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by Stephen Downes
September 3, 2009

The Secret Recipe to Delivering World Class Lectures

Nice post on how to create quality lectures. Zaid Ali Alsagoff, ZaidLearn, September 3, 2009 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Criticisms of Lakoff's Theory of Metaphor
Nice list of books by George Lakoff, which I recommend (sadly, they're not available online or anything useful like that). This item focuses on the criticisms. For example, "Pinker agrees that metaphor is important, but he believes that abstraction is more important. He claims that abstraction captures the similarities and differences that are the basis of metaphor." That is, in my view, the nib of the debate. People who think similarity and metaphor are important (not the least because that's how the brain actually works) think that abstractions and universals are much less important. Peter Turney, Apperceptual, September 3, 2009 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Standards-Based Report Cards Replace Letter Grades
This is interesting. Letter grades are a bit like language - they try to make a point but they're far too blunt an instrument for the job. Standards-based reports may be a step forward - but there's a caveat: "Standards-based clarity is a good thing. Standards-based clarity about too many standards is a contradiction in terms." Shortish article, then a plug for a book... *sigh* Unattributed, ASCD, September 3, 2009 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Snow Leopard: the Ars Technica review
Unlike the leap into 32 bit computing, which old geeks will remember as the wrenching (and exciting) upgrade to Windows 95, we are entering the world of 64 bit computing much more gradually. This is just one bit of a wonderfully detailed Ars Technica examination of Apple's new Snow leopard operating system, the one that was launched with "zero new features" (but many changes inside). Really really recommended reading if you're into Apple (or just good tight technical writing). John Siracusa, Ars Technical, September 3, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

Microsoft pushes for single global patent system
Sure, fine, have a global patent system. But create a system that sharply limits what can be patented and which leaves ample room for derivation, reverse-engineering, which does not permit business model and software patents, and which works in the interest of the consumer as much as the patent owner. [*poof!* dreamland over. They'd never create such a patent system. To date, 'globalization' has stood for nothing more than internationally mandated corporate greed, as instantiated by non-democratic processes such as WTO and WIPO). Ah well. It was nice to wish...] Andrew Donoghue, CNet, September 3, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment]

What Doomed Global Campus?
Another story of a failed online education initiative. "Stop trying to be a second rate University of Phoenix or Capella or Walden," argues George Siemens, explaining the failure. "Faculty," he writes, "were marginalized as the university sought to duplicate for-profit models." But I wonder whether it wasn't just increased cost and "increasing competition for online students, which pitted Global Campus against dozens of low-cost, Web-based operations as it sought to grow enrollment and recoup its initial investment." The traditional university model - which Siemens appears to defend - is too rich for the online world." Professor Nicholas C. Burbules, says, "I think most faculty were just not interested in giving up their course content to be 'delivered' by adjuncts with whom they might have little to no contact... You can't divorce the syllabus from the delivery." Maybe not, but i not, then you create an educational system most people can't afford.

Steve Kolowich, Inside Higher Ed, September 3, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

James D. Wallace, Norms and Practices
I would not norammly link to a work on ethics, because I normally have very little time for the field (it bearing as it does for me a striking resemblance to fiction). This work stands as an exception, offering as it does an approach to ethics strikingly similar to my own understanding of the nature of science and forms of knowledge in general. "the view Wallace wants to develop and defend, and which I will call the "social artifact thesis" (SAT), is that ethical norms are nothing more than social artifacts and, indeed, he calls such norms "psychosocial in character" -- ethical norms are constituted by people's dispositions, beliefs, and tendencies." Now this needs a lot of cashing out, of course, but the main point, for me, is that the body of linguistic artifacts that we take to be ethics (or science, or knowledge) - rules, principles, propositions, statements - are misrepresentations of actual knowledge, actual practice. Reviewed by Daniel Groll, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews, September 3, 2009 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

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Copyright 2008 Stephen Downes

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