Dead Drop no. 3

More Bots

http://pushpullfork.com/2017/09/botnet-cometh/

I’m following the public facing war between disinformation and the public. Yes, this is not a conspiracy theory, but an actual war, on social networks, aided and abetted by profiteering conspiracy theorists who want to make millions (in some cases) off paranoia. It’s fascinating because it really means the end of being online as a non-combat participant. Everyone is involved in this.

https://moz.com/blog/chat-bot

https://tutorials.botsfloor.com/opensource-ai-chat-bot-framework-with-natural-language-understanding-and-conversational-abilities-7c6b71e2c461

One of the important aspects of successful bots are the natural chat sophistication. Mapping conversations is part of that. Also, this open sourced framework for conversation construction is going to be extremely helpful.

https://booking.design/7-things-you-need-to-know-about-designing-a-chat-bot-4f07886d3fd0

Amazing how Medium is taking over from where WordPress used to dominate. More tips about chatbot design. Really interesting stuff here, some of it straight forward and obvious, but I really dig reading about how other people made decisions.

https://github.com/google/bottery

Google’s chat engine/bot framework.

Badging

I’ve been involved, somewhat peripherally, with the Open Badging Initiative for the last six months or so. Initially, it was a way to start thinking about breaking the LMS (Integrated Learning Platform? aw, screw it, I don’t know what the thing is called anymore) out of the box it’s in and communicating what the LMS does well with other parties. I thought it could be a way to communicate skills, think about developing a short-hand language through the badge to communicate with other people. It’s really a way to check all the boxes that get me excited currently. Open standards? Yep. Mutating a system to do something other than what was intended? Yep. Visual design an image that communicates a value to another party? Yep. Explore the value of a systematic education? Yep.

The problem is that I essentially stopped programming in 2004 when I really didn’t need it anymore. Sure I’ve done a few things like hack together a PERL script to parse out values in a text file, and dump it into a database, but using badges at this point, or at least at my institution, I need to get up to speed with programming and handling JSON, XML if I’m going to start tinkering with our LMS and implementing badges. Ouch. Thankfully, I’ve got a few friends and colleagues who’ll help me get there.

For those of you who don’t know, badging is a way of giving value to something by awarding an image that represents that value. At it’s simplest, it works like the Scouts – demonstrate something and get a badge for demonstrating that you know something. It’s basically the same proposition as what grades are in higher education. The neat thing is that the badge doesn’t have to be tied to a number that’s arbitrarily set by someone (a teacher) or something (a computer, schooling system…). It can be tied to evidence or not, depending on the issuer of the badge and what they demand for getting the badge. That’s where badging is cool for me.

When you earn a badge that conforms to the Open Badges Standard, it can be pushed to your backpack. This is the central repository of badges for you. I’ve embedded below a portion of my backpack for you to see how one might display achievements.

What makes badges a little better than a grade value is the evidence of learning which is listed as part of the criteria. Now in many cases this is not as transparent as it should be. For instance, I’ve been working through CodeSchool’s Javascript introduction and JQuery courses that issue badges. Their criteria is displaying on a page that “confirms” I completed a module. Wouldn’t this page be much better if it shared exactly what I did to earn the badge? That would be powerful. I realize that there’s all sorts of considerations for student privacy, and ideally they would be able to control what is shared with the badge (maybe an on/off switch with each badge issuer to allow for a simple description of what earned the badge or a more detailed results page). That might lead to badges being more than a symbol of learning that doesn’t communicate clearly to the viewer what was learned.

More EduDIY Stuff

I can’t in good faith (a word I use very carefully) believe that the only example of Learning that can be found on the web is the arduino electronics framework. At least that’s what I’ve taken from this e-book: Learning Freedom and the Web. While it’s positioned as a manifesto, gallery curated guide or puff piece for Mozilla – it falls flat of doing what open source is good at, not worrying about how good it is and getting the job done. It misses the mark. This comes off as some sort of Microsoft-lite apology piece. Now, admittedly I’m not a fan of the author, but I am a fan of the content. I can put aside my thoughts of the author in this case, because I love the stuff in the book so much. However, I’m not impressed at the connections between the three distinct concepts (and I think there’s easy ones to make that aren’t done very well here). I think there’s a definite hands-on bent that could’ve been strengthened by bringing in how other people do it and elaborating on why the Mozilla approach (for lack of a better term) is better. The Arduino chapter could’ve gone into detail about it’s connection to PureData¬†an open source Max/MSP competitor, which would’ve fleshed out the idea that open source is educational and better than the commercial versions.