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by Stephen Downes
January 4, 2010

In Case You Missed It...
The Personal Learning Enthronement survey is still open, for those who want to have their say.

Thanks to all those who have already responded to the Personal Learning Environment survey. For those who missed it, we are keeping the survey open for another week to allow those who were on vacation a chance to take part.

The survey is here:

Rethinking Education as the Practice of Freedom: Paulo Freire and the Promise of Critical Pedagogy
An analysis and exegesis of Paulo Freire, by someone who knew him. "At a time when education has become one of the official sites of conformity, disempowerment and uncompromising modes of punishment, the legacy of Paulo Freire's work is more important than ever before." Henry A. Giroux, Truthout, January 4, 2010 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment] [Tweet]

The End of Techno-Critique: The Naked Truth about 1:1 Laptop Initiatives and Educational Change
The 'Naked Truth' about innovation is that if you just keep doing the same thing, nothing changes. Thus you get, not only in 1:1 computer initiatives, but in pretty much every effort to reform education, a null result. "A more likely cause [of "many attempts at improvement but few effects"] is the autonomous, idiosyncratic, non-collaborative, and non-differentiated teaching practices that largely remain uninformed by research about what it takes to significantly improve student learning and achievement." Good article about efforts to implement technology and what would constitute a genuine trial of new tools and methods. More from the current issue of JTLA. Mark E. Weston and Alan Bain, The Journal of Technology, Learning, and Assessment, January 4, 2010 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Everyone a Re-Publisher
Sure, everyone can aggregate feeds now - but is it the aggregation you want, or the commentary? What I found, when I referred people to Edu_RSS during my hiatus of 2006, is that people weren't very happy with it. Some (well, Harold Jarche) even called it 'sterile'. If it's just another headline reader, who cares? (Similarly, if you're reading this newsletter just for the links, you're using the wrong technology - get a Twitter account and start following people, opr build an aggregator like this one; your best reason for reading OLDaily should be the value-add - the seeking of trends, the finding of contexts, the analysis of opinion (hopefully more considered than 140 character snark)). Ian Delaney, twopointouch, January 4, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Questioning Pedagogy
Thinking ahead to an upcoming talk, I wonder aloud about the nature of pedagogy in online learning. "My view on learning, more generally, and without respect to the subject-specific exceptions we call domain learning, is centered around richness and diversity of the learning experience. I am interested in the sorts of experiences that will manifest themselves in useful dispositions (or habits of mind) across a wide spectrum of disciplines, where these dispositions are not taught as content, but rather, acquired as habits, through repeated exercise in increasingly challenging environments." Stephen Downes, Half an Hour, January 4, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Narrowing the distance: using e-learner support to enhance the student experience
There is an important role for e-support within an overall learner support strategy, argue the authors of this paper. But because of the complexity of the problem, a comprehensive model cannot yet be offered, not even with the experience of the Open University's endeavours in the area to draw upon. "There is still much to learn about the range of media and tools available and how to use them to best affect." Moreover, I would add, these tools are under continual development and improvement, which in turn impacts what we could say about their use. More from the current issue of EURODL. Patrick Kelly and Charlotte Stevens, European Journal of Open, Distance and E-Learning, January 4, 2010 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment] [Tweet]

OER and Pragmatism through the Overton Window
Mike Caulfield interprets Siemens's article on OERs as an attempt to extend the Overton window. What's that, you ask? It's basically the 'middle ground' - that area of action and policy that is politically tenable. "To enlarge or shift the window of possibilities you do not want to argue forcefully for things already in the window of possibility - you want to argue for things outside the window, things that are too radical for the moment." One of the major effects is discourse is the capacity - and the responsibility - to take principled stands on issues, thereby extending the reach of that principle into the realm of what counts as possible. A point of view that is always accommodating will find itself losing, over time, to one that is not always so. More on the debate from Graham Attwell. Mike Caulfield, Tran|script, January 4, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Willingham: Why doesn't reading more make us better readers?
More fiction from Daniel Willingham as he says the reading we do online is too lightweight. "More than ever, we are surrounded by printed words. We read text messages. We read web pages. We read instructions and information on computer games. But if we're reading more, why is literacy dropping? ... The number of words read from conventional print sources (books, newspapers, magazines) has plummeted." Questions, questions. Like: if reading scores have been 'flat', as he says, why then assert that literacy is dropping? Also, how does he know online reading is more lightweight? More: how does he know print media has not become more lightweight? Plus, the usual business asserting that 'reading is not a skill'. Fiction. Via Joanne Jacobs, who uncritically passes this stuff along. Daniel Willingham, Washington Post, January 4, 2010 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment] [Tweet]

The Use of Fuzzy Theory in Grading of Students in Math
I guess the best place to use fuzzy math in grading would be in a math class. According to the author, the system that does the grading "is a very dynamic model, since it follows the student through everyday activities, grades and evaluates their knowledge partially and as a whole, which makes the traditional, 'on the schedule', and "with fixed dates for tests" way of grading obsolete." More on grading from the current issue of the Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education. Momcilo Bjelica and Dragica Rancovic, Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education, January 4, 2010 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment] [Tweet]

iPhone, iTouch, iTunes, iNewsagent, iNfinity?
What happens in news media is a microcosm os what happens in the wider content industry. So argues Derek Morrison as he examines the use of e-readers, and in particular the iPhone and iPod touch, to read newspapers. While the experience is passable, media companies will need to focus on value and access. A common format (an MP3 of newsreaders) would be nice, as well as an open platform (a PC of newsreaders). "A digital download of a newspaper, magazine, book, journal, audio or video content needs, therefore, to be fast, easy and reasonably (not premium) priced." Related: Ben Werdmuller on the death of newspapers. Derek Morrison, Auricle, January 4, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

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Copyright 2008 Stephen Downes

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