By Stephen Downes
April 22, 2005

Freire, the Matrix, and Scalability
Paulo Freire, as the biographies note, wove education theory and social theory into a form of liberation pedagogy based on "the idea of building a 'pedagogy of the oppressed' or a 'pedagogy of hope' and how this may be carried forward." A session on Freire at a recent conference in Montreal moved David Wiley to pen this article. He writes, "This thinking leads me to reaffirm my position that there is a larger educational research problem to solve than making instruction more effective. The scientific literature is full of research that will tell anyone willing to read how to make education extremely effective. It is high time the field of educational research, and especially instructional technology research, decided that the most pressing problem facing us today isn’t making education more effective, it is making education more available." In this, David Wiley and I are of one mind. "Let’s spend billions of dollars and millions of person hours per year making significant progress on the access problem, which progress we can make if we will, instead of committing those same resources to making almost unperceivably small incremental improvements in the effectiveness with which we keep instructing the same subgroups." By David Wiley, Iterating Toward Openness, April 20, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The New Gatekeepers
Nice article on the 'new gatekeepers' of the blogging world - the so-called 'A-list' bloggers who draw thousands of readers and dozens of links every day. The big spike, as I characterized them in a recent presentation, these gatekeepers instantiate the very properties of the mainstream they are supposedly displacing - appearance over substance, mutual reinforcement, polarization, and herd mentality. No real improvement, in other words, and if A-list blogger Clay Shirky is to be believed, no real alternative either, as the network dynamic that produces a big spike is pretty much unavoidable. Or is it? This author reaches much the same conclusion I do: "If gatekeepers are not desired, than the alternative is aggregated ratings... In theory, the best content shouldn't need influential gatekeepers to push it along." Part One - Part Two - Part Three - Part Four - and Part Five is forthcoming. By Jon Garfunkel, Civilities, April, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Gadgets, Networks, Procrastination
Another glimpse into the future - carrying your computer around with you on a thumb-sized USB stick. Plug it in to any box you find handy. As James Farmer comments, "now I can take my browser and email anywhere with xp (with all my finicky settings) and I get to have a hold of my own data and privacy." By James Farmer, incorporated subversion, April 21, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

A Weblog Webliography
Call it a canon. This page lists (and provides links to) some 180 articles and essays about blogs in education and learning. It's hard to believe that much has been written about the subject. Incredibly, I think this is only a partial list. Stay tuned to this page, I think By cel4145, Kairosnews, April 20, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Wide Open: Open Source Methods and Their Future Potential
The authors of this longish essay (it's listed as a 'book' on the web page) look at "wider applications and potential of the open source idea." Good list of characteristics of open sourc e(p.17) - most people, when they think of open source, think of free software, but as the authors point out, the methodology of sofwtare development becomes something different. For example, it includes the vetting of participants only after they've started to contribute. "They allow absolutely anyone to get involved; all that matters is whether or not they deliver high quality work." Though, of course, this is not universally applicable. "Open source surgery is not something most of us would want to go through." By Geoff Mulgan, Omar Salem and Tom Steinberg , Demos, April, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Harry Mudd and the TCC 2005 Keynote
Notes and links from this presentation by Alan Levine. I want to say "it's the usual Levine," but I don't think there's any such thing. Levine takes a walk on the multimedia side, exploring new forms of consumer-created media just outside the mainstream - a glimpse, in inther words, of what the blogosphere is about to turn into. To get the presentation in HTML, follow the wiki link then step through the list of links on the right. By Alan Levine, CogDogBlog, April 21, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

I can't vouch for the accuracy of this new service - my search for 'Downes' came up with one off-topic result. But if Podscope can deliver on its provise of searching audio files, that would be pretty neat. Via Blogarithms. By Various Authors, April, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Mobile Reality (A Tale of Two Experts)
Interviews with IBM's Chris von Koschembahr and consultant Clark Quinn on mobile learning. Both are positive about the future of m-learning, but while Koschembahr proposes that rich content can be delivered this way (or, at least, PowerPoint presentations) Quinn advocates that m-learning content be "small". Both have noted platform problems, with Koschembahr predicting that m-learning won't be mainstream for five years. It is also worth noting, as Catherine Howell does today, that mobile blogging - at least for things like photos - remains too expensive. By Eva Kaplan-Leiserson, Learning Circuits, April, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Network Connections
Examines the phenomenon of social networking with an emplhasis on three casae studies: Friendster, Ryze and Meetup. Good summary of the theory behind social networking and a nice history relating the phenomenon to its origins in MUDs, Usenet and IRC. The case studies of the three sites are accurate and to the point. I would have preferred a sharper analysis. It seems to measure success according to whether online contacts meet offline. And it depicts the problems afflicting most social networking sites more as a consequence of scale rather than structure, with the solutions to be found by better searching (traversal and trawling). Still, if you are new to this field I would certainly recommend a read, and if you are conversant in social networks you may appreciate the point of view. By Alicia L. Cervini, May, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Infinite Library
The librarians' dilemma: "Once the knowledge now trapped on the printed page moves onto the Web, where people can retrieve it from their homes, offices, and dorm rooms, ­libraries could turn into lonely caverns inhabited mainly by ­preservationists." This article looks at projects like Google Scholar and Internet Archive, both of which are massive repositories of digital content open to public access and contrasts it with projects like Corbis, a private image library. “This organization got its start by digitizing what was in the public domain and essentially putting it under private control,” says Kahle. “The same thing could happen with digital literature. In fact, it’s the default case.” The librarians' role, to me, is to prevent this from happening. And it is in managing and protecting the public trust that librarians and libraries have a role to play in the future. By Wade Roush, Technology Review, May, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Web Site That Went Too Far
As we move into an era in which increasing numbers of public services are being handed over to the private sector, it is important to note that our rights and freedoms associated with those services are not being transferred with them. Thus we see this case of a university professor being fired for a website mildly critical of a college administration. Or this story of professors fighting a gag order barring board members from talking to students or faculty. One way to address this is through unions or faculty associations - but I'm uncomfortable with the idea that our rights are defined by what we can win at the bargaining table and enforcable only through job actions. There's tenure, but most people in the world don't have tenure. It should be the view of every person who supports the idea of democracy that the rights we take for granted in civil society - most notably, in this case, the freedom of speech - ought to apply in the workplace as well. What good is democracy if we must submit to authoritarianism in order to put a meal on the table? By Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, April 19, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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