Collective Intelligence & Distance Learning
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Collective Intelligence & Distance Learning
Collective intelligence is a shared or group intelligence involving knowledge creation and flow. Pooled brainpower emerges from the collaboration and learning actions of a community of connected individuals empowered by social media, participatory tools, and mobile platforms.
Curated by Huey O'Brien
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Twitter expands the Discover tab to deliver more relevant tweets

Twitter expands the Discover tab to deliver more relevant tweets | Collective Intelligence & Distance Learning |

First launched in December, and upgraded last May, the Discover feature will now deliver a steady stream of rich-media tweets that are intended to be relevant to individual users. 


Twitter today unveiled the latest iteration of its Discover tab, a move it said will show users a steady stream of tweets deemed relevant to them.  The company first launched the Discover feature on last December, aiming to "bring you essential information from the Web [and in] May, we added stronger signals and a new design that made it more personal for you with better stories and tweets from people you know."

And in a blog post this morning, Twitter wrote that "Now we're improving Discover again: When you visit the Discover tab on, you'll see a continuous stream of tweets, which automatically expand to show you the most relevant stories and most engaging photos."  A quick look at the new tab revealed a string of tweets under the rubric, "What's happening now, tailored for you."

The trick, of course, is for Twitter to match peoples' actual interests with relevant tweets. But if it works, it could be a smart way for users to find new people to follow, and information important to them.  Twitter said it will be rolling out the new Discover feature to users "gradually."

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Socialize Me: IBM Fully Behind OpenSocial

Socialize Me: IBM Fully Behind OpenSocial | Collective Intelligence & Distance Learning |

OpenSocial is an standard formed by a set of common application programming interfaces (APIs) and containers to create web-based social network applications supporting social interaction and gadgets  (Social Apps).  


Based on HTML and JavaScript, as well as the Google Gadgets framework, OpenSocial includes multiple APIs for social software applications to access data and core functions on participating social networks.


When OpenSocial 2.0 was shipped late last year it was declared ready for the enterprise and that's no surprise since a big push towards OpenSocial 2.0 was driven by companies such as IBM.  In the latest release of IBM's social collaboration platform, IBM Connections 4.0, IBM has included support for OpenSocial 2.0, OAuth2, and The latest release also features something called "Embedded Experiences" which was a concept invented by IBM and donated to the open source community.


With IBM and other social collaboration vendors adopting OpenSocial it presents a prime opportunity for developers who want to build apps on top of these platforms. They build once and they can use anywhere!

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GroupMap | Collective Intelligence & Distance Learning |
Real time, collaborative brainstorming with a twist. GroupMap shows you what the group is thinking by combining the views and ideas of individual participants.


Real time, collaborative brainstorming with a twist. GroupMap shows you what the group is thinking by combining the views and ideas of individual participants.


It provides valuable insight for leading a group, collective learning and effective decision making. Solve a problem, learn together or discover common ground...quickly and effectively.


Unlike other collaborative brainstorming tools, GroupMap allows each participant to maintain their own ideas around the brainstorming topic. Each idea entered is shared between participants to identify it's level of support, or allow similar ideas to be combined. As each participant develops their own view GroupMap automatically aggregates everybody's ideas together to show the group's overall perspective.

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Cooperative Neural Networks Suggest How Intelligence Evolved: Scientific American

Cooperative Neural Networks Suggest How Intelligence Evolved: Scientific American | Collective Intelligence & Distance Learning |

A new computer simulation supports a long-held theory that social interactions may have triggered brain evolution in human ancestors...


When programmed to navigate challenging cooperative tasks, the artificial neural networks set up by scientists to serve as mini-brains "learned" to work together, evolving the virtual equivalent of boosted brainpower over generations.


The findings support a long-held theory that social interactions may have triggered brain evolution in human ancestors.


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Enterprise Social Networking is More Than Facebook Behind a Firewall

Enterprise Social Networking is More Than Facebook Behind a Firewall | Collective Intelligence & Distance Learning |

Enterprise social networks (ESNs) are on the rise as they can deliver an immediate solution for aligning stakeholders around activity streams with the familiarity of Twitter or Facebook. These internal social networks are not only validating and useful to power users, but also friendly and easy to participate in for those who are new to the platform. While the promise of ESNs is significant to the future of how employees interact, learn, and ultimately work, challenges exist around adoption and overall measurement. And, like social media in general, businesses often underestimate or altogether miss the true potential of social networks and the role they play in bringing people together to do something incredible…over and over.


