OLDaily

Godfrey Parkin: E-learning Grows Up, Parkin's Lot November 19, 2005
I still have a lot of catching up to do, but I think this article is an appropriate way to lead today's unusual Saturday edition of OLDaily. Godfrey Parkin writes, "the 'e-learning 2.0' name is a ghastly and inappropriate label... because it suggests a finite release of a formal upgrade, which is the opposite of what is really happening." Well, I do apologize for it - but if I hadn't coined it, some marketing type would have, and then we'd be seeing "e-learning 2.0 (tm)" advertisements all over the place. "It's hard to see the renewed freedom, informality, creativity, transparency, and revolutionary chaos through the label it's been given." Well - yeah - but it's also hard for a lot of people to accept the idea that we live in an age of freedom, informality, creativity, transparency, and revolutionary chaos. That's my life these days and I can scarcely comprehend it. But the main point of Parkin's commentary holds, and it's at the core of my own beliefs: "Learning is not the end result of a series of training events; it is an evolving capacity enabled by personal learning networks that are characterized by user-created content, intuitive search and retrieval, and social interaction at any distance." And with that, welcome to another chaotic day in my life - it has been so much recently, I'm breathless, I really am. [Tags: Online Learning, Paradigm Shift, Marketing, Networks, Interaction] [Comment]

Christian Kohls: Interview mit Stephen Downes, eTeaching.org November 19, 2005
Interview (short podcast) with me while I was in the Netherlands. Despite the title, the interview is in English (my Dutch bing less than proficient). Topics covered included the metaversity and content syndication. [Tags: Content Syndication, Podcasting] [Comment]

Josie Fraser, Ed Tech Posse, Dean Shareski: Blog Workshops November 19, 2005
Josie Fraser has SuprGlued herself and among the entries showing up on the new site is this collection of resources for a workshop she conducted on RSS, blogging, etc., last week. Some good stuff here, including slides, a chart of web-hosted services, and a blogging comparison chart. Also SuprGlued this weekend was the Ed Tech Posse, with whom I had a wide-ranging conversation this morning (you're not going to want to miss this when it comes out later this week or so). Posse member Dean Shareski, meanwhile, recorded a screencast of his RSS presentation to the conference here in Regina. And the redefinition of learning continues, in a hundred seminars at a hundred conferences... [Tags: Web Logs] [Comment]

Various authors: WSISBlogs Archive, Digital Divide Network November 19, 2005
I was on the fence about whether to list this multi-lingual collection of WSIS blog entries - full of fascinating stories about how to organize an information society while holding a conference in a less than open society. On the fence, that is, until I saw this item: "A visually impaired participant was stopped at the security check because his guide dog hadn't been registered for the Summit. After lengthy discussions, the guard finally decided to give the dog a security pass - but not until he'd photographed the dog." A metaphor for our times. [Tags: Web Logs, Security Issues] [Comment]

Stephen O'Hear: Seconds Out, Round Two, The Guardian November 19, 2005
The article seems OK so far as it goes, though it would have been nice to see some mention of the actual work taking place in what I have been calling e-learning 2.0. It looks at some of the generic applications on the web - web 2.0, folksonomies, the wiki - and overlooks the work in e-learning specifically (which, I might add, has been driving and not merely following these wider web applications). people like Scott Wilson, George Siemens, Alan Levine, Norm Friesen, James Farmer, and many, many more, deserve some credit for what they are doing - they are, after all, rewriting the textbooks on how we learn\. Sadly, this credit does not appear in the Guardian. But it is in my view more revolutionary and more fundamental than the surface features described in the article. [Tags: Online Learning, Paradigm Shift, Folksonomies] [Comment]

Jonathan Potts: Cover Story: Transforming America's Schools, Carnegie Mellon Today November 19, 2005
Mitchell Weisburgh sent me the link to this interesting article about a new program at Carnegie Mellon "to train doctoral students from several disciplines - including psychology, computer science, philosophy and statistics - to conduct applied educational research." I am all in favour of research - it is, after all, what I do - but need to caution that training in reasearch assumes - doesn't it? - that an appropriate research paradigm in the field is already in place. I wonder about that. [Tags: Paradigm Shift, Research] [Comment]

Adi Da Samraj: Da Plastique November 19, 2005
The stuff I get in my email - nothing to do with online learning, but I do appreciate hearing about the photographic art of Avatar Adi Da Samraj. I could do without the "perpetual copyright claimed" notice though - even artists don't live forever, and neither does copyright. [Tags: Online Learning, Copyright and Patent Issues] [Comment]

EUN News: ePortfolio Plugfest: Real Time Testing of Interoperability, European Schoolnet November 19, 2005
Report, with links and resources, on the ePortfolios plug-fest held last October. You don't want to miss this if you're into e-portfolios (then again, if you are, you were probably following the PlugFest already). [Tags: E-Portfolios] [Comment]

