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by Stephen Downes
August 3, 2007

Top-Ten Teaching and Learning Issues, 2007
The top technology-related teaching and learning issues as identified by the EDUCAUSE Advisory Committee for Teaching and Learning. The very top issue, "establishing and supporting a culture of evidence," is more political than technological. What's even more interesting, several of the remaining nine issues are all variations of the first. Issues like "demonstrating improvement of learning" and "translating learning research into practice," for example. That technology should demonstrate its effectiveness is a given, I think. But I think it has done that - kids today are prohibited from doing things that could not even be imagined by their parents. If that's not progress, I don't know what it. And this is key. Demonstrating progress is not a matter of filling it in the checkbox assessments administered by unknowing officials. Indeed, the very nature of progress makes such measurement obsolete. More articles from the current EDUCAUSE Quarterly, just published. John P. Campbell, Diana G. Oblinger, and Colleagues, EDUCAUSE Quarterly August 3, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment]

8 Things That Irritate Me with Edublogs
In the spirit of not being the only one who complains aout things, I bring you... someone else complaining about things. But all well-intentioned. Doug Belshaw, August 3, 2007 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

Going After Grandma!
I think I like the term 'Platform of personal Expression' (PPE) better than 'Personal learning Environment' (though of course I will continue to be indifferent about the terminology. I generally agree with Dave Berlind that Dave Winer is a pioneer in the field, and basically understood all this before most people - but as someone who has been working with this stuff for just about as long, I would hardly call Winer overlooked or overdue for recognition. People know well who he is and what he has done. Is he the first this or that? "Who cares!" I think he would say, as he points to Berners-Lee as the first blogger. The points Wayne Hodgins (still) misses are (a) it's flow, it's syndication; size doesn't matter, because we don't 'assemble' it into anything, and (b) what's important about standards is not that they be low-level, but that they be simple. Wayne Hodgins, Off Course-On Target August 3, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Professor Pans 'Learning Style' Teaching Method
It is true that there are good reasons to question the doctrine of learning styles, at least as presently formulated. But the Telegraph does not inform us why we should believe Baroness Greenfield, a professor of pharmacology at Oxford University, when she says so. Does peerage confer psychological insight? Still, Frank Coffield has a point. "I came across labelling such as 'activists' versus 'reflectors', 'globalists' versus 'analysts' and 'left brainers' versus 'right brainers'. There is no scientific justification for any of these terms." There is no good understanding of learning styles as it stands. But it certainly does not follow that we all learn the same way - the senses may well work in concert, but (as someone with thick glasses, I can attest) some senses work more or less well, meaning that each individual may combine the senses differently. Via Joanne Jacobs. Julie Henry, The Telegraph August 3, 2007 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Comment Overload
I read every comment I get. I don't always reply because I prefer to allow readers to have the last word - though at the urging of some readers I've tried recently to be more forthcoming in my replies. I have a fairly aggressive spam filtering system which means you have to use nice language and make some sense in your comments, which I know discourages some people - for that I apologize, but the payoff is that I can allow people to comment anonymously, without logging in. I appreciate comments because I appreciate being read but I will never write the sort of blog that is likely to accumulate 75 comments to a post - and if I did, I would understand at that point that I was not being true to my own philosophy, which is that ideas and expertise are and ought to be distributed, not clustered around a single person or a single website. Dean Shareski, Ideas and Thoughts from an EdTech August 3, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

eXe Blog
"The eXe project is developing an Open Source authoring application to assist teachers and academics in the publishing of web content without the need to become proficient in HTML or XML markup." The team behind the eXe project has a blog. See also Pedagogy of the Compressed. Via Eduforge. Various Authors, Weblog August 3, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , , , , ] [Comment]

Change Theory: A Force for School Improvement
I was sceptical looking at Michael Fullan's web page - because without a blog, or RSS or anything more advanced than a book, one must wonder, what credibility does he have? And there it might have ended, except for the link to UK preread 2007 at the bottom of the page, which turns out to be well-informed and well-argued. I mean, this treatment of standards-based initiatuves is exactly right:

It assumes that, by aligning key components and driving them forward with lots of pressure and support, good things will happen, on a large scale. What is missing from the strategy is any notion about school or district culture. If theories of action do not include the harder questions - 'Under what conditions will continuous improvement happen?' and, correspondingly, 'How do we change cultures?' - they are bound to fail.

This doesn't mean I accept everything that follows. But what follows, at least, appears to be based on some understanding of how systems work, that "Shared vision and ownership is more an outcome of a quality process than it is a precondition," and that emphasizes capacity-building as much as anything else, where "Capacity building is defined as any strategy that increases the collective effectiveness of a group." More articles here; a nice weekend read. Via Lucy Gray. Michael Fullan, Website August 3, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , , , ] [Comment]

Lenovo Targets China's Rural Poor With $199 PC
Not notebooks, but it's hard to beat the price. Lenovo follows Dell, which in March announced it would sell computers in China for as low as $223. Joe McDonald, E-Commerce Times August 3, 2007 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Can Anyone Police File Sharing?
Technological solutions to student file sharing are likely to slow the behaviour - briefly - but not stop it. Students view the measures as an inconvenience. While some suggest that universities should simply pay a blanket license fee, I wonder whether the music publishers would be so happy to see an appropriate portion of the money go to unsigned and independent acts, podcasters and other MP3 artists. Andy Guess, Inside Higher ed August 3, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]


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Copyright 2007 Stephen Downes

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