Most companies approach enterprise social networks as a technology deployment and fail to understand that the new relationships created by enterprise social networks are the source for value creation. Yesteryear, internal technology departments could force software on business units, but in today’s consumerized world, business units can adopt enterprise software, often without IT ever knowing.


As a result, a new approach is required that focuses on four key ways that relationships create value through enterprise social networks:

1) Encourage sharing.
2) Capture knowledge.
3) Enable action.
4) Empower employees.

These four points serve as beacons for guiding the development of a more meaningful engagement strategy within and across work groups to set the stage for a social business.


If we bring a “Facebook-like” (get it?) mentality into our ESN strategy, we may fall short of enabling a truly social enterprise. 



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Formal vs. Informal Learning

Formal vs. Informal Learning | Collective Intelligence & Distance Learning |

More early survey results: Interesting that 62.6% of respondents use social for informal learning, but only 26.4% use it to support formal learning.


This gets to one of my key issues: we need to formalize the relationship between traditional institutions and emerging learning opportunities and the technology that supports them. Educators need to keep up with the latest technology so they can use the informal methods of the learners to reinforce the formal learning in a recognized and useful way. We need to teach this integration, not just let it happen.


Here are a few questions to consider about the relationship between formal and informal learning:


 - How do informal learners assess accuracy and relevance?
 - How do they find sources?
- How do they track and transform informal learning and turn it into knowledge that can be applied?
- How and when do they discuss the importance of the informal learning’s impact on other part of their lives?
- What is the relationship between the informal learning and other domains?
- How, if ever, is their informal learning recognized?
- Do they share their informal knowledge as educators (do they transfer knowledge)? If so, when, why and how?
- What is the impact of informal learning on the relevance of formal learning?
- Will informal learning achieve a tipping point of recognition and relevance?
- Does formal learning with degrees and certificates, create an insurmountable barrier to entry for other learning models based on the recognition of its declarations of knowledge.
- Does formal learning need to stay competitive to maintain the relevance of degrees and certificates, or is the granting authority enough?

Renewed Skills's curator insight, March 14, 2014 7:16 AM

Added value is more and more obvious with informal + formal

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Google Enters The Social Enterprise With Public Debut Of Google+ For Businesses, Free Through 2013

Google Enters The Social Enterprise With Public Debut Of Google+ For Businesses, Free Through 2013 | Collective Intelligence & Distance Learning |
Following moves that began last October, when Google began allowing Google Apps users access to Google+, the company announced today several more features which are aimed at pushing Google-branded social experiences deeper into the business world.


Following moves that began last October, when Google began allowing Google Apps users access to Google+, the company announced today several more features which are aimed at pushing Google-branded social experiences deeper into the business world. Specifically, the company is rolling out support for restricted sharing options, video meetings integrated with other Google products like Gmail, Calendar and Docs, and additional administrative controls within Google+ with today’s public launch of Google+’s enterprise offering.


Google’s Vice President of Enterprise Amit Singh told TechCrunch in December that the company was already using Google+ as a collaboration platform internally, and promised at the time that it would bring Google+ to the enterprise market in 2012. “Google+ is the next big thing for the enterprise,” he said at the time. “We are going to do the same thing with Google+ that we’ve done with Gmail, and other consumer-facing apps so that Google+ can be adopted in more of enterprise setting.”


Details on pricing and what’s planned next are not yet available, but companies working in the social enterprise space – including Jive, Microsoft-acquired Yammer, and Salesforce, are being put on notice.



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Educreations To Turn Your iPad Into Your Classroom

Educreations To Turn Your iPad Into Your Classroom | Collective Intelligence & Distance Learning |
While it's easy to admire Salman Khan's (of Khan Academy) devotion to teaching and the incredible platform he's created, the truth is he's not a trained educator.


Khan Academy has attracted the attention of millions of students and parents (and has even impressed Bill Gates) by flipping the traditional classroom and homework model on its head with videos on a variety of academic subjects. While it’s easy to admire Khan’s devotion to teaching, the truth is he’s not a trained educator. There are millions of professional teachers who would relish the opportunity to create their own educational videos and interactive lessons, but the vast majority lack the resources to flip their own classrooms.


That’s where Educreations comes in. The company launched early this year to make it easy for teachers (and everyone else) to create, narrate and record video whiteboard tutorials on the Web and the iPad — and share them with the world.


