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by Stephen Downes
December 8, 2009

Parc Guell

I'm home from Barcelona and catching up on things (including 698 unread RSS posts in the edublogs section alone). This photo is from Parc Guell, which I visited December 2. Here's the slideshow version. Stephen Downes, Flickr, December 8, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Google Goggles: Why Didn't I Think of That?
"The product looks to be a huge leap forward in the field of visual search - by which I mean, you point a camera at something and Google figures out what it is." In fact, a lot of people did think of that (including, for example, ShopSavvy), but these days, Google can release half-developed applications with usability issues and uncertain futures to widespread publicity and acclaim. Karl Fisch, The Fischbowl, December 8, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

The PhilPapers Surveys
Ever wonder what actual philosophers (and me) think about philosophical issues? This item posts the results of a survey of 3226 respondents, including 1803 philosophy faculty members and/or PhDs and 829 philosophy graduate students. The results are fascinating, though it is to my dismay I sometimes find my answer in the group of 2.9 percent of respondents. I guess I would have preferred a more international sample, and a wider representation of tradition (the respondents were overwhelmingly from the analytic tradition). No doubt future surveys, with a wider sample group, will be equally fascinating. David Bourget and David Chalmers, PhilPapers, December 8, 2009 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

Eyes shaded, we walk out of the factory – there is no more button to push
Dave Cormier gets it right and wrong at the same time. He concludes, "This is my rant against digital literacies. The literacies that we need are not digital. THEY ARE HUMAN. We need to be responsible to the products of hands… even if they are typed through a keyboard. The digital may have given us an opportunity to band together, but the banding is not about technology, it's about us raising a very old standard." And, of course, this is exactly right. But the digital takes us beyond (what used to be) the merely human. As Chris says (in the excellent comment thread that follows the post) "almost no one who talks about 'digital literacy' is actually talking strictly about the digital. Everyone is muddling around in a misty and complex confusion of cognition, linguistics, creative and critical acts." Which is what I'm trying to get at with the 'speaking in LOLCats' model. Dave Cormier, Dave's Educational Blog, December 8, 2009 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

How to Fix Education - the Greatest National Security Crisis
Honestly, I think the only way to fix education is to address the basis of society itself, because the educational system is, and must be, reflective of the society that creates it. And society, in order to support a robust educational system, must be based on reason and inference, not belief. Because with belief, you need only remember what you believe, and there is not need nor method to learn more than your predecessors, and achievement gradually declines, year after year. But in a society based on reason and inference, education is viewed only as a starting point; students are expected to learn for themselves and eventually surpass their teachers. And that is a society in which achievement gradually grows, year after year. There is no other way to do it; you cannot "improve education" where there is no desire to foster a nation of free-thinking, rebellious, visionary youth.

That said, Harvard University has announced its intention to create a generation of educational leaders by offering a new doctoral degree focused on leadership in education. The three-year course will be tuition-free and offered to 25 students. It's hard to measure the amount of hubris required for Harvard to believe that it can create "a new generation of educational leaders" simply by offering this degree. The idea that leadership is entrenched in an elite, and that the rest of us need only follow, forms the core tenet of societies based on belief, and is the source, not the cure, of the rot and decay that is undermining the system from within. (Barack Obama effectively tapped into this, running a campaign based on 'belief' and 'hope' - but the success of his presidency will hinge on whether he can, in his eight years, transform the polity into one based on his own greatest strengths, discussion and dialogue). Mike Smith,, December 8, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

10 Legal Online Sources To Download Free Christmas Music
Just so you know, I don't celebrate Christmas (or any of the other winter Solstice holidays). It's no big deal; I just don't, and I'm happy for people who do to do whatever they want. But I will say, the repetition of Christmas music gets to me - it's the same music year after year. And it seems to me that, despite the obvious commercialization, marketers have really missed an opportunity here. Because sales, like fashion, depend on change. Each Christmas should be different. One year it should be Brazilian themed, the next year a German-flavoured Christmas, the year after Christmas of the Himalayas. New songs, new decorations, new clothing, every year. It would be great (for marketers)! Tina, MakeUseOf, December 8, 2009 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

eLearning Packages: Xerte
Review of an open source e-learning authoring package called Xerte. It doesn't do a lot - just basic reading and quizzes. It is also, according to the review, a bit tricky to install (mostly because it requires the installation of XAMPP to simulate the web server environment it would normally run on). David Hopkins, eLearning Blog // Don't Waste Your Time, December 8, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Views sought on ISO Metadata for Learning Resources
Though to my mind much of the field has moved on, efforts to standardize learning object metadata continue. Sarah Currier writes, in an email, "The DC-Education Application Profile Task Group has been working with the ISO-MLR group who are developing Part 5 of the proposed new ISO standard for Metadata for Learning Resources." Resources available include the ISO MLR-5 development wiki, and a copy of the draft text (as Liddy Nevile says, "ISO docs are not published until they are finished and then, for some there is a charge. We are trying to get ISO to publish these docs for education for free but have not got that agreement (yet)"). A web conference is scheduled for the 15th. Phil Barker, Phil's JISC CETIS blog, December 8, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment]

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Copyright 2008 Stephen Downes

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