OLDaily, by Stephen Downes

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November 2, 2010

Facilitating Social Interactions: Measuring Engagement and Promoting Academic Success within the LMS
Stephen Downes, November 2, 2010, Webinar, Online

The Learning Management System is evolving rapidly, becoming a more flexible and interactive part of the classroom. As that happens, how can you better integrate the LMS into the campus classroom? How can you measure and analyse student participation in the social and collaborative technologies that are becoming part of a good LMS? Technologies already exist to collect basic data on student participation and interactions; the focus now is collecting more comprehensive data about online behavior in the classroom, then using the data effectively. The LMS of the future will help collect data, then produce sophisticated analysis and reports on-demand. October 21, 2010.

[Link] [Slides] [Audio]

Questions I'm no Longer Asking
George Siemens, elearnspace, November 2, 2010.

George Siemens is "firmly convinced" of the following (slightly abridged):
1. Learners should be in control of their own learning. Autonomy is key.
2. Learners need to experience confusion and chaos in the learning process.
3. Openness increased the random connections that drive innovation
4. Learning requires time, depth of focus, critical thinking, and reflection.
5. Learning is network formation. Knowledge is distributed.
6. Creation is vital.
7. Making sense of complexity requires social and technological systems.
I don't agree with some of the stuff I've abridged from the principles. For example, I would say "navigating the chaos" instead of "clarifying" it. I wouldn't mention "ingesting new information," because that's not how it works. I am more likely to say educators "model and demonstrate" rather than "initiate, curate, and guide." But you know, these core seven principles, yes, I can get behind these.

And like George Siemens I am no longer interested in - and have not been for some time, which explains their complete absence from these pages - questions like "Is online learning more or less effective than learning in a classroom?" and "What role do blogs or microblogging [insert tool in question] play?" and "How can educators implement [whatever tool] into their teaching?" They're irrelevant. So is the learning styles question, but I carp about that because it has been used to make political points about learning which are wrong. Oh, and don't miss Karyn Romeis's postscript.

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New LeMill 3.0 beta: the best OER (wiki) repository ever
Teemu Leinonen, FLOSSE Posse, November 2, 2010.

LeMill is a "web community for finding, authoring and sharing open educational resources." It is used by 14819 teachers from 63 countries and contains 23275 learning resources in 80 languages. Even so, people in the OER community call for some sort of new centralized OER repository or library, because they think something like that would be a good idea, but haven't really looked beyond the Hewlett-sponsored projects. They should. Version 3.0 of LeMill had just come out in beta and it looks very slick, very smooth. Teemu Leinonen writes, "I am... pretty convinced that the interaction and usability design of LeMill is better than in any other OER repository today. It is also worth to mention that LeMill is not only OER repository, but a wiki - a collection of content that anyone can edit. LeMill's user interface is clear, fast, minimalistic and beautiful."

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Donald Schon (Schön): learning, reflection and change
Mark K. Smith, infed, November 2, 2010.

Really nice overview of David A. Schön, and especially The Reflective Practitioner, which is analyzed and criticized in detail. "Taken together, the themes that emerged in Beyond the Stable State provided a rich and highly suggestive basis for theorizing about both ‘the learning society' and ‘the learning organization'," writes Mark K. Smith in this post from 2001... It was the contribution of two of Schon's contemporaries – Paulo Freire that takes us forward. The former's focus on learning webs, the debilitating impact of professionalization, and the need for an ecological appreciation; and the latter's championship of dialogue and concern to combat oppression allow for a more committed and informed engagement with the ‘learning society' and ‘learning organization'." Via Jean-Rémy Duboc, who posted this link in Facebook in response to my article Deinstitutionalizing Education, just posted a few minutes ago.

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Complexity Theory and Management Practice
Jonathan Rosenhead, Science as Culture, November 2, 2010.

This is another item I could have used as I was writing my latest post. It's also a little old, dating from 1998, but is a nice analysis of how complexity undercuts management. In particular, in a complex environment:
- analysis loses its primacy
- contingency (cause and effect) loses its meaning
- long-term planning becomes impossible
- visions become illusions
- consensus and strong cultures become dangerous
- statistical relationships become dubious.
Of course, these are six pillars of institutional decision-making, meaning that in a complex environment, the institution becomes dysfunctional.

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Are Canadians falling short of their potential?
Paul Cappon, Canadian Council on Learning, November 2, 2010.

This is a good article by Canadian Council on Learning president Paul Cappon, and while I don't agree with everything he recommends - such as centralized coordination at the national level - I do agree with some of the major observations, including, crucially, this: "When industry is so utterly dependent on foreign capital, Canadians should not be surprised that companies refuse to support Canadian-based innovation or transferable skills... in a 'rentier economy', in which large business is totally dominated by foreign interests, the private sector will never invest sufficiently in research and development to sustain an innovative economy." We have to do it through the public sector, or it won't be done at all. Cappon also touches on the need to improve early childhood education, adult literacy, and workplace skills.

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The Tyranny of Teaching Content
Jenny Mackness, Jenny Connected, November 2, 2010.

Good post from the PLENK course responding to the question of how to teach if you're not teaching content. "There is so much information out there, which is developing and changing so fast, that I can't possibly keep up with it, never mind hold it all in my head. The trick is to work out what knowledge/facts I must always have at my finger tips and what I don't need to hold in my head because I can search for the information on the internet."

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Am I a sherpa?
Lisa M. Lane, Lisa's EC&I831 Blog, November 2, 2010.

files/images/3293199214_cf5601e4c1.jpg, size: 78221 bytes, type:  image/jpeg Lisa Lane looks at Alec Couros's 'sherpa' metaphor for instruction (See here and here) and asks whether it applies to her role reaching history. "The question is whether, in allowing them their own explorations, they will encounter enough of the skills necessary to interpret the facts. I would need to let them fall in some holes, step in some quicksand. But when they return, will they interpret these experiences as historians? It's fine if I only care that they be learners, but I want them to be able to do history. That is when my job is important - I'm supposed to provide the structure that helps that happen. Doesn't that mean I'm more than a sherpa?"

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Why Mass Media Are Bad: Weaknesses And Limitations Of Commercial Mainstream Media
Brian Martin, Robin Good, November 2, 2010.

Two part article from 1998 (Part One, Part Two), reposted in 2006, on the failure of mass media. I wish I had seen this while preparing my third Huffington Post article over the weekend (posting is still pending) on the failure of institutions, because the same points could be made, and especially the points about how mass media - and institutions - should be replaced. "In order to better understand the mass media's inherent lack of democracy, it is useful to imagine a communication system that allows and fosters participation by everyone... David Andrews did this with his concept of "information routing groups" or IRGs... In a network of IRGs, everyone can be a writer and publisher at the same time. But there are no guaranteed mass audiences. If a contribution is really important or exciting to those who receive it, they are more likely to post it to other groups. In this way, a piece of writing could end up being read by thousands or even millions of people. But note that this requires numerous individual decisions about circulating it to further groups."

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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