Like ShowMe (and more generally, Udemy), Educreations focused on enabling teachers to use a simple, interactive whiteboard to create their own video lessons and hosts those lessons online (helpful for K-12 schools that block YouTube), where teachers can share them publicly or within a private group. Students and teachers can replay lessons in any web browser or from within its iPad app. With its mobile version, Educreations has attempted to distinguish itself from competitors by offering more features than the rest while maintaining simplicity of its interface and user experience.



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The Team Brain: Beyond Email, Meetings, and Middle Management

The Team Brain: Beyond Email, Meetings, and Middle Management | Collective Intelligence & Distance Learning |


The human brain is a product of natural selection. In the face of scarcity, our hominid great-great-uncles were unable to compete against our sapient great-great-grandparents’ abilities to build more elaborate mental models and orchestrate their bodies’ movements in more sophisticated ways.


Natural selection applies just as strongly to organizations. Duryea Motor Wagon Company was America’s first car manufacturer, but you’ve probably never heard of it. Duryea withered against Ford in the 1910s and 20s – not because Ford had superior product design, but because Ford’s internal coordination systems (like the conveyor-driven assembly line) were more efficient. History is full of organizations that excelled at coordinating the collective action of their people, rendering less organized competitors extinct.



We’re on the brink of another phase of evolution, where some organizations will thrive and others will fail to survive.  In a knowledge economy, natural selection favors organizations that can most effectively harness and coordinate collective intellectual energy and creative capacity. The same evolutionary force that produced sophisticated individual brains for human beings will produce more sophisticated “team brains” for companies.


This is already happening. To achieve their ambitious missions, the world’s greatest companies have been investing in more evolved team brains for years. Apple has the legendary Radar, a closely-guarded internal tool that helps keep knowledge and tasks centralized, indexed, and accessible to teammates. Facebook has Tasks, a collaborative task tracker and other home-grown internal systems that are considered a key part of Facebook’s secret sauce.


Those are internal tools, though; their power is accessible only to the companies that built them. But that’s changing. various platforms are being developed that are bringing the evolved team brain to the entire world. In great companies like Twitter, Uber, Airbnb, Foursquare, and LinkedIn, people already add information to and extract insight from these systems much the same way our hands and brain exchange signals.



Just as the mind emerges from the actions of individual neurons and their cooperation, the success of an organization emerges not only from its individual participants, but also from the interplay between them. Indeed, people’s individual creative capacities are multiplied in the context of their connection to a greater, well-functioning whole.


The next stage of organizational evolution will include not only leaps in communication technology, but also fundamental changes to companies’ processes and basic organizational principles. The rigid top-down corporate hierarchies left over from the manufacturing revolution are giving way to flatter, more flexible, more agile structures that more closely resemble the fluid, intricate relationships between neurons.



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Scooped by Huey O'Brien! Adds Analytics To Bring Transparency To How Research Spreads Adds Analytics To Bring Transparency To How Research Spreads | Collective Intelligence & Distance Learning |
Far away from Silicon Valley is another echo chamber in the Ivory Tower, except there's very little transparency there about how content and ideas spread., a social network for researchers, just unveiled an analytics dashboard that’s meant to help scientists and other academics understand how their work is being read and distributed. It’s a difference from an older, more opaque world in which researchers vied to get into elite journals like the New England Journal of Medicine.


“To be a successful academic, it’s becoming as important to have an established web presence as it is to be published in a journal and it’s going to be increasingly critical,” said CEO Richard Price.  To those of us in the tech community, the concept of an analytics dashboard would appear pretty basic. But in the slow-moving world of academia, Price says it has profound consequences.


“Hiring and grant committees know that there is this credit gap where papers are being read, but they haven’t had the metrics to prove that historically,” Price said. “They’d look at which journal you published in and your citations.”


At the same time, it can take citations five years to emerge, he added. Real-time metrics that track mentions on the web and on Twitter could give credibility to a researcher a lot sooner.


“It gives scientists visibility into all of the traffic they’re receiving by country and other factors. It’s super granular and it’s in real-time,” Price said. A professor, for example, will be able to see how many paper downloads they’ve gotten in the last 30 days.


Price said the metrics also preserve reader privacy and are basically in line with what other analytics products offer like geographic data and time spent on the page. 

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Now Building Hubbl, A “Gamified” App Discovery Platform

Now Building Hubbl, A “Gamified” App Discovery Platform | Collective Intelligence & Distance Learning |

Here’s how it works.


