OLDaily, by Stephen Downes

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February 2, 2012

We Are More Than Algorithms
John T. Spencer, Education Rethink, February 2, 2012.

When I read a statement like "we are more than algorithms" two things come to my mind:
- it depends on what you mean by "we", and
- it depends on what you mean by "algorithms"
Because, after all, an algorithm is, broadly construed a process or mechanism for doing something. Now if by that you mean 'a set of rules', then I agree, we are more than that. But if you mean by 'we' that there is some aspect of our comprehension that is by definition not representable through some process or mechanism, then I disagree. Simply setting the iPod down and jamming instead is the unthinking response. It's easy and glib to say 'we are more than algorithms' but in fact there are (or are going to be) algorithms that comprehend the innovative, the improvisational and the messy. And we can learn them. And we can become virtuosos - with or without the iPod.

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Noam Chomsky on the purpose of #education
Inge de Waard, Ignatia Webs, February 2, 2012.

Mostly my thinking is in alignment with Noam Chomsky's so it is not surprising to find his reflections on the subject of education reasonable and well-considered. Here are (sme of) Chomsky's ideas on education in short (as paraphrased by Ignatia at times):
- There is a constant struggle between two realities: the principles of the enlightment and indoctrination.
- Technology is a neutral instrument, education is a framework (note: I don't agree that technology is neutral; technology, too, is a framework - SD)
Ignatia's reflections are also interetsing: "the thing I wonder about is, how can you build a critical thinking framework and ... even if such a framework is provided, who is to say how 'critical' is defined? ... I wish enlightenment was possible, but power and establishment seems to be getting in the way."

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Open Textbook Authoring Tools Part 1 – Mediawiki
Scott Leslie, EdTechPost, February 2, 2012.

Scott Leslie explores MediaWiki as an authoring tool for open textbooks. Along the way he discovers:
- D2L exports aren't very good
- there's no simple way of getting from an IMS Content Package to a wiki (cynically, I would say they were designed that way)
- approaches that let you output to multiple formats depend on clean markup
- editing mediawiki seems just short of rocket science (at least for some people)
- the UBC wiki continues to astound
- you can write blog posts while sailing across the Salish Sea.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Books, Web Logs, IMS Project]

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Tuition cuts won't increase university access
Stephen Gordon, Globe and Mail, February 2, 2012.

Following widespread tutition-rate protests in Canada yesterday the Globe and Mail is trotting out the well-worn counterargument: tuition cuts won't increase university access. It's disingenuous. The author, if he chose to be accurate, would write "tuition cuts by themselves won't increase university access." They are a necessary but not sufficient condition. We need to address other costs as well (such as, say, books) and we need to acddress social equity in society in general. But that said, ti should be clear, that tuition hikes decrease access. They make a hard problem even harder to solve. And it is for that reason the students are right and the purveyors of tired old canards are wrong.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Canada, Tuition and Student Fees]

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Crowdsourcing while learning
Wolfgang Greller, Reflections on the Knowledge Society, February 2, 2012.

Wolfgang Greller takes a quick look at an intriguing project that has people learn a language by translating content on the web from that language into their own language. "Duolingo adjusts to your competence level and provides help on the fly, such as translation suggestions.

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

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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