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by Stephen Downes
October 21, 2009

WatchKnow launches!
Larry Sanger's new project. From the announcement: "The new site makes educational videos for kids ridiculously easy to find. We are launching with over 10,000 videos placed in over 2,000 categories, arranged in a very handy directory. The site is a new kind of wiki: working together, contributors can edit video information, and they can also edit the directory by drag and drop, which will make building the resource truly 'wikiwiki' - fast. While the project is wide open and easy to get involved with (even anonymously), the project engages teachers to act as community moderators." Larry Sanger, Citizendium Blog, October 21, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

Children Largely Surf the Web Unsupervised.
OK, there are a couple ways of looking at this. First, the astonishing headline news: "just under half of the parents have implemented internet filtering or parental controls, leaving nearly 60% of youngsters in the 12-15 age group to use the internet unsupervised... one in six users aged 5-7 are also mostly left to use the internet unsupervised as well." OK, if these numbers reflect anything like similar trends over the last decade or so, shouldn't we have seen by now a wave of injury and trauma? I mean, if this sort of situation is dangerous, shouldn't we be seeing casualties by now? If 60 percent of children ran through red lights, we'd be hearing about it. So, given these statistics, what is the case for Internet Safety, properly so-called?

It brings to mind a case from Halifax last night. In what must be a case of Worst. Babysitting. Ever. a naked three-year old child was found wandering up the on-ramp to a major bridge leading over the harbour. A person, when interviewed, expressed shock and said, "he could have been kidnapped or something." And I'm sitting there and thinking, your child is walking outside naked in late October on a major road leading over a bridge, and your perception of the risk is that he might be kidnapped? I think a lot of 'Internet Safety' falls into this category. Children face risks, sure, but they are at much greater risk from more immediate threats than from unspecified danger posed by the internet. Thomas J. Hanson, Open Education, October 21, 2009 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Technologically Externalized Knowledge and Learning
So here are four precepts. Do they define what we know about learning?
1. The learning needed can be defined
2. Control is needed to achieve required learning
3. Students at similar stages need similar learning
4. Coherence and structure needed for learning
Or are they, as George Siemens suggests, exactly what we should not be doing. And should we instead be thinking of learning as something externalized? As something we can interface with, through (say) a TEKL device? Related: Connectivism, a theory of personal learning, by me. George Siemens, Connectivism Blog, October 21, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Nook Officially Emerges to Take on Kindle
The Nook, from Barnes and Noble, looks like a credible answer to Amazon's Kindle. It stores PDFs, it supports the open ePub standard, it allows people to trade books, and it has WiFi. But - the 'lend-me' feature only works for two week, the WiFi only works in Barnes and Noble stores. We're seeing more and more e-book readers. Eventually one will hit the same magic formula the iPod did - allow people to load material in common formats directly off their own computers, effectively allowing them to create and share their own content. More from Technology Review, CNN, Richard Nantel, Doug McLean. Barb Dybwad, Mashable, October 21, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment]

Reshaping Learning from the Ground Up
When I was younger I read Alvin Toffler - Future Shock and especially The Third Wave - carefully and closely. So this interview with him on the future of schooling catches my eye. "So, let's sit down as a culture," he says, "and say, "Teachers, parents, people outside, how do we completely rethink this? We're going to create a new system from ground zero, and what new ideas have you got?" And collect those new ideas. That would be a very healthy thing for the country to do." More from Derek Wenmoth. James Daly, Edutopia, October 21, 2009 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Summary of Cloud Intelligence Symposium
This is a really nice summary of the Cloud Intelligence Symposium I contributed to in Linz, Austria. "We saw a healthy range of opinions regarding whether or not cloud-based tools lead to effective offline activism and social progress, or simply distract us while authoritarian powers retain their control." The summary isn't too long, is comprehensive, and is certainly worth a read. David Sasaki, Cloud Intelligence, October 21, 2009 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

Report on the Standardized Description of Instructional Models
Thanks to Guillaume, who sent me this link by email. This is a very interesting report summarizing the Icoper project on the standardized description of instructional models. The core of the description revolves around the teaching method, "a learning outcome oriented set of activities to be performed by learners and learning supporters," and a unit of learning, "a contextualized, complete, self contained unit of education or training that consists of a teaching method and associated content." There's much much more in this document, which is required reading for anyone working in this area. Michael Derntl, Susanne Neumann and Petra Oberhuemer, eContentplus, October 21, 2009 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Very Convincing Deceitful Web Pages that Install Spyware: Teachers, You Gotta Use your Noggin
Wow, this is nasty. Why don't governments focus on such obvious fraud - I mean, it's a web page, we know where it is and who is serving it - rather than on vague issues involving the fringes of copyright protection? In the meantime - yeah, use common sense. If you don't know what it it, don't click 'yes'. Vicki A. Davis, Cool Cat Teacher Blog, October 21, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

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Copyright 2008 Stephen Downes

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