Hubbl captures the opinions about an app from around the web by aggregating content from mainstream media articles, blogs and app enthusiasts. It combines these opinions with those from your friends on Facebook (if you sign up with Facebook), your friends on Hubbl and the Hubbl community at large in order to organize the apps into smart collections. These collections aren’t just general categories like “games” or “social,” but can be narrowly focused on one particular app feature, too. For example, Evernote is a Productivity and Note-taking tool, but you can tag it “LifeLogging” if that’s what you use it for. 


These categories work like Twitter hashtags in the app. If you tap on “LifeLogging” in the above example, you would come across a list of apps that also fit that genre. And then you may end up tapping on one of those apps’ other hashtags to follow drill down into a different feature set, too. There’s a feeling of serendipitous, zigzagging discovery here.


In Hubbl, you can explore apps by popular tags, you can view those trending in the news, or you can view the stream of the apps your friends recommend within different sections of the platform (“Explore,” “Buzz,” “Stream”). However, the game element comes into play under “Contests.” Every day, Hubbl will have a contest where users submit or vote on the most appropriate tag for a given app. The first person to submit the winning tag gets a $15 iTunes Gift Card. The idea here is to create an incentive to classify the newly added apps – not the Evernotes and Instagrams, necessarily, but those that aren’t yet tagged.


Hubbl says that the contests are needed because people get tired of curation after some point, and it’s difficult to maintain a network around app organization and friends’ recommendations when people stop participating. With contests, users are encouraged to return the app and to help Hubbl continue to classify the new additions. The contests would also be open to sponsorship, too, allowing app publishers to take over the contest for the day and offer their own award for help in picking out the best tags for their app, as well.


It’s an interesting concept to use a gamification element to encourage repeat visits to an app discovery platform, and people certainly like to win stuff, so it could catch on. However, Hubbl isn’t quite ready yet for its big debut – that’s still a few weeks out - so it’ s hard to review the experience based on what we can test right now. Final judgement is on hold.

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Flip video cofounder launches learning platform Knowmia

Flip video cofounder launches learning platform Knowmia | Collective Intelligence & Distance Learning |

Launched by the executives behind Flip video camera, Knowmia offers a video lesson platform for teachers and students. The startup, works with teachers to review and curate videos.


At launch, the site includes about 7,000 videos in a broad range of subject areas, from geometry and algebra to chemistry and physics to world history and American literature. The videos, which are about one to ten minutes long, have been mostly culled from YouTube and Vimeo and then reviewed by teachers working with Knowmia to provide editorial notes, create relevant quizzes and tag content according to subject, topic and skill.


An iPad app helps teachers animate, illustrate video lessons

In addition to the platform itself, the company has released the Knowmia Teach iPad app, which Braunstein described as an “iMovie for teachers.” To help teachers illustrate concepts and demonstrate techniques in their videos (or even in class), the app lets teachers mark up a periodic table or manipulate a water molecule.


Sites like the TeachingChannel and TeacherTube, in addition to YouTube and Vimeo, already provide teachers and students with an ample supply of video lessons. But, as Sal Khan’s popular online lessons have shown, there is an appetite for video instruction. And Knowmia’s focus on providing curation and structure, as well as sophisticated tools for teachers, will help distinguish it from other online platforms.


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Google Search Starts To Reward Curators, Collections and Quality Lists

In the overall effort to improve the quality of its search result pages, Google is continuing to make significant improvements to its search engine.  Improvements include social discovery and content curation.

Starting from now on, all users worldwide can see Knowledge Graph results showing up on top of search results as a browseable list of alternative options to explore. Additionally, Google is officially going after the gathering and curation of Best Lists, Collections, and Guides on just about any topic. 

From the official Google Blog: "Finally, the best answer to your question is not always a single entity, but a list or group of connected things. It’s quite challenging to pull these lists automatically from the web. But we’re now beginning to do just that. So when you search for [california lighthouses], [hurricanes in 2008] or [famous female astronomers], we’ll show you a list of these things across the top of the page. And by combining our Knowledge Graph with the collective wisdom of the web, we can even provide more subjective lists like [best action movies of the 2000s] or [things to do in paris]."


Read more about it:



Via Robin Good
Prasanth (WN)'s comment, August 10, 2012 10:23 AM
Archeology Rome's comment, August 10, 2012 10:24 AM
Interesting, thanks.
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Stanford Unveils Free Platform To Run Your Own Online Courses

Stanford Unveils Free Platform To Run Your Own Online Courses | Collective Intelligence & Distance Learning |
Google and Stanford are more than just neighbors in Silicon Valley. They're becoming the leaders in the online learning revolution. And it's all happening fast and starting right about ... now.