Press Release: LAMS announces new version, LMS integrations, services and Moodle Partnership, LAMS November 19, 2005
James Dalziel writes in, "in some ways, this is the most important LAMS announcement of late in that it points people to the actual code they can now use themselves." OK. But what is most interesting about this announcement, it seems to me, is not the new version of LAMS (come on, it's a .01 upgrade) or even the integration of LAMS with Backboard, Moodle and Sakai (with more planned), it is rather the emergence of an explicitly commercial model for the open source software. With "trial accounts" now available and a fee-based hosting and support model, the people at LAMS are looking to commercialize. Well - more power to them; this is the model of open source commercialization I've long advocated, and if it keeps them fed and helps them to continue to develop LAMS for the benefit of everybody, then I'm all for it. Still, the PR-speak in the press release isn't a welcome sign - where do these PR-writers come from, and how quickly can we send them back? [Tags: Open Source] [Comment]

Norm Friesen: An Interview with Robert Thieverge, CanCore November 19, 2005
Interview with Robert Thivierge, who is the President of the E-Learning Standards Advisory Council of Canada (a French version is also available), who is critical of the current state of content sharing. "It's a sort of an impoverished, throw-away culture. Professors develop their learning materials, in some case at great expense, and they and their students are often the only ones to use these resources. With multimedia, and with more complex development technologies, learning material becomes more and more sophisticated, more and more costly to develop. It makes no sense." I agree - but wonder whether the emphasis based on standards, rather than, say, open content and file sharing, is the right way to go. Not to say that we don't need standards (or, as I would rather say, 'protocols' - we need to invest in a language of access, rather than compliance). But if you just build up standards and leave the existing system intact, well then, you have nothing more than the existing system (but with more paperwork). An MP3 of the interview is also available. [Tags: Canada, File Sharing, CanCore, Open Content, Podcasting] [Comment]

Jay Cross: Learning in the Real World, Internet Time November 19, 2005
Writing from the Middle East, Jay Cross explores the role of conversation in learning. I like this take [my insertions]: "Emergence is the key characteristic of complex systems [like networks]... Emergent learning enables us to push beyond the confines of elearning to explore combinations with informal learning [in other words, collective intelligence]... Imagine that conversation is the core process for accessing collective intelligence and co-evolving the future." [Tags: Online Learning, Networks] [Comment]

Jeff Jarvis: Google Base v. Microformats, BuzzMachine November 19, 2005
Interesting commentary on the newly launched Google Base that says, in essence, "What we need instead is a means of letting you tag and structure your data so it can be found reliably by any search engine no matter where it is on the internet." Quite right, and a proposition I have been advocating for some time, even though it may appear to be radical. "The answer to any monopoly — water to wicked witches everywhere — is openness." [Tags: Google] [Comment]

George Siemens: Connectivism: Learning as Network-Creation, Learning Circuits November 19, 2005
This is a first-rate paper by George Siemens that seems to me to offer a subtle revision to connectivism, one that brings it much closer into alignment with my own views (Siemens's characterization may differ). In particular, Siemens takes pains to define 'network learning' and to contrast it with contemporary theories of learning, such as behaviourism and constructivism. In particular, he characterizes learning as the formation of nodes and connections in a network, and recasts (controversially, though accurately, in my view) concepts as motivation, patterning, logic and experience in the light of network formation. So far, nothing out of the ordinary. His discussion of latent semantic amanysis, however, takes this a step further through a discussion of how meaning is created through a 'dance' of feedback and reaction, involving not only cognition but also the emotions. And as such, learning involves 'rogue nodes' and other apparently inconsistent phenomena - the sorts of things that produce Gestalt phenomena, or as I would say, constitute 'interpretations' or 'perspectives' of the more complex network. "Two learners may experience the same information, yet code the new node into their network in different ways. What is conclusive to one learner may be absurd in the network of another." Finally, Seimens contrasts the theory of learning networks with connectivism itself, arguing that while networks per se are structured processes, learning itself takes place inside an ecology (cf my Buntine Oration). I think this is a good move to make, a clarification that casts much light on the formal versus the ecological properties of learning, and one that makes this paper a must-read. [Tags: Connectivism, Experience, Networks, Constructivism] [Comment]

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Stephen Downes

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Copyright 2004 Stephen Downes
National Research Council Canada

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I want and visualize and aspire toward a system of society and learning where each person is able to rise to his or her fullest potential without social or financial encumberance, where they may express themselves fully and without reservation through art, writing, athletics, invention, or even through their avocations or lifestyle.

Where they are able to form networks of meaningful and rewarding relationships with their peers, with people who share the same interests or hobbies, the same political or religious affiliations - or different interests or affiliations, as the case may be.

This to me is a society where knowledge and learning are public goods, freely created and shared, not hoarded or withheld in order to extract wealth or influence.

This is what I aspire toward, this is what I work toward. - Stephen Downes