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December 2, 2010

You must change your life
Gardner Campbell, Gardner Writes, December 2, 2010.

Interesting set of reflections on the poetry of Ranier Maria Rilke and Doug Engelbart's vision for interactive computing. Gardner Campbell writes, "Engelbart's plea echoes through all the readings we've done this semester... to embrace the challenge of making real school into that 'dynamic discipline that can treat the problem of improving intellectual effectiveness in a total sense.'" Or as Alex Reid says, "Simply put, you cannot keep your non-digital notion of what it means to be an academic and become digital." All fine, and I agree with the points, though my reading of Rilke is a bit different, representing less change and augmentation, and more immersion and becoming.

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Digital Learning Now
Jeb Bush and Bob Wise, Foundation for Excellence in Education, December 2, 2010.

files/images/Digital-learning-now.jpg, size: 37296 bytes, type:  image/jpeg This is a manifesto published by two former U.S. governors, Jeb Bush (Florida, 1999-2007) and Bob Wise (West Virginia, 2001-2005). It consists on ten major points, as follows:
1. Student Eligibility: All students are digital learners.
2. Student Access: All students have access to high quality digital content and online courses.
3. Personalized Learning: All students can customize their education using digital content through an approved provider.
4. Advancement: Students progress based on demonstrated competency.
5. Content: Digital content, instructional materials, and online and blended learning courses are high quality.
6. Instruction: Digital instruction and teachers are high quality.
7. Providers: All students have access to multiple high quality providers.
8. Assessment and Accountability: Student learning is the metric for evaluating the quality of content and instruction.
9. Funding: Funding creates incentives for performance, options and innovation.
10. Delivery: Infrastructure supports digital learning.
It begins somewhat reasonably, and I can support the first four points with only minor qualifications. The emphasis on "quality" through the remaining six is challenging to refute (because, after all, who wants to champion "crappy" learning resources?) but creates an infrastructure of dubious merit (eg., "student learning is the metric for evaluating...") and questionable psychology (eg., "Funding creates incentives for performance..."). Still, the effort is welcome, as it focuses people's sights on what is possible in online learning, especially with regard to access and equity. More here.

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Gawker Is A Blog. Just Like Twitter.
Anil Dash, A Blog About Making Culture, December 2, 2010.

Anil Dash writes, "major media sites are all converging on the idea of a two-paned reader, with a river of news of headlines that can be clicked to yield an embedded article reader that prominently features video, photos or other rich content." The reason for this is that the sites want to sell high-value advertising real estate on the 'river' pane. Since this pane is always visible, an advertisement here will sell for much more than one buried on a story page, which might be seen by only a fraction of the site visitors, and then for only a short time. Me, if I want a 'river' pane, I want to design it myself, through my reader, and to be able to hide it when I want to clear up screen real estate for reading or drawing.

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International Journal of ePortfolio
Various Authors, Virginia Tech, December 2, 2010.

New peer reviewed open access journal. "The mission of the International Journal of ePortfolio (IJeP) is to encourage the study of practices and pedagogies associated with ePortfolio in educational settings. The journal's focus includes the explanation, interpretation, application, and dissemination of researchers', practitioners', and developers' experiences relevant to ePortfolio. It also serves to provide a multi-faceted, single source of information for those engaging in projects and practices associated with ePortfolio." Still awaiting the first issue; no RSS feed apparent (grrrr).

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The impact of MIT's OpenCourseWare model on the Top Level Courses Project
Stian Håklev, Random Stuff That Matters, December 2, 2010.

More good stuff on China's Top Level Courses Project (TLCP). This post looks at the impact of MIT's OpenCourseWare and suggests that while TLCP is "not an imported model." It's true, argues the author, that OCW was intended to set as a new nromative ideal that "that all universities should digitize and open access to their course materials." But this norm does not apply to TLCP, for three reasons: TLCP courses do not use an open license; increased access to education is never mentioned in any TLCP documents; and there are very few examples of educators outside TLCP voluntarily sharing their products. All of that said, if OCW is viewed as a pragnatic reform, rather than one intended to set a norm, then the link between it and TLCP is easier to see. "Tan Feng (2008) believes that the Top Level Courses Project was China's response to the MIT project" and was implemented to serve the explosive growth of education during a period of massification in China.

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California Embraces Open Source Digital Textbooks
Kara Platoni, Edutopia, December 2, 2010.

Coverage of a program in California to begin the use of open source textbooks. "As California plans to expand its program to subjects other than math and science for grades nine through 12, more states may soon follow its lead. Indiana, Florida, and Virginia, which released its own physics FlexBook via CK-12, are boosting their digital content use."

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files/images/basic-structure-of-an-activity.gif, size: 2400 bytes, type:  image/gif
IFI7144 Task 10 – Activity Theory –> NIE vs. PLENK2010
Reimo, Reimo's Blog, December 2, 2010.

This is an admirable attempt to contextualize PLENK2010 even though I think it ultimately fails. The author uses activity theory to compare our course with NIE (New Interactive Environments). "Activity theory provides us a means to analyze the dynamics of an application or environment as it distinguishes between motives, goals and conditions." Fair enough. But what it shows is that activity theory, as described here, is not really a good frame to describe a connectivist course. For example, the analysis begins by distinguishing between the subject (which would be the students and to some degree the instructors) and the object ("to perfect the concept of PLENK and to establish a valid base on which to build future development in the field"). But that object varies among participants, and from the point of view of the facilitators, the subjects are the objects. The mediating artifact is thus the content of the course, which makes the artifacts in the course part of the subject. And so around we go.

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Boldog születésnapot!
David Beaver, Language Log, December 2, 2010.

"We are the world, we are the linguists, we are the ones who make a better day by making theory." Language Log says, "To mark 20 years of the Theoretical Linguistics program at Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, Hungary, our friends there celebrated with remarkable panache."

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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