Google and Stanford are more than just neighbors in Silicon Valley. They’re becoming the leaders in the online learning revolution. And it’s all happening fast and starting right about … now.


Stanford, like Google, has now announced a free and open source platform that lets you run your very own Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Stanford’s platform, dubbed Class2Go, has big and slightly different aspirations from its competitors. Developed as a non-profit project by eight Stanford Computer Science engineers, Class2Go is meant to offer not only a course-like project but also tools for collaborative research. The latter functionality is a change from what Google, edX, Coursera, and others are offering right now.


The Stanford engineers say they hope to make the design and process easier to use, portable, and able to connect to other systems. In other words, it should be mobile-friendly (iPhones, iPads, Androids) and have an API. The engineers also go on to say that the problem sets used in Class2Go are the same format already in use by Khan Academy.


If you're not familiar with a MOOC, check out this explanatory video on YouTube:


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MindMeld voice and video app instantly anticipates your needs

MindMeld voice and video app instantly anticipates your needs | Collective Intelligence & Distance Learning |

New app from Expect Labs is designed to listen to what is discussed in a conversation and instantly deliver relevant information based on what people talk about. 


A new iPad app announced today aims to give users instant contextual information based on nothing more than what's being talked about during a voice conversation.MindMeld, an app designed to interpret what people using it are discussing and instantly deliver sharable useful information about it.

For example, if several people using MindMeld were talking about going out to a Blue Bottle cafe in San Francisco, the app would quickly pop up a map of the city with the location highlighted, as well as several other relevant pieces of content about the coffee shop. Similarly, if people using the app were talking about going hiking in Muir Woods National Monument near San Francisco, several windows of data about the attraction would pop up, including a map, a brochure, hiking suggestions, and more.

The idea is that MindMeld is at the forefront of the kind of technology that will surround us everywhere in a few years and that will be always on and constantly paying attention in order to serve up information when we want it, or possibly even before we know we want it.  For now, however, it's still necessary for users to proactively tell MindMeld what they want to know. But the app is designed so that when that data is produced, it can be easily shared with everyone on a call.


MindMeld was specifically built for a touch-screen device like the iPad because of how easy it is for a user to slide specific nuggets of information -- presented in small windows -- to a sharing panel that is then available to every other user on the call. The goal is that users should never have to type anything using the app -- everything it generates comes as a result of analyzing what users are talking about, and taking action when they tap the screen looking for information.


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12 features of supporting social collaboration in the workplace

12 features of supporting social collaboration in the workplace | Collective Intelligence & Distance Learning |

I am often asked how to support social collaboration in the workplace. As I showed in my recent blog post, there are some big differences between learning in an e-business and learning in a social/collaborative business.


So it is not just about adding new social approaches or social media into the training “blend”, supporting social collaboration is underpinned not only by new technologies but by a new mindset. In other words, it means ..


1 – moving from a focus on organising and managing training (which includes e-learning and blended learning) FOR others, to helping individuals and teams address their OWN performance problems.


2 – recognising that most learning already happens in the workplace – informally and socially – as people connect and work with one another – as well as outside the organisation in their professional networks. It means encouraging everyone to take responsibility for their own continuous learning and professional development.


3 – helping people work and learn effectively in this networked era (and within a social business), by developing their own Personal Knowledge Management (PKM) skills. PKM is “a set of processes, individually constructed, to help each of us make sense of our world & work more effectively”, and is therefore a fundamental skill in social and collaborative learning, as Harold Jarche explains in PKM is our part of the social learning contract.


4 – identifying the underlying root cause of a learning or performance problem by working with the teams involved in order to identify the best solution that will work for them – not just by organising what is in effect a “social training” solution for them.


5 – measuring success in terms of performance outcomes – not in testing against learning objectives, or in course completions or “bums on seats” in classrooms.


6 – realising that even when there is a need for more structured approaches to collaborative learning, it is not just telling people to learn socially, but encouraging them to have a more active part in either facilitating or supporting the process and sharing their knowledge and experiences.


7 – recognising that even when there is a need for new content, this doesn’t have to be provided top-down, in sophisticated formats, but may better be achieved by helping teams create their own content and share it with one another. It also doesn’t need to be moderated or managed by L&D, but in fact should by moderated by the group members themselves.


