Yesterday I had the dubious pleasure of catching a bit of Rishi Sunak’s chat with Elon Musk about the future of AI, and it was dreadful. Absolutely no criticality whatsoever, Sunak just blindly accepted everyone Musk told him. This is something which bothers me so much that over the past few months I sort of accidently wrote 2,500 words on why the robots will not be taking over anytime soon, but instead of publishing it here I sent it on to the ALTC Blog for consideration, and it was published today – you can read it here. I should think of the ALTC Blog more often and try to get more of my ramblings published there, it’s been a while. They even gave me a badge.
Anyway, the short, short version is that no matter how impressive ChatGPT may seem, it’s not doing anything very new or revolutionary, and that particular kind of artificial intelligence has pretty much gone as far as it can. There is absolutely no path from where we are today to general artificial intelligence which can rival or surpass human intelligence. None. Whatsoever. The real threat of AI we should be worried about is how it is being used to displace and make precarious workers in certain industries to further increase the capture of wealth by the top 1%. This is one of the issues which SAG-AFTRA are striking on, specifically the practice of replacing background extras in film and TV with AI generated images. This is the time to be fighting back and supporting campaigns like this, because our politicians are certainty not up to the challenge, even if it does mean you have to wait an extra few months for Dune: Part 2.
Rather than typing notes and taking screenshots throughout the conference and typing up something polished over the next few days (possibly weeks…), I’m going to try live blogging it! This is a very last minute thought I’ve had and it may be terrible. And / or deleted.
Welcome and Orientation
Love the conference programme being styled as a TV guide. Are there going to be people at this conference who don’t get this reference?
Opening Plenary: Joy and Care in Open Education in Times of Pandemic
What has brought me joy over the past year? I have better connections with my team. We have a morning catch-up call at 9:30 to plan the day ahead, and a more informal ‘banter’ meeting at 4 to have all of the office chat that we would be missing out on throughout the day. This culture is going to have to be something we work to keep when we return to campus.
Catherine Stihler taking an early lead in my ‘home office of the conference’ award.
“Technical issues have an emotional impact on people” – Nicholas
Discussing the pros / cons of synchronous and asynchronous teaching – Tutalenui made some great points about how the ability to work asynchronously is a privilege. That there are some people for whom home working / learning has thrust upon them unexpected caring responsibilities. I’m very conscious of this on our student body. With regards to previous comments I’ve made about my team, I recognise the privilege that most of us have in that we don’t have young children / caring responsibilities, which is part of the reason why it has worked well for us.
That there are academics who want to do live Zoom sessions for 3 hours is indeed a problem. It is “adapting” teaching for the pandemic in the worst possible way. My vote is strongly for asynchronous, but it does take time to adapt teaching materials for the new approach. My own sessions have – and I hope my students would agree with this! – considerably improved since the beginning of the pandemic.
Open Reading with Your Eyes Shut: Demystifying Foo-Foo the Snoo
In total and complete honestly, I have chosen this strand because that title haunts me. From Mark Brown at DCU, asking the question of how we keep current with research in our fields. Identifies a problem of ‘drowning in open resources and journals’. Publishes a top 10 list of articles as ranked by his team. Strong focus on open access journals, but commented about the problem of many articles still being behind closed-doors / paywalls. Some authors are responding by publishing their pre-published drafts in open journals. Cautioned wariness of sticking with known / favourite resources as this could result in missing good things.
Contemporary Art and Open Learning
Neil Mulholland discussing the problem of teaching contemporary arts during the pandemic. Prior to the pandemic there were very few distance / online learning communities for artists – the field was over-reliant on the studio as a means of socialisation. Responded by creating a new OER collating relevant peer reviewed resources.
It is just about 12 noon and I’m calling it on the ‘live blog’ thing! Great idea Sonya, but too much work. Instead of concentrating on the content of the sessions, I’m worrying about formatting issues on this post. Will revert to my classic frantic scribbling of notes which I’ll turn into a couple of posts over the following few days.
