Monday, 15 January 2018

In search for #AI for critical thinking in #education #criticalthinking #language

Who knows of Artificial Intelligence (AI) initiatives being developed to support critical thinking in education, or based on data text analysis and cognitive language use? Please drop me a line (or message). To give you an idea of what proceeded this question, I am providing some AI background, including my thoughts. A good read is the paper by Yeomans, Stewart, Mavon, Kindel, Tingley and Reich investigating "the civic mission of MOOCs: engagement across political differencess in online forums", which adds to the idea of using AI as a way to stimulate debate across opposing viewpoints, thus enhancing critical thinking (for those willing). 

AI to help human thinking processes
AI is rapidly expanding its reach: you have initiatives of meaningful curated content generated by AI into elearning (e.g. Wildfire ), you have legal research analysed and organised by AI (e.g. ), you have multiple AI molding social media interactions based on factors such as friends, exchanging ideas, similar content (sometimes opinions) shared… basically, industry is looking at AI as a means to refocus on less-repetitive parts of their business or profit goals ( ).

But, I am wondering whether there is research projects taking into account AI using text analysis but including cognitive language use to enhance critical thinking (for instance: if you have echo chambers, why not use AI to pick up frequently used arguments from ‘the other side’ to generate more in-depth arguments for either side. Or for those looking to become dominating world leaders (devils advocate here): creating something which goes beyond fake news: using arguments that feel right but actually are built using persuasive language construction to trigger a feeling of ‘that is right’ and parallels what a person thinks is morally correct (I said it was a devils advocate example :D )

AI in education
With all the talk on the new citizens needing to be ‘creative’ mindset above anything else, the creativity does not seem to emerge yet in AI, the focus is still more on rehashing what is already there, but with more focus on the norm by using AI in education (I could be wrong, feel free to provide arguments on why creativity is indeed boosted by AI in education).
A couple of examples where AI is used to boost learning, but along the lines of existing norms, nevertheless of interest.
Deep Knowledge Training. One of the interesting strands of AI in education research is Deep Knowledge Training (a good read is the 2015 paper by Piech, Bassen, Huang, Ganguli, Sahami, Guibas and Sohl-Dickstein ) this allows a machine to model the knowledge of a student as they interact with coursework. It can be used to extrapolate student performance for instance. This seems to be good, but you know that this is based on ‘what we expect of students’, which is not necessarily what could be good for humanity or social thinking.
Assessing future scores. Another example is the algorithm built by Google and Stanford which relates to a students learning ability (well more specifically how a student would answer questions) . Here as well, the learning seems to parallel taking exams… which does not seem to promote creative thinking.
IBM Watson for education ( ). Starts from the idea of personalised learning (and passion, so I really love that starting point), but when I looked at the videos, the definition of personalised learning seemed to be limited to personal interests (in educator video), which limits the concept of personalised learning. And though it is good to provide skill-level content, if the content base you pull it from is standard…. The standards will again be the norm, which does not necessarily result in creative ideas or insights.

AI based on language data
One example I found using AI in relation to natural language processing is NexLP ( ) (quoting from their page: “leveraging the latest advances in Natural Language Processing (NLP), Cognitive Analytics, and Machine LearningStory Engine turns disparate, unstructured data - including email communications, business chat messages, contracts and legal documents - into meaningful insight that can be used to act, as well as combined with structured data to create a truly comprehensive view of the entire data universe.) and the people behind NexLP state that they use cognitive analysis to add more context to the actual text analysis”.
But when looking at it, it seems more of an enhanced interactive dashboard at first glance. This means it feels more like a quantifiable AI implementation than a qualitive one. One of the solutions to filter meaningful content is wikification (where you link entities ) which seems to be an effective way to add context to text analytics technology ( )

Past fake news or beyond critical thinking
The term fake news is now a given in many politician’s speech, both in its originally intended definition, as well as in popular debate where it functions as a way to ridicule and diminish the truth or value of an argument by an opposing person. But maybe we can turn this around. Create algorithms that can be used to enhance our debating skills, our critical thinking by generating arguments that are most frequently used by groups gently opposing our views. I mention gently opposing, as persuasive arguments are rarely harsh, completely opposing arguments.
I see this as a possible way to tear down the echo chambers created by filter bubbles, and build bridges. Or at least get a conversation started.  

Feel free to share your thoughts or link to examples.