8 – providing support to groups to build and sustain their OWN communities of practices – rather than doing it for them, forcing them to participate in them and trying to monitor and tracking their activity.


9 – helping teams to work collaboratively, sharing knowledge and narrating their work – by modelling the new collaboration and community skills. So it’s not just training teams how to use the social tools, but helping them to use them in the context of carrying out their work.


10 – fostering connections across the organisation to build collective intelligence – which might start in onboarding/induction but will be an ongoing process.


11 – understanding that the technology that powers collaborative learning in the social workplace needs to be one that enables conversations, knowledge sharing and collaboration (not manages learning) and in fact needs to be the VERY SAME that is used to power the work in the organisation – not a separate learning management system or platform that tracks “learning” activity in a few courses, or traps knowledge in a separate system from where work takes place.


12 – appreciating that the role of L&D is therefore much more about managing an enterprise community than managing a learning management system, and involves a whole range or activities (including those described above).

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The 2 Hottest Educational Social Networks You’re Not Yet Using

The 2 Hottest Educational Social Networks You’re Not Yet Using | Collective Intelligence & Distance Learning |

Companies and startups alike are jumping feet-first into the edtech world, hoping to connect educators like never before. They’re doing this by creating their very own social networks with functionality that rivals Facebook and Twitter. But it all has an educational twist, making it clear that we’re going to keep seeing more and more organizations vying for the valuable attention of teachers, administrators, and students.



The Pinterest For Education: LEARNIST


Learnist facilitates sharing, tagging, liking, and learning by creating Learning Boards. Learnist is designed to be an educational social network that supports knowledge creation and sharing. They've also built a collection of learning curation apps to facilitate participation in the learning and knowledge creation process.


The Facebook For Education: LORE

Taking a page from the early stages of Facebook, Lore (formerly CourseKit) is looking to change how teachers and students communicate. Lore wants to be a mixture of Edmodo, Blackboard, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. The site was totally redesigned in July and has a new look and feel. Students can now freely sign up and start establishing their Lore profiles in order to connect outside the virtual classroom. It’s called ‘Lore For Students’ and is currently used at more than 600 different schools. There’s course management tools, social network tools, and a lot more coming soon.  Not bad for the price of free.


What It All Means To You

The overarching theme now of Learnist and Lore (aside from the first letter of the names) is that these sites are designed to function just like the most popular social networks in the world … except they were built specifically for teachers and students. 


No longer will teachers, students, and administrators hope to fit their square peg (education needs) into a round hole (whatever Facebook offers). We can all now look forward to more and more dedicated tools that are robust enough to perhaps completely replace Facebook or other major social networks.



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How The New Learnist Apps Signal A Change In Education Technology

How The New Learnist Apps Signal A Change In Education Technology | Collective Intelligence & Distance Learning |

What Is Learnist?

Learnist is a social learning platform that looks like Pinterest with a heavy dose of Facebook and Instagram. It’s highly visual and seeing a huge uptick in users since the launch a few months ago. Still in closed beta, the folks at Grockit told me that they have been simply thrilled and blown away by the positive response.


Learnist lets you create learning boards that are essentially digitally curated silos of information. But since Learnist was built with education in mind from the start, the learning boards are easy to use in the classroom, assign as homework, or simply share on other social networks.


The Apps


Until now, Learnist has been a web-based tool that is still in beta mode. But as of the publishing of this article, Learnist apps are officially available for iOS (iPhone and iPad). The iPhone app reminds me of Instagram (in a good way) and the iPad app reminds of Pulse (again, in a good way). Both apps are intuitive, easy to browse, and fun.


The iPhone app is all about content creation. It lets you quickly snap a photo of anything and then create a board around that topic. Traveling to Paris? Snap photos of your trip and use it as chance to come back and learn more about each place you visited.


Best of all, the social aspect of Learnist means people from all over the world can see your photos in real-time and comment, enhance, or even add your photos to their learning boards.

The iPad app is all about content discovery. The iPad is well known to be a lean-back device that’s perfect for finding new and interesting information. Same with the Learnist iPad app. You can watch videos, browse rich media, and take full advantage of basically all Learnist has to offer.


Why These Apps Matter To You

These apps are built by a team of smart education-oriented technologists who want to build a better education system. And thanks to the popularity of both Grockit and Learnist, they’re doing it. These apps signal a shift in the expected quality of mobile apps for education technology.  An Instagram for education? A Pinterest for education? A Facebook just for education? Many folks have been drawing these kinds of similarities when it comes to Learnist (myself included) for obvious reasons.


