OLDaily, by Stephen Downes

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November 5, 2010

Feature Article
Deinstitutionalizing Education
Stephen Downes, November 5, 2010.

My most recent post on Huffington Post. I write: "Today, the dominant values promoted by our institutional forms of governance are power, ownership and control. We represent as more valuable institutions that are able to manage more people, move ever greater resources, amass ever greater quantities of capital. We need to design forms of social organization based on different values, forms that promote stewardship, agility and stability, forms that draw on and enhance our inherent capacities as collections of individuals, rather than forms that magnify or amplify the abilities -- and ambitions -- of single ones of us."

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Fight Firesheep with FireShepherd
Jay Hathaway, Download Squad, November 5, 2010.

Something capturing a lot of attention this week was a Firefox extension called Firesheep. The purpose of this extension was simple: it listened for ambient unsecured WiFi traffic, captured Facebook session information, and then used that information to allow you to log on to Facebook using someone else's account. The problem of insecure logins on open wireless access points has been known for some time now, but surprisingly major social network sites have done little, if anything, to secure their logins. Here's a report card identifying the culprits. You can take measures, including the use of the FireShepherd application to protect your logins. Or secure your own system. You can also use a private vpn.

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Equity and Three Things That Matter Most
Darren Draper, Drape's Takes, November 5, 2010.

Darren Draper is "offended" by my Deinstitutionalizing Education post, saying "I personally know far too many good, well-intentioned, hard working people leading public districts across the country." Well, maybe so, but there is plenty of evidence, from where I sit, that it is the institutional form that creates these chronic instances of greed, corruption, ingratitude, etc., rather than some inherently bad property of the people working in them. After all, I too know a great many people working in institutions who are good, well-intentioned, hard working people (substantially fewer leading them). But that's not what the institutional form rewards and values. Related: Graham Attwell takes on learning and institutions in this short post.

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The Future of Personalized Learning Environments
Volker Zimmermann, Checkpoint E-Learning, November 5, 2010.

Interesting interview with Volker Zimmermann introducing readers to "Responsive Open Learning Environments" - ROLE - a European research project... "a current, strategic project - if not the most important EU research project involving learning technology for companies. In ROLE, more than ten excellent research partners are developing a personalized, intelligent training environment." Here's the ROLE project home page. Interesting to see the Centre for Social Innovation, based in Vienna, involved in this. I still remember having a really nice (and long) conversation with them about this sort of thing.

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Colleges Experimenting With Bulk-Buying E-Textbooks... And Forcing Students To Pay Up
Mike Macnick, TechDirt, November 5, 2010.

Mike Masnick, in Techdirt, nails the problems with this one. "As book prices have continued to rise, apparently some universities are experimenting with bulk buying licenses to ebook textbooks and simply charging the students a fee.... First, it forces all the students to "buy" the books at full price. It wipes out the secondary market (which many students make use of in selling their books back), and even the case of the student who just checks the book out of the library. Also, we've seen in places like Canada how a simple mandatory student fee can start out low, and then suddenly jump massively. It's good that some universities want to lower book fees, and making use of ebooks is a possible solution, but mandatory fees seem ripe for abuse."

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Transcript of keynote speech, "Don't Lecture Me"
Donald Clark, Alt-C, November 5, 2010.

The transcript of Donald Clark's famous anti-lecture speech at Alt-C is now available. Though I understand the actual talk was rather, um, salty, the transcript itself is not. I must say, that leaves me disappointed. You may recall as well his reaction to being tweckled.

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Dany Benoit, NB Innovation Forum, November 5, 2010.

Here's a presentation from Dany Benoit at the NB Innovation forum a few weeks ago highlighting part of the work we are doing with the SynergiC3 project. I am not coding this product directly, but it is one of the projects undertaken by the research workgroup I share. It's called SketchC3 and is a multi-user multimedia collaborative storyboarding tool. There are video archives of all the presentations - the Innovation Forum is an incubator conference, meaning that developers pitch products to potential investors, so if you're an investor you may want to give some of these videos a look. If you're more into the technical side of things, and are in the Moncton area, then you may want to check out next week's Atlantic Workshop on Semantics and Services.

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Digital Content Manifesto
Dan Rehak, SE@M 2010, November 5, 2010.

Interesting presentation from Dan Rehak, and not only because it introduced me to the word paradata. Dan Rehak argues that the learning materials for pretty much any need already exists somewhere, and the challenge is to find it. He suggests that social media and web 2.0 will provide a new 'Google of learning'. "We need to enable a learning layer on Web 2.0," he argues. "We want to address fragmentation to improve learning, using technology and social collaboration." It's a pretty good presentation, worth the long PDF download, and aligns with a lot of what I've been saying here over the years, but with Rehak's perspective and institutional point of view.

And if you're interested in this presentation, you will definitely want to look at the list of presentations from SE@M 2010, the 4th International Workshop on Search and Exchange of e-le@rning Materials held in September in Barcelona. One presentation that caught my eye was Automated keyword extraction, which ended up recommending Zemanta, which is very slick. Also worth a look is this presentation on IMS Learning Object Discovery and Exchange (LODE).

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Various Authors, Wikipedia, November 5, 2010.

Today's new word is from Dan Rehak's presentation (see above): Paradata. To quote from Wikipedia: Paradata are data about the process by which the data were collected. For example, the paradata of a survey "include the times of day interviews were conducted, how long the interviews took, how many times..., and the mode of communication (such as phone, Web, email, or in person). Thus there are paradata about each observation in the survey. These attributes affect the costs and management of a survey, the findings of a survey, evaluations of interviewers, and inferences one might make about non-respondents." See also Wordnik.

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The Rise of the 'Edupunk'
Jack Stripling, Inside Higher Ed, November 5, 2010.

Now that college and university presidents are talking about it, edupunk is real, I guess. "While the concept of a self-educated citizenry circumventing the traditional system of higher education may have sounded far-fetched a decade ago, the fact that the likes of Spilde gave it more than lip service marks something of a shift. Indeed, there was more than a subtle suggestion across hours of sessions Monday that colleges are in for a new world, like it or not, where they may not be the winners.

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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