OLDaily, by Stephen Downes

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November 26, 2010

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Navigating course prerequisites
Virginia Galt, University Affairs, November 26, 2010.

I'm sure this could be used for much more than simply organizing course prerequisites, but it is certainly handy for that. The tools are "for preparing easy-to use prerequisite charts that allow students to see, at a glance, what courses they should take if they want to specialize, say, in biomedical computing at Queen's, or cognitive science or software design." The article notes that "the technology has not yet been widely adopted" - what would help, I think would be to make it available to people (and not just to other departments at Queens). No?

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Six steps to make sharing part of how you work
Sacha Chua, living an awesome life, November 26, 2010.

Fantastic short set of slides on how to make sharing part of how you work, with in particular some excellent advice on step two: "When talking to people, listen for opportunities to take advantage of your reference information. Now that you've got an virtual filing cabinet of useful information, keep an ear open for ways you can use that information to help people more efficiently." And even more, I would say that, when you help people, look for ways to help other people at the same time. Many of my articles were written in response to a question from a single person, but shared with many more.

Six Steps to Sharing
View more presentations from Sacha Chua.

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8 Key Lessons the CBC Learned Working with Citizen Journos
Kim Fox, PBS, November 26, 2010.

files/images/mediashift_social20publicmedia20small.jpg, size: 672345 bytes, type:  image/jpeg I've adapted this article a bit to draw lessons about working with online students. Here are the 'lessons learned':
- It's no longer good enough to simply feature a student's content in a silo
- Flexibility and the ability to improvise is key - you will have influence, but very little control
- Not having control over certain things isn't an excuse to not plan
- Recruit more students than you think you will need
- Survey students' familiarity with the topic, their writing and social media experience
- Create an open and supportive environment, discuss what it's like to collaborate, demystify terms and processes they may encounter
- It's key that your students are encouraged to tell their stories in the way they're most comfortable -- be it text, photos, tweets or video
- it's key to get their material up in a timely and consistent manner; the reward for them is their byline and recognition from family and friends

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Seven Ways to Build Your Own Educational Games
Richard Byrne, Free Technology For Teachers, November 26, 2010.

Having looked at some of these, I can say two things. First, creating games is complicated. A lot more complicated than creating web pages or even videos. And second, even though it's less complicated with these tools, if you want to do anything more involved than simply quiz and response, it's still complicated. You have to invest some time and effort to figure out what you're doing. That said, sites like this put a lot of functionality into the hands of people who would otherwise have had to invest a lot in authoring software. So on balance, I certainly welcome their appearance.

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Apple bars 'all single-station radio apps' from iPhone
Cade Metz, The Register, November 26, 2010.

Reports (more) that Apple is banning single-station apps on the iPhone (and hence, iPad, etc). Apple began rejecting single-station radio apps on November 10, declaring that it "will no longer approve any more radio station apps unless there are hundreds of stations on the same app." This is because "single station apps are the same as a fart app and represent spam in the iTunes store" (Yes, this is the very first time the word fart has appeared on this website). Could this be coming for, say, newspaper sites too? Maybe they could bundle all the news sites into a single app. Call such an app, oh, I don't know, a 'web browser'.

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Emergent by Design
Venessa Miemis, Emergent by Design, November 26, 2010.

What I like about the internet is that by following one link you can open up an entire community of interesting, interacting, and engaged people. Take this blog, Emergent by Design, for example. Scroll past the Thanksgiving stuff and you'll find links discussing the future of money, collaborative consumption, and more. Or this interactive diagram from meme machine (also pictured above), describing the roles of different individuals in meme-shaping. Both of these were found on Catalyst for magic, found via a response to a tweet I make about cats.

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Moves Away From XML to JSON?
Brian Kelly, UK Web Focus, November 26, 2010.

The debate between JSON and XML boils down to this: "XML is more complex than necessary for Web Services. By default, XML requires you to use complex features that many Web Services do not need to be successful." That doesn't mean JSON for everything - for example, I don't see a JSON-RSS in the immediate future (but hey, I could be wrong). But "for important use cases JSON is dramatically better than XML. In particular, JSON shines as a programming language-independent representation of typical programming language data structures. This is an incredibly important use case and it would be hard to overstate how appallingly bad XML is for this." As someone who has actually programmed these, I can attest to the truth of that statement. Anyhow, just for fun, I've created a JSON version of OLDaily.

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Tech·Ed 2010 - Download the presentation videos free
Ray Fleming, The UK Schools Blog, November 26, 2010.

23 pages of online videos (I count 340 videos total) covering topics in education technology are now available from Microsoft's Tech Ed 2010 conference. Topics vary from Deploying Windows Server 2008 to Remote Desktop Services to Building Windows Phone Games. If that's not enough, exploring the links will reveal 114 pages of videos (1700 videos) from Tech Ed North America. The top rated videos from all conferences are listed, including the ubiquitous Zen of Architecture.

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Unknown, Website, November 26, 2010.

So how long can this last? I don't know. But for right now, you can watch all episodes of all Star Trek series online for free.

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Long Time, No See!! Thoughts on a MOOC
Ian Woods, Ian's Professional Learning Journey, November 26, 2010.

Interesting set of reflections on the hierarchy of participation in a massive open online course (MOOC). Ian Woods talks about his participation in PLENK mostly as a lurker. "Lurking," he writes, "is a by-product of not being able to keep up." And "Lurkers may add the odd comment here and there but get discouraged because they aren't necessarily noticed by the rest of the pack." He makes some recommendations that would help ease participation, including continuous engagement, a mechanism for participating in conversations that are old, and some sort of badge or indication of participation rate so lurkers won't feel they are the only ones left behind.

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How Online Classrooms Are Helping Haiti Rebuild Its Education System
Sarah Kessler, Mashable, November 26, 2010.

This is one of those articles where the University of the People 'plans to do this' and 'intends to do that' (though to be fair it has opened an access centre with 16 students). The very real problem in Haiti is the destruction of school buildings and the deaths of teachers. It is for students the problem of being able to stay alive between classes. And yes, internet could help, but with a per capita income of $790, a access cost of $60 per month ($720 per year) is prohibitive. Yes, online learning would help Haiti, and would be a gazillion times less expensive than rebuilding schools and hiring teachers. But making Haiti a net importer of its own education will not help its economy and will not serve development in the long run.

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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