But the real story here is that Learnist and other high-end edtech tools are starting to dictate the future of education technology. They’re doing it by creating high quality apps that leverage the hard work and expensive research already done by other companies.  For example, the Learnist design resembles Pinterest for a reason. It’s image browsing resembles Facebook for a reason. It’s apps resemble popular apps for a reason. These designs are proven to work and that’s exactly what a lot of developers and designers forget. Education technology companies are constantly trying to reinvent the wheel. Learnist has simply taken the best spokes from the current wheel and combined them altogether. Not a bad idea.



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Huffington Post Now Has Its Own “Labs” Site For Online News Experiments

Huffington Post Now Has Its Own “Labs” Site For Online News Experiments | Collective Intelligence & Distance Learning |

News publishers are becoming tech companies, right down to the Google Labs style experimental sites: The New York Times Company Research & Development Lab, The Globe Lab, WapPo Labs...


And now there’s HuffPost Labs, which will unveil its first project today: Highlights, a collection of the most popular sentences from articles and blog posts across the Huffington Post empire.Labs co-founder Conor White Sullivan explains that there are two ways a reader can “vote” for a sentence: either by selecting the text and clicking the new “Highlight” button that will start appearing on Huffing Post today, or by simply copying the selection.


The sentences are also judged by the ratio of highlights to page views, since articles and blog posts that are featured on the front page of Huffington Post or get more traffic than posts that are deeper in the site’s navigation. So a sentence that received lots of highlights even though it got a relatively small number of page views will be treated as very interesting on the Highlights page. This should help surface interesting stories that might otherwise be overlooked.


Lead designer Andrew Sass, said the concept came out of the team’s desire to solve the information overload problem. “It’s sort of ironic working on this at HuffPost, but no person can read as much content as we’re publishing,” Sullivan says.


They hit on the idea of highlighting sentences because what people choose to copy, whether that’s into an e-mail or into some storage system like Evernote, is much more personal than choosing to share a URL. Also, Sullivan happened to really like finding news through e-mail lists, where people tend to copy snippets of articles to share with other subscribers.



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Coursera partners with Amara for crowdsourced captioning

Coursera partners with Amara for crowdsourced captioning | Collective Intelligence & Distance Learning |
Lectures from Stanford, Rice, Duke, UCSF and a dozen other schools are being made freely available worldwide in dozens of languages, thanks to a partnership between online education startup Coursera and crowdsourced captioning service Amara.


Crowdsourced captioning provider Amara announced a partnership with Coursera Monday morning that will result in volunteers transcribing and translating more than 1,200 lectures from Coursera’s partner universities. Lectures are being translated into dozens of languages, and Coursera’s co-founder Andrew Ng said in a release sent out Monday that this approach has been key to making the site’s content available to non-English speakers.


Coursera isn’t Amara’s first partner in the field of online education: The service, which was previously known as Universal Subtitles, launched a partnership with the Khan Academy last summer. The partnership with Coursera could take crowd-captioned education to the next level: Coursera has more than one million registered students, and it announced in July that its courses are already taken in 190 different countries.



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How breaking news works now, and why Storyful wants to help

How breaking news works now, and why Storyful wants to help | Collective Intelligence & Distance Learning |
As more and more breaking news comes to us through social media, the task of determining what is true and what isn't becomes exponentially harder.


By now, most of us have gotten used to the idea that news no longer comes exclusively from one or two mainstream sources such as a newspaper or TV channel — in many cases, we see it first on Twitter or Facebook or through some other form of social media, and the source is often someone directly involved in the event, whether it’s an earthquake or a shooting. But how do we know whether these reports are genuine? For both news consumers and media outlets of all kinds, making sense of that growing flood of real-time information is a critical goal, but the tools with which to do so are still not readily available.


That’s why Storyful, a service that partners with media companies to aggregate and verify news from social networks, says it has decided to open up its formerly private Twitter account to help crowdsource the distribution and verification of breaking news reports.


Before he started the company in 2010, Storyful’s founder Mark Little was a foreign correspondent for a number of outlets such as Ireland’s Raidió Teilifís Éireann — much like Burt Herman, a former Associated Press reporter who started a company with a somewhat similar name: Storify. But while Storify is designed as a tool that anyone can use to pull together or “curate” a social-media stream from sources like Twitter and Flickr, the idea behind Storyful was to build a professional service staffed by journalists who could track breaking news reports through social networks and help media companies verify them. The company has a staff of 33 editors working in dozens of countries, and works with a number of outlets such as the New York Times and Reuters.

