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by Stephen Downes
May 11, 2010

Buenos Aires

This is my last full day in Buenos Aires. I'll miss this city, its chaos of 11 million people swirling around, building, growing, shaping, creating, living, surviving, and hanging on. As always, I won't know what I've learned for weeks, even months. As always, my last full day was my fullest, as seen through these striking photos of La Boca and the Riachuelo shipyards. Take a slide show view of my wandering today, and see the world, briefly, through my eyes. Stephen Downes, Flickr, May 11, 2010 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Weaving a Personal Web: Using online technologies to create customized, connected, and dynamic learning environments
Jessica McElvaney and Zane Berge do a competent job of outlining PLEs and Connectivism, but their article leaves the reader wanting more. After a while, the lists of relevant technologies and straw-man arguments against social networks grow wearisome. Also, an odd set of references, considering the subject material - they get the Siemens reference wrong (it should be the connectivism paper, not Knowing Knowledge). No description of PLEs is complete without a reference to Scott Wilson (and, preferably, to Graham Attwell and Mohammed Ali Chatti). I find it fascinating that the references in the 'potential disadvantages' section all predate the material they are supposedly criticizing (and the lone contribution from me is manifestly not intended as a "disadvantage of using personal web tools"). Jessica McElvaney and Zane Berge, Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology, May 11, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

What is educational technology, anyway? A commentary on the new AECT definition of the field
OK, I agree with the authors that the AECT definition of "educational technology" isn't very good. (It was "the new definition" some time a few years ago when this article was written, but as it only appears online now we'll just call it "the definition"). Here it is: "Educational technology is the study and ethical practice of facilitating learning and improving performance by creating, using, and managing appropriate technological processes and resources."

But the writers, arguing from the perspective of the Canadian Network for Innovation in Education (CNIE) manage to go one worse saying the definition goes too far, citing Jaron Lanier ("virtual reality pioneer") as saying "Something started to go wrong with the digital revolution round the turn of the 21st century. The World Wide Web was flooded by a torrent of petty designs sometimes called Web 2.0. This ideology promoted radical freedom on the surface of the web, but that freedom, ironically, is more for machines than people." Really? Is that what happened? Denis Hlynka and Michele Jacobsen, Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology, May 11, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Standing on the edge of some crazy cliff and protecting what?
Other people have their opinions, but I always thought of Newsweek as doing more harm than good. So it doesn't bother me that it has been sold - it just means it will voice a new set of opinions rather than the ones it used to voice. Old media manufacturing its own 'experts' to replace the previously useful 'experts'. And as for Jon Stewart - "Who is going to be doing the reporting?" Jon Stewart asked. "If we're all aggregators, if we're all commenting, if we're all analyzing, who exactly is going to be doing the reporting?" - can I raise a little voice, and say "me?" Or maybe, "we?" Because, you know, that's what we're doing here. Not that Newsweek would notice (p.s. I didn't like Catcher in the Rye either). Janet Clarey, Spinning the Social Web, May 11, 2010 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment] [Tweet]

What I learned at Northern Voice
Northern Voice came and went while I was in Argentina (wouldn't trade - sorry Vancouver). Clint Lalonde summarizes with numerous links and references, and with some nice words about Scott Leslie, who by all appearances is doing it right. Also, don't mis this list of links to conference coverage. Clint Lalonde,, May 11, 2010 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment] [Tweet]

Are you an elite?
If you 'aspire to be an elite' then you are getting your priorities wrong. That is not to say that you should not aspire to be the best you can possibly be - far from it. But thinking like this from Seth Godin is just skewed in the wrong direction: "The challenge of our time may be to build organizations and platforms that engage and coordinate the elites, wherever they are. After all, this is where change and productivity come from." Really? You think so? I don't. Because people who are genuinely at their best aren't trying to create advantage for themselves, and to help the rich get richer. They are working for the good of all, trying to help everyone, regardless of status, achieve their potential (and they're not trying to coordinate anything). Look at your real heroes - did they coordinate an elite? Or did they lift the common lot of humanity, even if only a little? Via Tim Stahmer. Seth Godin, Seth's Blog, May 11, 2010 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment] [Tweet]

Pulling Networks Together
I know it feels natural to want to network with the "fifty best" but it's also a mistake. Picking a list of "the fifty smartest or most accomplished people who share your passions or interests," as Will Richardson suggests, is just a way to populate your network with people who think like you. Instead of trying to rank people into something like league tables of 'expertise' or 'bestness' (which really is an absurd proposition when you think of it) let your network grow organically, linking to people who catch your attention - and whose attention you have caught. Look for variety - experienced experts, young enthusiasts, sceptics, writers, politicos, rabble-rousers, the rest. Your network gives you ideas, not answers, and people who follow only the gurus tend to be.... followers. Will Richardson, Weblogg-Ed, May 11, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

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Copyright 2008 Stephen Downes

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