by Stephen Downes
December 8, 2008
Education for the 21st Century: Balancing Content Knowledge with Skills
I wish I had the complete picture of where Daniel Willingham wants to go with his theorizing (he is widely cited in the right-wing edublogosphere). It would help me understand why he makes asserts about knowledge and learning that are, on the face of them, false.
Such as: "Shallow understanding requires knowing some facts. Deep understanding requires knowing the facts AND knowing how they fit together, seeing the whole." I struggle to think of definitions of 'deep' and 'shallow' that are not circular here, and I have no hope of comprehending what he means by 'fit together'. But by any common understanding of 'deep' people typically mean something like 'abstract principles independent of particular facts.
And such as: "And skills like 'analysis' and 'critical thinking' are tied to content; you analyze history differently than you analyze literature, a point I've emphasized here." Willingham has a unique understanding of 'analysis' and 'critical thinking'. Because, from where I sit, a proposition is a proposition, whether expressed in history or literature, and modus ponens still holds among such propositions no matter where they're expressed. Daniel Willingham, Britannica Blog, December 8, 2008 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]
Getting OpenID Into the Browser
When OpenID launched I criticized it because (unlike my own mIDm) it did not put the ID in the browser (even though there was a ridiculously simple way to do it). Now, four years later, some people are finally talking about that - it may really get done this time (it just has to be 'invented' by some US-based corporation first). See also: The single sign-on war will ruin OpenID. David Recordon, O'Reilly Radar, December 8, 2008 [Link] [Tags: OpenID] [Comment]
Ten Ways the World Could End
A little fun for Monday: CBC's Quirks and Quarks examines ten ways the world could end. Link, correct to fix the errors, from TED. Interestingly, the report does not include my number one candidate for the end of the world: the creation of Venus-like atmospheric conditions as a result of global warming. The way things are at the moment, I think this has a good chance of actually happening in a hundred years or so - we will be reduced to living in domes. Various Authors, CBC, December 8, 2008 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]
Online Video Sites Harming Themselves With Geographic Restrictions
When people use video applications like Hulu, I send them email asking them to use something else, because Hulu clings to the idea that it's good business to serve video in one location while sending a big black error message to people in another location. In this era of global commerce and global trade, it has always galled me that there continue to be mobility restrictions (not to mention residency restrictions) - globalization is for everyone but the people, it seems. One day we will have true freedom of mobility; it the meantime, providers will have to learn to serve people equally, no matter where they live - or risk being set upon as hostile by those they serve nothing but big black error messages. Michael Masnick, TechDirt, December 8, 2008 [Link] [Tags: Video] [Comment]
World Without Walls: Learning Well with Others
"Welcome to the Collaboration Age," writes Will Richardson, "where even the youngest among us are on the Web, tapping into what are without question some of the most transformative connecting technologies the world has ever seen." By collaborating, students greatly increase their capacity to learn online. But this brings with it an increased need for communications and critical thinking skills. Richardson explores - briefly - the "opportunity cost" of online interaction. "We must also be adept at negotiating, planning, and nurturing the conversation with others we may know little about." Will Richardson, Edutopia, December 8, 2008 [Link] [Tags: Interaction] [Comment]
An Interview with Terry Anderson: Open Education Resources
This is a two part blog post (Part One, Part Two). A fairly standard overview, with Anderson identifying two major reasons why we haven't seen more use of OER in learning (the problem of credentialing, the problem of social motivation). It may be worth someone mailing the author about existing wiki initiatives in open educational content. , , December 8, 2008 [Link] [Tags: Open Educational Resources, Open Content, Web Logs] [Comment]
OU Podcasts Site Goes Live
The Open University had prebviously made podcasts available through iTunes, but this had the disadvantage of requiring iTunes. The new site has no such requirement. Tony Hirst describes and reviews the site. Tony Hirsy, OUseful Info, December 8, 2008 [Link] [Tags: Podcasting] [Comment]
Subjects Torn Up in School Review
There will no doubt be criticism (the political campaign has already started) but I welcome the initiative, as it (finally) moves beyond outdated and constricting subject categories. "His interim review suggests that there could be six broader "areas of learning", rather than up to 14 individual subjects, such as history, geography and science. These six areas would be: understanding English, communication and languages; mathematical understanding; scientific and technological understanding; human, social and environmental understanding; understanding physical health and well-being; understanding the arts and design." Sound familiar? Unattributed, BBC News, December 8, 2008 [Link] [Tags: Schools, Ontologies] [Comment]
EEGs Show Brain Differences Between Poor and Rich Kids
"Kids from lower socioeconomic levels show brain physiology patterns similar to someone who actually had damage in the frontal lobe as an adult," said Robert Knight, director of the institute and a UC Berkeley professor of psychology. "This is a wake-up call," Knight said. "It's not just that these kids are poor and more likely to have health problems, but they might actually not be getting full brain development from the stressful and relatively impoverished environment associated with low socioeconomic status: fewer books, less reading, fewer games, fewer visits to museums." While there is some discussion of ways to redress the injury, my own thinking is more in line with Gawker: address the poverty. See also Open Education. Robert Sanders, UC Berkeley News, December 8, 2008 [Link] [Tags: Research] [Comment]
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