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by Stephen Downes
September 13, 2007

Working Behind the Great Firewall of China

I remember as a kid seeing pictures of the city of the future, and they always looked like this. But this isn't science fiction - it's Shanghai, today. Joi Ito photo. A number of the K12 Education crowd from the U.S. are having a Schools 2.0 conference in Shanghai. Wesley Fryer writes about using a service called Proxify to get around restrictions imposed by the Chinese government. Will Richardson links to another Sci-Fi photo. On a related note, I have recently discovered that OLDaily is blocked in China, even the Chinese version (thank you again to the generous translators). Just coincidence, I'm sure. I console myself by listening to traditional Chinese music while setting my photos from Taiwan to music in a short video courtesy of Animoto, a great find by Dave Warlick. Wesley Fryer, Moving at the Speed of Creativity September 13, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , , , , , ] [Comment]

Creating and Connecting
I'd be more inclined to believe this study if it wasn't supported by Microsoft and Verizon, but it's worth a mention. Basically, according to the study, there has been an explosion of growth in creative activities by students in online social networks. Even so, most social networks remain banned by schools, although most allow some school-sanctioned web activities. That said, the dangers actually posed by social networking are a small fraction of what we see depicted in the media - for example, "only .08% of all students say they've actually met someone in person from an online encounter without their parents' permission." That said, argue the authors, students should learn about online safety, "but students may learn these lessons better while they're actually using social networking tools." Via George Siemens, who also links to a mediocre document on media democracy. Unattributed, National School Boards Association September 13, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , , , ] [Comment]

Higher Ed'S Conflict of Interest Problem
This story focuses on the student loan scandal that has caught a number of universities in its grip, but looks more broadly at the way corporate providers seek to influence academic purchasers for a larger share of student dollars. This obviously has an impact in the field of educational technology. For example: "The American Council on Education's corporate alliance program offers members of the president's circle the chance to meet with college presidents, among other benefits, for a contribution of at least $200,000, and provides other benefits at lesser donation levels. The several dozen corporate partners of Educause, the higher education technology association, pay anywhere from $20,000 to more than $100,000 over the course of a year for a series of benefits that include the opportunity to make presentations to the association's members at the group's annual meeting." Where do open source and open content rate in this network? They don't. This is a lengthy and detailed report, worth a careful read, even if the apologists who immediately chimed in through the comments section disagree. Doug Lederman, Inside Higher Ed September 13, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , , , , , ] [Comment]

Bringing Honest Exchange Into Kids' Lives
As part of her ongoing dialog with Diane Ravitch, Deborah Meier "That's what we need now in the USA: a task force to study how democracy can be learned." I don't think you learn democracy by being told about democratic principles. I think you learn only by practicing democracy. When I was in high school I studied public speaking, took part in debating and model parliament, participated in model conferences with other schools, the works. In university I took part in student politics, wrote for the newspaper, organized protests, and more. These all seem to be behaviours that are discouraged these days, if not restricted outright. How can people learn about democracy if they can't participate in one? Deborah Meier, Education Week September 13, 2007 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

How Open-Source Is Sakai?
Jim Groom looks at Sakai and finds it impenetrable. "A host of research universities threw millions of dollars at an idea of an open source application, but they did it in a traditional academic way which put the idea and the perceived needs before the actual community and real needs." In fairness, the Sakai people are aware of the usability issues (they've seen it mentioned before). I'm less certain they would see the use of Java as a big stumbling block. They should, but they won't. Jim Groom, bavatuesdays September 13, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment]

How to Write Consistently Boring Academic Technology Articles
Glenda Morgan links to a Kaj Sand-Jensen (which is published in a most user-hostile manner on a site called Scribd) that describes how to write boring academic papers. I also like the list she adds describing boring academic technology papers. I have read more than my share. Glenda Morgan, Accidental Pedagogy September 13, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Everybody Does It
OK, I never cheated in school. Not out of any great virtue - mostly, I didn't need to, and when I would have needed it, I didn't get along well enough with my classmates to share answers. But also - it just wasn't done. I mean by that, not that nobody ever did it, but that it would be the sort of thing you hide. Dishonesty was something to be ashamed of. Today, people look at their heroes, their leaders, their models - and they see nothing but cheating. "It's a silent conspiracy creating the disease of low expectations: 'Well, we can't really expect people to be honest anymore.'" At the bottom of the article there's a list, "Top 5 Ways to Curb Cheating." Not on that list is something like, "have business leaders and politicians and role models who don't lie, steal and cheat." Bringing honour back into society begins with ourselves, not lecturing the kids. Regan McMahon, San Francisco Chronicle September 13, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]


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Copyright 2007 Stephen Downes

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