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by Stephen Downes
December 12, 2007

Efficiency Savings
Everybody faces from time to time demands to make whatever they're doing more efficient. I am no supporter of wasted time and effort. But I always caution the people demanding greater efficiency. Imagine, I say to them, that you are at the top of a 20-story building. Standing by the window. You know the most efficient way to get back down to the bottom. Right? And sometimes, I conclude, some inefficiencies - some resistance and some friction - are exactly what are needed. The principle of efficiency, ruthlessly applied, inevitably leads to a fall. Don Ledingham, Learning Log December 12, 2007 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

Be Very Careful About Student Panels
I agree with Dave Warlick on this one. "These were... the kids who do what they're told and who have learned, from many years in the classroom, to tell us what they think we want to hear." This is typical of the "student input" that characterizes so many processes and serves to illicitly legitimize things with a false sort of 'student sanction'. Because, as Warlick notes, "They reinforced those teachers who believe that we are doing just fine with our kids, doing things the same way we've always done them." When 'student input' is sought, the students polled should not just be the 'A' kids. The dropouts and failures should be consulted as well. After all, that's what I was when I was in high school. If they had invited me to their education conferences - especially in Grade 12, when I was boycotting English tests - I would have had a few things to say, some of which might even have been relevant. Dave Warlick, 2 Cents Worth December 12, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Making Sense Of New Technologies And Media: An Opinionated Digest by George Siemens
I have long thought of adding more visual content to OLDaily (well, not in the text edition, of course). But I haven't been able to find a way to make it work with the format. This link is to a Robin Good adaptation of George Siemens's eLearnSpace. It is visually attractive, with better spacing and nice images. Mike Powers (language warning) states, "Robin Good republishes the same material but in a much more presentable form making the very same ideas seem far more interesting." Is this so? George Siemens, Robin Good December 12, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Multi-Touch Whiteboard Under 100 Dollars - Using The Wii Remote
This is an absolutely stunning demonstration. Basically, Johnny Lee creates a sensor by attaching a tiny light to a pen shell, then uses the Wii remote (Wii-mote) to track the movments of the pen. This allows him to turn any surface - a wall, a desktop, a computer screen - into a fully interactive computer screen and writing tablet. Brilliant. Using two-such pens also creates a multi-touch tablet PC, which allows you to expand and rotate objects. Here is the link to the software - those of you who have Wii-motes, let's see what you can do with them! Tim Wang, Tim Wang's eLearning Blog December 12, 2007 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

I Can See Clearly Now (And I'm Smiling)
I've thought a lot about presentations - I've had to - and I'm mostly uncomfortable with the advice in this post. First of all, my presentations are vry rarely to pursuade. I am more often trying to explain or describe. My purpose is to model and demonstrate. I want people to see how I think about these topics, to see how I approach them. This requires clarity, and clarity - rather than, say, colour - is my main goal. I try to put enough text on the slide to be useful - the words help people who have difficulty hearing or who speak a different language. The illustrations are useful, but pointless illustrations - and the slides described here are full of them - merely add deadweight to the download. For visibility, text should be dark on white, and separate from images. Slides should flow - text and images combine to create a message, something viewers can interpret while hearing the presentation. Yes, I've seen poor presentations. But abandoning everything we know about clarity and cognition is not the answer. Good list of resources on the second-last slide. Chistian Long, think:lab December 12, 2007 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

The ePortfolio Hijacked
It's sort of like a scholastic Heisenberg principle: any assessment changes the nature of the thing being assessed. This is most clearly the case when we look at a student's creative work, as collected in an e-portfolio. If the work is being assessed, then the nature of the e-portfolio changes considerably. It's no longer a place for experiments and failures, but is rather now an exhibit or a performance. The idea, therefore, of using an e-portfolio for assessment is, in essence, a hijacking of the concept of an e-portfolio. There's nothing wrong with assessment. But it should be kept in its proper place. So, at least, says this article. Trent Batson, Campus Technology December 12, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Self-Organized Groups and the Methods and Ethics of Accessing Learning Resources
"Respecting the self-organizing group and its decision-making capacity is the sine qua non of success. It also happens to be the absolute opposite of the organizational principles of traditional education and training." Quite so, and I appreciate the grounding of this assertion, as Jay Cross does, in the findings of the 'hole in the wall' project. This assertion, of course, is precisely the point of dispute between the 'free learning' that I and many others advocate, as opposed to the 'control learning' defended by traditional instructivists. Long-time readers of OLDaily, of course, will recall our coverage of the 'hole in the wall' project dating from 2002, thanks to Frederick Noronha. Much, much more on this sort of project here. Peter Isackson, Learning Circuits Blog December 12, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

OTF/FEO Professional Development VOD (Video-On-Demand)
The Ontario Teachers Federation is offering these professional development videos free of charge on its website. There is not currently a registration, though the post by Quentin D'Souza suggests there will be. I hope the Federation resists the urge to place a barrier, even if it is an 'easy' barrier, in front of the content (my fear is that it may not be so 'easy' for people who are not OFS members). The videos are in WMV format, which is also unfortunate, as they are therefore inaccessible to many viewers. Despite these weaknesses, the program is a good idea - they should supplement it with a syndication system that sends a 'video of the day (or week)' via RSS or email. Via Quentin D'Souza. Various Authors, Ontario Teachers Federation December 12, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment]

EdNA is launching a new social software service on December 15. "Everyone who is a current edna registered user will automatically have a myedna profile and space which will provide significant benefits for edna members." If you are an EdNA member you can go to the preview and try it out. It works well, though I miss the Facebook apps (especially Scrabble) and I don't really like the conflation of personal interests with communities. Various Authors, EdNA December 12, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]


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Copyright 2007 Stephen Downes

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