Picture from 

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Free OpenCon online Conference 25 January focus #K12 and #OER highlights #education #online

The best way to start the year is by promoting Openness either in education, development or academic work. Yes, it is all happening in January, so join or read up, which ever you prefer. Or simply keep informed with the @Open_Con twitter account.

OpenCon18 online on 25 January 2018

Athabasca University is organising a virtual, free K-12 Open Educational Resources Teacher conference on:
Date: January 25, 2018
Time: 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. MST (Mountain Standard Time = UTC -7)
Theme: “Building the K-12 OER Teacher Network
Hashtag: #K-12OC2018

Open Education Resource (OER) novice and champions are invited. 
As a satellite offering of the OpenCon17 held in Berlin, the OpenCon18 will mark a first for educators, within Alberta and beyond. Presentations will range from OER fundamentals to the current K-12 OER landscape. Schedule:

10:00 – 10:25 MST Understanding the Commons for K-12 Serena Henderson
10:25 – 10:30  5 min Break
10:30 – 10:55 Go Open: From the Ground Up Kristina Ishmael Peters & Heather Callihan
10:55 – 11:00 5 min Break
11:00 – 11:25 Simple Curation: Using Online Tools to Collect, Organize, and Share OER Resources Stephanie Slaton
11:25 – 11:30 5 min Break
11:30 -11:55 Opening Up 1-12 Education in Alberta Frank McCallum & Lise Pethybridge
11:55 – Noon 5 min Break
12:00 – 12:25 The Multiply K-12 OER Media Project Connie Blomgren
12:25 – 12:30 5 min Break
12: 30 – 12:55 Sharing K-12 Resources Across Canada: Silos, Gardens, or Open Range? Randy Labonte
1:45 – 2:00 Building the K-12 OER Teacher Network – Next steps? Facilitated by Connie Blomgren

Ending our virtual offering will be a unique dialogue – the “Berlin Remix”. A panel discussion has been organized so that the OpenCon18 K-12 Athabasca discussants (and attendees – asked upon registration) to view in advance a 20 minute video clip. This recording was part of the Berlin OpenCon17 conference where an international panel explored the broad topic of Inclusive Education and how OER responds to diversity and inclusion needs within education.

For our panel, the discussants will address this Berlin discussion and will “remix” two questions of OER curriculum creation. Within an OER curricular resource, how can educators consider: Who is missing? and Whose knowledge is reliable?

OER holds opportunity for rethinking how resources are accessed and used by K-12 educators. Come and join the “Berlin Remix” Panel Discussion - and one, some or all of the offerings! We hope to nurture a K-12 OER teacher network – and this virtual conference marks the first step of this journey.

Note: registration is suggested but not required. The K-12 OC will be recorded and archived on the BOLT Multi-author Blog.

OpenCon17 highlights
On November 11-13, the fourth annual OpenCon meeting in Berlin, Germany was held. OpenCon 2017 included a diverse set of panels, regional workshops, project presentations, unconference sessions, and a very first OpenCon Do-a-Thon
These activities are highlighted on a webpage here, so feel free to spend some time exploring and sharing them. You can also find notes to all sessions here, and a full Youtube playlist from 2017 here.

More on the Do-a-Thon
The OpenCon Do-a-Thon was organised in November 2017 and deserves a bit of extra attention: building off the concept of a hackathon, a do-a-thon is a work-sprint where people from different skill sets work together and collaborate on different challenges and projects. For OpenCon 2017’s do-a-thon, the focus was on building projects and solutions that seek to advance Open Access, Open Education, and Open Data. 
More information on the Do-a-Thon can be found here:  and to give you an idea of what they did, I am pasting some of the information here (feel free to look at the links, and see what the participants came up with):

1. Anyone can propose a problem to work on.

Is there a big question or challenge you want to tackle in Open Research and Education? Here's a chance to share it with the community and work together on designing a solution. Participants can submit challenges the day of the do-a-thon, but we'd love if folks could submit big questions they want to tackle in advance, too. Find out more about how to submit a challenge here.

2. Anyone can propose a project for others to collaborate on and contribute to.

Have a project idea you want to put into action? Or an existing project that needs development or support? The do-a-thon is a great opportunity to receive support and contributions from collaborators around the world. Learn more about how to propose and lead a project here.

3. Anyone can contribute their skills and ideas to existing challenges and projects.

Participate from wherever you are by contributing to one or more of the do-a-thon projects and challenges submitted. We expect that most of the action will take place on November 13th, but feel free to get in touch with project leads and see how you can help out beforehand! You can explore the growing list of projects and challenges we're working on here.