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by Stephen Downes
May 13, 2008

Diigo Buckling Under Pressure
Down goes another centralized service. The next step - after the inevitable patching together of the network - will be to raise new funding to support the increasing demand, leading to inevitable full-scale commercialization, merger or acquisition, and all that is entailed. Miguel Guhlin, Around the Corner, May 13, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Human History Is Additive NOT Subtractive!
I disagree with the proposition asserted in the title. While a great deal of knowledge accumulates over time, it is very frequent that new knowledge replaces older, incommensurate, knowledge. The replacement of the Ptolemaic view of the universe with the Copernican, or the replacement of phlogiston production theory of fire with that of oxygen consumption, top name just two prominent examples. As Kuhn (who, I guess, nobody reads any more?) notes, not only does one theory replace another, whole vocabularies, practices and methods are supplanted. Older disciplines founded on older understandings of the world are relegated to history. Some media - most media - disappear. Which is why our libraries no longer store clay tablets, papyrus scrolls, Edison cylinders or betamax tapes. The preservation of old media is the exception, not the rule - which is why we should regard the current forms of radio, television and print to be, as they say, 'on the bubble'. Wayne Hodgins, Off Course-On Target, May 13, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

The Art of Changing the Brain
It is interesting to compare this list of things known about learning with the ridiculous list I covered last week. Though this too suffers from the weaknesses inherent in short point-form lists, it nonetheless captures more accurately what we know about learning. It begins, not from the basis of learning as 'knowledge transfer', as the previous list does, but of learning as change. "Learning is change. It is change in ourselves because it is change in the brain. Thus the art of teaching must be the art of changing the brain" Or, more accurately, "creating conditions that lead to change in a learner's brain." Quite so.

I want to repeat one point in full, because it cuts right to the heart of (what I would call) the error of the instructivist approach to learning: "When we try to help someone learn by offering an extrinsic reward, the chances are that learning will actually be reduced." Why? "The first thing our controlling brain sees in a reward or punishment is a loss of control." So, "we devise all sorts of ways to get the reward without carrying out the learning." Yes, extrinsic rewards can play a role. But we are not - contra the economists - maximizers of personal utility. Personal empowerment typically means much more to us than the possibility of reward, no matter how lavish. Clive Shepherd, Clive on Learning, May 13, 2008 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Education For Well-Being
OK, I pretty much agree with this (I may want to quibble with the make-up of the second point): "The purpose of education should be to create well-being.
* We should educate in way that places personal well-being at the center of all educational decision-making.
* We cannot achieve personal well-being without also simultaneously promoting economic well-being, social well-being, and environmental well-being.
* We must strive to understand the relationships between personal, economic, social and environmental well-being."
Via Clay Burell. Bill Farren, Education For Well-Being, May 13, 2008 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Records Indicate Government Misusing Crown Copyright
The headline is somewhat misleading, as this article mostly describes the differences between Crown Copyright in Canada as compared to the American way of doing things. It is relevant here because much of my own work is covered under Crown Copyright. The key aspects here are, first, that the government never transfers copyright to publishers - something I applaud - and second, that explicit permission is required to republish Crown work. In my case, this means messing around with 'License to Publish' forms (in a policy regime that is utterly silent on blogs, video recordings of presentations, and the like). The Creative Commons license on my website holds - I pay for my website out of my own pocket - but the non-commercial part of the license keeps everybody well to the safe side of the (very) fuzzy boundary. Michael Geist, Weblog, May 13, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , , , , , ] [Comment]

Twitter Can Be Liberated - Here's How
"Decentralizing Twitter," writes Michael Arrington, "isn't about having backups of content if the service goes down. It's about making sure that the service as a whole can't go down." The key to this new decentralized Twitter is XMPP, an open standards based instant messaging protocol. Because Twitter is, at its heart, an instant message sent to a group of (self selected) people all at once. Via . Michael Arrington, TechCrunch, May 13, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

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Copyright 2008 Stephen Downes

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