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by Stephen Downes
January 21, 2010

Assessing the Business Case for Standards: An introduction for strategy planning and resourcing committees
Seven key roles can be identified when making the business case for technology standards.
- reduced re-keying (the entry of the same information twice)
- reduced maintenance (as compared to ad-hoc system integration)
- data is easier and cheaper to migrate
- avoidance of supplier lock-in
- easier development paths
- a neutral territory for multilateral business relationships
- shared services
Adam Cooper and Wilbert Kraan, JISC, January 21, 2010 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment] [Tweet]

Kaltura Releases Open Source Video Extension for Moodle
Kaltura, an open source video hosting and management site, now has a Moodle extension. This adds to a list of other extensions to open source platforms, such as Joomla, Drupal, WordPress, Mediawiki and Rails. "In its most basic form, the extension allows Teachers and Admins to easily add and edit video content to their courses, create synchronized playback of a video and document with Kaltura's Video-PowerPoint Widget and allow students to submit videos to assignments." Press Release, Kaltura, January 21, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Debate about Roger Schank's Prediction for 2010
Discussion of Roger Schank's prediction of the demise of the mobile phone for learning in 2010. He writes, "E-learning will not happen, at least not seriously, on mobile phones. Why not? Because it takes time to learn something." He argues that "staring at mobile phone for an hour makes my eyes hurt." There's that, but I would add, on a mobile phone, time is money - sometimes big money. I think he is essentially right, but let me add some subtext and subtlty to the discussion. Learning is often done through reading and creating, which are typically done on large surfaces in a stationary environment. Narrowing our focus and trying to work on a phone-sized screen will not likely ever be as effective. But for audio and even video, a device like the iPod Touch works really well. Learning can be supported through audio and video, which means the phone can play a role. But this role is limited in two major ways: first, it's mostly passive, as we watch or listen; and second, it's slower, because audio and video are linear and flow at a static rate (though I really like the 'speed-up feature' on the Touch). Lisa Neal Gualtieri, eLearn Magazine, January 21, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Learning Styles: Move along, nothing going on here
Janet Clarey revisits some of the literature arguing against the use of learning style testing. Additionally, she links to Peter Smith, who repeats the dictum that comntent should determine the method of study. "For example, the Chronicle of Higher Education describes how learning about the structure of molecules is better for most students (independent of learning styles) by building ball-and-stick models." The paper behind this recent spate of commentary is blocked behind a paywall, preventing an effective assessment of the research.

There is a detailed abstract, however, which reiterates that "any credible validation of learning-styles-based instruction requires robust documentation of a very particular type of experimental finding." It is here, of course, where the real work is being done - the experimental results are an afterthought, an unsurprising consequence of a very specific procedure intended to produced them. If your idea of education is to blast content and students and then have them repeat it back to you, then yeah, learning styles won't make much of a difference. But education and learning are rather more subtle, and we should resist demands for blunt-instrument types of validation.
Janet Clarey, Workplace Learning Today, January 21, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

The Year of the Slate?
So - will it be called the Slate? That's where Chris Clark puts his money. I made my prediction twelve years ago, calling it the PAD (for 'Personal Access Device'). There's still an outside chance (it could be an iPad, maybe) that my projected name will be accurate. I will point out, in terms of specifications, I was pretty much dead on. Chris Clark, Learning Technology Lab, January 21, 2010 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment] [Tweet]

My (non) definition of "educational technology"
I like D'Arcy Norman's definition of "educational technology" a lot more than Januszewski and Molenda's. Their definition, that "educational technology is the study and ethical practice of facilitating learning and improving performance by creating, using, and managing appropriate technological process and resources," defines an academic discipline, rather than the object of study, and for good measure throws in normative elements ("ethical", "appropriate") inappropriate in a definition. It is also essentialist, trying to define something in terms of inherent properties of that thing (as opposed to external factors, such as use). Norman's more colloquial definition, "educational technology is whatever stuff you need to use to support the practice of effective teaching and learning," is also more accurate. It identifies a set of entities as defined by how they are used. And it allows for unethical and inappropriate uses of stuff (still a good idea in a world of SCORM and page-turners). D'Arcy Norman, Weblog, January 21, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

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Copyright 2008 Stephen Downes

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