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by Stephen Downes
May 9, 2008

10 Facts About Learning That Are Scientifically Proven and Interesting for Teachers
I'm always careful with the phrase 'scientifically proven' (because it never means what people think it means, and it's so often misused). And just so with these ten items. In the main, I don't disagree with them. In the details, I think each of the ten items is presented inaccurately. Indeed, if you analyze them, you'll see that they are internally inconsistent - if number 3 is true, for example, then number 8 is most certainly problematic, and probably false. So we end up with a view of learning which, while on the surface appears accurate, is in fact quite misleading and incorrect (at least, to my perspective). The thing is, what is known about learning is (a) small, uncertain, and fuzzy, and (b) not capable of being represented in a pithy ten-point list. Donald Clark, Plan B, May 9, 2008 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

Is PowerPoint Evil? (Part 3)
Of course, PowerPoint is not inherently evil, it is just poorly used. For those who are interested in using PowerPoint well, this article has a lot of material that will be of interest. Zaid Ali Alsagoff, ZaidLearn, May 9, 2008 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

Multiliteracies Conference Notes
There's a lot of scepticism surrounding the whole idea of multiliteracies. Which I suppose is not really surprising - after all, it is seen as "TV studies" in some circles, and it's hard to imagine that it's a real academic discipline that will actually show anything of value in the long run. And it doesn't help when we are told - for the umpteenth time that "Written paper texts are generally consumed in a linear fashion, but digital text can be very non-linear." Which isn't even true (try being non-linear watching TV. Try being linear flipping through a newspaper). And how do you know anything is 'true' in this discipline - what separates an important insight from sheer nonsense (so far as I can tell, it's a connection to a star - like Guy Ritchie)? But... but... there are multiple modes of media, and multiple modes of communication, and probably, multiple modes of thinking and imagining. And - just as with language - the semantic context extends well beyond either the speaker or the speech. It's like any media production carries this 'cloud of meaning' with it. Graham Wegner, Teaching Generation Z, May 9, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

Terry Anderson's Proposal
I've got a couple of online events happening at SCoPE (a Moodle install at SFU supporting education) right now. One is Shaping Our Future: Toward a Pan Canadian E-learning Research Agenda. In this one, Terry Anderson proposes that we need a national research agenda. In my response (also posted to my Half an Hour blog) I respond that such an agenda might not turn out the way we want it to. I'm also watching the discussion at Social Media - Benefits for Researchers, a forum established by Ignatia de Waard. If you want to keep up on what's happening at SCoPE (which I really recommend) then you'll want to subscribe to the monthly MicroScope newsletter by Sylvia Currie. One thing I really really like about SCoPE is that its seminar discussions are always open. There's a lot of interesting material on this website. Stephen Downes, Half an Hour, May 9, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment]

Request for a Study Period On Managing and Exchanging Participant Information
This is a positive development. The e-Learning Standards Advisory Council of Canada has published a request for public input on a web page. Specifically, "it would be appreciated if eLSACC members and members from the eLearning Community who may be maintaining or developing competency frameworks within government would forward information regarding their work in this area to Simone Laughton. Simone Laughton will prepare the Canadian submission and forward it to the WG3 Convener by May 15th, 2008." The page has more information on the nature and scope of the Canadian position being taken on competencies at the international meetings. See also the eLSACC main page. Simone Laughton, eLSCC, May 9, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

Toolbox or Trap? Course Management Systems and Pedagogy
Well this is a pretty damning statement: "The default design of commercial course management systems limits instructional creativity and pedagogical approaches, particularly for novice users." But who would say it isn't true? More articles from the current EDUCAUSE Quarterly. Lisa M. Lane, EDUCAUSE Quarterly, May 9, 2008 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Scientific Pluralism
The reviewer - David L. Hull - sketches a position that is quite similar to my own with respect to scientific pluralism. "The editors of this anthology ask whether or not consistency requires scientific pluralists to be pluralists in dealing with such philosophical concepts as theory, explanation, cause and probability. They answer, 'We think it does' ... Dickson remarks that a "multiplicity of dynamics is not necessarily a bad thing" (p. 57). Not necessarily a bad thing? It is not a bad thing at all. In fact, it is good... Waters remarks that scientists must be 'tolerant of diversity' (p. 210). Tolerant? Diversity deserves more than 'tolerance.'" Reviewed by David L. Hull, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews, May 9, 2008 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

Theories of Scientific Method
My interest in scientific method is abiding and deep, and so works like this are of inherent interest to me. This is the sort of work that any theorist ought to read before actually conducting research, and yet which so few seem to (educational theorists especially, from whom names like Lakatos, Feyerabend and van Fraassen elicit only blank stares). Not to be snarky, but if I hear one more defense of multiple choice surveys as "research" in education... Reviewed by Paul Dicken, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews, May 9, 2008 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Blogs and Wikis and 3D, Oh My!
The article is mostly about blogs, and mostly about law blogs with a conservative-libertarian bent. Worth a look as a snapshot of the trend, though. Andy Guess, Inside Higher Ed, May 9, 2008 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

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Copyright 2008 Stephen Downes

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