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by Stephen Downes
November 19, 2007

Interview with Stephen Downes at SURF Education Days 2007
After the SURF Education Days conference in Utrecht Finnish blogger Teemu Arina and I sat down for a conversation in the cafeteria. We discussed my talk - which has raised a bit of a storm in the Netherlands - and what we expect to be doing in 20 years. Teemu was kind enough to record my talk, for which I express my thanks. This post lists eight of the reactions - they're in Dutch, which Google doesn't do - but if you go to Babelfish you can eke out a marginal interpretation. I have also posted my response to Paul Kirshner in the other blog. Teemu Arina, Tarina November 19, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

OpenID - Every Student Should Have One
Summary of the OpenID event that took place in London last Thursday, with links to photos, slides and blog entries. Andy Powell writes, "t seems to me that this is a good example of why the education community stands to gain by going with more mainstream approaches such as OpenID. Mainstream technologies get embedded into the fabric of the tools we all use - community-specific technologies do not..." Andy Powell, eFoundations November 19, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

UniProt, URNs, PURLs
This just so neatly underscores my own view, and hnce, my opposition to things like CORDRA: "the draft W3C Technical Architecture Group finding URNs, Namespaces and Registries, which addresses the questions 'When should URNs or URIs with novel URI schemes be used to name information resources for the Web?' and 'Should registries be provided for such identifiers?'. The answers given are 'Rarely if ever' and 'Probably not'." Pete Johnston, eFoundations November 19, 2007 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

The Future of Reading
The e-book reader rears its head again, this time as the Kindle (named "to evoke the crackling ignition of knowledge"). It is about the same size as a paperback, with a bulge along the 'spine'. The Kindle is backed by Amazon, which gives it a bit more heft that previous attempts; there will be more than 88,000 titles available for sale on launch. Also, you can subscribe to newspapers such as Le Monde, or "You can also subscribe to selected blogs, which cost either 99 cents or $1.99 a month per blog." The device will cost $US 399 at launch, according to this article - which puts it in range of the small computers being manufactured for learning - like the Asus Eee (See Miguel Guhlin). Which raises the question of why you would buy a device that is deliberately inhibited in function instead of the computer? And are there any blogs you really want to pay every month to read? Newspapers? Via Andy Pulman. More from Tom Stahmer.Doug Johnson also comments, with a photo. Will Richardson discusses the iPod of reading. And Richard Nantel thinks it looks like a big cheap calculator. Steven Levy, Newsweek November 19, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Desire2Learn Competencies and Rubrics: Part I
Michael Feldstein does a nice job introducing Desire2Learn's approach to competences. The main point is, "Every competency has at least one learning objective under it. In turn, every learning objective has at least one assessment which is the actual instrument for checking to see if students have met the learning objective." The key to this formulation is flexibility, since competencies depend on the goals of the learning in the first place, abot which there is often no agreement. It is also worth noting that for each learning objective there ought (in principle) to be a learning object, not just an assessment. But can the objectives of learning be reduced (for that's what this is, a reductive process) to competences? I have my doubts, for a variety of reason. Good grist for future discussions. Michael Feldstein, e-Literate November 19, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment]

Towards Knowledge Societies
I was looking at this book-length report (direct link to PDF) from 2005 today, following up some discussion on the UNESCO Open Educational Resources (OER) list. The focus on 'teaching networks' - which the paper encourages, especially by developing countries - carries with it the risk of the commodification of education, and hence, an entrenching as permanent the existing inequities of access to information. If education becomes a commercial product, then no matter how structured, it becomes something only those with resources can afford. We need not only to seek to de-commercialize the distribution, we need also to seek means to reduce or eliminate the dependence of researchers on patrons, to, in other words, seek to make resource production a function of the whole of society rather than a well-funded minority in that society. Jerome Binde, UNESCO November 19, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment]

You Can't Predict Who Will Change The World
This is a good post, up to the point where it becomes jingoistic. This much seems true: "if the success rate of directed research is very low, though, it is true that the more we search, the more likely we are to find things 'by accident,' outside the original plan. Only a disproportionately minute number of discoveries traditionally came from directed academic research." Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Forbes November 19, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment]

OpenSocial On Facebook (Sort-Of)
I subscribed today to a new Facebook application "that appears to make Facebook an OpenSocial container." Basically, what it does is export my friend lists for use by external applications. Jimmy Guterman writes, "One of the developers is from Google. It's unclear what's happening here -- Could this be the beginning of a guerilla attempt to lure Facebook into OpenSocial?" Jimmy Guterman, O'Reilly Radar November 19, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]


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Copyright 2007 Stephen Downes

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