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by Stephen Downes
May 22, 2008

Dancing with the Devil: a View From Blackboard';S European Conference
Niall Sclater, who as Seb Schmoller notes, leads the Open University's VLE Programme and was responsible for the OU's "widely reported and watched implementation of Moodle." He offers what Schmoller describes as an "enthusiastic description of Blackboard's 'Next Generation' learning platform." Mostly, it's a bunch of web 2.0 stuff, such as a dashboard, a course management block that allows you to drag and drop blocks of content, and ways to open itself up. That's probably necessary for its survival (and people building other learning management systems should also take note).

That said, Sclater writes, "So have I gone over to the darkside and am I going to recommend the Open University switches from Moodle to Blackboard? Hmmm... not right now I haven't. For one thing, talking to some of the delegates, they want their hands on this stuff now and are going to have to wait a year or so for some of it. Meanwhile the Moodle community has lots of innovations up its sleeves too." Niall Sclater, Virtual Learning, May 22, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

More Tech Radium V. Blackboard, Inc.
Feldstein writes, "these are patents about unified messaging to mobile phones and the like." And I agree with this: "This is a critical growth area for educational technology. It is in the interest of higher education to see Blackboard fight this patent, just as it has been in the interest of higher education to see D2L fight the 138 patent." Michael Feldstein, e-Literate, May 22, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment]

A Seismic Shift in Epistemology
There may be a "seismic shift in epistemology" (epistemology is the philosophical study of knowledge and belief) but I don't think Chris Dede has his finger on it. He writes, "the Web 2.0 definition of 'knowledge' is collective agreement about a description that may combine facts with other dimensions of human experience, such as opinions, values, and spiritual beliefs." There are, in my view, numerous problems with that statement:
- web 2.0 is connective, not collective
- web 2.0 forms of knowledge are emergent, and not based on agreement of any sort
- I don't even know what 'agreement about a description' could mean
- web 2.0 is post-modern: there are no 'facts' per se, but rather, individual perspectives
- and insofar as there are 'facts' (since some web 2.0 people are realists (in the philosophical sense), they are not 'combined', but rather, emerge as the result of combining various perspectives
- 'opinions, values, and spiritual beliefs' are not 'dimensions of human experience' though they may be the result of experiences
- people do not contribute (or combine) 'opinions, values, and spiritual beliefs' - they may have them, but what they contribute are texts, photos, and other artifacts
I know that's a lot to hang on one paragraph (sorry) but I wanted to draw this out as much as possible in order to be clear. The new connective epistemology is a new type of epistemology, not some sort of warmed-over collectivism. Link via George Siemens, who cites one of my articles on connective knowledge, which I suppose Dede hasn't read. Chris Dede, EDUCAUSE Connect, May 22, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

Initial Impressions From the First Open Habitat Pilot
Short post reflecting on an interesting project: Dave White discusses the Open Habitat project, in which Art and Design students collaborate creatively in virtual worlds such as Second Life and OpenSim. Dave White, TALL blog, May 22, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Sound Index
Nice. This is a 'top 1000' listing by BBC - I could only find artists, though the site suggests a listing of tracks is available too. The neat thing: the way the site automatically links to the music on YouTube. Via Tony Hirst. Various Authors, BBC, May 22, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

Asking the Hard Questions
Stephen Carson offers responses to George Siemens's questions about open educational resources (OERs). "The evaluation report posted on the OCW site answers many of the questions he raises, at least to some extent. But there's much more work to be done." Stephen Carson, OpenFiction, May 22, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

Researchers Teach 'Second Life' Avatar to Think
This report describes inferences made by an artificial intelligence interfacing with people in a virtual world (it is rather much to say that it "thinks"). There is a long history of creating intelligences (known colloquially as 'bots') to operate in virtual worlds. I once posted an interview with a bot purporting to be a presidential candidate. Via Bryan Alexander. Michael Hill, Yahoo! News, May 22, 2008 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

The Power of the Backchannel
As I have mentioned before, I used a backchannel at the TLt conference in Saskatoon. I've used it a number of times now and have been watching with interest as its use evolves. This post summarizes the reaction of the audience in Saskatoon and adds to my understanding of how it works. If you want to see what was posted to the backchannel, have a look here. Kelly Christopherson, Educational Discourse, May 22, 2008 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

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Copyright 2008 Stephen Downes

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