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October 31, 2011

Social Network Technologies for Learning (2)
Stephen Downes, October 29, 2011, Instituto Cervantes, New York City

A slightly revised version of the presentation on Social Networks given the previous day. The audio, however, is very different. Abstract: In this presentation, Stephen Downes offers an inside look at these technologies, how they work, what they can do, and where they will likely lead the future of learning online. Downes will first outline some well-known technologies such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, describing how they are used and outlining how they manage online communication in general.

[Link] [Slides] [Audio]

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Games in 7 minutes
Dean Groom, Design for Learning, October 31, 2011.

Dean Groom recommends this video. He writes, "There are a lot of videos about games – this one is an excellent blend of theory and culture. When you’ve finished, create your own story at Massively Minecraft." I'd love to - if only I could find the extra hours in a day, and no, I'm not about to trade virtual hockey for Minecraft. Here's more from Dean Groom on Minecraft. And a well-spoken caution to scholars: "What I’d like to know, should our work not be seen as important or relevant is this … What have you created in the metaverse that we can learn from to correct our foolish errors to make the experience better for our players? [just supply the link]. Please avoid dive-bombing the work of non-scholars (whatever that means) from a lofty perch, as that position is somewhat of an assumption. The greatest sword fighter in all the world delivered pizza." Well said.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Video]

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Codecademy and the Future of (Not) Learning to Code
Audrey Watters, Hack Education, October 31, 2011.

If you can get past Audrey Watters's potty-mouth there's a good point buried in this post. It's this: "those who love Codecademy and see it as the great new way to learn how to code already know how to code." This is a deficiency not limited to online learning - I remember complaining about logic textbooks that would skip steps - they were written by people who see these steps as obvious, when to those who don't know the subject well, they just seem mysterious. Watters also points to the core debate surrounding badges (and, for that matter, credentials): "the people who want to learn to code want to learn to code and the reward should be that knowledge, not some virtual item."

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Online Learning]

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Socialtext Continues to Focus on Workplace Integration
Bill Ives, Portals and KM, October 31, 2011.

files/images/illus_features_dashboard.png, size: 68121 bytes, type:  image/png I riutibely run into products and companies I want to keep an eye on. This is one of those. Ross Mayfield has been working on SocialText for years - I remember when Seb Paquet went to work for them for a bit in the mid 2000s. And the software continues to develop. Bill Ives writes, "You can filter activities by people or the type of event. Events within other systems such as CRM tools can be included in the activity stream through the Socialtext REST API. This is an excellent feature as it can avoid the information silos that can develop with independent enterprise 2.0 tools. I recently added in a post, Putting Social Media to Work, this integration is what enterprise 2.0 needs to do to move beyond Web 2.0 in the enterprise."

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Web 2.0, Portals]

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Lifting Student Achievement by Weeding Out Harmful Teachers
Eric Hanushek, Eduwonk, October 31, 2011.

files/images/PISA.png, size: 49910 bytes, type:  image/png I read on a regular basis posts offering the argument that educational outcomes could be improved by "weeding out" the ineffective teachers. This is one. Eric Hanushek argues, "The future of our schools depends heavily on dealing with the small number of teachers who simply should not be in the classroom." The argument is even supported with "data" (see right). "If, as noted, we could replace just the bottom 5-10 percent of teachers with an average teacher, we could expect the achievement of U.S. students to rise at least to the level of Canada and perhaps to Finland."

How stupid is this argument? Well, consider a sports team. The team president walks in and announces "we need to remove the poorest two players and replace them with stars." The general manager looks at the team president and says, "well duh. How do you propose to do that?" The presumption in Hanushek's argument is that you can just replace duds with stars. In the real world, it doesn't work like that. The stars aren't available. They cost more (probably more than the salary cap will support). They don't want to play for your team. The weak players turn out to have had intangibles - they're role players, they're locker-room leaders. And so on. Arguing on the basis of made-up economics that you can just replace bad teachers and get magical results is deceptive and misleading.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Schools, Canada]

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You can’t manage informal learning – only the use of informal media
Jane Hart, Learning in the Social Workplace, October 31, 2011.

The article is good and the graphic (above) is compelling. The main point is "informal learning is not something L&D can design into the formal training mix, in order to try and “manage” everything everybody learns in the organisation (an impossible task!) – but rather is something that needs to be supported and enhanced as it occurs naturally in the workflow – in order to help people learn to do their jobs (better)." All very good. But while there is some research regarding the 80-20 figure, I wish I could be more confident that the other data in the diagram were not simply made up by the author.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Research]

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SlideSpeech and Wikicourses
John Graves, YouTube, October 31, 2011.

Short video comparing SlideSpeech and Wikicourses. "This video is one in a series at http://bit.ly/openallure following the SlideSpeech project http://slidespeech.org Voice from IVONA."

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Project Based Learning, Video]

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Learning Analytics: Time Series Visualization
David Wiley, iterating toward openness, October 31, 2011.

Some simple learning analytics - David Wiley discusses and describes a tool that, as shown above, demonstrates the relationship between visits to the course site and grades. The results are pretty much what you would imagine. (It occurs to me that if such data were posted, there would be some student (there's always one) in the class who would visit the site over and over in hopes of obtaining a better grade, thus confusing a necessary condition with a sufficient one).

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

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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