Week 6: Recognition – Task: Create a Badge

I have been trying to catch up since I started this E-learning 3.0 MOOC (I started doing week 4, Identity, when the course was almost in week 5 !!), and finally I think I´ve done it!

Week 6: Recognition – Task: Create a Badge

The instructions for this task were:

Create a free account on a Badge service, and then:

  • create a badge
  • award it to yourself.
  • use a blog post on your blog as the ‘evidence’ for awarding yourself the badge
  • place the badge on the blog post.

To accomplish this task, I chose Badgr.

I created an account, with google . Before creating it as an Issuer, I verified my email address. I used the name of my Blog, Learning Reflections, as the issuer. And chose a beautiful peacock picture as the logo 😊.

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To create a badge, I chose the Badge Class option.

option

I uploaded a picture, a country side photoshoped image, and the description. And then, I awarded it to myself.

option

Here is a screen shot of my email account…

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Then, I downloaded it.

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And that was the end of my task.

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Week 5: Task – Content-Addressed Resource #Resources #EL30

Week 5 Task

Week 5 task in #EL30 consisted in creating a resource using any distributed web application (IPFS, Beaker Browser, Fritter, for example). Then, we had to provide a link to the resource using any method you wish.

To help prepare for this task, I watched the recommended videos ‘From Repositories to the Distributed Web’ (which is a brilliant video), and other videos on IPFS and Beaker: installing IPFS, making a website with IPFS, installing Beaker.

Installing IPFS in my computer

  1. Download IPFS file from https://dist.ipfs.io/
  2. Extract the file. Once extracted, the main ipfs.exe file is in the go-ipfs folder.
  3. Run powershell (windows)
  4. In the powersherll, go to the directory where the ipfs.exe file is using the cd command:

cd \go-ipfs

  1. Then, initialized the file using init:

go-ipfs\ipfs.exe init

  1. This will generate your public and private keys. Keep them safe!
  2. Then, read the read me file using the cat command:

go-ipfs\ipfs.exe cat /ipfs/YOUR HASH PUBLIC KEY/readme

And you should have this:

ipfs

  1. Then you can start the deamon. A deamon is a computer programthat runs as a background process, rather than being under the direct control of an interactive user (Wikipedia).

ipfs.exe daemon

  1. I then installed the IPFS Companion Add-on for Firefox.

Making a website with IPFS

Notes: before you try to publish your IPFS site, make sure the deamon is running in another windows (in my case another powershell window).
I followed Stephens Downes video making a website with IPFS, and complemented with Gio d’Amelio instructions.

  1. I created a simple html website in a text editor.
  2. I then open a powershell windows and run the daemon.
  3. I opened another powershell window and use the publish command:

\ipfs.exe add -r ipfssite

And then, I could see my  website here:

https://gateway.ipfs.io/ipfs/Qmf2R887DZzzPEVv8Poq1LZGbVaPDqTEcdJYpkyweFWgta

Installing and creating a simple page with Beaker Browser

I installed the beaker browser and created my first page.

beakerwebsite

The link is here: dat://03e4afe5a35ea7293398836f977976dc1a34904af727c17fb6d655804a3a6634/

 

Comments:

I found the whole process quite challenging, however, I decided to have a go, and I am quite pleased with the results. Both my websites are very simple, but the important thing for me is that I was able to see first-hand how things work.

Now, what was on my mind the whole time? Is this secure? Am I making my computer vulnerable? I decided to go ahead with this task, but I definitely will not use these apps and resources until I understand better any risks and vulnerabilities.

A part from that, I sort of see where these technologies are going and how they can become a real alternative for education (and I think this is the right path), but I don´t think these tools are ready yet (ease of use, vulnerability, usability, etc.) .

I also have been reflecting on Jenny Mackness words about the implications of introducing the distributed web to the population at large, as it is now. “Presumably there will be a period of time when access will not be equal, and open will actually mean closed for a proportion of the population.” That is the way I feel right know.  And I have been asking myself, are these technical skills what matters the most, or should we focus on digital literacies and critical thinking skills?

 

 

Week 5: Resources – introduction and reflections #Resources #EL30

Introduction to Week 5: Resources

This post is part of my reflections on week 5 topic, Resources #resources, on Stephen Downes’ E-Learning 3.0 MOOC #el30.

