By Stephen Downes
July 29, 2004

Barbarian Inventions
I think there's a theme. There may be a theme. But don't spend time looking for one; it's not written that way. It's about newspaper registration, choice and cyberspace, unshaken hands and cellphones, Dreyfus, and why people seem intent on telling us what we should read and learn, how we should do so, and that we are, in effect, barbarians. And does it really matter if I spelled the title of Part Three incorrectly? By Stephen Downes, Stephen's Web, July 29, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Child Psychology: Vygotsky's Conception of Psychological Development
Overview of Vytotsky's theory of development, with an explanation of why (and how) Vygotsky believes that higher order cognitive phenomena are of a different type from more instinctual phenomena. "In cases of intellectualized psychological phenomena, the subject knows what he is seeing. He knows that the thing is a flower. Moreover, he knows that he is perceiving and feeling the thing. In contrast, elementary reactions are immediate responses to things and lack cognitive, intellectual, linguistic meaning." More on Vygotsky. By Carl Ratner, R. Rieber & D. Robinson (Eds.), The Essential Vygotsky, July, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Education Research in the Knowledge Society: Key Trends in Europe and North America
Useful and interesting report looking at trends worldwide in the development of research strategies in online learning and related subjects worldwide. Worth noting is the author's characterization of the very different systems employed in the different countries: the establishment of a national centre in the university system (U.S.), the establishment of a government research agency (France, Germany), and a decentralized pluralist system with no focal point (U.K., Sweden, Canada). By Peter Kearns, NCVER, July 19, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Kurt Lewin's Change Theory in the Field and in the Classroom: Notes Toward a Model of Managed Learning
Cited in DEOS the other day, this paper is an informative look at Kurt Lewin's change model and what it has to say about the close relationship between the notions of diagnosis and intervention. Something I need to keep in mind: learning (at certain levels) "occurs by taking in new information that has one or more of the following impacts: 1) semantic redefinition--we learn that words can mean something different from what we had assumed; 2) cognitive broadening--we learn that a given concept can be much more broadly interpreted than what we had assumed; and 3) new standards of judgment or evaluation--we learn that the anchors we used for judgment and comparison are not absolute, and if we use a different anchor our scale of judgment shifts." Now, reaching back, it means that I will have different definitions, different interpretations and different standards of evaluation or judgement than someone I am trying to teach. Which, I suppose, is what makes it so difficult for them to learn from me. More change theories. By Edgar H. Schein, Systems Practice, edited by Susan Wheelan, March, 1995 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Wikipedia Founder Jimmy Wales Responds
Interesting interview with the creator of Wikipedia as he discusses the editing process, maintaining quality of content, advertising (it won't happen) and a possible print version. Some good quotes. "Was wondering if you view the Wikipedia as a competitor or an additional tool compared to a World Book or an Encyclopedia Britannica? Jimmy Wales: I would view them as a competitor, except that I think they will be crushed out of existence within 5 years. There's no cost to switching from an outdated old encyclopedia to Wikipedia -- just click and learn, and there you go. You can switch before your friends switch, but the knowledge you learn will be perfectly compatible." And "It is my intention to get a copy of Wikipedia to every single person on the planet in their own language. It is my intention that free textbooks from our wikibooks project will be used to revolutionize education in developing countries by radically cutting the cost of content." By Roblimo, Slashdot, July 28, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Proposal for SchoolBell
Via Tom Hoffman on school-discuss: "The SchoolTool project has posted the proposal/specs for the development of our open source calendar server, to be called SchoolBell." There's more stuff to look at on this site; "SchoolTool is a project to develop a common global school administration infrastructure that is freely available under an Open Source licence." By Albertas Agejevas, SchoolTool, July 28, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Principles of Effective Research
By Michael A. Nielsen, Occasional thoughts by physicist Michael Nielsen, July, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2003 Stephen Downes
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