Stephen's Web

[Chat] [Discuss] [Search] [About] [Options]


by Stephen Downes
October 1, 2007

Overdrive: That Classroom Blogging Grail, and How Teaching and Grading Obstruct It
Oh goodness yes: "Anybody who's taught high school English should know why most students hate to write in schools. It's because they're taught to write badly." And even more to the point: "If I assigned any of you to write about ideas that aren't self-selected, in forms that aren't self-expressive, for an over-worked audience of one that puts two or three words, random red hieroglyphs, and a permanently-branded number into a ledger that threatens to determine your fate, face it: you would learn to hate writing (and school) too." I want to teach writing some time. I used to teach writing (it was a class called 'Critical Thinking' but I kind of repurposed the content, focusing on helping students pass their other classes rather than forcing them to pass mine). Ah, another project for the pile. Clay Burell, Beyond School October 1, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Messy Learning OK. Messy Training Not OK.
Interesting summary of some thoughts resulting from my talk in San Jose (if you had trouble with the audio, it's now accessible, sorry about that). Cammy Bean writes, "As Janet wrote in the comments to her own post, attendees were saying of the un-conference format that 'structure' and 'objectives' were needed. Is a messy training program just one in which the presenter is clearly not organized? The agenda not fully thought out?" My feeling is that some trainers attended the conference expecting, well, training. If they had approached it differently (or been bopped on the head, which I took as my function at the conference) they could have broken out of that frame, and maybe learned something. As opposed to merely being trained. Cammy Bean, Learning Visions October 1, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment]

Convergence or Divergence?
You should probably have a look at this post if you're interested in the business or commercial aspects of online learning. Essentially, the suggestion is that enterprises we had always thought of as conjoined - product development, say, and customer service - are actually very different enterprises. Fair enough, and I think that some of the functions in online learning (teaching and testing, say) could also be diverged. I talked about that in 1998. But I think readers of this post should also be cautious. There's some good thinking here, but it is buried in a sea of bafflegab (because what Hagel really wants you to do is buy his report). There's no need for this. Hagel is describing commerce which is both convergent (it brings things from multiple sources together) and divergent (innovation, production, transportation, marketing and sales are handled by different entities). Some of this makes sense, while some of it (like, say, the IP pure-play) is nonsense. John Hagel, Edge Perspectives October 1, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

A First-Hand Look at a Chinese Second Life, HiPiHi
Excellent article describing another 3D immersive environment similar to Second Life, a Chinese creation called HiPiHi (pronounced 'high-pee-high'). What's interesting is that this account brings with it a lot of cross-cultural currents - from the discussion of the Creative Commons licensing encouraged by HiPiHi to the hope for interoperability between HiPiHi and Second Life to the "Communist Party-style propaganda" urging newbies to "Build a harmonious world," and so on. Via Niko. Wagner James Au, GigaOM October 1, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment]

Virtual Friendship and the New Narcissism
"What's popular?" asks George Siemens. "Tools that aren't broadcast-based: flickr (image sharing), social networks (Facebook, Myspace, Bebo), personal information management (, and collaborative tools like wikis." What's not popular, he notes, are things that are used for broadcasting. Yahoo, for example, closed its podcast directory. He writes, "The initial rush of 'wow, I can post my comments on the web to the world' has given way to 'wow, I don't feel like it'." And thus he links to this article that documents our move from real places to 'lifestyle' places to "discrete virtual places in which we can be different (and sometimes contradictory) people, with different groups of like-minded, though ever-shifting, friends." All very good, but I wouldn't over-emphasize the social. I think the social is one type of experience, and that life is filled with many more types of experience. It's like when people say that meaning is defined by the community, I want to respond, "what, have they never seen a tree? They have to be told about it?" Don't sell podcasting short, don't sell community long, and remember that it's about personal experience - and not any of the acoutrements to that. Christine Rosen, The New Atlantic October 1, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , , , , , , ] [Comment]

Brazil's Minister of Culture Calls for Free Digital Society
Gilberto Gil, a musician and social activist who became Brazil's minister of Culture, called for "the freedom to use and republish digital forms of content as a way of encouraging personal expression, culture and political participation" at a conference at MIT. Today's digital technologies represent a fantastic opportunity for democratizing access to knowledge," Gil said. "We have found that the appropriation of digital technology can be an incredible upgrade in skills of political self-management and the local political process." Martin LaMonica, CNet October 1, 2007 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Thiagi Gameletter: October 2007
I don't link to Thiagi's newsletter because it comes out all in one big lump, so I can't link to individual items. But if you're not familiar with it, you may want to take a look. Thiagi specializes in low-tech learning games, and this newsletter is no exception, with everything from logic puzzles to team games to the single item survey. Sivasailam (Thiagi) Thiagarajan, Website October 1, 2007 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Web Offerings Spread in 'Battle for Desktop'
Coverage of the spread of Web 2.0 aplications - in this article described as "software as a service" - in the education sector. The focus is on a new report released by Gartner saying that software as a service (SaaS) will grow "seven times faster than on-premise software deployments during the next three years." E-School news only shows the first page of the story; the rest is behind a subscription wall. But you can listen to a Gartner podcast on software as a service from last June. And here's the actual press release from Gartner about the report, dated from August (you'll still have to pay for the report itself though). And here's some advice about SaaS from Information Week. There's no need to pay for an eSchool News article to learn about SaaS - which, really, is just Gartner's (proprietary?) name for Web 2.0. Robert L. Jacobson, eSchool News October 1, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , , , , ] [Comment]

Diamonds in the Mud
Coverage of the Interactive Computer Aided Learning (ICL 2007) conference provided by Steve Wheeler (part one, part two, part three). Summaries could be more informative and less, um, colourful ("two papers that shone out like diamonds in the mud in an afternoon of mediocrity"). But the links to presenters are useful. Steve Wheeler, Learning with 'e's October 1, 2007 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]


This newsletter is sent only at the request of subscribers. If you would like to unsubscribe, Click here.

Know a friend who might enjoy this newsletter? Feel free to forward OLDaily to your colleagues. If you received this issue from a friend and would like a free subscription of your own, you can join our mailing list. Click here to subscribe.

Copyright 2007 Stephen Downes

This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons License.