The first thing that I thought when I saw the word “Resources” on week 5 was that since I was familiar with this topic, I would be able to catch up. But pretty soon I discovered I was wrong. Yes, this week covers familiar topics: OER (Open Educational Resources) and OEP (Open educational Practices). But it goes beyond that. It not only also stresses their capacity to transform the world, but it present them within the context of the evolution of the web, from centralized to decentralized, and then to distributed web.

And within the distributed web, it highlights the concept of distributed applications (dApps), and more importantly, the use of content-addressable networks, where the hash of the data or content is used as an address.

And from there, it introduces the Content Addressable Resources for Education (CARE).

In summary, my prior knowledge of this subject was, in fact, very limited. And I ended up discovering a whole new “dimension” of the Internet!

Synopsis and videos

Week 5: Resources. The week started with a course synopsis and a live conversation with Sukaina Walji and Cheryl Hodgkinson-Williams about the ROER4D project (Research on Open Educational Resources for Development). A recorded version of the conversation is here, and more information about the project is here).

I found this topic fascinating, and spent sometime thinking about it. Specially after watching From Repository to the Distributed Web. I thought this was an amazing presentation and very clear. In this video Stephen Downes gives a thorough explanation of (1) CDNs (Content Delivery Network), (2) P2P (peer to peer), (3) Dweb Project, and introduces the (4) Beaker browser. He also explains very clearly the (5) Interplanetary File system (IPFS), as the underlaying layer for all the content addressable hash-based resources; and the (6) Intern-Planetary Linked Data (IPLD), that links dWeb and IPFL with other distributed content-based networks. I began to discover a new dimension of the web 3.0, and felt the necessity of developing a new mindset to adapt to new emerging technologies and practices. I have some notes from the video that I will try to publish on a later date.

Another topic introduced were the Content Addressable Resources for Education: CARE. The idea is that these resources, whether courses, videos, programs, etc. “will be package and distributed across content-addressable network”, where “they become permanently open” (Downes). The hash guarantees their immutability.

The live conversation with Sukaina Walji and Cheryl Hodgkinson-Williams touched on some of the most critical issues in the open movement. For example:

  • Sometimes “open” is not the ethical thing to do (for example, the first stages of writing a research paper); and sometimes when wanting to be “open” there is a gap between intent (ideological) and pragmatism (what is possible to do).
  • The OER cycle is: creation, use, re-use, adaptation. However, some digital skills are needed to be successful, lacking those skills will limit what you can do.
  • The need for quality assurance.
  • Re-use and the adaptation are limited. Sometimes there is more copying than adaptation. And that copying is not of the content, but of the structure.
  • Teachers and lecturers reported that the creation, selection and adaption of resources is time consuming. Some sort of recognition may be needed to reinforce and acknowledge the effort and commitment of teachers and practitioners.
  • The use of repositories is not straight forward. Sometimes they are difficult to use.
  • The need for meta level organization. OERs might be shared, but it might not be clear where each resource fit, and how they could be use together.

What did I take from this week?

This week I have been thinking about the widely unknown complexity of the web (pretty much unknown first hand to me until last week!). This “alternative” distributed web with its Content Addressable resources opens a whole new word for learning. However, I also consider the implications of this approach and its limitations. The main ones to me, a high level of digital skills is required, the system and applications are not user friendly and easy to use (at least yet), and it is not clear how it guarantees security (privacy, no data breaches, etc.).

On the subject of OER, I can see how CARE and CARENET could address some of the issues. It could help with the meta level organization and classification of resources (metadata, where and how the resource is used). Nevertheless, it seems to me that some of the other issues are more related with 1 the user’s digital skills, not only for the creation, re-use, adaptation, mixing, etc., but also to finding and storing them.

Week 4: Activity – Identity Graph #identityGraph

Week’s 4 activity consisted on creating a graph based on the marketing definition of an identity graph. The rules: without a self-referential node, from your own point of view, and it could be partial.

To create my graph, I first thought about how I would describe my online identity, and contrasted that with my online footprint. To start with, I choose three of my main groups of reference: family, friends and colleagues, and in the three countries where I have lived. From there on, I began to choose the different aspects I wanted to include, always considering my online footprint. I listed some of the activities I do or I have done that I consider are related to my online identity. I tried to think of each item in a neutral way. Why did I do this? I realised sometimes one aspect could be explained in more than one way, depending on the narrative I created. It also made me think about how others see me, how I could be seen as”content”, and how my view and theirs may not fit. One of the last things I did was to add some of the sites that I use where there is a community (whether I am an active participant or not), and link them to as many items as they were relevant.

