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by Stephen Downes
May 12, 2010

Data is not the plural of anecdote. Eric Mazur talks about how to improve large group learning.
"Data is not the plural of anecdote". Yeah, great line. From an Eric Mazur talk about how to improve large group learning. Seb Schmoller writes, "The educational research area of Mazur's web site, with its focus on peer instruction, gender and physics, classroom demonstrations, and technology and education, is worth careful study." Maybe. But here's my great line: "research is not the plural of data." Not everything that isn't a number is an anecdote.
Seb Schmoller, Fortnightly Mailing, May 12, 2010 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment] [Tweet]

RSS Feeds For Structured Information About Events
More on the elusive goal of syndicated event feeds (I need to get back to that soon). "We have RSS feeds containing providing information on the plenary talks and workshop sessions for IWMW 2000-2010 together with biographical details for the plenary speakers and workshop facilitators since the event was started." Also see the comments for a useful reference to Upcoming (owned by Yahoo!), which encodes events in xCal. Brtian Kelly, UK Web Focus , May 12, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Odd Thoughts About Digital Scholarship
I feel for Tony Hirst, who's doing some of the most interesting work out there in ed tech, but who needs (you guessed it) metrics! "Here's part of what I wrote on this topic in my draft case: I have all but given up on formal academic publishing, in favour of short-form informal blog posts, occasional articles, and interviews for people who are writing long-form pieces (books, reports) which typically offer a greater or more immediate reach than scholarly articles in refereed journals, or benefit from a greater impact or better targeted audience than I could personally reach." Tony Hirst, OUseful.Info, the blog…, May 12, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Web 3.0
Video attempting to explain Web 3.0 - this time depicted as the semantic web. I don't think this is web 3.0 - because web 3.0 needs to be a game-changer, and this isn't it. Really nice opening graphic, though. Via Karyn Romeis and Judy O'Connell. Kate Ray, Vimeo, May 12, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Open Repositories 2010 Developer Challenge
I was kind of interested in this - but the instructions are obscure, and anyways, prsenting it in person in Europe is these days a greater challenge than designing the system. Here's the challenge: "Create a functioning repository user-interface, presenting a single metadata record which includes as many automatically created, useful links to related external content as possible." Now gRSShopper does a pretty good job at this - but do all the links count as "automatic"? Does gRSShopper itself count as a repository interface? Oh well, who cares, I can't get to the conference anyways. Various Authors, Website, May 12, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Interactivity & Mobile Development
Yet another attempt to define Web 3.0, this time as "system generated content." I'm not sure I buy it. "Web 3.0: system-generated content, where engines or agents will custom-assemble content for you based upon what's known about you, what context you're in, what content's available, etc." Well, yeah - but is that the 'next generation web' or merely an extension of what we already have? I'm not saying we won't have "system generated content" as described here - I've been getting it for years. It's just it's not the game-changer depicted here. Clark Quinn, Lernlets, May 12, 2010 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment] [Tweet]

The Coming Digital Textbook Wave
Publishers have been able to ignore the coming digital wave, but they won't be able to for long. "Once digital textbooks begin to cannibalize a surprisingly low percentage of traditional print sales (13%), then the traditional revenue model for textbooks starts to fall apart quickly. At that point (which the Xplana authors project to hit some time in 2014), expect the textbook publishers to become a lot more aggressive about eTextbooks if they haven't already. It will be life or death for them then." Good summary of a longer report from Xplana. Michael Feldstein, e-Literate, May 12, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

2009 IMS Annual Report
The 2009 IMS annual report has been released. Robe Abel writes, in an email, "We have seen substantial growth in a time when most standards organizations are contracting. In 2009, IMS continued to add new member organizations at a robust rate, although the economic struggles forced many to relinquish membership - resulting in the proverbial 'flat' year. However, already in 2010 we are seeing a return to substantial net growth in membership to a total of 150. We are also seeing record sponsorships and attendance for the upcoming Learning Impact 2010, by substantial margins over previous years." PDF document. Various Authors, IMS, May 12, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Educational Technology and Related Education Conferences for July to December 2010
Clayton R. Wright has released another of his outstanding education conference guides. "This list covers 750 selected events focused primarily on the use of technology in educational settings and on teaching and learning. Only listings until December 2010 are complete as dates, locations, or URLs are not available for a number of events held after December." MS Word format. Clayton R. Wright, Document, May 12, 2010 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment] [Tweet]

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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