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by Stephen Downes
June 8, 2010

Patterns of Change
I wrote this longish paper for Critical Literacies 2010 but readers here may appreciate it. In it, I present the view that we can understand change by looking at, and understanding, common patterns of change. I don't really draw this out in the paper (it's meant to be introductory) but I want to suggest that, since knowledge is based on pattern recognizition, skill in predicting change is a special form of pattern recognition. Stephen Downes, Critical Literacies 2010, June 8, 2010 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment] [Tweet]

Systemic Changes in Higher Education
George Siemens has been looking at change in education recently and with Kathleen Matheos presents the view that "A power shift is occurring in higher education, driven by two trends: (a) the increased freedom of learners to access, create, and re-create content; and (b) the opportunity for learners to interact with each other outside of a mediating agent." The paper goes well beyond this well-worn prediction, though, offering an examination of an altered information cycle, impact on governance and financing, and consideration of outreach and engagement (the latter two forming pillars in a proposed model of the university). George Siemens and Kathleen Matheos, In Education, June 8, 2010 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Reflections on Teaching with Social Media
I think there's a big difference between allowing the use of social media and requiring it. That difference probably explains the ambivalence of students in Brian Croxall's courses, and he had them bouncing from wikis to Twitter to Wave. And, as I've said before, you can't just take these new technologies and cram them into an old-word course. Brian Croxall, Chronicle of Higher Education, June 8, 2010 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Digital materiality? How artifacts without matter, matter
First Monday this month has an issue devoted to digital objects and experience. This is a subject of interest to me - not because of the digital, as you may think, but because of the intersection with epistemology and ontology. Though honestly I think I'm far less concerned about the state and nature of digital being and experience than most commentators, because, from where I sit, if we experience it. it doesn't matter whether it's digital or non-digital, it's real, and that's enough for me. On the other hand, the existence of abstracts - like, say, organizations - is to me much more tenuous. While I'm comfortable assigning causality, say, to digital entities, I am much less comfortable assigning causality to organizations. What do I conclude from that? Digital entities are not non-physical in the way organizations are non-physical. Contra, I would say, the author of this article. Paul M. Leonardi, First Monday, June 8, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

A Theory of Digital Objects
This is an interesting paper that pits the utility and transience of the web against permanence and historicity. Indeed, suggests the author, "The entities and processes that constitute the stuff of social practice are thereby rendered increasingly unstable and transfigurable, producing a context of experience in which the certainties of recurring and recognizable objects are on the wane." Yes, there is that. But when I think of creating a permanent record of my own work, I hesitate to put it in paper, because nobody would ever find it. The historical record will indeed, as the author writes, be viewed through a search engine. Jannis Kallinikos, Aleksi Aaltonen, and Attila Marton, First Monday, June 8, 2010 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Some thoughts on Bill-C-32: An Act to Modernize Canada's copyright laws
Some more followup on the proposed Canadian copyright legislation. Barry Sookman offers a comprehensive summary of the law. This includes discussion of a provision not mentioned here before, "Bill C-32 creates a new cause of action against a person who provides a system that he knows or should know is 'designed primarily to enable acts of copyright infringement'." The intent is to outlaw services such as Napster or Pirate Bay. But there's a lot of latitude in what counts as 'designed primarily', though to be fair there are provisions designed to help a court make such a determination. Bill Rosenblatt describes the bill as a much-needed modernization of copyright law in Canada. I'm not sure I agree with that assessment. Meanwhile, Michael Geist offers part one of 32 questions and answers on the digital locks provision of the law. Meanwhile, the IFPI, the organisation that represents the recording industry worldwide, is calling for more restrictions. Barry Sookman, Weblog, June 8, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Call for a national forum on academic freedom
The Christian Higher Education Canada is calling for a national forum to discuss academic freedom. This comes on the heels of a Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) investigation of Trinity Western University in Langley, British Columbia, which was found to violate the academic freedom provisions of CAUT. The question is, narrowly, whether academic freedom can exist within the bounds of statements of faith and conduct. More significant, in my view, is the question of whether such statements of faith and conduct can be requirements for employment generally. How would these same advocates respond were secular universities demand that no Christians be hired for academic positions? Freedom of conscience is a fundamental value in a democracy, and proponents of faith-based hiring ought to be careful about exceptions to that principle that can run both ways. Leo Charbonneau, University Affairs, June 8, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

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Copyright 2008 Stephen Downes

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