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by Stephen Downes
September 28, 2009

The Finnish Education System Rocks! Why?
Good post that summarizes Amran Noordin's excellent series comparing schooling in Singapore with that in Finland (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6) and analyzing the findings. Zaid writes: "Here are five reasons, why Finish people have been, and are successful:
- Quality education with equal opportunity
- High level of investments in R&D for technology development
- Good regulatory framework and efficient public service
- Open economy: competition has to prevail
- Social model: social market economy, welfare society."
It is worth noting, as I look at this list, that these are (for now) conditions that prevail to a certain degree in Canada as well. Zaid Ali Alsagoff, ZaidLearn, September 28, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

In praise of guides
I agree with all the good things that Doug Johnson has to say about guides. "Why does learning in school have to be so disagreeable to so many students and teachers when we all know learning itself can be about the most fun one can have under the right circumstances. Maybe a little more guiding and a little less 'teaching' might make even school a better place." Maybe so. But I note in passing that exactly the same actions undertaken by the guides, when on people who are not in the tour voluntarily, and have been forced to attend, is called kidnapping, and therein loses many of its charming properties. Doug Johnson, The Blue Skunk Blog, September 28, 2009 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Captain's Launch!
The Pirate Party of Canada is off to a nice start with a Creative Commons torrent tracker. They write, "Today [Sept. 25th] marks the launch of the PPCA's Creative Commons torrent tracker. We have launched this as a way way of showing the world that P2P technology can be used to benefit artists, and to show artists how to use it as a marketing tool. If Filesharing would be considered marketing by artists, then it would enable them quick, cheap and easy access to a global distribution network. The current distribution model is dead, the market must evolve." Via Michael Geist. Various Authors, Pirate Party of Canada, September 28, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

Learning 2.0 and Workplace Communities
I haven looked at Learning Circuits for a while; that's probably because they're the only publication in the world without an RSS feed. Ahem. Anyhow, I was referred to this item by Jane Hart, who highlights the three ways to to incorporate social media into their formal e-learning content: embedded model, wrapped model and community model (I was going to go with Hart's terms and highlight this post with the diagram, but there's a copyright stamp and no licensed sharing, so why bother?). David Wilkins, Learning Circuits, September 28, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment]

On value and valuation
Oh I so want to spend a day on this. If only I had a day. Buried inside the off-topic discussion of values and valuation is a reference to, and description of, the highly relevant RSS Cloud being developed by Dave Winer. In one sense, it is an extension of his long-touted 'river of news' idea; on the other, it's like the long awaited arrival of a distributed Twitter (something Twitter itself really ought to have built, long ago). Now the value of RSS Cloud may disappear with a puff when Google Wave hits in a few days, but I don't think it will. Doc Searls, Weblog, September 28, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

Aggressive Plan for State Data Systems
An emerging trend, at least in North America, is the state (or provincial) data system. Tony Bates writes, "The benefits and risks of such aggregated data are obvious. Benefits include being able to provide reliable statistics on college enrolments and student performance by ethnicity, geographical location and family income, accurate data on completion rates, analysing the relationship between student performance and investment in public education, and a host of other data that could be used for both political and institutional decision-making. The dangers though include privacy and security issues – who would have access to such data and for what purposes – the danger of political interference in institutions on the misinterpretation or distortion of data, etc." Tony Bates, e-learning & distance education resources, September 28, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

An Open Letter to the Learners of This Planet: A Postscript to The World Is Open
Continuing promotion of his new book, Curt Bonk posts a snippet from his postscript to The World is Open, listing learnewr rights and responsibilities. I know the 'rights and responsibilities' format is popular with some writers, but I don't get where 'responsibilities' come at you out of the ether and attach themselves to you. Responsibilities represent legal obligation, and these can be created only through law or contract. Now I agree, things like 'taking responsibility for our own learning' or 'testing and experimenting with new learning resources' are good things to do, but they are far from responsibilities, and should not be represented in the same breath, and with the same force, as one's rights. Curtis J. Bonk, TravelinEdMan, September 28, 2009 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

9 Common Principles for 21st Century Schools
The suggested principles are:
1. Build Community
2. Encourage Critical Thinking
3. Reward Risk Taking
4. Focus on all Learners
5. Value Diversity
6. Nurture all learners
7. Pursue Innovation
8. Teach Empathy
9. Break down the walls
The article describes each in a bit more detail. I think there's a lot to like about the list. Liz Davis wants to know what you think. Liz Davis, The Power of Educational Technology, September 28, 2009 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

We Need Evidence - But What If We Don't Like The Findings?
I think the point is well made, that we need to be attentive to the hard realities our research sometimes unveils. Should institutions be developing iPhone applications, for exmple? Applets for the Apple may make good press, but one questions their point when confronted with statistics like this: "MS Windows (93.51%), Apple Macintosh (5.05%), Linux (0.67%), iPhone (0.34%), Symbian (012%) and iPod (0.11%)" And what are we to say about the Linux and even Apple numbers? Brian Kelly asks, "And at a time when, if the predictions are correct, we may see a reduction in staffing levels, do these figures suggest that the time and effort in testing Web sites on the Linux platform may not be justified?" Brian Kelly, UK Web Focus, September 28, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment]

Additional Theses and Dissertations on Serious Games
Gary Woodill linked last week to a giant list of Canadian theses on serious games and learning. This represents something like a lifetime's worth of reading, of course. Of course, that's not enough, and so Woodill has found even more theses on the subject. Want to become an expert in something? Read these theses, read their references (or at least the ones they have in common), mess around with some of these games on your own, write some papers and create some products to test your ideas. Gary Woodill, Workplace Learning Today, September 28, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

In Support of Kevin Jennings
I don't know his policies or his qualifications, and so I won't speak to them, but I will say that being found to be gay or atheist are not grounds for dismissal from a public post, and those who assert that they are ought to be ashamed of themselves. Via Alexander Russo. More from Gawker. Claus von Zastrow, Public School Insights, September 28, 2009 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

Communique from an Absent Future
This is one of those documents that will be recalled and relinked over the years. "Like the society to which it has played the faithful servant," it begins, "the university is bankrupt. This bankruptcy is not only financial. It is the index of a more fundamental insolvency, one both political and economic, which has been a long time in the making." It's a pointless treadmill in preparation for a dystopian future. "We work and we borrow in order to work and to borrow. And the jobs we work toward are the jobs we already have." The Communique is set as part of the stage of the walk-out at California universities. "Though we denounce the privatization of the university and its authoritarian system of governance, we do not seek structural reforms. We demand not a free university but a free society." Sadly, the manifesto lends itself to parody, as it argues, "All of our actions must push us towards communization; that is, the reorganization of society according to a logic of free giving and receiving, and the immediate abolition of the wage, the value-form, compulsory labor, and exchange." Unattributed, we want everything, September 28, 2009 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

Princeton Students Pan the Kindle DX
Says one student, "I hate to sound like a Luddite, but this technology is a poor excuse of an academic tool. It's clunky, slow and a real pain to operate." Reading online is coming, and it will replace paper, but it has to have at least the functionality of paper. Related: Clark Alsdrich pleads with his readers, please don't read my book on Kindle. He writes, "I believe the most productive reader will open it up to random places and read an individual entry or two (yes, this is a great bathroom book!). They will bookmark or underline interesting thoughts. They will write questions for themselves, or note their own new ideas. Then they will back up to the start of a section." Dan Colman, Open Culture, September 28, 2009 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

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Copyright 2008 Stephen Downes

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