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YogiPlay Debuts “YogiMeter,” An Educator-Based Rating System For Children’s Learning Apps

YogiPlay Debuts “YogiMeter,” An Educator-Based Rating System For Children’s Learning Apps | Collective Intelligence & Distance Learning |
YogiPlay, a Menlo Park-based company from husband-and-wife team Cedric and Michal Selling, is attempting to tackle the critical problem of surfacing appropriate, trusted, and carefully vetted educational apps for children.


“It’s using the same principles I’ve been using all along from my knowledge of child development and interactive media,” he says of YogiMeter. “I’ve structured in a way with some very specific ways to look at how and why kids would be engaged, and if they’re engaged, how and why they might learn.” He also vetted this rubric with other colleagues not associated with YogiPlay to get their feedback and input.


While there are a few startups working to rank and review mobile apps, like KinderTown, for instance (which also vets apps with educators), Dr. Gray says that he believes the YogiMeter system uses a more developmental approach with techniques common to those familiar in child development and education. “The others are not as rigorous, research-based, structured and consistent,” he says describing YogiMeter’s competition.


The system he developed ranks and analyzes apps in two main areas - engagement and educational quality. For determining an app’s engagement, it looks at things like user interactions, user experience, intrinsically motivated engagement, extrinsically motivated engagement and socially motivated engagement.


And to analyze the app’s ability to teach, it looks at whether the app will actually engage the child in learning, as it proposes to do, and whether that learning is deep, authentic, personalized, differentiated, and whether or not parents can track the child’s progress throughout.



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Envisioning the Future of Education

Infographic -

Educational paradigms are rapidly changing. This infographic summarizes some of the key trends and innovation categories in educational technology.
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Video discovery app Vodio lands on the iPhone, launches Highlights feature

Video discovery app Vodio lands on the iPhone, launches Highlights feature | Collective Intelligence & Distance Learning |
Video discovery platform Vodio has updated its iOS app to make it available on iPhones, the Israeli startup Vodio Labs announced today. In addition, the new version is also an upgrade ...


Vodio has been described as a ‘Flipboard for videos.’ Thanks to its free app, users can browse videos from different sources in one place. According to the startup, its users have watched a quarter of a million hours of video and generated over two million video plays since its launch.


Users can follow pre-built thematic channels, they can also connect Vodio with their social networks, and the app will aggregate videos shared by their friends for easy browsing. Yet, it is worth noting that sharing is optional, and turned off by default.


While the new app shares many characteristics with the previous iPad version, it also includes new features such as ‘Highlights’, which the company describes as Vodio’s equivalent of Flipboard’s Cover Stories. In practical terms, this new channel helps users find relevant content across all their channels, feeds and interests, by pulling all the videos that Vodio’s algorithm predicts they will enjoy.

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Answer Underground Aims To Be A Mobile-Focused Quora For Education

Answer Underground Aims To Be A Mobile-Focused Quora For Education | Collective Intelligence & Distance Learning |
There are some 3.7 billion web searches every month for education-related topics. However, ask a student how easy it is to find answers to their burning academic questions, and they'll probably just roll their eyes.


There are some 3.7 billion web searches every month for education-related topics. However, ask a student how easy it is to find answers to their burning academic questions, and they’ll probably just roll their eyes. Sure, there’s Wikipedia, Google (and Google Scholar), Khan Academy and there are even Q&A sites like Yahoo Answers or While Khan is great for videos, it doesn’t produce quick answers and Yahoo Answers is atrocious. It’s littered with ads and answers are often misleading, incomplete or just flat out wrong.


Quora has emerged as a promising foil to crappy Q&A sites, but, while it can be educational, it’s not geared towards those in school. That’s why Sallie Severns (a former executive) founded and launched Answer Underground (AU) — a learning utility and mobile app that it designed to help students share info and get fast answers through group Q&A.


With AU, once someone posts a question, others can see it and respond in realtime. Like Quora, others viewing the answers can rate them so that the best (most correct) answers are the most likely to surface. Also helpful: If you post a question, the app notifies you (via text or email) when someone responds to the question.


The mobile app seems more directly competitive with tutoring tools, specifically web-based Q&A-based tutoring sites that charge for their services. Answer Underground, in comparison, is free to use. Anyone with an iPhone (and soon an iPad) can use the service.



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