OLDaily, by Stephen Downes

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March 8, 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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Rethinking Education
Michael Wesch, YouTube, March 8, 2011.

Another video uploaded by Michael Wesch. Some good stuff. "This video was produced as a contribution to the EDUCAUSE book, The Tower and the Cloud: Higher Education in the Age of Cloud Computing, edited by Richard Katz and available as an e-Book at or commercially Produced in 2007 as a conversation starter in small groups. Released in 2011 as a conversation starter online." Good stuff.

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still no analytics
D'Arcy Norman, D'Arcy Norman dot net, March 8, 2011.

If it's any consolation to D'Arcy Norman, I don't run any analytics on my website either, just a single line of script that counts hits on posts when someone reads them (it produces the aggregate scores for the top posts page, data that is highly suspect and not especially useful. I don't even keep reliable server logs - I rotate them out of existence after a few weeks so they don't fill up my hard drive. Because I agree with Norman: "I can't let myself play egocentric mind games with numbers. I can't delude myself into believing this space is Important, or cringe popular because those things aren't real, and don't matter."

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Assessing Learning Initiatives
Tony Karrer, Learning Circuits Blog, March 8, 2011.

files/images/orange2C20no20drawer.gif, size: 4744 bytes, type:  image/gif The Big Question blog hasn't really excited me for a while, but this month's question is one people can sink their teeth into: "How do you assess whether your informal learning, social learning, continuous learning, performance support initiatives have the desired impact or achieve the desired results?" Some good answers thus far:
- Clark Quinn - Learnlets - Social Media Metrics
- Jay Cross - The Big Question: How to assess learning initiatives…
- Eloise Pasteur - Assessing Informal Learning
- Kasper Spiro - Impact of informal learning: output learning
- Tom Gram, Performance X Design - Evaluating Training and Learning Circa 2011
and Evaluating with the Success Case Method
- Jeff Goldman - Informal Learning... Maybe I can Informally Assess Its Impact

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Learning to Change-Changing to Learn
Consortium on School Networking, YouTube, March 8, 2011.

Video from a couple of years ago released by the Consortium on School Networking. The video consists of short remarks from pundits and observers about the way learning is taking place outside of schools while the buildings themselves would (should) become more like social and networking centres. Generally I am in agreement with the sentiments in the video. But don't miss the comments, which offer pointed criticisms. Such as this: "Everyone thinks they have a "vision" about what a classroom "could be like." But as a teacher, I can tell you that my ENTIRE day is devoted to creating resources, and trying to "innovate" in the classroom."

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files/images/tcyp.jpg, size: 36592 bytes, type:  image/jpeg
21st Century Youth Project
Various Authors, Website, March 8, 2011.

I've written and asked how this project will be sustained, as no revenue model is evident in the public-facing materials. Nonetheless, I think it's worth passing along as an example of the new diversity of approaches to education. " is a free after-school program that teaches, and prepares students with next generation skills while having fun. The students write, design,create, and market applications for the iPhone, iPad, Google Android, and many other mobile computing platforms. Additionally, the program incorporates entrepreneurship, SAT Prep and business courses, preparing students to compete in the global economy. The goal is to create applications that can be sold to their local communities, schools, small businesses, or anyone who owns a mobile platform."

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Bridging 21st Century Gaps: An Essay Review of Mehlenbacher's Technology and Instruction
Gary L. Ackerman, Education Review, March 8, 2011.

files/images/booktae.jpg, size: 10969 bytes, type:  image/jpeg Good review of Brad Mehlenbacher's Technology and Instruction that sets the discussion in the context of the tension between theorist and practitioner. "Until these suspicions and the resulting gaps separating the work of each groups are resolved, education will continue in the current state: scholars' work (both scientific discoveries and epistemological thinking) will be ignored by practitioners; practice will vary according to political whim rather than emerging understanding." I think that's a bit overstated, but more subtle aspects of the debate emerge through the review. For example, while noting that "a recurring theme in the field is the non-neutrality of
ICT," Ackerman suggests that this is "an example of the 'too theoretical' approach that causes practitioners to view scholars with suspicion." Perhaps, but the greater concern, I think, is the tendency of scholars to cite each other rather than the reports of people actually practicing in the field; this leads to a disassociation of scholarly tradition from reality. On a side note, I will give Technology and Instruction the award for 'best book cover of the year' - I know it's early, but I doubt this will be topped.

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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