Another reason why I use neutral terms is that I wanted the resulting graph (although partial and general) to be a direct representation of myself, but at the same time, I wanted that it missed the only thread that would give it truthful meaning, that is me.

identitygraph

Week 4: Identity – E-Learning 3.0 MOOC #el30

This post is part of my reflections on week 4 topic, Identity, on Stephen Downes’ E-Learning 3.0 MOOC   #el30. Though the topic got to an end some days ago, I found writing my first blog post a bit daunting, (!). As things are, I am now ready to join in the online conversation.

 Initial thoughts

This topic reminded me of a recent visit to a portrait exhibition at a nearby museum. After the visit, I kept on thinking about what our faces told us (and others) about ourselves, about how our uniqueness and sameness interweave in creating who we are, and what made us “us”: similar to others, though unique. To use the concept on this course, I was thinking about what defines our identity.

In E-Learning 3.0 MOOC the focus narrows down to online identity. Here, the questions related to whom I am are still valid but with some adaptations. Instead of asking what our faces tell us and others about ourselves, we would need to ask what our online data, interactions with groups and communities we join, one to one exchanges, or our preferences tells us, and others, about ourselves. And how that becomes our online identity.

Introduction to the topic

The week started with an interesting introductory video with Maha Bali.

It also had a synopsis of the topic, where Stephen Downes described how our role (as online “users”) has changed through the different waves of web technologies: we have gone from clients, to product (data), and now content (the interrelated knowledge of our experiences, interactions, groups, and communities). This knowledge of our complex interactions give meaning to our otherwise isolated data. While I read this introduction, I couldn’t stop thinking how accurate I found the description. Then, I sort of remember that this knowledge about the user was what some online platforms aspired to “sell” to corporate clients 20 year ago. It seems it is until now that they are able to do it, transform the “user” into the “content”. This last idea made me a bit uneasy, though.

Readings

The recommended readings for this topic provided a wider context, as some of the concepts were new to me (not that I am an expert now😊!).

Although a had a notion of what identity was, I found two readings very helpful to develop the concept. What is identity? A sociological perspective by Mary Jane Kehily and What Is Identity? A short course from OpenLearn.

In Kehily’s article, the reference to Bauman ideas was powerful: “developing an identity is a fate that modern individuals cannot escape” (p.2). We have freedom, but at the same time are responsible to the answers we choose to give to ourselves to the essential questions of: “‘who am I, ‘how should I live’, ‘who do I want to become’” (p.2). With these questions, our identity links past, present and future, and at the same time becomes social and temporarily based. This idea, that we actively choose our identity and the groups we decide to be linked to, is also stated in the course from OpenLearn.

Kehily also describes Stuart Hall ideas. For him, identities are a “meeting place between the subjective processes inscribed in the way we live our lives and the discourses that position us” (p.3). Our similarities and differences to others are key, as well of the temporarily of any identity, and the groups and context where we happen to be.

One last idea about identity that I found interesting is that our “identity combines how I see myself and how others see me”. Without others recognition or acknowledgment, a piece of the equation would be missing. The trick here, and when everything relates directly to the online identities is that “how I see myself and how others see me do not always fit” (short course from OpenLearn).

I also spent some time reading about blockchain, decentralized identity and cryptography. in  The Basics of Decentralized Identity . Decentralized Identifiers (DIDs) v0.11 and Identity graphs and deterministic and statistical tracking IDs.

I find the idea of decentralised ID quite interesting, though I still do not understand all its implications, and will need further reading and reflection.

My conclusion

I should say that although I have begun to understand how decentralised Identifiers and some current regulation might help us to gain control of our online identity, at present, my main concern still is that “once your information gets out, there’s no way to make it private again”, as Robert Heaton wrote in Identity Graphs: how online trackers follow you across devices. And, as trackers become more robust, companies can “build up a distressingly detailed picture of us and our habits”, I would add, and our associations, groups and communities. And we do not have any power over that picture. In the end, however complex that representation is, it is still only an incomplete reflection of our online identity. It can be interpreted in different ways, because to be truth it still needs “us”.