OLDaily, by Stephen Downes

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February 6, 2012

Mobile learning in developing countries in 2012: What's Happening?
Michael Trucano , EduTech, February 6, 2012.

files/images/girlonbike.jpg, size: 21587 bytes, type:  image/jpeg Interesting first-person reflection from a staffer at the World Bank on mobile learning in developing nations. "A long-anticipated new era of hype is now upon us, taking firm root in the place where the educational technology and international donor communities meet, with 'm-' replacing 'e-' at the start of discussions of the use of educational technologies." And here I thought the next big letter would be r-. Oh well. I now predict that the next big letter (after e-, i-, and m-) will be p-. He continues, "I do often feel that many of the discussions around 'm-learning' end up sounding a lot like general discussions of ICT use in education... (but) I do think there is something fundamentally different about the potential for mobile devices. My hope is that, given all of the groups now considering this an increasingly important priority area for action of some sort, in 2012 practical insights into what this mobility might mean for both educators and learners based on real life experiences."

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Ten meta-trends impacting learning
Judy O'Connell, HeyJude, February 6, 2012.

It's easy to describe ten 'megatrends' in such a way that most people would nod in agreement, I think, but it's hard to get them precisely right. To take example that is a bugbear of mine, consider this one: "The world of work is increasingly global and increasingly collaborative." This isn't quite right. The world isn't "increasingly collaborative" - if anything, it's less so. But what collaboration there is has gone global. But that means that in your day-to-day world you will experience less collaboration with those around you - how do you get by, then? Perhaps by dog-eat-dog competition for local resources, but more likely by cooperation - pooling (for example) purchasing or production power, but not for the same ends, but for distinct ends. And indeed, if we look at it that way, and recognize that when "teams (are) geographically diverse (and) are also culturally diverse" what we understand by collaboration changes. If you think your work group has simply gone global, as this 'megatrend' suggests, you've misinterpreted this trend in a major way.

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Speed Dating at the 2012 Learning Technologies
Hans de Zwart, Technology as a Solution…, February 6, 2012.

When I was in Australia in 2001 I would from time to time (ie., frequently) find myself in the local public house. At one of these there was this novel phenomenon called "speed-dating" taking place upstairs. The idea is each prospective partner would interview others for short three-minute periods, and then at the bell move on to the next, taking note for later those who seemed the most interesting. It seemed so intriguing and I was eager to try it, but having been recently married decided it would be inappropriate. So I've never had the experience. But the technique applied to a conference event sounds more than fascinating, and Hans de Zwart has done the concept justice with this wrap-up of his speed-conference experience. It makes me wonder what an online version would look like - it would have to be better than match.com, right?

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Sleight of Hand and Data Laundering in Evidence Based Policy Making
Tony Hirst, OUseful Info, February 6, 2012.

While I believe that evidence is crucial to decision-making, I am sceptical about "Evidence Based Policy Making" (or "evidence-based government" or "evidence-based education", etc.). Why, despite the apparent contradiction? Because the one is not the same as the other. In the former, you look at various claims from all sides, weigh the alternatives, take into account values and circumstances, and act on the basis of a reasoned decision. In the latter, you are led blindly by "the evidence" as presented, where (as Tony Hirst suggests) "'evidence' inherits the authority associated with the most reputable source associated with it when we wish to call on it to justify it." "Evidence-based..." is often, in other words, a mechanism used to disassociate decision-making with evidence and reason, and to instead stamp authority with the imprimatur of 'evidence'. Hirst offers a good examination here, and an equally good follow-up.

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The Virtual Trainer's Checklist by Terrence L. Gargiulo
Helge Scherlund, Elearning News, February 6, 2012.

I've been think of doing something like this for MOOCs (I may well still do it, as I have a presentation scheduled in that direction in a few weeks). I think I'd want it to be a bit more practical and process-oriented that this item (the actual checklist is on page 11).

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Personal Learning Networks for Educators: 10 Tips
Mark Wagner, Educational Technology and Life, February 6, 2012.

This article contains seven good tips and three plugs for commercial products. If you don't mind that, then it's a good primer for getting started in social networking.

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The Cost of Knowledge
Giulia Forsythe, gforsythe.ca, February 6, 2012.

Not that it's necessary, I think, but I guess people should know I'm continuing my years-long boycott :) of services like Elsevier. The boycott, as the diagram shows, covers publishing, refereeing, and editorial work. But here's the challenge I have for academics: will you also refrain from reading and citing Elsevier journals? Ah, too hard!?

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Twitter is harder to resist than cigarettes and alcohol, study finds
James Meikle, The Guardian, February 6, 2012.

If Twitter is harder to resist than alcohol and tobacco, why do I have to force myself to remember to check to see whether anyone has written a message to @downes? (If I miss your comment, I'm sorry, I hardly use Twitter, and use it less and less as time goes by.) Related: Dave Winer on country-specific Twitter filters: "We should have tutorial sessions at every Internet policy conference that show people how easy it is to operate your own infrastructure. It's really there now, ready to teach users how to do it. But you have to make a commitment to standing up for the Internet. It will never be as easy as Twitter. However, if Twitter shuts you off, it won't effect your presence. That's worth a little more complexity." Amen.

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IRRODL – A new edition has been published
Jenny Mackness, Jenny Connected, February 6, 2012.

Interesting article with the backstory to an IRRODL article on MOOCs referenced here last week. I love the bit about the reviewers ("We didn’t receive any guidance from the Editor as to which Reviewer to believe. So we didn’t do a major rewrite :)"). Also worth noting: "Reviewer B strongly objected to our use of blog posts as sources of information, and I have to say that we rather strongly objected to his/her objection." Mackness gives three very good reasons for her position:
- most of the conversations about connectivism and MOOCs happen in blogs
- we were worried that our paper was going to be out of date before it was even published
- neither of us works for an academic institution, nor do we live within easy access of a university library
I'm sympathetic. Most of my work has been published in blog form; from my perspective life is too short to have to deal with arbitrary reviewers and edits well past the point of diminishing returns. The result has been that the citations have frequently gone elsewhere. I understand the need for peer review - but we need a better system. Realted: MOOCs are here to stay, by Graham Attwell.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Connectivism, Books, Web Logs, Academia]

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Samuel Youd, aka John Christopher (1922 – 2012)
Unattributed, Locus Online, February 6, 2012.

files/images/white_mountains_b6.jpg, size: 62055 bytes, type:  image/jpeg My childhood was a world where ordinary people became heroes not though desire for fame or fortune but through force of circumstance and an unwillingness to turn away from what they knew was right. It was not a world filled with rock stars and football players, but rather, a world filled with earnest young men (and sometimes women) who became scientists, adventurers and leaders against common foes. The "Tripod Series" was typical of such a world, beginning with The White Mountains and though two other books (a fourth, which I never read, was added some 20 years later) - think of it as an earlier Ender's Game authored by an earlier and less self-important generation. The author, Samuel Youd, who wrote under the alias John Christopher, has died. He will never know how important his work was to me, but I will.

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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