Stephen Downes is a specialist in online learning technology and new media. With Canada’s National Research Council since 2001 he leads the Learning and Performance Support Systems research program as a senior research officer.
Through a 25 year career in the field Downes has developed and deployed a series of progressively more innovative technologies, beginning with multi-user domains (MUDs) in the 1990s, open online communities in the 2000s, and personal learning environments in the 2010s. Downes is perhaps best known for his daily newsletter, OLDaily, which is distributed by web, email and RSS to thousands of subscribers around the world, and as the originator of the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), is a leading voice in online and networked learning, has authored learning management and content syndication software. He is known as a leading proponent of connectivism, a theory describing how people know and learn using network processes. Hence he has also published in the areas of logic and reasoning, 21st century skills, and critical literacies. Downes is also recognized as a leading voice in the open education movement, having developed early work in learning objects to a world-leading advocacy of open educational resources and free learning. Downes is widely recognized for his deep, passionate and articulate exposition of a range of insights melding theories of education and philosophy, new media and computer technology. He has published hundreds of articles online and in print and has presented around the world to academic conferences in dozens of countries on five continents.
Open Learning, Open Networks
Open online learning entered the mainstream with the growth and popularity of MOOCs, but while interest in open online courses has never been greater, MOOCs represent only the first step in a broader open learning infrastructure.
In this keynote Stephen Downes will describe several key innovations shaping the future of open learning: distributed social networks, cloud infrastructures and virtualization, immersive reality, and personal learning environments.
The talk will outline the challenges this evolving model will pose to learning providers and educational institutions, and recommend policies and processes to meet them.