OLDaily, by Stephen Downes

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March 11, 2011

NDPR John Bolender, The Self-Organizing Social Mind
Reviewed by Georg Theiner, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews, March 11, 2011.

I totally want a copy of this book, though for now the review is by itself plenty to chew on. In The Self-Organizing Social Mind "Bolender's discussion builds on the work of cognitive anthropologist Alan Page Fiske, who has provided considerable evidence that people rely on four elementary cognitive schemata ('models') to structure and coordinate most of their social relationships." The models are:
- communal sharing - people are treated as equivalent and undifferentiated
- authority ranking - people are ordered in some linear hierarchy
- equality matching - social relationships are monitored for balance
- market pricing - relationships are structured by proportions
But Bolender goes way beyond Fiske. "What explains the spontaneous symmetry breakings of the basic social-relational models? Bolender suggests that they are produced by (in fact, identical with; p. 120) spontaneous symmetry breakings in the firing patterns of a single neural network in the brain -- a 'social pattern generator'."

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What we can learn from an exemplary 1-to-1 iPad program
Ronnie Burt, The edublogger, March 11, 2011.

files/images/ipad-28o14qs.png, size: 55829 bytes, type:  image/png Ronnie Burt writes, "West Moreton Anglican College is one of our Edublogs Campus schools and has recently rolled out an iPad program for their year 12 students. Each student is given a school owned iPad (with a case and screen protector) for the year. Students can take the tablet home but must return it at the end of the year. What we liked most about the program is the extensive and informative blog the technology team has set up to keep students, families, and staff informed." No doubt the program is worth watching, but I would think a blog should contain more than four short posts before being called "extensive and informative." Less hype, more fact please.

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The Net Generation and the Myth of Research
Jim Shimabukuro, educational technology & change, March 11, 2011.

Jim Shimabukuro is "wondering why Mark Bullen is spending so much energy trying to prove that they're not different and claiming otherwise is 'dangerous.'" I confess to a similar puzzlement myself. As with any generalization, the 'net gen' phenomenon is overstated and over the top. But it's not like there's no data; I've seen all kinds of stats like this showing generational differences in everything from mobile phone use to newspaper reading to trust in authority. So what's the issue? Shimabukuro summarizes it as follows: "The argument goes something like this: If the 'Net Generation' is truly different, then colleges would have to change instructional practices to accommodate the new learning style. It's this need to change that represents a danger for Bullen... if Bullen and others like him can prove that the "Net Generation" is a sham, a fake, a myth, then all's right with the world and college professors, administrators, and staff can continue as they have for the last century and a half without fear."

But what about the research. Ah, this is where Shimabukuro's article shines, as it is a systemic shredding not only of Bullen's research but also other research making the same argument. "A closer look at what he refers to as 'research reveals what amounts to reviews of literature masquerading as research and studies with limited generalizability and often conflicting or confounding findings." Yes there is overstatement and the gurus of 'net gen learning' should be viewed critically. But the sceptics shouldn't be given a free ride. There are observable behavioural changes, and to simply pretend they don't exist because some badly designed studies don't reveal them is to deny reality. "The difference isn't so much in their ability to do or not do the things that I consider ICT savvy. It's in their expectations and view of the world.

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The Learning Design Support Environment (LDSE)
Diana Laurillard, ALT, March 11, 2011.

Presentation on how to stimulate teacher collaboration (and reduce the workload of lesson design) though the development of pedagogical patterns. The presentation shows how the structure of a lesson can stay the same across different contents. Thus (pictured above) the tutorial 'using a search engine' and the tutorial 'the water cycle' can use the same pedagogical structure. It appears that a prototype has been developed and used to map patterns to costs and benefits of learning. But, with all due respect, these patterns can be a serious proposal to support learning design. Minimally, such a system needs to support roles, flexible scheduling, identification of learning resources, metadata for searching for patterns, etc. - in other words, the whole infrastructure that developed the last time somebody proposed computationally templating pedagogical patterns.

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Logic model
Various Authors, WikiEducator, March 11, 2011.

So, is the purpose of Open Educational Resources to feed the formal education sector as it maintains its fee-for service model of providing learning and granting credentials? One would think not - but so far as I can judge, this is the concept at the core of the 'logic model' for OER-U, the concept being proposed by WikiEducator and the Commonwealth of Learning. Comments are being invited now.

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Halve your Firefox start-up time with the hackiest hack ever
Sebastian Anthony, Download Squad, March 11, 2011.

files/images/firefoxlogonew250.jpg, size: 17782 bytes, type:  image/jpeg The Chrome experiment is over and I'm back to using Firefox for now, at least on the home computer. I tested Chrome for a good month. It's a very good browser. But I really missed 'view selection source' in Chrome. Also, the textbox behaviour was wrong - clicking a spot after the end of the line moved the cursor to the beginning of the line, not the end of the line. The comment box on my Halfanhour blog doesn't show up in Chrome. And the copy function frequently misfired. Chrome was faster but Firefox's beta version has now sped up considerably. And finally, this little add-on more than doubles the start-up time, long my major gripe about Firefox.

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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