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by Stephen Downes
March 10, 2008

URGENT: 21st Century Skills for Educators (and Others) First
Will Richardson goes to a conference and notices that nobody is online. because the people at the conference (and how many times have you seen this?) are still working in pre-internet mode: they may be taking notes (on paper) but mostly they're just sitting there uncritically consuming the content from the front (which is how, I may add, charlatans and snake oil salesmen are able to be so successful on the popular book and conference circuit - but that's another story). Richardson asks, "how in god's name can we talk seriously about 21st Century skills for kids if we're not talking 21st Century skills for educators first?" Well exactly. Which is why I have been much more interested in teaching people about personal learning and how to be a good learner than I have in talking about the latest tips and tricks for technology in the classroom. Will Richardson, Weblogg-Ed March 10, 2008 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

What You Can Ask of a Researcher in an Email
I am asked things from time to time. I do try to accommodate everyone, but my time is limited (especially these days, when I have five projects, each of which requires 30 percent of my time). If the request is for something very specific and I can get back to you quickly, it has the best chance of success. If it is to comment on an article or to review an essay, then it may take too long for me to do. The same goes for product reviews and/or demonstrations. Daniel Lemire asks that people not ask him to do his programming (Brad Fitzpatrick also wrote a post on this, but I can't repeat - or even link to - the language here). Me, it's my job to do research for you - but that's what I do, all day every day, and I post my results to my website. Which really is the best place to find my research. Daniel Lemire, Weblog March 10, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Linden Labs' Second Life Education Blog - an Old Approach?
Linden Labs, which operates Second Life, has launched a new blog on the service. Kerry Johnson is not so impressed. She writes, "I wonder if an editor-facilitated, centralised information resource for a widely used service like Second Life is really necessary." Kerry Johnson, KerryJ's blog March 10, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Upgrading Elsevier
Elsevier has agreed to license some its content under Creative Commons for use in MIT's OpenCourseWare. I guess they realized that the alternative was to not see their content used by MIT at all. David Wiley, iterating toward openness March 10, 2008 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Battles for Souls and Such
Newsweek writes, "In short, the expert is back. The revival comes amid mounting demand for a more reliable, bankable Web. 'People are beginning to recognize that the world is too dangerous a place for faulty information'". The expert never left. From his position as a paid columnist or published author working at his benefactor's behest, the expert has decried open source and open content from the moment of their inception. Because, of course, the publisher knows no other source but the expert, and can and will cry, "the expert is back" up to the moment of its demise. As for Wikipedia, well: if the deletionists win, then Wikipedia dies, because it's only if Wikipedia is fundamentally inclusionist that people have any interest in contributing. Don't believe me? Ask Larry Sanger why Citizendium languishes after its launch (5600 articles... wow whee). George Siemens, elearnspace March 10, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment]

OER: the Way Forward
I don't agree with everything in this document, recently released by UNESCO. Yes, I thought the process could have been more open in places (participation in the discussions was limited, for example, and the mailing list was annoyingly turned on and off at a whim). But I feel comfortable supporting it. Why? It's worth contrasting the process that produced this document with the Cape Town Declaration: instead of a closed meeting attended by a selected panel of experts (which produced a strident and arguably loaded manifesto), this document followed numerous rounds of online meetings and consultations, surveys taken among stakeholders around the world, more discussions, discussion at conferences, input from other agencies (such as OECD's study of OERs), and, in the end, produces a summary of community feelings rather than a Declaration of What Is True.

All of these are things I advised the organizers of the Cape Town declaration to do - advised them before it was announced to the world as a fait accompli. But I know why they did it that way - it would have been impossible to produce an institution-centric publisher-centric commercially biased document the UNESCO way. There would have been too many objections. Now The Way Forward moves forward - my own text version for people who can't download PDF, the wiki version, the translations and slide shows coming, as people from around the world pitch in. Joseph Hart, EduResources March 10, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

CUE 2008 Workshop Wikis
Nice presentation of workshop materials - mostly about learning games, edublogging and online learning - inside a wiki. Not sure why Quicktime is used to present the slides; Slideshare offers the same thing in a much more widely used Flash format. As I've remarked before, this sort of presentation is becoming standard - there should be such a page for every conference presentation, every class. If that sounds like a lot of work - keep in mind, if you do it properly, you don't have to do it all yourself (see Clay's wedding). , March 10, 2008 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Blackboard Lies and Liars
Before you call out the lawyers, please note that all my titles are citations from the article I am linking to, and not original assertions being made by me. That said, Barry Dahl doesn't pull any punches while proving the headline true as he compares what Blackboard said to the Department of Justice when asking for approval to merge with WebCT and, um, the truth. Dahl writes, "Blackbeard tells the DoJ that the WebCT merger should be allowed because it has ample competition in the market while specifically mentioning D2L, they don't tell the DoJ about the patent that would severely limit competition." See also Alfred Essa, Blackboard goes for the jugular. Barry Dahl, Desire2Blog March 10, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , , , , , ] [Comment]

The World'S 50 Most Powerful Blogs
The world's 50 most powerful blogs. Can't believe I'm not on the list! Oh course, the author seems to think that celebrity gossip and political screeds count as 'powerful'. Via Emma Duke-Williams. Jessica Aldred,, The Observer March 10, 2008 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

On Kindness and Gratitude 2.0
It's not often I share a wedding in these pages, but this one is worth noting, not only because of the Twitter invitation but because edublogger Clay Burell UStreamed it live (the sound comes on in a bit, give it a few seconds). But there's more: Carolyn Foot with her gift make from Flickr Toys, and even better, the voicethread created by Chris Betcher, and even more, the aggregation of everything created by Frank in Mexico. Oh yeah, and Miguel Guhlin notes that the videos hyou make with VoiceThread are now downloadable, so you don't need to worry about them disappearing forever. Clay Burell, Beyond School March 10, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment]

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Copyright 2008 Stephen Downes

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