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July 19, 2011

Aaron Swartz indicted on charges of "wire fraud, computer fraud" etc.
Jason Kottke, Kottke.org, July 19, 2011.

files/images/aaron_swartz-660x440.jpg, size: 54448 bytes, type:  image/jpeg Interesting. Young computer whiz (I can't call him 'teen computer whiz' any more, he's 24, but I remember his work from ten years ago) Aaron Swartz has been indicted on computer hacking charges after he downloaded about a quarter of the JSTOR library. What he was attempting to do is not difficult to guess; in 2009 he used a free trial of the government’s Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system to download 19,856,160 pages of documents in a campaign to place the information free online. The case is odd because the alleged 'victims' declined to mpress charges and said no damage had been caused. Still, Swartz now faces some serious jail time. More form the Register, Wired News, Forbes.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Hackers]

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Two LMS Roads Diverged in a Wood
Rob Reynolds, the xplanation, July 19, 2011.

Rob Reynolds gives us a nice account of the tension points in today's LMS market. To quote:
- Closed or Open
- Centripetal or Centrifugal Learning Models
- Instructor/Student or Institution
- Portal or Mobile
He writes, "The move toward mobile applications, social networking, and open architectures has certainly challenged the traditional LMS paradigm, and seems to favor upstart platforms like Instructure that have been designed from the ground up with these changes in mind."

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Networks, Paradigm Shift]

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The PLE Conference 2011
Various Authors, Website, July 19, 2011.

Thanks to David Delgado I have pretty much a full set of links to the recent Personal Learing Envrionment (PLE) conference held in Southamption, UK. First of all, here's the link to all the papers - there's dozens here and I'm still working my way through them. You can also fine from the conference on Slideshare. There are also live recordings, but fair warning, the sound can be awful at times. I would also be remiss if I didn't mention Graham Attwell's excellent coverage of the conference on Sounds of the Bazaar, Day 1 and Day 2.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Great Britain]

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Youth camp criticized over video game play
Andrew Reimer, True Gaming, July 19, 2011.

files/images/reimercamp.jpg, size: 13074 bytes, type:  image/jpeg It seems to me that the best place to place video games would be in an environment where the lessons learned online could be immediately applied in a real-world environment. Like, say, a summer camp. But as Andrew Reimer discovered, critics focus on the virtual part of it and pretend the real-world part doesn't exist. One critic complains, "It's a bit of an oxymoron to talk about healthy video games. Why don't we talk about healthy activity? Physical activity?" But she doesn't see the irony of her own remark. "Kids get off school, they leave the interior environment of the school, the bus, they into the house, open the fridge and then move to the screens," she said. Right - if there's a thing that needs to be changed, it's not the camp, which does integrate learning and activity, it's the schools, which don't. As Reimer argues, "our approach has been to take kids where they are at, and help them to build a balanced lifestyle, to help kids learn that a bit of videogaming is fine in the context of days filled with physical activity, creative fun and projects, outdoor exploration, and sports."

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Gaming, Schools, Project Based Learning, Video, Online Learning]

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Working Examples
James Paul Gee, Website, July 19, 2011.

This is an idea that combines two well-known bits of educational design: reusable learning resources, and worked examples. I think they blend really well together, and not sure exactly how such a model will play out, but think it could be a really good sort of thing to add to open courses. The idea of a 'worked example' is to take a problem in a domain where there might not be and set response - typically worked examples are used in disciplines like logic or mathematics to show how a problem is solved by an expert. But more, the intent of a worked example is to model the thinking process behind the solution. Here's a sample project - take not of the way there's a development process that helps teams of people collaborate on the examples. And here's the community that has developed around the idea thus far.

James Gee writes, "The WEP proposes to have people show examples of how some aspect (big or small) of their ideas, theories, claims, or hypotheses work in terms that people beyond their own disciplines or domains can understand, assess, and appreciate. These examples are 'worked' in the sense that they are accessibly explicated in terms of how the author thinks about them, how the author sees them fitting into his or her area of expertise, and how the author thinks they might contribute to an emerging interdisciplinary field or collaboration."

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Accessibility, Project Based Learning, Online Learning]

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Teacher Education via ODL From Reflections to Action
Clayton R. Wright, ALT Open Access Repository, July 19, 2011.

Two excellent resources from Clayton R. Wright based on his experiences teaching around the world, 'Teacher Education via ODL From Reflections to Action' and 'The Significance of Education, ODL & ICTs to the People of Developing Nations'. Take the time to carefully review both. The presentations make the case for the need for ODL (open and distance learning) in teacher education, but faces the realities of the developing world head-on, and is clear about the steps that have to be taken for such programs to succeed (including many of the things we take for granted here in Canada, like "pay teachers on time"). I really appreciate the emphasis on making decisions and taking actions. Worthy of mention as well is the superb photography that accompanies and supports the message.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Experience, Canada, Online Learning]

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Design and behaviourism: a brief review
Dan Lockton, , July 19, 2011.

It is now cliché to reject behaviourism in learning design. But this is one of those cases where a close study of the philosophy rewards the effort. Definitely read this article, and if you have the chance (and haven't already) read Skinner's Beyond Freedom and Dignity and Gilbert Ryle's much more difficult The Concept of Mind. I say this (and I think Dan Lockton's article makes it clear) because there is still a lot of behaviourism in contemporary learning design even as the architects mount the standard arguments against it. As Lockton says, "the principles of reinforcement can be seen at work underneath many designed interventions even if they are not explicitly recognised as such." There is no practical difference between "stimulus->response" and "stimulus->(hypothetical mental state, like 'remembering')->response". Or to put the same statement another way, a single-minded focus on outcomes and/or test results is behaviourism, no matter how much you utter your denials.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: none]

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Killing Peer Review
Steve Kolowich, Inside Higher Ed, July 19, 2011.

While some hail the arrival of open access peer-reviewed journals, the author writes, others seek the 'killer app' that would make peer review unnecessary. "It would bypass the formal peer review process, taking pre-publication papers and allowing a community of users (scholars and experts, most likely) to vote papers up or down — much like social bookmarking sites such as Reddit do for articles in the popular press." Nice, but this isn't it. The idea that a single website-based app could handle the job has been, I think, disproved - while sites like Metafilter, Reddit, Digg, and the social network services have all tried ranking and review in their own way, there's no good evidence that the cat photos they elevate to the top of the list are the best content on the web. We need something much more subtle, much more distributed.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Networks, Open Access]

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A short course on mLearning Design (#edumooc)
Rebecca Hogue, rjh.goingeast.ca, July 19, 2011.

files/images/mobilearning.jpg, size: 38073 bytes, type:  image/jpeg This is a short little course on the design of mobile learning. I'm quite sure you could take the course on a mobile device, though I used my desktop computer. The course is very traditionally designed, with modules and objectives and such, and lack most good interactivity (it supports forms-based comments). I would think of it more as a learning resource which you could use in a wider context, like a mobiMOOC. The content is very terse, as we would expect from a mobile resource, but it's good, and well-supported with examples. Your feedback on the resource is being requested from the authors.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Traditional and Online Courses, Interaction, Google, Online Learning]

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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