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by Stephen Downes
January 7, 2010

Ineffable Essence of Nothing
Dean Groom expands on 'bubblegum edupunk' by discussing "the ineffable essence of nothing." He writes, "The urban dictionary is tough on bubblegum music, saying 'many bands use this style to make their music because it so effectively goes right to the top of the charts and gets them money'... Those who lecture others about technology, but themselves are almost invisible online... For some teachers, trying the impossible means allowing students to communicate in a forum. For others it will means teaching English in World of Warcraft. For students, every day is real. They don't get to choose. This is punk-mindedness. Repeating something without going somewhere new, just to look like Buck Rogers? … bubblegum ... Wilma Darling, I'm home!" It's a bit scattered, but I think readers will get the point. Dean Groom, Design 4 Learning, January 7, 2010 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Another 1/4-baked idea - OER "virtual reference librarian"
Scott Leslie suggests "an 'Ask the OER Virtual Librarian' service to help faculty new to the idea of finding and reusing open resources get off to a start." the idea on its service has merit, but I fear that because it would be so labour-intensive it would be unsustainable. I would be happy to be wrong about this. Scott Leslie, edtechpost, January 7, 2010 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Journalism's Death Spiral--A Disaster for Learning? A Disaster for Democracy?
There are very few, if any, commercial media outlets that cover online learning as well as OLDaily. I am saying this not to self-promote or to blow my own horn, but to offer a counter to this item which asserts, essentially, that the 'part time media' of bloggers cannot compare to commercial media because (a) we don't have time to develop critical insights, (b) we don't have time to fact-check, and (c) we are biased. The fact is, if you look at traditional media, very few writers have the time to look at anything in depth. They get in, they get their story, and they get out. The newspaper or television station cannot devote resources to what they consider niche areas (like online learning) - heck, it's few newspapers or television stations today who have anyone that concentrates on Russia, or even Africa. What bloggers lack in time they make up for in their huge numbers and in their dedication to very specific topics. Reporters may report, but experts blog, and if they only do it part-time, that's because they spend the rest of their time being experts. Try finding a report who can do that! As for bias, well, that was pretty much invented by the traditional media, and they own the store on this one, with examples surfacing pretty much every day (today's examples are here and here). Will Thalheimer, Will at Work Learning, January 7, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

In Potential Blow to Open-Source Software, Mellon Foundation Closes Grant Program
The Chronicle announces a 'blow to open source software' in the closing of a Mellon Foundation grant program, thus perpetuating the myth that open source exists only because foundations like Mellon make it possible. Which is ridiculous, of course. Yes, it's true that their "Research in Information Technology program, or RIT, helped bankroll a catalog of freely available software that includes Sakai. But as Michael Feldstein notes, "Sakai has not received Mellon funding (to my knowledge) for a few years now and is not dependent on it." As with most open source projects, it's the community, and not the funder, that drives the project forward. Marc Parry, Chronicle of Higher Education, January 7, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

What's Really Going on in the Latest Openness Discussion?
A nice nuanced post from Chris Lott that ranges from suggesting George Siemens is a self-promoter to the idea that "it's better that people have a shallow understanding and misguided sense of purpose that stems from our deepening conception of what open education and open culture means than leaving it to the forces of the marketplace." Which seems right to me, though I think I also agree that there hasn't been a lot added to open education through all this discussion. Related: Martin Weller says it's delivery that matters most. And on the self-promotinbg front: if it wasn't Clay Shirky, would you care if someone asked how to create a college from scratch (even if they asked it on Twitter)? Chris Lott, Ruminate, January 7, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

14 Things We Can Learn from the BEST
I am glad Ellen Behrens finished her series on 'learning from the best' because I don't want to wait any longer to pass these along. Here they are: Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four. The premise is that we can learn from the award winners - in this caase the ASTD Awards. The presumption, of course, is that those who won the awards are in fact the best, which (if the history of awards in general is any guide) is unlikely. Still, she draws out some useful lessons, such as "making elearning content as modular and nugget-sized as possible," and "successful organizations integrate learning within all functions." Ellen Behrens, aLearning Blog, January 7, 2010 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Yahoo Further Bridges the Gap Between Internet and TV
Want to build your own online TV channel? The Yahoo TV Widget Developer Kit is for you then. "TV Widgets are already available for services like Amazon Video On Demand, Pandora and CBS, plus social sites like Facebook and Twitter. Yahoo is also announcing recently signed partnerships with a ton of big-name content providers." Christina Warren, Mashable, January 7, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

L&D still stuck in the course paradigm - how can we change things?
Clark: "Kirkpatrick has held back training for 50 years with it's over-worked, often irrelevant, statistically flawed behaviourist approach to evaluation." Can't say I disagree. This quote appears at the tail end of a somewhat disjointed conversation on the ASTD report described here yesterday. Jane Hart, Jane's E-Learning Pick of the Day, January 7, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Critical Readings
Doug Noon writes about The Public School, which is "a school with no curriculum." He adds, "Someone proposes a class, and when enough interest builds, a teacher is found to teach whoever signed up." Supporting the school is a great online library, "AAAARG is a conversation platform - at different times it performs as a school, or a reading group, or a journal." In the library, Noon fiends a work by Freire, The Act of Study. Noon writes, "Freire recommended that we become "subjects of the act" and attempt to recreate the text for ourselves. He saw critical reading as the expression of an attitude toward the world, and not just a relationship to a book or an article. 'To study,' he said, 'is not to consume ideas, but to create and to re-create them.'" This is exactly what I did as a student, and is core to the pedagogy I recommend today. Doug Noon, Borderland, January 7, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Flash video (including YouTube) freezes in firefox
Does your Flash video (like YouTube) freeze every few seconds when you play it in Firefox? After some searching, this page is the best discussion I have found on the subject. For me, it appears that disabling Java does the trick, and now my YouTube videos are playing properly. Various Authors, Mozilla Forum, January 7, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

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