By Stephen Downes
July 18, 2005

Principles for Evaluating Websites
How do you know whether something you read on the web is true? You can't know, at least, not for sure. This makes it important to read carefully and to evaluate what you read. This guide will tell you how. By Stephen Downes, Stephen's Web, July 16, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Austin, Texas
So anyhow I dragged to old scanner out from under the cat, downloaded a driver from the net, and copied some of my old pictures from 1981 (not a typo - that's 24 years ago) when I spent three months training with Texas Instruments in Austin. Some of the pictures have faded over time, but it's an interesting effect, while others (printed on better paper, I guess) are as good as new. By Stephen Downes, Stephen's Web, July 18, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Learning as a Social Process?
George Siemens is "getting a bit frustrated with the continual statements that learning is a social process." He continues, "My interest in learning networks stems from the individuality of each node in the larger network." People, it seems to me, often confuse 'social' with 'group'. People are being 'social, it seems, if they are doing the same thing. That's why we hear about a 'common vision', 'shared values', 'collaboration', and the like. But my understanding of 'social' (and Siemens's too) is different. It's about being connected, but autonomous. As Siemens writes, "The social element of learning occurs when I engage my network for feedback and understanding." By George Siemens, elearnspace, July 18, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

IDxchange and IDOL Quarterly
David Penrose points us to this site. "The IDxchange blog is a resource for professional Instructional Designers, who may also be working on their graduate degree at Capella University. The participants make up The IDOL (Instructional Design for Online Learning) Group, and are responsible for the development of what we hope will become a staple of instructional design reading - The IDOL Quartlery." By David Penrose, Instructional Design - Podutainment, July 15, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Why Not to Use Blogs as E-Portfolios
This item bothered me a bit not because I think we should unquestioningly use blogs as e-portfolios but because of the reasons offered to suggest we shouldn't. For example, "persistence creates the illusion of fixed identity, whereas higher education explicitly conceptualises its mission as formative and processual." Well, sure, you grow and develop when you learn, but you don't change your name. You can keep a persistent identity even as you grown. Also, "it becomes harder to see what is current for an individual, and what belongs to his/her 'past'." Leaving aside our ability to read dates, this concern misrepresents blogs as a static information base rather than the stream it actually is. But finally is the overall assumption in this post that an e-portfolio is something that we (an educational institutional institution, presumably) provide for a student. That gets the equation exactly backwards. By Catherine Howell, Ida takes Tea, July 18, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Could We Have A Little More, uh, Conversation?
Tom Hoffman argues that the educational blogosphere is less developed than other areas because there's not enough conversation going on. Writers, for example, "chirpily" approve links like Andy Carvins's recent suggestion on how to use a wiki to teach students. Carvin's "whole premise" seems to be "that Wikipedia entries... have a non-trivial number of unambiguous factual errors." Well, no. What Carvin in fact says is that "either they'll verify that a particular factoid is correct, or they'll prove that it's not." Either way works fine. But is it true than edublogger's don't add value? Hoffman had no way of knowing about my own article, written Sunday, in response to a similar point - but he should know about the hundreds I've written previously. A similar point could be made about the other edubloggers I read every day (or at least, every day they write). There is a lot of conversation in the educational blogosphere. By Tom Hoffman, eSchool News, July 18, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

EdTech Posse Rides Again
Yes, I listened to this one all the way to the end, but I confess, my mind wandered - I've noticed this about podcasts, they tend to become background, like talk radio. Maybe it's just me. I think that where and when you listen to a podcast makes a big difference. Anyhow, this discussion centres around Laura Turner’s recent list of twenty essential skills everyone should have. Anyhow, I'll be contacting Rob to join one of these conversations sometime soon - then I can become background for someone else. Call it karma. By Alec Couros, Couros Blog, July 17, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Ten Tips for New Trainers/Teachers
I think this item will be popular, but I'm uncomfortable with it. Enough of the advice is good but it seems to me that some of it is misleading. Like, say, this: "Emotions provide the metadata for a memory. They're the tags that determine how important this memory is." Well, no. Or this: "Our brains are tuned for it (listening to stories). Our brains are not tuned for sitting in a classroom listening passively to a lecture..." Arguable, our brains aren't 'tuned' for anything, and even if so, distinguishing between 'lecture' and 'story' doesn't inform us of any difference. I could go on - but my main advice is, read this with a sceptical ear. By Kathy Sierra, Creating Passionate Users, July 11, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

A Cautionary Tale....
I'm sure many people will recognize themselves in this story. Well worth reading: a tale of hour an unnamed British university developed a VLE, and why (really) it is purchasing a commercial product. Via Auricle. By Jon, Virtual Learning Environments (JISCmail), July 15, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

List of FP5 & FP6 projects
This list just goes on and on with dozens of projects funded by the European Fifth and Sixth Frameworks. Everything from The 5th Dimension (Learning Communities in a Global World) to WINDS (Web-based Intelligent Design tutoring System). Links to project web sites in most cases. By Various Authors, CORDIS / ISTweb, July, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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