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September 12, 2011

My eBooks
Stephen Downes, Stephen's Web, September 12, 2011.

Following the posting of my eBook Free Learning in August, I was asked if I had a page listing my eBooks, since it was hard to find. "Good point," I thought, and hence hastened to complete a page listing all of my eBooks. It may surprise people to know that since 2001 I have posted six eBooks online. They all, like Hume's Treatise, "fell stillborn from the press". That's OK, it's not about twitter-clicks, and it leaves room for me to have high hopes for the next one, which is being revised and edited now, and ought to be out shortly.

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Change MOOC starts Mon 12th Sept 2011….
Jenny Mackness, Jenny Connected, September 12, 2011.

As Jenny Mackness observes, the great Change MOOC starts today with an orientation week. It's interesting to read what she perceives are shifts in some important concepts: "Diversity: has shifted from being about the diversity of the environments to the diversity of individual perspectives.
Autonomy: a subtle but important slight shift from managing your own learning to including recognition of individual values."

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Social Learning doesn’t mean what you think it does!
Jane Hart, Learning in the Social Workplace, September 12, 2011.

This is a good article, I agree with it, and you should read it. "Social Business” is not about technology, or about 'corporate culture.' It is a socio-political historical shift that is bigger, broader and much more fascinating." But I'd rather take up my space here to talk about the stream of thought it prompted in me. It came as I read the (oft-repeated) line, "Change itself is changing — it is accelerating and becoming the norm."

And I thought, "wait a second. That's not quite true." Because change, when it becomes a constant, fades into the background and is perceived as static. The river outside changes every day, but we perceive it as static. Clouds are constantly changing, but we just think of them as "clouds". We get new leaders every few years, but we just think of it all as "government." I think we need to be attuned both to the sorts of change that fade into the background, constant changes, and the sorts of changes (which may well become fewer) that are one-time things, sea-changes. Like the change from 'corporate culture' to 'not corporate culture'.

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Attention Please! Learning Analytics for Visualization and Recommendation
Erik Duval, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, September 12, 2011.

Rita Kop sent along this link to an excellent paper on learning analytics by Eric Duval. In the first instance, analytics tracks attention - where did you spend your time? "Attention is a core concern in learning: as learning resources become available in more and more abundant ways, attention becomes the scarce factor." But following form that, analytics can form the basis for goal-oriented systems, dashboards, recommender systems and network analysis. You can also view a slide presentation of this work.

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OERs: Public Service Education and Open Production
Tony Hirst, OUseful Info, September 11, 2011.

Tony Hirst makes the very good point that recent discussions of open educational resources have overlooked recent (and not-so-recent developments in the field of open learning. "from my quick reading of the OER impact report, it doesn’t really seem to consider the “open course” use case demonstrated by MOOCs, the Stanford courses, or mid-70s OU course broadcasts. (Maybe this was out of scope…!;-) Nor does it consider the production of OERs (I think that was definitely out of scope)." If your model of OERs requires their use in in (or as) university courses, then that's all you're going to get. And funding proposals, such as Hirst's, which propose "creating the materials in public and in an openly licensed way, in a way that makes them immediately available for informal study as well as open web discovery, embedding them in a target community," will have to look elsewhere.

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Curiosity-Driven, Not Data-Driven
Beth Kanter, Beth's Blog, September 11, 2011.

Beth Kanter raises the question of data-driven decision making in the non-profit sector. Of course, most of us in the public sector in one place or another have had to deal with someone touting data-driven decision making as the only way to move forward. There's a good conversation on G+. Eric Petersen, she writes, prefers the term data-informed. And Kanter herself prefers "curiosity-driven". In a comment, I point out the well-known and oft-repeated fact that all data is theory-laden. The use of data to inform decision-making, therefore, is just another way to use theory to inform decision-making, albeit a less obvious and surreptitious way. I'm not thrilled by the expression "curiosity-driven" because it suggests irrelevance. I think there's a wide set of bases on which to ground decisions, and that it would be a mistake to abstract the process of decision-making from the context in which it occurs.

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Learning Language and Writing in the Roleplaying World of "Diddorol"
Brandy Carlson, NPR, September 10, 2011.

Interesting approach to what would otherwise be a traditional classroom. That said, it reminds me of my own Grade 7 year in the 1970s. Our public school in Metcalfe experimented with electives, one of which was model parliament - a classic standard - and the other of which was a model society. I was one of two bankers, responsible for clearing cheques and making sure payments were processed. I discovered I didn't enjoy banking and simply stopped clearing cheques. Our model society was not robust enough to survive. We only assume the world of Diddorol is more structured. Though, I think, it would be a better learning experience if it weren't. Anyhow, it's worth listing to the NPR MP3 audio to see what they say about this one.

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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