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Issue #376

22nd March 2020
Hello!

It's difficult for those of us who curate links and interesting things into newsletters and other form of digital consumables right now. What else is there to talk about than the pandemic? What else really matters?

On the other hand, what we need now is hope; not false hope, but a realistic belief in the goodness, generosity, and general awesomeness of humankind. This week's newsletter, then, is slightly different. As Thought Shrapnel is a stream of thoughts going in and out of my brain, and that's been 95% coronavirus-related, I thought the least I could do is share those things that are, in some way, positive.

If you're interested, you can see what I've been up to this week in Weeknote 12/2020. What with two jobs and the kids being home from school, I haven't posted on the Thought Shrapnel website this week. Apologies to supporters.

Education

Bandwidth immediacy matrix

Videoconferencing Alternatives: How Low-Bandwidth Teaching Will Save Us All

If we compare these factors [bandwidth and immediacy] on a coordinate plane with bandwidth on the vertical axis and immediacy on the horizontal axis, we can divide instructional technologies into four categories or “zones.” By reflecting on the unique pros and cons of each zone and the drawbacks that come with high-bandwidth/high-immediacy tools, we can identify ways to make our courses more flexible and accessible. (Daniel Stanford)

Online Pivot – some Open University resources

This is an emergency, swift response in switching classes to online, which is not the same as a carefully planned 5 year strategy. Our courses take a long time to develop and have the systems in place for production and support. This is not the same as switching your class to Zoom next week.

But having said that, we do have lots of resources that are useful. And most of the OpenLearn content is licensed under a Creative Commons licence (BY-NC-SA), so they can be reused. This isn’t the most liberal licence, but it basically means give attribution, don’t try and sell it and share it under a similar licence. In this situation I don’t think OU lawyers are going to be coming after you if you don’t share it back into OpenLearn. So, it is there to be used and reused. (Martin Weller)

Creating an Online Community, Class or Conference - Quick Tech Guide

Are you creating an online course, event or conference? If you’re not a programmer, and if you don’t have a lot of money to spend, this guide will get you started. Read it from top to bottom to get a step-by-step guide to what you can do to set up your course or event. Then check the links to find free or cheap and easy tools that will get the job done for you. (Stephen Downes)

Technology

Popcorn Time

Popcorn Time

Popcorn Time is a multi-platform, free software BitTorrent client that includes an integrated media player. The applications provide a free alternative to subscription-based video streaming services such as Netflix. Popcorn Time uses sequential downloading to stream video listed by several torrent websites, and third party trackers can also be added manually.

COVID-19 – Home Working Probably Won’t Break UK Broadband

The generally agreed conclusion above is that consumers shouldn’t expect their broadband service to go kaput. Providers have a lot of tools at their disposal to raise or manage network capacity when required. On the other hand there’s still an element of uncharted territory about the whole COVID-19 situation and thus nobody should take it for granted, but ISPs seem to be well prepared. (ISP Review)

Remote presence tools for social distancing

As a technologist, I've been wondering how I can help people with the rapidly spreading coronavirus pandemic. With the world entering the "exponential stage" (e.g. Canada, the USA and basically all of Europe), everyone should take precautions and limit practice Social Distancing... But this doesn't mean we should dig ourselves in a hole in our basement: we can still talk to each other on the internet, and there are great, and free, tools available to do this. As part of my work as a sysadmin, I've had to answer questions about this a few times and I figured it was useful to share this more publicly. (Anarcat)

Society

optimism

Disasters Don’t Have to End in Dystopias

Here’s how you can recognize a dystopia: It’s a science fiction story in which disaster is followed by brutal, mindless violence. Here’s how you make a dystopia: Convince people that when disaster strikes, their neighbors are their enemies, not their mutual saviors and responsibilities. The belief that when the lights go out, your neighbors will come over with a shotgun—rather than the contents of their freezer so you can have a barbecue before it all spoils—isn’t just a self-fulfilling prophecy, it’s a weaponized narrative. The belief in the barely restrained predatory nature of the people around you is the cause of dystopia, the belief that turns mere crises into catastrophes. (Cory Doctorow)

Coronavirus Is Serious, But Panic Is Optional

We have no idea how to interpret the information coming at us. And there is a lot of evidence to suggest consuming more of it, in this form, is not useful (see research on “choice overload,” if you’re interested). In advertising, we know that information doesn’t change behavior. but you can frame information to make people feel things by connecting information to outcomes people care about. And that influences behavior.
So, while media is using fear as a motivator to bring you back to wanting to read more media – it’s taking zero responsibility for what fear does to your brain and the subsequent havoc that excess cortisol is wrecking on your life. (Margo Aaron)

How to keep your sanity when you feel like the world is going crazy

In short: right now, we're all exchanging some measure of our mental health in order to preserve our own and others' physical health, and that has limits. We're all in this together, for several weeks and months, if not longer, and basically, we need to avoid driving ourselves and each other crazy if we're going to get through it.

That, of course, is easier said than done. To that end, we called up mental health experts to ask what, realistically, we should all be doing to help ourselves and others. (Kate Cox)
Until next week,
Doug
Doug Belshaw
Dr. Doug Belshaw is an Open Educational Thinkerer, currently working with Moodle and We Are Open Co-op to improve our world.

You can connect with Doug by replying to this email, or via Twitter, LinkedIn, or Mastodon (here's a guide to getting started with the latter!)

Some say he's stoic. Others say he's epizoic. No-one thinks he's heroic.
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