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by Stephen Downes
August 13, 2010

India imposes deadline on BlackBerry for access to information
It isn't because they are concerned about terrorists that governments want to decrypt Blackberries. It's because it gives them exclusive access to the world's most valuable commodity - otherwise private data. One overt benefit of that data is its crime-fighting potential. But the industrial benefits are billions of times greater. Just saying. CNN Wire Staff, CNN, August 12, 2010 [Link] [Comment] [Tweet]

What You Need To Know About Data Portability
Data portability is important, and increasingly so, and will soon be something everyone needs. This article sketches the basics. "Examples of data portability include:
- Being able to import all your social network connections, media and other data to another service with the click of a button.
- The ability to reuse your health records when visiting different doctors and jurisdictions.
- Not having to re-enter your credit card information when a service you use changes payment gateways." Elias Bizannes, Mashable, August 12, 2010 [Link] [Comment] [Tweet]

Books vs. E-Books
Fun graphic comparing books and ebooks. A little too large to post here. Petter, Knowbodies, August 12, 2010 [Link] [Comment] [Tweet]

The MetLife Survey of the American Teacher: Collaborating for Success
Interesting survey of American teachers that looks at collaboration, accountability and perceptions of teaching. The summaries aren't great, so you'll have to read the whole report to get a good sense of it (about 50 of the 113 pages). According to the study, teachers value collaboration, but do most of it outside the classroom. They believe they set high standards for students and believe core skills (mathematics and language, for example) are important. They believe all staff, rather than individual teachers, are accountable for student progress. They believe it would help a lot if students took responsibility for their own learning, but less than a third (compared to a very high percentage of students) believe students actually do. They mostly like their jobs and aren't planning to leave, but don't really feel they are listened to. Good survey, and apparently a good methodology. Via DERN. Dana Markow and Andrea Pieters, MetLife, August 12, 2010 [Link] [Comment] [Tweet]

Three Things You Should Really Know about Avatars (and their relationship to you)
Karl Kapp points to research supporting three contentions about avatars:
1) An experience as an avatar can change a person's real life perceptions.
2) Watching an avatar that looks like you performing an activity influences you to perform a similar or same activity in the future.
3) People tend to conform to how their avatar appears regardless of how it is perceived by others.
All this goes to show that the experiences we have as avatars are real experiences, and result in real learning and concept formation. Which actually does make sense. Karl Kapp, Kapp Notes, August 11, 2010 [Link] [Comment] [Tweet]

Brainless slime mould makes decisions like humans
Advertisers know this, but educators, for some reason, don't: brainless slime mould makes decisions like humans. "each part of the plasmodium acts like a tiny individual, reacting to information from its environment. By combining these reactions, the entire plasmodium flows towards things it likes and away from things it doesn't, all without a single conscious thought. It's the ultimate in collective decision-making and it allows Physarum to perform remarkable feats of 'intelligence', including simulating Tokyo's transport network, solving mazes, and even driving robots." Unattributed, Discover, August 10, 2010 [Link] [Comment] [Tweet]

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Copyright 2008 Stephen Downes

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