OLDaily, by Stephen Downes

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December 28, 2010

Death by -ism
Lisa Durff, Durff's Blog, December 28, 2010.

files/images/bubblus_EDUC8845_Bloom2527s-_Learning_Theories.jpg, size: 8776 bytes, type:  image/jpeg Some really smart thinking from Lisa Durff, which I'll quote at length because the post, visible in my RSS Reader, doesn't appear on her blog (I assume this is a Blogger error, and not a retraction, because there's really no reason to retract this post).

"After reading the posts and comments by Bill Kerr, Karl Kapp, and Stephen Downes, I created the graphic [at right] combining the learning theories and Bloom's Revised Taxonomy. Karl Kapp suggests that the lower levels could best utilize the Behaviorist theory, while Cognitivism addresses the middle levels and the top levels are best described by Constructionism. This graphic neatly puts Bloom's and the three -isms into place, but leaves out the fourth -ism -> Connectionism. Perhaps Bloom's needs yet another revision, adding another level for learning which is best explained by the Connectionism theory. It might say forming PLNs & networks.

I have challenged @gsiemens on twitter to define his theory in the allotted 140 characters.He answered me with, 'knowledge exists in connections. Learning is growing/pruning those connections.' So I see another level may be needed as well, one that says-> Pruning & Cultivating Connections. I do agree with Karl Kapp that different ways of learning are best explained by different theories and that teachers should not limit themselves to one theory but should be able to use an arsenal of methods (grounded in various theories) to educate students. Bill Kerr also considers each -ism to be valuable for various ways of understanding learning."

I've create my own graphic, below, which extends Bloom's as suggested, adding a 'Connectivism' level with the related skills, 'relate' and 'integrate'. I don't completely agree with this approach - there are places where Behaviorism and Cognitivism are just plain wrong - but I think there's insight in the method.
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Eight-year-old children publish bee study in Royal Society journal
Unattributed, Discover, December 28, 2010.

This story has been all over the web and even in traditional media over the last couple of weeks. In a nutshell, a class of eight-year-old children from Blackawton Primary School has published a study of bees in Biology Letters, an academic journal published by the Royal Society. Now all due scepticism cautions us to point out that the authors had the ample help and support of Beau Lotto, a neuroscientist at University College London and skilled self-promoter (hence his TED talk), and David Strudwick, Blackawton's head teacher. Still. The publication is the culmination of a project called 'i, scientist', designed to get students to actually carry out scientific research themselves. And that, not the gee-whiz publication, is the heart of the story. Children can and should contribute to real-world science, and moreover, this is the best way, in my view, to help them learn.

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Unhosted: Breaking the SaaS Monopoly
Klint Finley, ReadWriteWeb, December 28, 2010.

files/images/island.png, size: 60208 bytes, type:  image/png "Unhosted," writes , "is a new project attempting to break the monopoly that SaaS providers have over users' data by seperating applications from data." As the website explains, "A website is a specific web app, hosted on a specific server farm. There is a limited number of big centralized websites, that we all connect to." So, for example, we all use Google, Flickr, Twitter, etc. "Our web has been taken hostage and monopolized. Unhosted web apps are not hosted on one specific server farm. They are freed. The once-important server farms now become commodity infrastructure, and authors of unhosted web apps liberate the user." It's a good idea. One of the reasons I write my own software and manage my own database is so I can move my website on a moment's notice (as I've had to do several times in the past). I own my data in a way that, say, a Blogger user doesn't, really. Here's the unhosted manifesto and here's the code on GitHub. Via D'Arcy Norman.

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Founder of 'Arts & Letters Daily' Dies
Unattributed, Chronicle of Higher Education, December 28, 2010.

Denis Dutton, the founder and editor of Arts & Letters Daily, has died. See also this notice in the L.A. Times. I once met Dutton on my first and only trip to New York, in 2000. I had been invited by Jeffrey Kittay, then the publisher of University Business to discuss the future of online learning and learning technology with him. He had just published my paper Nine Rules for Good Technology. Founded in 1998, A&L Daily was acquired by University Business in November 1999. When University Business folded in 2002, the website was taken over by the Chronicle of Higher Education. I was a regular reader of A&L Daily, and had designed NewsTrolls in a similar format. And for my new email newsletter, which I began sending in 2001, I borrowed from Dutton the 'Daily' of OLDaily. A tip of the OLDaily cap, then, a salute and a "hail! well met!" to Denis Dutton, a pioneer in our field.

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Egg-Shaped Robots Teaching Kids English in South Korea
Brian Heater, Gearlog, December 28, 2010.

Robots replacing teachers? Not exactly. But if you can't bring the teacher to the classroom, the robot might help. "The robots stand around 3.3 feet high. The aforementioned human face--that of a Caucasian woman--is located on a small TV panel. The robots are controlled by be English teachers in the Philippines who are monitoring the kids' reactions remotely. The teachers' expressions, meanwhile, are detected by cameras and displayed on the robot teacher's face." More here, here and here.

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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