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by Stephen Downes
January 8, 2009

21st Century Skills
The term '21st Century skills' is now a bit dated and over-used, but the concept is not (see Michael Wesch, below). John Connell talks about a few of these skills he finds important. Now, I may be offering an online course in critical thinking sometime soon - I'm talking about it with people. I would teach it connectivist style, with some enhancements. And I'd look at the concept in detail. Any thoughts you may have would be appreciated. John Connell, Weblog, January 8, 2009 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

From Knowledgable to Knowledge-Able: Learning in New Media Environments
Michael Wesch, in this article for Academic Commons, has a nice turn of phrase: "As we increasingly move toward an environment of instant and infinite information, it becomes less important for students to know, memorize, or recall information, and more important for them to be able to find, sort, analyze, share, discuss, critique, and create information. They need to move from being simply knowledgeable to being knowledge-able." Michael Wesch, Academic Commons, January 8, 2009 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

The Future of ePortfolio Roundtable
Panel discussion on the major issues in e-portfolios today. The discussion turned wuickly to assessment, highlighting the tension between mounting a portfolio for personal development and mounting a portfolio to satiusfy institutional needs. Which led to some odd comments, like this: "I don't see institutional assessment as separate from student self-assessment." What now? Participants also looked (very briefly) at building a sustained institutional community. They looked at the idea of e-portfolios for a while, then lifelong learning (for a couple of paragraphs) and then it was back to counting and accountability. Overall, a good discussion: topical and current. Bret Eynon, Academic Commons, January 8, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Trackforward - Following the Consequences with N'Th Order Trackbacks
Neat little demonstration of an idea - use Google and other gizmos to track links of a starting post - both backward and forward in time - and create an RSS feed out of the results. "By using this sort of algorithm to generate an RSS feed of links, it becomes possible to subscribe to a feed that will keep you updated of all the downstream posts." Tony Hirst, OUseful Info, January 8, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Breaking News: OLPC Just Got Gutted
We may hear about One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) from time to time in the future, but the initiative has now been pretty much shuttered. The gory details? "50 percent cut in staff & pay cuts for the remaining staff... A shift to Middle East, Afghanistan and Northwestern Pakistan... Sugar to be spun off... Latin America and Africa to be spun off." What, OLPC is now a part of the War on Terror? Here's Negroponte's announcement. And Yama Ploskonka says, "This is an unparalleled opportunity to get rid of the extra baggage." Yow. More from Techdirt. Wayan Vota, One Laptop Per Child News, January 8, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

The School Poverty Gambit
We're seeing more school cuts in the U.S. (it is actually getting pretty ugly) and we see the new right saying that this is a good thing. And now I find myself agreeing with Kevin Carey: "Investors and shareholders are being forced to take a haircut because the greedy, incompetent companies they own drove themselves into bankruptcy. Teachers are supposed to take a haircut because--just because?" Cutting funding to education will not make it better. "In reality, the most likely consequence of massive school budget cuts--besides taking a lot of money out of the hands of middle-class workers who will respond by reducing consumption and driving us further into a Depression--is to cause everyone to hunker down in survival mode and make school reform harder." Kevin Carey, The Quick and the Ed, January 8, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

College 2.0: A Wired Way to Rate Professors-and to Connect Teachers
This article in the Chronicle tries to suggest that 'the most wired professor' on campus is the person who has 'the most hits on the campus Blackboard system'. Leaving aside the question of whether the administration should be tracking its professors' activities at that level, we are still left with the reaction: what? Hits on Blackboard makes someone 'wired'? What is this, 1999? The 'most wired' professor on any campus will use a wide variety of applications, some of which (like their Second Life sessions) don't even show up as web 'hits'. Jeffrey R. Young, Chronicle of Higher Education, January 8, 2009 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Progress Is Continuous by Nature
Daniel Lemire's observations are consistent with what I have seen in the study of philosophy. Even the most stunning achievements of people like Descartes and Kant are stunningly small when observed in the context of existing thought at the time (which was actually very comforting to me). As Lemire says, "apparent jumps forward are social effects. If you ever become part of history as an innovator, it will not be because of your superior ideas, but because you were at the center of a social phenomenon. Be humble." Daniel Lemire, Weblog, January 8, 2009 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

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Copyright 2008 Stephen Downes

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