December 12, 2006


Stephen Downes[Edit][Delete]: Rough Crossing, Google Video [Edit][Delete] December 12, 2006
[link: Hits] My latest video, this time footage of crossing south from New Zealand's South island to Stewart Island in seas that were described to me as "choppy". Enjoy.

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Unattributed[Edit][Delete]: How to Bring Schools into 21st Century, Cnn [Edit][Delete]CNN [Edit][Delete] December 12, 2006
[link: 1 Hits] Time magazine has caught the attention of a number of writers (and this article in CNN) with a cover story on how to "build" a student for the 21st century - language that indicates the divide between one generation of thinking about learning, and another, which asserts that learning - and learners - are grown, not built. The article (which you need to pay for, or watch an advertisement, to view) is focused relentlessly on the American perspective, but the questions (if not the answers) are international in scope. people need to think internationally, they need to learn to recognize patterns and perceive more intuitively, they need to acquire new information from new sources, and they need to interact and communicate.

That's the challenge, but of course the answers we have seen from administrators thus far - standardized testing, charter schools, vouchers, and the like - appear to be more politically than educationally motivated. Can there be a discussion that moves beyond ideas about the privatization of learning, and toward talking about the needs oflearning itself? I have my doubts.

More discussion, from Christian Long ("May we elect, instead, to 'unleash' the student, to engage their deeper passions, to stop seeing it as an assembly line metaphor or a tabla rasa or a bucket to be filled?"), Dave Warlick ("I'm still a bit afraid that the wrong people will be empowered to affect change"), Steve Olsen - read this one for sure! - Michael van der Galien ("it seems not, umh, very smart to me, close one's borders for information and knowledge from other countries"), Tim Stahmer ("if we could just get our politicians to improve their reading skills and understand this commissio's report"), Alexander Russo ("I flunked out of Mandarin spring of my freshman year."), Rex Lam ("One thing I didn't see addressed here is arts which is woefully lacking in public school these days"), Kevin Carey ("Not that I think studying language is a waste of time. I just would have been better off spending that time studying this language"), Dean Shareski ("Wally Cleaver obviously didn't contribute to the latest article in Time on school reform."), Tom Hoffman ("it is about trying to pick up the mainstream, centrist conversation about school reform that existed six years ago prior to being rudely interrupted by NCLB.")... [Tags: , , ] [Comment] [Edit] [Delete] [Spam]

Geof Glass[Edit][Delete]: Eben Moglen Plone Speech, Annotated, [Edit][Delete] December 12, 2006
[link: Hits] If you enjoyed the Eben Moglen speech from yesterday then you may enjoy this annotated version. [Tags: ] [Comment] [Edit] [Delete] [Spam]

Chris Waigl[Edit][Delete]: The Eggcorn Database, [Edit][Delete] December 12, 2006
[link: Hits] You never know what you're going to see if you follow a mailing list long enough. Today - after several days of discussion - what showed up on ITForum was this, the 'eggcorn'. Example: saying "a different tact" instead of (the proper) "a different tack." According to the page, "They [eggcorns] tell us something about how ordinary speakers and writers make sense of the language they use." This is the sort of thing about language that both enlightens and confounds: you can use it quite incorrectly, but still be understood, and in a way more subtle and accurate than had you used it correctly. Well, whatever the underlining cause, enjoy. [Tags: ] [Comment] [Edit] [Delete] [Spam]

Simon Avery[Edit][Delete]: Music Downloads in Downward Trend, Globe and Mail [Edit][Delete] December 12, 2006
[link: Hits] As expected, the digital music market has been saturated as people finish replacing and rounding out their music collection with the new format. The music industry continues to wail and gnash its teeth, however, blaming declining sales on piracy rather than poor marketing, worse technology, and indifferent quality (I mean, a album by Paris Hilton? Come on now). The comments, though, tell a different story, as writer after writer rejects the music industry's plaints, and with it, the marketing disaster that is DRM. It's unlikely that the music industry will listen - but one wonders, will the editors of the Globe and Mail get the message, and change their perspective on this issue. More on this, as the Register, with its usual restraint, reports that iTunes sales are collapsing and that "The Big Four know that the DRM era is nearly over - and within two or three years... 'most countries" in the world will have a blanket licensing regime where we exchange music freely, for a couple of quid a month." See also IT Wire, The beginning of the end of DRM. [Tags: , , ] [Comment] [Edit] [Delete] [Spam]

Wolfgang Greller[Edit][Delete]: Politics of E-Learning Standards, December 12, 2006
[link: Hits] Yes: "standards are not pedagogically, culturally, or economically neutral." This is why I advocate a system of specifications that allow multiple vocabularies, multiple ontologies, multiple standards. But it does not follow, as seems to be implied especially in the conclusion of Norm Friesen's and Darryl Cressman's paper, The Politics of E-Learning Standardization (from last summer), that learning is and must always be a cottage industry. Yes, as they say, "the domains of education and learning can be understood as being especially local, heterogeneous and contextual." This makes them resistant to industrialization. But while some people treat thinks like learning objects as industrial artifacts, the bricks used as raw materials by the learning factories, I think of them in a sense that supports mass personalization, as words in a vocabulary, like a common language, that can be used to make something new each time one of them is uttered. And yes, the economics of this are relentless, as would be the need to coin a new word every time someone had something new to say. [Tags: , , , , ] [Comment] [Edit] [Delete] [Spam]

Susan Funk[Edit][Delete]: Reflections on Writing, What Counts! [Edit][Delete] December 12, 2006
[link: 1 Hits] Susan Funk (who needs to put her name somewhere on her new blog) writes, "The task of writing is infinitely harder than the task of reading." For me it's the other way around; I find writing to be easy, smooth, like thinking, while in reading I am forced to deal with ambiguity and opacity. [Tags: ] [Comment] [Edit] [Delete] [Spam]

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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