FutureLearn, the UK’s online university platform, has reached a million students signing up for courses. The provider of so-called Moocs (massive open online courses) says interest has been rising sharply, with 20% more UK students in the last three months of 2014.
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Big data articles seem to be part and parcel of everything we do today. I researched Learning Analytics last week in Research Methods and have to say that while the data can be useful in so many respects, it is fundamental that it is meaningful and interpreted correctly.
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What do you know about massive open online social impact? When Rajan Kumar signed up to take “Foundations of Business Strategy” on Coursera last month, he never expected to get feedback on his own company’s business operations.
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The head of Microsoft’s research division has dismissed fears that artificial intelligence could pose a threat to the survival of the human race. Professor Stephen Hawking last month expressed his fears about the rise of AI.
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China has blocked several popular services that let citizens skirt state censorship systems. Three providers of Virtual Private Network (VPN) systems reported that updates to China’s firewall had hindered people using their services.
Living in China last year, my VPN was the only way to get through the Great Firewall and find out what was happening in the outside world. Information flow is strictly controlled in China and even more so whenever there is an ‘event’ e.g. the anniversary of Tiananmen Square. On days like this even instagram and wechat suddenly experience ‘technical’ problems. Seeing this and reflecting on the following from Hand’s ‘Hardware to Everywhere’ reminded me that even though information travels fluidly today, it unfortunately only does so in part of the world.
‘Texts, images and sounds now travel at the speed of electrons and my be altered at any point along their course. They are as fluid as water and simultaneously present everywhere’ (Poster 2006:24).
‘In the context of informational globalization, culture, in terms of shared symbolic and material resources and relations, increasingly circulates as information, detached from national institutional structures, modes of representation and traditional understandings and operations of power’ (Lash 2002; Lury 2000; Poster 2006).
Hand, M (2008) Hardware to everywhere: narratives of promise and threat, chapter 1 of Making digital cultures: access, interactivity and authenticity. Aldershot: Ashgate. pp 15-42.
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Google’s new version of its US defence-developed 6ft 2in, 25st Atlas humanoid robot can now operate for up to an hour without wires.
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Call it preemptive extinction panic, smart people buying into Sci-Fi hype or simply a prudent stance on a possible future issue, but the fear around artificial intelligence is increasingly gaining traction among those with credentials to back up the distress.
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Since Fritz Lang gave us ‘false Maria’ in 1927’s landmark sci-fi film Metropolis, robots have terrified and fascinated moviegoers in equal measure.
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