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by Stephen Downes
August 23, 2007

Blogs: All the Noise That Fits
Another one of those reports carried by the traditional media to the effect that bloggers are lazy and derivative jorunalists who do no original work of their own. This would be unremarkable (if inaccurate) were it not for the follow-up work done by a few of the readers. Josh Marshall, one of the bloggers cited in the piece, writes, "Skube's piece reads with a vagueness that suggests he has less than a passing familiarity with the topic at issue." So he should - because his Talking Points Memo is well known as a serious and well-researched blog. And when he wrote Skube to enquire, Skube replied, "I didn't put your name into the piece and haven't spent any time on your site. So to that extent I'm happy to give you benefit of the doubt ..." More here. And here. Michael Skube, L.A. Times August 23, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Just Because You Can...?
OK, a kid records 20 seconds of the Transformers movie to show to her brother, who couldn't go. Should she go to jail for this? The very fact that we can ask this question tells me how backwards our values have become. And it gets worse before it gets better, doesn't it. What if the kid records 20 seconds of a live event? 20 seconds of street scenery which includes company logos and text? 20 seconds of a political rally? At some point, someone has to say, sharing is not a crime. Unauthorized commercial reproduction, that's a crime. But young people expressing themselves as they do? Come on, that kind of clampdown has really disturbing overtones. Jennifer Wagner, Thoughts From a Technospud August 23, 2007 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

Avoiding Mobile Learning Bacn
Sorry it has taken me so long to introduce this new tech term to you, as much as four days after it was coined. What is bacn? "E-mail you want, just not now: myspace alerts, twitter followers, newsletters, etc." Leonard Low, Mobile Learning August 23, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

School Textbooks, Yes or No
Discussion continues on the issue of whether schools should purchase textbooks. Karen Romeis says books have always been a "treasure trove" to her. George Siemens writes, "I'm not convinced that technology is deterministic - i.e. that we must inexorably trudge the path down which it leads." But that is not the position at all; the call to stop purchasing textbooks has nothing to do with technological determinism. Dennis Coxe, meanwhile, calls my own position "a bit too radical for me." I don't think it's radical at all. The money we spend on textbooks is wasted. We could put the same content onto websites, we could do it for free (because it's not like our academics are paid much of anything by publishers as it is) and the kids would be more comfortable with it. And the adults who persist in doing the the old way because they are more comfortable with books should stop proclaiming it as a virtue. More discussion on my post from yesterday. Dennis Coxe, Sailing by the Sound August 23, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , , , ] [Comment]

Take Your Class Sky High with Google Earth
Everyone is going gaga over Google Sky (which really should be been titled Google Space) and so I took it for a test run yesterday. It's pretty nice, but not as nice as other space view programs I've seen. The zoom is impressive, but the Hubble images are a bit abrupt and the images of the planets look like little icons that have been glued into place - zoom in, zoom out, the plants stay the same size. Tacky. And there's no names for the stars, just the constellations. Where Google excels, though, is with the plug-ins and inserts, so you can create tours and insert text and stuff. Vicki Davis, Cool Cat Teacher Blog August 23, 2007 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Teaching How To Learn
Thanks to Michael Coghlan for sending this shortish video of Tony Buzan talking on the subject of teaching children how to learn, with a focus on creativity. I am pretty much in agreement with his argument. I have been creative all my life, and I have seen how it is depicted as "not normal" and discouraged throughout the educational process. But as Buzan argues, "'normal' is not natural... we are teaching uncreativity." Good video; nice riff on what 'creativity' is around the 11:30 minute mark. Related: Who are we really failing?, by Christopher D. Sessums. Tony Buzan, eSnips August 23, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Can XML Be Efficient? W3C Thinks So
You have to wonder about the W3C sometimes. It took two years (a "W3C minute") to respond to the concern that XML files take too long (and use up too much processor power) to parse. It's a legitimate complaint - if you've tried to access my site and found it stalled, it's because Edu_RSS, which reads RSS, is parsing XML files. So what's the W3C's response? Binary XML. Not surprisingly, it hasn't been greeted with enthusiasm. Because it means that we would have to compress and decompress XML files, and then still parse them. In the meantime, I look at things like JSON, where the data comes in a package that needs no parsing at all. Long term, I am wondering whether XML has a future at all. Jason Campbell, CMS Wire August 23, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment]

What, No Whales in the Minnesota River?
An object lesson in the need for critical thinking - or at the very least, basic awareness of the world around you - as a couple from Texas is fooled into visiting the (fictional) city of Mankato, Minnesota to visit the underwater city, the pyramids, whales in the Minnesota River, and of course the Sclare/Far Fissure, which ensures the winter temperature never drops below 70 degrees. Meanwhile, I posted a few days ago about the very real attractions here in the city of Moncton. Doug Johnson, Blue Skunk Blog August 23, 2007 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

The 133rd Carnival of Education
The other day I wrote about the edublogosphere clustering (The Blogosphere is a Mesh). This is a good example. The writers at the Carnival of Education focus mostly on teaching and education policy. Obviously they have a viable community and the carnival structure ensures that even though there are some slightly more popular reads - like Education Wonk and Joanne Jacobs - mostly they all read each others' blogs. Read to the end of this post for some interesting stats on the nature of this community and for this list of education bloggers (some of whom I aggregate for OLDaily):

"All Contributors were also asked to send in the names of 2 blogs they read daily. Of the responses we received, Joanne Jacobs had the highest Readership (8 votes). Her blog was followed by The Education Wonks and EduWonk (Education Sector Blog) with 4 votes. California Teacher Guy, Weblogg-ed, Edspresso, Right on the Left Coast all got 2 votes each while Education Intelligence Agency, April May, College and Finance, NYC Educator, Principled Mom, NYC Public School Parents, AcademHack, EdWeek, Ms Whatsit, The Thinking Stick, Second Hand Thoughts, Eduholic (Teacher Magazine Blog), It Shouldn't Happen to a Teacher, Homeschool Buzz, Why Homeschool, Tutor 2u, MathNotations, JD2718, Sicheii Yazhi, Repairkit, What It's Like on the Inside and The Red Pencil got 1 vote each." Vivek Khemka, The Red Pencil August 23, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]


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Copyright 2007 Stephen Downes

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