Keen-eyed observers will note the new CMALT page on my blog. My portfolio is now three years old and due for review as per ALT’s new guidelines which have come into effect this year. I had assumed that my portfolio would need to be reviewed first before my membership could, or would be renewed, but I’ve just found out today that the review process is actually still in pilot.
In any case, in preparation for this, and as a first step, I have converted my original portfolio from 2012 from a Word document to a webpage hosted here. In doing so I have changed no content whatsoever as it is a historical document, but I have removed the guidance notes and instructions which formed a part of the Word proforma and removed the need for the appendix of evidence by creating inline links to the evidence, all of which is also now hosted on this site.
I did consider using Google Sites or creating the portfolio in Mahara, but I don’t like the results of content produced using Google Sites and both of these options restrict my freedom in different ways. Part of the benefit of having this website is that I have complete control and freedom to do what I want and have no concerns about access in the future. Interestingly, in 2012 I hosted all of my evidence in my personal Content Collection area in Northumbria’s Blackboard and I have found that everything still works, even though presumably my IT account has long since been deleted. Nevertheless, it will all disappear at some point. A further reason for hosting my CMALT portfolio here is because I have known about the need for this review for some time and built my blog with this in mind, and I anticipate that I will be citing many of the posts as evidence. I have presented the portfolio as a flat page rather than creating sub-pages for each section as it matches the design of my other pages and because I am a fan of flat, minimalistic design and navigation. My concession to the fact that it is a large piece of work has been to create an internal navigation menu at the top of the page and included links back to this after each section.
The next step will be to complete the new review sections but I will wait for guidance from ALT on when this is going to be due rather than ploughing ahead. I have however created the required headings and placeholder text based on the guidance documents that have been published on ALT’s website as I think they are unlikely to change much now.
A potentially interesting discussion at LSE on ‘The role of education in encouraging women to work in technology’ on May 20th at 3 PM. Will be recorded and livestreamed to their blog. Full details here:
Keen-eyed observers will have noticed the new Qualifications page above, where you can see my certificates and details of the courses which I studied. I ummed and ahhed about adding this page as I’m always wary about putting too much information online, but part of the purpose of this blog is to serve as a portfolio so it is very relevant, especially as I will be citing my qualifications when renewing my CMALT and will almost certainly be hosing the submission here. And yes, the images are quite low-resolution as I don’t want any nefarious types downloading them and using them to fake their own certs.
Greetings, and welcome to my fifth blog, if memory serves me correctly. My first was a personal blog, written entirely in code as I used it as an exercise to teach myself HTML and CSS. This was probably around ten years ago now. I was proud of this one, but posting anything was cumbersome and after a while I transferred it all to WordPress. The third was just a revamp, a new theme and ‘relaunch’, but Twitter came along in between times and took over, so all these sites are gone now, like tears… in rain. Still going strong though is the fourth blog I created – http://www.attackhamster.co.uk – which is dedicated to my furry little friends. This is still WordPress, but now it’s hosted on my own web space as I wanted to learn more about WordPress, how to install from scratch and customise. There’s a story behind that domain name of course, but I’ll save that for another time.
This blog is a little different as it’s purpose is largely to provide me with a platform where I can talk about my work as a learning technologist and reflect on what I’ve learned in order to keep improving. I have also now reached a point in my career where I feel a certain responsibility to contribute more and give back to the learning technology community which has taught me so much over the past few years.
Another reason for starting this blog now is because a couple of weeks ago I was given the very happy news that I was going to be seconded into the University’s new TEL Support team, initially for three months but the indications are that it will be made permanent. It’s no secret that I was really disappointed by the decision to effectively disband the former LTech team last year, and with it my transfer onto the Senior Helpline, so this secondment is great news for me and it will be wonderful to get back to being a full time learning technologist again.
Finally, and with an eye on my CMALT renewal next year, this blog is providing me with a space where I can host a portfolio to showcase some of the things which I have created and am proud of, and to give me a smarter, better way of recording all of the CPD training I do and events I attend.
Note that while I am styling this as a professional blog, I fully reserve the right to delve into other areas of interest to me, technology in general, philosophy and literature for example. My Twitter on the other hand is the other way around, in that it exists mostly for personal use, but I do use it for work too sometimes.