OLDaily, by Stephen Downes

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March 7, 2011

Feature Article
Progress and Learning
Stephen Downes, March 7, 2011.

I commented, here, "The best learning I've ever done has been on my own, working through a hard problem, by reading and then writing, either text, or software, or derivations. This is also the hardest learning I've done; most of the people I could talk to don't understand it well enough to explain it, and attempting to work it through leads to more confusion than clarity." Harvested from Half an Hour.

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Feature Article
What Networks Have In Common
Stephen Downes, March 5, 2011.

David T. Jones asks, "Does connectivism conflate or equate the knowledge/connections with these two levels ("neuronal" and "networked")? Regardless of whether the answer is yes or no, what are the implications that arise from that response?" The answer to the first question is 'yes', but with some caveats. Harvested from Half an Hour.

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Yes, I am Frustrated
Jennifer Wagner, Thoughts By Jen, March 7, 2011.

Jennifer Wagner is frustrated with personal learning networks (PLNs).
- the honeymoon is over
- I am right, therefore you must be wrong mentality
- we have stopped listening
- we are forgetting who the true experts are
- we have built ourselves into an educational silo
Yes, if your network is (what I have been calling) a group, it will fail. What would I recommend? The same thing I have always recommended: Diversity - start talking to new people; Autonomy - step away from the group and forge your own path; Openness - start listening to new ideas, going to different conferences; Interactivity - focus on the connections and the communities, not the individual messages from individual people.

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Upside's Learning Design Philosophy
Abhijit Kadle, Upside Learning Design, March 7, 2011.

files/images/learning-design-philosophy.png, size: 117372 bytes, type:  image/png This diagram will resonate with a lot of people, which is why I'm running it. And it's hard to find more authoritative figures on which to base an instructional design philosophy. Abhijit Kadle writes, "Learning design is not just a science, it is an art... We like to look at instructional design in two clear veins, the first is the philosophy of learning design – the beliefs and faith in models that underly everything we do in design. The second is the methodology, the method and process based on these models." It's interesting to me to observe that the instructional design theories are more like taxonomies or categorizations, rather than principles or descriptions of underlying mechanisms.

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Course Closed
Adam Manternach, Fictional Crossover, March 7, 2011.

Causual Writing was Adam Manternach's first attempt to teach an online course. It was developed and devivered using class.io. "I like their simplistic notification style and the ability to flawlessly integrate Google Docs and Calendar," he wrote when the course was launched. Today the course was closed, the lone student remaining from four initial registrations being served directly by email and Google Docs. But for all that, the course was a 'successful failure'. "The biggest success here was the participant who had never written before. She has shared poetry and memoir snapshots and story beginnings with me. She has jumped into reading for herself (and redoubled her efforts to reading to her little boys)."

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We Can't Teach Critical Thinking Until We Learn How to Assess It
John Adsit, educational technology & change, March 7, 2011.

We can't teach critical thinking until we know how to assess it, argues John Adsit. "A course that focuses instruction on thinking skills needs to focus assessment on thinking skills as well, and here teachers and course designers are often equally baffled," he writes. "Assessment is actually the key. If students are assessed by how they use thinking skills... then they will need to be taught how to do it in the first place." All very good, but to assess for critical thinking skills you have to know what they are in the first place. Skills that merely lean toward textual analysis, as in the examples given here, will be insufficient. A wider definition of critical thinking is necessary.

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FYI: TMI: Toward a holistic social theory of information overload
Anthony Lincoln, First Monday, March 7, 2011.

Cracking smart paper - easily the best I've read thus far this year - on the subject of rationality and information overload. You'll find more ideas in this one paper than an entire issue of most journals. As I read the introduction I was feeling the author definitively explain why educational theory should not be the domain of economists ("much in the same way that economic models dependent on rationality for their explanations or projections fail (often spectacularly, as recent history attests), models that rely too heavily upon the same rational behavior, and not heavily enough upon the interplay of actual social dynamics - power, reputation, norms, and others - in their attempts to explain, project, or address information overload prove bankrupt as well"). Toward the middle I was wondering whether I should describe networks as 'rational'. "Economic rationality (the term), then, is as much a construct as economic man; human rationality in itself is as dependent on mood as any other behavioral trait." Yet by the end, the author and I seem to be on the same wavelength. More from the current issue of First Monday.

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Blogs and blogging: Current trends and future directions
Anders Olof Larsson and Stefan Hrastinski, First Monday, March 7, 2011.

From the abstract: "This paper presents a review of research on blogs and blogging within the social sciences and the humanities. It attempts to map out what kind of research has been conducted, how it has been performed and what gaps that might need to be filled. Specifically, the paper will analyze all articles on blogs and blogging indexed by the ISI Web of Knowledge." After an interesting paper, the authors conclude "a typical blog research article is a sociological or psychological, empirical study that use and carefully describe a quantitative method. It is aimed at the organizational level of study and focuses on blogs or bloggers as the sole units of analysis." I find it interesting to note that if you simply publish your own opinion, that's non-empirical, but if you gather other people's opinions, count them, and publish the number, that's empirical.

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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