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by Stephen Downes
August 1, 2008

Believing in Education As Cure-All
Inassailable: "Hotel jobs that pay $20 an hour, with health and pension benefits (rather than $10 an hour without benefits), typically do so because of union organization, not because maids earned bachelor's degrees." And if people are seeking to identify in a country's decreasing competitiveness a 'skills gap', it is worth reflecting that this gap is created by increasing inequity in the country, and that it is this increasing inequity that is the cause of a country's decreasing competitiveness. As Doug Noon says, "I and most teachers, I think, have long observed that many learning difficulties seemed to be linked to domestic home-life problems, and that there are a lot more of them than there used to be." Or even more tellingly, "Raising the bar, making school more rigorous, banging the drum for accountability, none of theses can begin to make a dent in the life of a kid who locks herself in the bathroom at night to hide from her mother's boyfriend." Doug Noon, Borderland, August 1, 2008 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

Syndicated Web Ratings - an Idea Whose Time has Come?
This is a good idea that comes up from time to time (I mention it in my Resource Profiles paper). I doubt that we could ever have a standardized rating system (there will never be global agreement on 'accuracy' or 'family-friendliness') but ratings metadata can be pretty simply encoded. Here is a simple pseudo-schema (similar in many ways to the hreview microformat) that would do the job:
- Item - item being rated (identified by URI)
- Scheme - rating scheme being used (eg., LDS family-friendliness scale)
- Field - field (eg. language use)
- Value - value (eg., 'mild profanity')
- Author - person doing the rating (identified by OpenID)
- Date - date reviewed Aggregating these provides you with a set of ratings on various resources. You can then assemble views (or 'profiles') of the resource, depending on what rating systems you use, what people you depend on for the ratings, etc. This is how we'll do it, eventually - it's just a matter of people collecting ratings and posting them as simple XML. But before then we'll have to go through the usual nonsense of proprietary schemes, walled-garden websites, etc. Larry Sanger, Citizendium Blog, August 1, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , , , ] [Comment]

Multiplayer Browser Based Mandarin Language Game
Wonder how games can be used to learn? Here is a practical example. John Larkin writes, "I am sure students of Mandarin around the world, both young and old will quite enjoy using this excellent language aid. There is a blog associated with the tool as well." John Larkin, Weblog, August 1, 2008 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Posterous Is a Brilliant Blogging Tool
Posterous allows you to post to your blog using email. It also performs some nifty feats, such as converting photos included as attachments into a photo gallery (here's an example). Redirecting email to an application remains one of those things that it is tricky to do on your own with your own server, so Postereous performs a useful service. (And I assume the beta version of the program was just pre Posterous). John Larkin, Weblog, August 1, 2008 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

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Copyright 2008 Stephen Downes

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