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by Stephen Downes
April 17, 2010

Ning Alternatives, Collaboration, & Self Hosting
Today has been an active day in the community as people consider alternatives to Ning. An Alternatives to Ning. document has been set up and is being collectively written. Wes Fryer also considers alternatives. Sylvia Curry has a screencast of the document being updated. Meanwhile, ReadWriteWeb almost gloatingly pulls out the there's no free lunch line (which annoys me, as the proposition is demonstrably falsifiable). The Blog Herald is also gleeful: "If you want to stay, you have to pay." Vicki A. Davis observes, "This Ning situation is yet another obstacle that we must overcome because truly, the world isn't Flat." Marc Canter says, "The migration has begun. No wonder Gina never put in Export… she knew it was something that would be needed - eventually." Wired says simply, "Ning fails at free social networking. Alex Couros, Couros Blog, April 17, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Why great teachers matter to low-income students
The theory that schools alone can't overcome economic disadvantage is wrong, write three managers in The Washington Post. "Plenty of evidence demonstrates that schools can make an enormous difference despite the challenges presented by poverty and family background." For example, low income "Boston fourth-graders outscored those in Detroit by 33 points." Maybe. But as Tom Hoffman responds to this post, "The fact that Boston has higher achievement than Detroit shows the unimportance of outside school factors? Couldn't it equally well show the opposite? They make a strange and frankly dishonest argument here." It could well indeed. Joel I. Klein, Michael Lomax and Janet Murguía, Washingtom Post, April 17, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Schools: Too Big To Fail
Why Are 25 Hedge Fund Managers Worth 658,000 teachers? It's an excellent question that bears examining. Deborah Meier expands on Les Leopold's question. "The wealthy will have placed an estimated $2 trillion into hedge funds by the end of this year, while schools experience cutbacks everywhere. 'That's about $6,500 for every man, woman and child in the U.S.' To add insult to injury, they pay only a 15 percent tax rate on their 'earnings' while an experienced teacher will be paying 28 percent-plus." What we have is a system skewed out of control, with big money serving only itself. It might already be too late to reverse the course. "We've got to stop this, Diane," writes Meier. "We have to find ways, without much in the way of 'Big Money,' to get a different story told and then acted upon. We need to 'remap' the future." Deborah Meier, Bridging Differences, April 17, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

La vía Ivan Illich (I): Mapa conceptual de Stephen Downes traducido por Potâchov
Good post, in Spanish, linking my groups versus networks distinction with Ivan Illich and a Spanish Connectivist MOOC being offered through Ning and other resources. I used a Google translation to read the post inside Reader. Here is a list of resources (in English) supporting the course. eraser, e-learning, conocimiento en red y web colectiva, April 17, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

The Power of Pull Has Finally Arrived
Despite a malfunctioning 'bold' key, John Hegel is able to articulate his concept of 'pull'. The post is in support of a new book he has co-authored with John Seely Brown and Lang Davison. It's all stuff you've read here before. "The Power of Pull can be read as an attempt to reinstate the central role of socially embedded practice in driving knowledge creation and performance improvement relative to the recent emphasis in the management literature of process reengineering. The Power of Pull at one level seeks to refocus technology innovation on providing tools to amplify the efforts of communities of practice to drive performance improvement." John Hagel, Edge Perspectives, April 17, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Could a Keyboard Sleeve Turn Tablets into Cheap(er) Notebooks?
If the iPad is a stand-alone screen, could it be mixed and matched with stand-alone keyboards? In sleeves? Looks like a winning idea to me. Unattributed, Gearlog, April 17, 2010 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment] [Tweet]

Race to Top Rules Aim to Spur Shifts in Testing
The US Department of Education is seeking alternatives to standardized testing. They have issued a call for proposals to "more validly measure" students' knowledge and skills than the tests. "The comprehensive assessment systems developed with the federal money must be able to yield data that can be used to gauge how well teachers and principals are doing their jobs, how instruction and school programs can be improved, and how schools can be judged for federal accountability purposes, according to the 85-page set of regulations." Catherine Gewertz, Education Week, April 17, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Should Pandora Have Opened the Box?
Good post from Michael Feldstein on edupunk and a fascinating reply from Chuck Severence. I think Feldstein refutes Severence's point, which was that DIY - as in punk bands - is very difficult to sustain. Also, an odd comment from Anya Kamenetz on persistence: "Yes. Roman Empire falls. Rome (city) thrives to this day." One of the most haunting passages I read in Gibbon was his account of the great Byzantine general Belisarius standing at the gates of a depopulated and destitute Rome, an empty city full of nothing but memories and ghosts. Rome did not survive; it had to be rebuilt from scratch. "Like Thebes, or Babylon, or Carthage, the names of Rome might have been erased from the earth." Michael Feldstein, e-Literate, April 17, 2010 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment] [Tweet]

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Copyright 2008 Stephen Downes

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