OLDaily, by Stephen Downes

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March 2, 2011

The dissonance between the constructivist paradigm and the implementation of institutional e-learning
David T. Jones, The Weblog of (a) David Dones, March 2, 2011.

Assumption #6 of the constructivist classroom, writes David T, Jones, is that "Teacher's role is interactive, rooted in negotiation." What I've always felt about this perspective is that, by the time you've entered the classroom, most of the decisions have already been made, and you're left negotiating the details, not anything of significance. This is an effect exaggerated in an online environment. Jones writes, "Replace teacher with some of the following terms and ask yourself if the focus is on interaction and negotiation: Moodle, Mahara, the Information Technology Division, university policies, and perspectives of senior management. As I've argued before, the nature of a technology like an LMS (an enterprise information system) and the governance and support processes used to implement that technology within an institution are directly the opposite of interaction and negotiation."

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Presentations I've recently enjoyed watching
George Siemens, elearnspace, March 2, 2011.

If you haven't been following the learning analytics conference you've been missing out on a treat. You can get some sense of it from these presentations. You'll want especially to view Terry Anderson's and Jon Dron's presentations, which depict connectivism as a 'third wave' of distance learning development, and which postulate a 'fourth wave' consisting of analytics and 'soft' learning support. It's an elegant theoretical move and one well worth pondering.

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TED, Known For Big-Idea Conferences, Pushes Into Education
Jeff Young, Chronicle of Higher Education, March 2, 2011.

files/images/ted.jpg, size: 22698 bytes, type:  image/jpeg Expect to see a set of shortened, carefully vetted, rich-patron-friendly and TV-pretty presentations on education in the near future. Yes, TED is bringing its brand of "ideas worth spreading" to education. "The system is not up yet, but the online forum is scheduled to open as early as next week, says Logan Smalley, whose title is TED-Ed catalyst. The videos will be added in the coming months, he says." Tell 'em Jimmy says, if the ideas in education are worth spreading, they're in OLDaily, not TED.

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Who Elected Bill Gates?
Gary Stager, Huffington Post, March 2, 2011.

files/images/2011-03-01-studentspendvsachievementblog-thumb.jpg, size: 86597 bytes, type:  image/jpeg I saw the graph at right in a in a column by Bill Gates. I was inclined to link to it, but I find myself far more sympathetic with Gary Stager's response. " In his incredibly condescending TED Talk, Gates went on to suggest that we film excellent teaching and share it with others; another long-established practice he thinks he invented to rescue children from all of the awful teachers consciously suppressing standardized test scores. Gates doesn't offer to film the classrooms his children attend, but rather the obedience schools like KIPP he prescribes for poor children. In the world of Bill Gates his children deserve one quality of educational experience and other people's children should receive a joyless diet of remediation, testing, deprivation, compliance and shame.

But you know, if we're going to reduce education policy debates to simplistic graphs, perhaps Gates and his allies should consider my reworking of his graph, below, and ponder what really is the problem in the educational system.
files/images/gates.jpg, size: 57152 bytes, type:  image/jpeg

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Developmental robotics: the cute baby robot who will grow up to be just like you
Ross Dawson, Trends in the Living Networks, March 2, 2011.

files/images/2010_01_crawl2_small_large.jpg, size: 13987 bytes, type:  image/jpeg The coolest thing I've seen this week is the concept of 'motor babbling' - that is, the way a robot 'babbles' (just like a baby) as a way of using neural networks to define and create a map of its sensory-motor environment. I found the concept - and a detailed description of how it works - in this paper, one of many I read following up the postings from the Robot Cub. Ross Dawson reports, "We are at the cusp of a new phase of robotics, where some of what has been promised to us for decades will come to fruition. An example of this is the iCub, a humanoid baby robot that can learn, emulating human cognition and development. This is the field of ‘developmental robotics': creating robots that can learn and develop their capabilities over time." The best learning theory, I say, is one that actually results in learning. Don't miss the videos on Dawson's post.

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Ask, So What?
Linda Harasim and Shalon Sims, Ask, So Wjat?, March 2, 2011.

Linda Harasim and Shalon Sims have launched a new site on learning technology amnd/or distance education called "Ask, So Wjat?" It's an odd name for the concept, which is basically to "look critically at education, social media, policy & research." Tony Bates writes, "I'm guessing Linda's idea is to create a web site that encourages discussion about issues, rather than (like mine) a set of statements by the author which may or may not promote in-depth discussion. I look forward to Linda taking on some of the online gurus and challenging their statements." We wish them the best, of course, and I've subscribed to the feed, so we'll see where it goes from here.

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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