the web. Or create a note. And do it all with only your voice. Instead of typing, tap the microphone icon on the keyboard. Then say what you want to say while your iPad listens. When you’re done, tap anywhere on the screen and, just like that, your spoken words become written words. Dictation also works with third-party apps, so you can do things like update your Facebook status or share a thought on your Twitter feed.

Interesting stuff. Now, before you jump on board, read this post and consider what information you might be sending and storing on Apple’s servers.

I’ve been experimenting with this dictation feature for the past couple weeks. On Monday, I lost a fight with the dandelions in my backyard. As a result, I’ve thrown my back out and I have difficulty sitting for an extended period of time. So, I’ve been using the dictation feature to answer emails, send out tweets, and I’m using it right now to compose this post. It seems to work pretty well.

I was showing it off to my kids this morning as replying to an email from a friend of mine. I asked my five years old son if he wanted to try it out. So, I suggested he say, “Looking forward to seeing you.” Somehow things got a bit garbled…and the result?

“Fucking sea plank.”

I’m not entirely sure what that means, but it resulted in me having to change my shirt when coffee came out my nose.

My take on Desire2Learn’s Learning Suite 10: Elegant and Extensible

passing car

cc: flickr.com/photos/wwworks

or, “Get out of my way and let me do stuff!”

I was honoured to be asked to speak at Desire2Learn’s Product Announcement yesterday. The event focused on the launch of Learning Suite 10. You can read all about it on their site.

I’ve had the distinct pleasure of working with Desire2Learn for over 12 years. I’ve seen the staff grow from a team of 5 coding in someone’s basement apartment over 400 people who make up the company today. It’s quite remarkable. I’ve also had the pleasure of seeing D2L’s software mature over the past 12 years to the world-class product it is today. Learning Suite 10 marks an important step in their evolution.

One of the things that sets D2L apart is their engagement with their clients, and that they actively seek out and listen to feedback from the community of users. D2L knows that I love to get sneak peeks at new tools, and I have a bit of a reputation for speaking my mind. So, at Guelph we’ve had guest access to Learning Suite 10 Early Access for about a month, to kick the tires.

This release, in a word is ELEGANT.

The layout is crisp, the navigation is slick, and the tools themselves fade into the background, which is awesome. It lets users focus on what’s important…teaching and learning. In some ways the best tools are the ones you don’t notice you’re using. It’s important for software developers to know when to get out of the way and let users focus on what they need/want to do. We shouldn’t have to discover the proper combination of clicks and to figure out how the tool was created in order to use it properly. First impressions of D2L’s Learning Suite 10 are that was built with this type of usability in mind.

It’s an elegant design. And what it creates is a solid foundation to work with and build on. I was happy to see in this release continued development on D2L’s Web services. These APIs will allow institutions like ours to build, integrate, and extend their teaching and learning tools and services.

I’m excited to start working with Learning Suite 10. I’m anxious to see how instructors and students start to shape this platform, and I’m looking forward to continuing to work with D2L on this and future developments.

Congratulations, John & Kenneth, Jeremy, the Brian’s, Heather…and all the rest. Great work. Keep it up!

This boy has a new (‘nother) blog

Howdy.

To kick-off my journey back into academe as a student, I’ve created a new site. I’ll use it to document and share research and activities related to my Masters of Arts program. It’s partially a blog, partially a journal, partially whatever you want it to be.

kyle's masters

So far, so good. Have a visit, if you’re interested. Follow along, if you’d like.

kylemackiemasters.wordpress.com

This site will still continue to see some action.

Change is Good.

change

cc: flickr.com/photos/smemon

Great times of change here.

On the work front:

On the learning front:

  • back to school for all of us it seems, in some way, shape or form

On the blog front:

  • new theme…like it?

Stay tuned for a wild ride.

Try something new for 30 days & Keep your goals to yourself

Part of a series of weekly TED talks I’ve been watching and thinking about. Have a look, have a think, comment if you’d like. A couple quick videos today, one about trying new things and an interesting take on goals.

Matt Cutts: Try something new for 30 days

Derek Sivers: Keep your goals to yourself

At least you finished?

June is a hyper-busy time for us. End of school, ramping up for summer vacation, year end presentations, the list goes on. It tends to be a time when we showcase what we’ve learned over the past year to welcome feedback and praise. It’s and important part of what we do, the sharing and evaluation of our accomplishments.

Last night was my daughter’s year-end piano recital. She did an awesome job, despite losing her place in her solo piece. “At least you finished”, was my feeble attempt at consoling her. Reflecting on it now, however, I don’t know if it’s “just about finishing”. It’s about putting yourself in a position where you can finish, isn’t it? It’s about entering a space where you’re able and willing to showcase what you’ve been working on. It’s about being brave and confident enough to try and to be assessed, and to potentially fail. I think that’s a big part of what learning’s about. Learning is important. It *has* to be.

Reflecting on all this, and internalizing it, tonight marks my first attempt at a public 5k run. I’ll be running through the streets of my hometown of Grimsby:

peachbud 5k

Last time I was running through Grimsby…well, maybe that’s a story for another time. Despite a tender ankle and a muscle strain, I’m committed to doing it. I was thinking it was going to be about finishing, but I’m not convinced that that’s the case anymore. Wish me luck, y’all.