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by Stephen Downes
August 6, 2010 5:26 p.m.

Cognitive Load Theory - " Is it just a Load?
Gary Woodill agrees with me on cognitive load theory and supports his case with an argument. "We need to examine our concepts carefully and critically, and move away from research into nonsense as the basis of our instructional designs." Quite so. Will Thalheimer responds in a comment, defending the theory with examples. "Try counting backward by 3's and doing multiplication problems at the same time." OK, that's hard. "Try writing while listening to music with lyrics." Wait, I do that all the time (including this exact moment). "Try talking with your spouse while on the phone with your boss." Done and done. "Try talking on your cell phone, driving your car in traffic, and listening to Lady Gaga lyrics for deep meaning." Oh, well, that's just impossible, but only because the third conjunct is impossible. In any case, the response misses the point. Are there limits to cognition and perception? Well, d'uh. Of course there are. Do these limits support 'cognitive load theory' as it pertains to education? No. Clark Quinn also supports it in a comment at the other site, saying, "simplify cognitive load to the right amount, and you get increased performance" and cites Sweller. Yes, you get increased 'performance' - but worse learning. Yes, people are more likely to remember and to do what you say if you tell them 'go east on route 33 then north on 17' but they are more likely to learn if you give them a map. Gary Woodill, Emerging Technologies Analyst, August 6, 2010 5:12 p.m. [Link] [Comment] [Tweet]

Slides from Open Access Publishing Seminar
Terry Anderson presents on the success of Athabasca University Press's open publishing initiative. The message is that sales aren't hurt by open publishing, even when the entire book is available online, and citation factors for journal articles are excellent. The presentation took place at Wisconsin's annual summer conference Conference on Distance Teaching and Learning here in Madison. This conference is memorable to me as the place where I gave a presentation that nobody attended. I'm sure Terry did significantly better. Terry Anderson, Virtual Canuck, August 6, 2010 4:58 p.m. [Link] [Comment] [Tweet]

Will Pearson Eat Us All?
"Is anyone else concerned that yesterday's announcement that Pearson is acquiring Americas Choice for $80 million coupled with Americas Choice having received the franchise to develop the high school assessments for Common Core means we have a de facto national curriculum now." So asks 'a student of history, as reported on Tuttle SVC. (p.s. Tom, sorry to hear about Ushra'Khan. Tom Hoffman, Tuttle SVC, August 6, 2010 4:46 p.m. [Link] [Comment] [Tweet]

The Broken Accreditation System
I have long said the accreditation monopoly will be ended, and though this looks like an attack on the for-profits, it is actually the first brick through the window of the accreditation system. Not that the for-profits are blameless - far from it. They have gamed the system mightily. "The first two hours of the hearing were devoted to damning undercover video of admissions counselors encouraging prospective students to lie on aid applications; inflating career earnings potential; and admitting they weren't going to repay $85,000 of their own loan debt." But as nothing will change the nature of the private sector, the only locus of reform will have to be the accreditation system itself. Thus we read, "there are some fundamental problems about accrediting agencies and the accrediting system that hurt its ability to provide the oversight and accountability functions we desire." This will end only with the end of legislated accreditation, and though the government money may be harder to obtain (as, inevitably, it will be) the floodgates will be opened. It can end no other way. Ben Miller, The Quick and the Ed, August 6, 2010 4:35 p.m. [Link] [Comment] [Tweet]

The most successful gurus you never heard of
You can be reassured that poverty means nothing, get a teaching certificate in a long week-end, or buy the book on standards-based grading. All this and more from the word of educational consultants. Linda Perlstein reports on 'the most succussful gurus you've never heard of." She writes, "Ruby Payne. Robert Marzano. Richard duFour. Douglas ReevesHarry and Rosemary Wong. If you haven't heard these names, you are not a teacher or a principal. You probably aren't a school board member. But you might be an education journalist. School districts spend millions on consultants like these, who specialize in everything from formative assessment to understanding poor kids to how to greet your students on the first day of class." There's no end to the list of consultants and their blogs. Ah, what a business to be in. Linda Perlstein, The Educated Reporter, August 6, 2010 4:27 p.m. [Link] [Comment] [Tweet]

Personal vs Personalized Learning
I've talked about the difference between personal and personalized learning before, and this post captures is nicely. "Personalized learning, while customized for the student, is still controlled by the system. A district, teacher, company, and/or computer program serve up the learning based on a formula of what the child 'needs'." Wendy Drexler, Teach Web, August 6, 2010 3:55 p.m. [Link] [Comment] [Tweet]

Good Will Shunting: Google's distressing turn on Net neutrality
Two trends I expect are related: slowing U.S. internet speeds, and a push to end net neutrality. David Weinberger reports on both. In the first, he notes, Akamai's latest state of the Internet report says that the U.S. is continuing to fall behind. In the other, he suggests that Google is hedging on net neutrality. Sebastian Anthony says it bluntly. "There's so much pressure from content providers and ISPs that it seems like we (or at least the USA) are about to pay a lot more for high-quality Internet access. The New York Times provides an excellent analogy: it will be like paying for premium cable or satellite TV channels. For just $9.99 per month you can have faster YouTube access! For $19.99 you can get YouTube, Vimeo and CollegeHumor!" David Weinberger, Joho the Blog, August 6, 2010 9:03 a.m. [Link] [Comment] [Tweet]

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Copyright 2008 Stephen Downes

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