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by Stephen Downes
January 29, 2009

Re: Free the Facts!
Dave Gray wrote recently regarding my criticism of his use of Popper to defend open access. We are agreed, I think, that we need not rely on Popper's analysis to make the case. But he poses the question, what is the "current or more valid answer to the question 'What is a scientific fact?' that would supersede or replace Popper's." Scientists, I would say, don't use the language of 'facts'. Talk to a scientist, and you will hear statements about data and generalizations, theory and evidence. Research and discovery, meanwhile, does not consist of striking insights and critical experiments, but is rather a community practice of dialogue and interplay. Nothing is conclusively proven or refuted, but rather, a consensus slowly emerges out of a welter of studies and papers, a consensus not only on the nature of theory and the nature of the world, but also of the language we use and the criteria we accept for proof and evidence. The vocabulary - the words used - by the scientific community in the process of this endeavour consists of scientific papers, conference presentations, email and discussion posts, and the rest. These words (rather than 'facts') are what must be open: to close them under a cloak of copyright and access management is to mute the scientific community, to silence the very instrument we use to create and discover and innovate. This link is an unfortunately brief account (there seems to be very little on the subject online; the Wikipedia article is terrible) but has an excellent bibliography. Dave Gray, Stephen's Web, January 29, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

It's getting hard to keep track of all these sites without a program. Cameron Parkins writes, "Clivir, a learning community site that allows users to post lessons of any and all types, just added support for CC licensing." Cameron Parkins, Creative Commons Blog, January 29, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

An Open Letter to the Fraser Institute
The first sentence of this article may take you aback. But I don't disagree with the sentiment expressed. I have watched the Fraser Institute - and its cohorts, the C.D. Howe Institute and the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies. Though dutifully cited in the press as though they were research organizations, these institutes are well-funded political lobbyists. It is one of the first and deepest failures of the traditional press that it perpetuates this misrepresentation and allows them to promote as authoritative and evident the failed policies that have led us into the recession we now face. Dave Truss, Pair-a-dimes for Your Thoughts, January 29, 2009 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

New Certificate in Emerging Technologies for Learning
Tony Bates highlights a certificate program I am somewhat affiliated with: "The University of Manitoba's Learning Technologies Centre and the Division of Extended Education are pleased to announce an exciting new Interdisciplinary Certificate in Emerging Technologies for Learning. This 216 hour online certificate program explores the changing landscape of technology, information, communication, fostering discussion on how these trends impact learning and teaching." You'll recognize the connectivism course in the mix. Tony Bates, E-Learning and Distance Education, January 29, 2009 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Teachers Who Share
Dean Shareski find a long list of teachers who share online, and shares it. He writes, "This group of teachers includes a few that in their last year of teaching, some in huge high schools, in small rural schools, some teaching in Indian reserves, some Kindergarten teachers and some senior classes. The one thing they have in common is that their classrooms are open to the world. What would our schools be like if every classroom operated this way?" Dean Shareski, Ideas and thoughts from an EdTech, January 29, 2009 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Learning Formats 2020
Slide show taking input from a number of pundits (myself included) and projecting trends for 2020. It's easier to read on the slideshare site (it's bigger). It's fast-paced and probably review for most readers, but I think a relatively accurate description of the years ahead (insofar as any such description can be 'accurate'). Geetha Krishnan, Simply Speaking, January 29, 2009 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

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Copyright 2008 Stephen Downes

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