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by Stephen Downes
April 16, 2007

Virginia Tech
I have had this discussion before, about gun control. This is the inevitable result of a country that lives and breathes guns. I'm sorry. I'm angry. There's nothing else to be said. "One person was killed and others were wounded at multiple locations inside a dormitory about 7:15 a.m., Flinchum said. Two hours later, another shooting at Norris Hall, the engineering science and mechanics building, resulted in multiple casualties, the university reported." Do you feel safer, knowing that everyone is armed? Various Authors, Wikipedia April 16, 2007 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

Rethinking WalMart Patronage
I am not a religious man. That statement offends some, dismays others, and confounds even more, as they wonder how I can advance a philosophy of education and technology as profoundly rooted in morality as in science. But, as I once commented to one of my friends in the faith, my morality and my beliefs come from my science. And not, importantly, the reverse.

The sun sets over Boston last week. More Boston photos.

This statement is to introduce two items. The first is an item in Science that has gotten a lot of discussion, on the topic of framing science (the article is behind a subscription wall - more discussion here, with follow-ups here and here and here). I personally do not care whether people believe in evolution or creation. I do care when one type of enquiry - science - is confused with another type of enquiry - faith. Because if you can do this - simply cross categories like this - then you can do things like substitute one type of belief - morality, say - with another - greed. And when I look at the rise of creationism, what I am seeing is not actually religion seeking to replace science, but rather personal greed and ambition seeking to replace religion.

The second item is a post by Wesley Fryer titled Rethinking WalMart Patronage documenting his reaction to a film on the corporate giant. he makes the right turns, to my mind, in this discussion, ending at the point where faith and reason merge: "ALL human beings deserve and have the right to be treated as ENDS, not merely means. (I share that view with Immanuel Kant as well as Jesus Christ, among many others.) The ongoing development and cultivation of literacy skills is an essential need for all people... Educators truly perform holy work each day, and this movie made me realize the vital importance of that work more than ever."

When I'm uncomfortable at corporate e-learning conferences, it's not because I'm afraid they won't understand PLEs. It's because they don't understand this, and that they are so frequently in the process of substituting one thing for another. The new green, to mention just the latest. Just the latest. Wesley Fryer, Moving at the Speed of Creativity April 16, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment]

I guess the concept of the personal learning environment "began crossing the chasm into the mainstream" of the corporate e-learning community last week. there may be a land rush shortly, but for now the discussion has mostly been of the head-scratching and visioning variety. Citing some workshops with Harold Jarche and Judy Brown last year, Jay Cross suggests that the best starting point was what we were calling Personal Knowledge Management. meanwhile, Tony karrer responds to my concern that the corporate world is more interested in command and control. "There's some truth to that," he says, but we can agree that "we each needed to become better learners." Tony O'Dricscoll also comments.

Meanwhile, Scott Wilson (for some reason crediting George Siemens, though the same thing has been said repeatedly over the last 12 months) notes that the PLE is a concept, not an application (take a bow, Graham Attwell). Alan levine also hits that theme in a post Saturday. Jay Cross, Informal learning April 16, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , , , ] [Comment]

Active Learning, the DS Lite and What Our Schools Should Look Like
Discussion of a recent report on the Scottish curriculum that emphasizes the importance of play for younger learners. "There is no long-term advantage to children when there is an over-emphasis on systematic teaching before 6 or 7 years of age." Ewan McIntosh remarks, "the same might not be said for older kids. However, there is much of this which does have a place somewhere in the early secondary curriculum at least." The definition of play changes, of course, as one gets older. But I doubt that the importance of it does. Ewan McIntosh, April 16, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Ingredients of the Future of Learning
Judy Breck points to an article from Bruno Giussani talking about the future of journalism. The point is that educators "will need to reinvent themselves as a skilled part of a crowd rather than as lecturers, to become more tolerant of ambiguity, to become fluent in both the tech innovations and the shifts in social dynamics that are driving the development of media." Judy Breck, Golden Swamp April 16, 2007 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

Learning Mill
Worth a look: Interesting software, written in Python, sort of half way between a blog and a wiki. "LeMill is a web community for finding, authoring and sharing open and free learning resources. LeMill is independent server software that is hosted for free for anyone at and that can be downloaded freely. LeMill is also part of the European Schoolnet's Learning Resource Exchange Portal developed in the European (IST) Calibrate project. In the Calibrate project LeMill is part of the EUN LRE Portal, and referred as the 'Learning Toolbox', since it is a tool used for working collaboratively with resources." Via Teemu Leinonen, who revisits the world of Wikiversity and Wikieducator. Various Authors, Website April 16, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , , , , ] [Comment]

Nigerian Students Power Up Their Laptops
This is the week that the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project begins, and as such, is a major turning point in our field - perhaps the key turning point.

Photos from CNet of Nigerian children using their XO computers. See also this special report from CNet on the OLPC project. Software to emulate the XO interface on a Mac. James O'Hagan also links to a video describing the technology of the XO.

As a postscript, Will Richardson points out that, in contrast to the $200 it costs to provide a child with a laptop, about $14 billion dollars were spent on Easter last week. When did Easter become a holiday you have to buy things for? Where are the people, who act as guardians of morality in our society? I am sometimes thought of as a radical and an idealist. But there is no acceptable moral position, I would argue, except one that is fundamentally opposed to some of the major premises that inform the current social order - the ones that legitimize violence, celebrate greed, and tolerate poverty. Khaled Hassounah, CNet April 16, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , , , , ] [Comment]


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Copyright 2007 Stephen Downes

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