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January 30, 2012

Testing is dead - RIP
Maggie Hos-McGrane , Tech Transformation, January 30, 2012.

We're in a bit of a conundrum in online learning, I think. I certainly get the arguments for the assertion that "testing is dead," as asserted in this post. "Traditional testing can no longer assess the new skills we want our students to develop." And yet the means by which Norvig and Thrun were able to work with so many students at once was - yes - online testing. So testing is not dead. Of course from such dilemmas come the next great innovations (which is why so many people are looking so hard at learning analytics).

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Online Learning, Tests and Testing]

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Crowdsource My Basement Design
Karl Fisch, The Fischbowl, January 30, 2012.

The idea of crowdsourcing your basement design is so delicious I can't pass it by. Karl Fisch posts a number of photos of his existing space and links to a homestyler plan and encourages readers to collectively redesign it. When looking at the photos I wanted to focus on the ceiling and wall paint (or panels) but there doesn't seem to be an option for that. You really need to brighten a space like a basement because there are so few windows.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Operating Systems]

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Making universities obsolete
Matt Welsh, Volatile and Decentralized, January 30, 2012.

There's a lengthy comment thread following this post from Matt Welsh describing three ways today's universities are failing:
- Exclusivity - "I estimate that I taught fewer than 500 students in total during my eight years on the faculty at Harvard. That's a pretty poor track record by any stretch."
- Grades - "the idea is that if you can't get through a course in the 12-to-13 week semester then you deserve to fail, regardless of whatever is going on in your life."
- Lectures - "it was to boost my ego and get some gratification for working so hard on the lectures."
The upshot is that online learning is challenging some of these bedrock assumptions of the traditional system. Yes, it's true that "a shallow, 18-minute video on the first 200 years of American History can't replace conventional coursework, deep reading, and essays." But online learning today isn't that (or to the extent that it is, it's changing). Via Seb Schmoller.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Video, United States, Online Learning]

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How Apple Can Solve Its China Problem
Mike Elgan, Cult of Mac, January 30, 2012.

Apple is on the verge of a public relations nightmare, and from all accounts, possibly deservedly so. This article looks at what Apple can to do improve its image (and by happy coincidence, conditions for workers in its Chinese factories). But I would like to make a more general point: If goods and capital can move freely from country to country, and people cannot, then people are and always will be slaves to goods and capital. We as a global society will not solve our Apple problem until people are free to live and work where they choose.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Apple Inc., China]

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files/images/The_Independent_Project.png, size: 281914 bytes, type:  image/png
What Happens When You Leave Students Alone?
Susan Engel, Edudemic, January 30, 2012.

I have made the case on numerous occasions that independent learning fails only because we have given our students no freedom to learn independently. Today a couple of posts come along reinforcing that argument, this one from Edudemic (summarizing a NY Tiems article) describing students in the Independent Project - "remarkable because they demonstrate the kinds of learning and personal growth that are possible when teenagers feel ownership of their high school experience" - and this one from Daniel Lemire describing his two rules for teaching: assign open-ended projects, and be an authentic role model.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Schools, Project Based Learning, Experience]

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Getting Started with Drupal…01.27.12
RachelVacekandNinaMcHale, The Proverbial Lone Wolf Librarian's Weblog, January 30, 2012.

In one of my personal projects I using Drupal to set up a community web site. The learning curve is steep as it always has been but Drupal has a lot of advantages for community projects intended to support multiple users. This link is to a longish slide show introducing Drupal to web designers. Even if you're not building websites it's useful to take a look just to familiarize yourself with the concepts and vocabulary.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Project Based Learning, Drupal, Content Management Systems, Online Learning]

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A Day in the life of an “OER Librarian”
Scott Leslie, EdTechPost, January 30, 2012.

files/images/5756886230_8eca3f87a4_m.jpg, size: 34455 bytes, type:  image/jpeg Scott Leslie describes his experience as an 'OER librarian' searching for open-access textbooks that can be used to replace the more proprietary versions currently in use. Among his discoveries: the generic Google search is nearly useless for a task like this, there's no one-stop OER reference point but a few collections are useful, and open source products are much more likely than proprietary products to have open source manuals. And, "I can foresee a dynamic approach, supported by any number of systems (a wiki might work well) in which... If done in something that allowed for easy 'clipping' and republishing of collected work into a new textbook, this iterated approach could go a long way to the creation of a new text that worked at all the levels of granularity it needed to."

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Open Educational Resources, Books, Google, Open Source, Experience]

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Publishing News: Ereader ownership doubles, again
Jenn Webb, O'Reilly Radar, January 30, 2012.

E-reader ownership doubled in a month. Yes, a month - from 10 percent of adults in December to almost twice that in January.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Adult Learning]

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The Squeezed Middle: Exploring the Future of Library Systems
Ben Showers, JISC, January 30, 2012.

Really interesting summary of a recent two-day conference on libraries in the information age. The conference produced a list of library systems objectives, and in addition, writes Ben Showers, several themes emerged: dealing with data rather than systems; the impact of outsourcing on skills and roles; shared infrastructure; and personalization. "An example of one of the presentations can be found on Paul Walk’s blog. The other three were by Ken Chad; Paul Stainthorp and David Kay, and all their presentations will be made available shortly."

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Personalization, Google]

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How Online Learning Companies Bought America's Schools
Lee Fang, The Nation, January 30, 2012.

The problem wasn't that online enterprises bought "America's schools". The problem was that they were for sale to begin with.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Schools]

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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