by Stephen Downes
Dec 11, 2014
Art can enhance humanity’s survival
What we need to understand about art, I think, is what is reflected in this article: "we are enticed by forms, shapes, rhythms and movements that are useful to our existence.... (art) acts as a device for creating effective metaphors, analogies, play on words, and allegories – mechanisms that draw unusual elements together to produce innovative shapes, dynamics and phenomena." We have artificially separated language and numbers from other forms of expression, and relegated the latter to the realm of beauty and pleasure, without understanding the need to express ourselves in different ways at different times. I've never understood the primacy of the literal (if I may so style words and numbers) and have always tried to express the same concepts in multiple media, because the abstractions of words and numbers so often misrepresent the meaning. As Dyens says, "If art enriches our lives it is mainly because it is a fantastic survival system, one that allows us to explore new survival structures and then disseminate them to the entire species through emotional means."
Google's road to virtual reality begins with Cardboard
Donald Clark has been a vocal supporter of virtual reality and can be seen pictures displaying is passion for Oculus Rift. But this company, which was purchased by Facebook out of the hands of a very angry Kickstarter audience, may be facing substantial competition from Google. Clark may want to refocus his energies. In a 20% project that took off, Google's Cardboard regains some of the search giant's original charm while displaying a flexibility that is uncommon. The device is actually made of cardboard, some lenses, and a mobile phone. "Google is releasing new building specifications and tools for makers of its Cardboard headset, whether they're businesses like DODOCase and Knoxlabs or individuals like you and me.... mall businesses like I Am Cardboard and Unofficial Cardboard were formed out of just making and selling the Cardboard designs that Google open sourced."
ICDE - UNESCO Policy Forum on open, online and flexible learning
An ICDE-UNESCO policy forum has called for "a new commitment is needed to opening up education, technology enhanced learning, the use of open educational resources, online, flexible and blended learning, research and innovation in the design, development, deployment and delivery of education at all levels." The forum was held in Bali in late November and a formal Bali Declaration is available.
Draft Strategic Plan (2015-2021)
Commonwealth of Learning,
The Commonwealth of Learning has posted their draft strategic plan for the next 6 years and are calling for comments. It's a shift from previous plans. The first thing is a realignment from 'learning for development' to 'learning for sustainable development'. Additionally, there is increased recognition of the role for informal learning for development. The plan is also longer-term than the previous 3-year plans. The plan focuses on open schooling, participation in higher education, the virtual university for small states in the Commonwealth, teacher education, skills for healthy communities, technical and vocational skills development, farmers, and technology-enabled learning. The plan envisions roughly $12 million per year in expenditures, hoping for 20% funding from projects and fees, the rest contributions from 45 member nations. Be sure to see the recommendations on pages 47-48, which have some surprises - focusing on 4-6 nations, "transition from an educational development organisation to a backbone organisation focused on social impact," the need for major donors, and a total rethink of its communications strategy.
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