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by Stephen Downes
October 12, 2007

Natural Education, Natural Enterprise, Natural Community: Creating a Virtuous Cycle

Housing in Lesotho

I have had occasion to write about global warming over the years. So I am one of the first to warmly applaud Al Gore and his Nobel Peace Prize. And it's this sort of thing - this sort of reflection - that carries over into the wider domain of learning and society and technology. And this Dave Pollard post on natural education and natural enterprise. The older industrial model is a dysfunctional system, he writes, a vicious circle that does immense damage to our psyches and our environment. Harold Jarche picks up on this theme, wondering whether these old systems are starting to crack. "It wasn't that long ago that politicians and some scientists were saying that global warming was only a half-baked theory. We now know that we're going to be completely baked, and Al Gore's Nobel Prize shows that the world understands." That's why I demanded an apology not so long ago - and caution, today, that the same sort of model that has produced global warming is continuing to produce - and protect, with the same disinformation - traditional education. The consequences aren't obvious - but if you go into the poorer regions of the world (or of your own community) and look into the people's eyes, you'll see them. And how do you negotiate with people who were willing to sacrifice the planet for their own temporary gain? Dave Pollard, How to Save The World October 12, 2007 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

Brains Are Weird
I've covered this illusion before. You can learn to see the dancer spin both ways - it has to do with where you focus your attention. It has nothing to do with being right-brained or left-brained, so far as I know. I wonder where these fictions get started. Certainly, nothing seems to stop them from showing up in newspapers. Someone, Explorations in Learning October 12, 2007 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

A Safe Social Network for Schools
All these people who say a social network is 'safe' for students because it is populated by other students obviously didn't go to school where I went to school. When I went to school the biggest source of dangers of all sorts was my fellow students - what I wanted was to be isolated from the students and in contact with the adults, who would at least behave themselves. I really think a lot of this 'internet safety' stuff is exactly backwards. They may even actually increase the likelihood of harm being caused. Kids are in more danger from their home and school environment than from anything the internet can throw at them - and should be able to use the internet to get support and protection. But these channels are blocked... Mark Berthelemy, Learning Conversations October 12, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

Handheld Learning 2007 Nuggets
A set of 'nuggets' from the Handheld Learning conference in London, with oddments varying from fears about WiFi to the unfortunately named Asus miniBook to yet another Presnky next-generation lecture (it's time to get some new material, Marc) to the Learning Everywhere project. Good stuff. Tony Vincent also talks about web apps for the iPhone, noting that "Apple does not allow software applications to be loaded on iPod touch and iPhone, forcing developers to use Web apps instead." Tony Vincent, Learning in Hand October 12, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

When people ask what happened to eduSource I sometimes tell them that it became part of GLOBE, which is described in this post. It's not completely accurate (LORNet is the designated member, not eduSource, and the link points to Paloma Web at Teluq). "GLOBE aims to connect the world and unlock the 'deep web' of quality online educational resources through brokering relationships with content providers." Well fine, but how are they doing with that? The last reported meeting is 2005 and the latest version of the communications strategy - also 2005 - can only be regarded as a failure. The site at least has a link to the EdNA Learning Technology Standards Observaty RSS feed. Latest post? May, 2007. The site is nothing but wrubble. (Wrubble = Web Rubble) Joseph Hart, EduResources Weblog October 12, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment]

SWORD APP Profile 1.0
I was snarky with them in a post a while back, so it's only fair that I link to the release of Version 1.0 of the SWORD Profile of the Atom Publishing Protocol (APP). SWORD stands for Simple Web-service Offering Repository Deposit and is a Jisc-funded project. "The SWORD Profile specifies a subset of elements from the APP for use in depositing content into information systems, such as repositories. The Profile also specifies a number of element extensions to APP, defined to adhere to the extensions mechanism outlined in APP." I still don't like the SWORD acronym. Related: Phil Barker's learning material application profile study. Julie Allinson,, UKOLN October 12, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

UNESCO Supports Development and Free Distribution of World Class Educational Materials
UNESCO has signed a deal to support Curriki (White paper), "an online environment created to support the development and free distribution of world-class educational materials to anyone who needs them." I hope that UNESCO will sign similar agreements with similar organizations - the Wikiversity (history) comes immediately to mind. Press Release, UNESCO October 12, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

I'm Majoring in Facebook, How About You?
There have been discussions about whether it matters whether you go to a high-profile college. I don't think it does. But the issue is highlighted in this CNN story on a class being offered at Stanford. The University Business eNewsletter (linking to this bit) questions whether the program is worth the $2500. This question is particularly relevant in light of posts like this one from Tony Hirst describing how to make Facebook applications, or of programs like Dapper, which do it for you. In fact, I had half an hour before my meeting this morning and I created an OLDaily facebook app that you can actually use inside your own Facebook account. $2500 tuition? Or a few blog posts. Your call. Lindsay Blakely, CNN October 12, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment]


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Copyright 2007 Stephen Downes

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