Stephen's Web

By Stephen Downes
May 14, 2002

Screen Language: The New Currency for Learning Interesting article that raises the provocative suggestion that in today's digital culture it may be the teachers - not the students - who are illiterate. I wish it explored this more, but instead the article tails off into an odd mixture of reaction and reservation. I'm not sure it was intentional, but the writing illustrates the author's point perfectly. Discussing a multimedia project, the article notes that "Another educator said she was troubled by the prospect of summing up a feminist's complex life story in four photographs." But the reaction from a new media reader would be: "What? What's so troubling? It tells a story, no more or less complete than a string of text." What new media users understand that the previous literati doesn't (and this is a crucil, important point): words are intermediaries. They stand for things, and sometimes, in the way of things. They are *not* direct knowledge. By Martha Lagace, HBS Working Knowledge, May 13, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Taking TCO to the Classroom Some of the information on this site is dated (the RAND estimates of hardware costs from 1995 are useless, for example), but the breadth of information is worth while and this website would make useful reading for people currently involved in costing technology purchases for the classroom or the school board, if only because it provides a comprehensive indexing of direct and related costs. By Various Authors, Consortium for School Networking, December 31, 200-31 8:33 p.m. [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Lessons in Shaping Intellectual Character Behaviourism isn't dead... it has just been latent for a while. This article charts a behaviourist revival in educational theory in the writings of Harvard's Ron Ritchhart. "Ritchhart has identified six dispositions as central to intelligence. A person must be curious, open-minded, reflective, strategic, skeptical, and must search for truth and understanding. By looking at cognitive ability as a set of behaviors rather than an innate talent, intelligence becomes something that educators can teach." OK, first, this list is incomplete: in my mind, communication (both speaking or writing and listening) are essential to intelligence. But more to the point: let's not get lost in the idea of intelligence being defined as displaying these behaviours. Focus rather on the question: can teaching these behaviours improve someone's intelligence (however intelligence is understood). And to that question, I would answer fairly unequivocally, yes. By Mary Kuhl, The Christian Science Monitor , May 14, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Curbs on School Newspapers Dropped Would this ever have happened before the internet? "A flood of letters, e-mails, phone calls and personal visits to state Board of Education officials has persuaded a board committee to back off a plan that could have put unprecedented restrictions on Pennsylvania's student newspapers." By Jane Elizabeth, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 14, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Mentored Learning: The Instructor's View Interesting article looking at mentored learning from an instructor's point of view. Though labour intensive, according to the autrhor, mentored learning can be as rewarding for the instructor as for the student. I like the description of the 'typical week' of a mentor, though I suspect (since the hours add up to only 40) that it's at least a little bit fictional. By Susan Bodnik , Online-Learning.Com, May 14, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

OAI Release Beta Version of Metadata Harvesting Protocol Another significant development in open learning object metadata as the Open Archives Initiative (OAI) releases a beta version of the next major release of their Protocol for Metadata Harvesting. The idea of metadata harvesting is that aggregators - such as learning object metadata repositories - come to your site to collect metadata; you do not send it (or fill out forms) on their site. This concept is foundational to the idea I have been flogging for some time now, that of a distributed learning object repository system. By Scott Wilson, CETIS, May 14, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

ReferrerLinking There is now enough of a backlink community for you to see how it works. This page is a short index of articles, discussions and implementations. Most of the pages linked to from this site employ backlinks. After you read the page, look at the list of backlinks and follow any referrer you think looks interesting. What you experience is a mode of browsing similar, as Disenchanted writes, to an ant following a scent trail back to the colony. By IAwiki, May 13, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2002 Stephen Downes