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by Stephen Downes
February 18, 2010

Lack of Sympathy
The overnight crisis continues to mount, and George Siemens notes the lack of sympathy for universities. "Most comments are negative, critical of universities and faculty as out of touch with reality. These critical views are hardly confined to this newspaper – every article criticizing universities that I've read in major newspapers reveals a similar pattern of comments. Universities appear to be facing an identity and a relevance crisis in the eyes of much of society." George Siemens, elearnspace, February 18, 2010 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Tony Bates is wrong on a number of points
Don Tapscott has replied to Tony Bates's critique of his EDUCAUSE article. In particular, he addresses Bates's point that you can't do constructivist learning with large classes. "Because of technology it is now possible to embrace new models of collaboration that change the paradigm in more fundamental ways – especially when the student to teacher ratio is large. As we explained, this is not fundamentally about technology per se. Rather it represents a change in the relationship between students and teachers in the learning process." Presumably Tapscott is talking about something like connectivism, but we'll have to wait for him to get to that point. Don Tapscott, EDUCAUSE Review, February 18, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

School Accused Of Spying On Kids In Their Homes With Spyware That Secretly Activated Webcams
I wonder what lessons we teach kinds when we spy on them through their own computer webcam. And then, worse, using the evidence gathered this way as grounds for discipline. I'd like to say this is a hypothetical, but sadly, I can't. In a practice that appears to be becoming widespread, schools are using webcams and remote desktop emulation to spy on students at home. More from BoingBoing, and a related item from PBS Frontline. Mike Masnick, Techdirt, February 18, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

The Annual "301" Show - USTR Calls for Comment - 21 Reasons Why Canadian Copyright Law is Already Stronger Than USA's
Once again it's 301 time in the US and once again Canada is erroneously branded as a "rogue" nation. Here are the facts:
" * Canada already has much stronger copyright laws in many ways than the USA;
* These stronger laws result in significant dollar outflows that greatly favour U.S. interests with little or insufficient benefit for Canadians;
* There is no verified and reliable evidence of piracy or counterfeiting problems in Canada
* The alleged deficiencies in Canada's laws regarding file sharing have not been proven in any Canadian court
* The entertainment industry in Canada is doing quite well, even as things stand."
Not that the facts will have any influence on the process. Howard Knopf, Excess Copyright, February 18, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Schedule for Sen The Idea of Justice Reading Group
I've been seeing more of this recently. It's essentially the connectivist model, except that instead of having people like George and myself set up a structure, you use a book to set up a structure. People read the book, and readings related to the book, and each other, and the whole works is aggregated and distributed across the network. This group is reading Amartya Sen's recent book, The Idea of Justice. barbara Ganley, meanwhile, writes about a group reading James Joyce's Dubliners. Yes, there are challenges - not everyone feels confident posting their 'unschooled' thoughts online. The rewards, I would say, outweigh the risks. Blain Neufeld, Public Reason, February 18, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Finland and education export: IKEA of schools?
Could Finland export the Ikea of schools? They certainly have the branding and marketing set, as years of international studies have placed their system at the top. But what would they export? "Penttilä's idea is to start-up a network of Finnish International Schools around the world that would loosely follow the Finnish school curriculum (an alternative to the IB system)." OK. But, "People - most of them with children - considered the idea feasible. However, people were concern could they actually afford the school with teachers who are paid Finnish salaries." See, there's the rub. People who want a Finnish education would have to place the same priority on education that Finland does. But what potential importers of Finnish education are ready to do that? Teemu Leinonen, FLOSSE Posse, February 18, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Why serious games work - an over-simplified view

Yes it's an over-simplified view of learning games, but it's a nice way to look at them. By dividing the aspects of games into three major categories - motivation, simulation and narration - Patrick Dunn is able to draw out the different emphases of different types of games, such as branching story (all narration, little simulation) or quiz games (all motivation, not so much narration). Patrick Dunn, Occasional Rants, February 18, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Want to fix education? Fire bad teachers
Given the state of the economy, wouldn't it make more sense to fire six percent of the bankers? Or, given the state of economics, wouldn't it make sense to fire six percent of the economics professors? Just saying. Why don't we try massive layoffs in the fields that are really failing, rather than take it out on scapegoats? Why anyone would think mass firings would improve performance in any venue is beyond me. Some people, I think, who call themselves economists, are little more than lobbyists in disguise. Via Joanne Jacobs, who has perhaps rethought her initial enthusiastic support and pulled her post. William Gillespie, Business Lexington, February 18, 2010 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment] [Tweet]

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Copyright 2008 Stephen Downes

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