OLDaily, by Stephen Downes

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November 8, 2011

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ED Launches Registry; Microsoft Takes Over TEACH
Ian Quillen, Education Week, November 8, 2011.

It's hard to connect all the dots in events south of the border, but what we have is that the Department of Education officially launched a learning registry yesterday - it's supposed to be "a new approach to capturing, sharing, and analyzing learning resource data to broaden the usefulness of digital content to benefit educators and learner" (but its news page hasn't been updated since April). Meanwhile, the Department announced today that it would be handing the TEACH campaign, including the teach.gov website, to Microsoft. Full coverage of both at Ed Week.

All this is a part of what Will Richardson notes is a rhetoric talking about blowing up education. And it raises some serious questions; "the monied interests are going to have much to say about which direction education takes from here."

Meanwhile, the Occupy movement has hit education, with a protest at Tweed hall, the Department of Education building, yesterday. More coverage here. Here's video coverage. This has been building online for a while. Sadly, their Facebook page is gone, though a people's agenda poll remains, calling for an end to high stakes testing, supporting smaller classes and calling for more input. But most importantly, as Mike Klonsky says, to refocus the whole school reform narrative. There's also video here. Even Jay Cross has commentary on the relation between the Occupy movement or education.

We may be on the brink of a networked society, but the most important question remains unanswered: who owns it?

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Microsoft]

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Colleges Join In For Google+ Pages Launch
Mike Petroff, .eduGuru, November 8, 2011.

So Google has launched 'pages' in Google+, and businesses and brands (as Wired says) invaded the social networking site yesterday evening. "Curiously, considering how aggressive Google has been about forcing real names on Google Plus, there seems to be zero verification for Pages." See also this item and this item. From my own perspective is was a disaster. Now mind you, I've got several thousand people in my circles, and I was enjoying listening to them post back and forth about things. But pages are intended for branding businesses and such - they're advertisements. Anyhow, the notices immediately began to flood my Google+ stream. As I complained yesterday, the page notices were in my in-box, they were in my stream, they were in comment threads, they were everywhere! I threw up my hands and left. I took a peek today but the stream of shared G+ pages continues, and commenting on other items seems to have been reduced to a short sentence or less. But it's more than just that - I realized as I watched the flood of pages being created that Google is effectively replacing the web. And I'm not sure I really want to have any part of that.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Google]

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Why Aren’t Students Using E-Books?
Audrey Watters, MindShift, November 8, 2011.

files/images/textbooks_digital.jpg, size: 21529 bytes, type:  image/jpeg Why aren’t students using E-Books? because they're too expensive, maybe? Because you can't share them? Because they don't exist for many textbooks? Audrey Watters writes, "it does highlight the ways in which students’ needs aren’t being met yet by digital content providers. That means there’s still a huge opportunity here to reshape what the textbooks of the future look like. Openly licensed content, for example, could address students’ concerns about sharing. Better social tools could help meet their needs for social reading and learning."

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The sods must be crazy: OLPC to drop tablets from helicopters to isolated villages
Ryan Paul, Ars Technica, November 8, 2011.

files/images/helicopter_01-4eb290c-intro-thumb-640xauto-27305.jpg, size: 101021 bytes, type:  image/jpeg I'm not sure whether the idea is genius or insane (though I suspect most people would be tending to suspect the latter). "The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) ... organization plans to drop the touchscreen computers from helicopters near remote villages in developing countries. The devices will then be abandoned and left for the villagers to find, distribute, support, and use on their own." And people say we don't give learners in our MOOCs enough support! This is way out there. John Connell says, "I can’t help but see a few poten­tial flaws." Yeah. In related OLPC news, Wayan Vota accuses the organization of eating its own supporters. "The OLPC Association is taking legal action against programs that are trying to implement One Laptop Per Child deployments" over the use of the OLPC name. Because the OLPC name, I guess, is reserved only for turkey drops. "Oh my god they're computers!"

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Video]

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Aakash $35 tablet: pedagogical affordances and investment advice
Teemu Leinonen, FLOSSE Posse, November 8, 2011.

Teemu Leinonen reviews the $35 tablet computer on sale in India, and though I haven't used the computer myself, I'm not really sure I can endorse his recommendations. His main complaint about the tablet is that it wasn't designed with a pedagogical purpose. "From [a] research (or innovation) point of view," he writes, "I do not find it very interesting. Aakash is just a cheap tablet." Well, yes. That was the point. Now there may well be room for significant improvements - a capacitive touchscreen, for example, rather than a resistive one. Does that impair the user experience so as to render the phone unusable? I don't know. But assuming it doesn't, I don't think I would endorse Leinonen to poorer school districts that they just sit and wait. Students don't wait - they grow and develop without regard to the computer futures market. You have to do the best you can for them now - and in my mind, the $35 tablets represent the best, not paper and pencil.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Schools, Research, Experience]

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Take the Interview Enhances Job Candidate Screening With Video
Sarah Kessler, Mashable, November 8, 2011.

This is an excellent idea: "Take the Interview is a job interview service that adds a video component to job candidate screening... giving employers important information about how candidates present themselves earlier in the interview process." Basically, the service records job candidates giving video answers to standard interview questions. HR staff can review these videos as part of the pre-screening process. What would be an even better idea? An educational service that had candidates practice using video, providing pressive feedback about how to improve their performance.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Video]

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Convivial space: The Lark Harbour Public Library
Colin Lankshear and Michele Knobel, Everyday Literacies , November 7, 2011.

Colin and/or Michele write(s), "Among the things I love most about our getaway place in Newfoundland is its relatively unmediated state: there's no landline, no cable, no internet and, best of all, there is no mobile phone access within 20 kilometers. It is like a small liberation to be able to get out and about without seeing people everywhere with their heads buried in a phone and, especially, to be free from being hostaged to conversations." And I thought, as I read this, "it's funny - I feel this way about cars." But there's no escape from cars - and nobody seems to care. I suppose it's a matter of perspective, but I don't get why people who tolerate cars (and the sound of internal combustion in general) get upset over mobile phones.

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The Battle For Openness In The LMS Market
Matt Crosslin, EduGeek Journal, November 7, 2011.

In the world of the LMS, there are different kinds of openness, as this post makes clear. There's the openness in the sense that the source code is open source software, openness in the sense that content may be freely imported and exported, and openness in the sense that the system may be accessed from outside the system. So which sort of 'open' is Pearson's new open LMS? There have been some tantalizing mock-ups or screen shots, but the questions remain unanswered. Matt Crosslin asks, "What about those instructors that don’t want to use Google services? What about those courses that use specific web tools for specific reasons based on the specifics of the field they are in? How hard will it be to plug in embed codes or APIs from non-Google services?" Good questions all.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Google, Open Source]

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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