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November 21, 2001

The Current Relevance of Merleau-Ponty's Phenomenology of Embodiment A little heady reading, but this philosophical essay captures a lot of what I think about the nature of learning. Most of the paper is devoted to explaining aspects of mental representation that Merleau-Ponty calls 'intentional arc' and 'maximum grip' (think of them as ways we accomodate our perception of the world, the way we move back or forth to best view a painting at a gallery). These are placed into the context of Dreyfus's stages of skills acquisition. To explain things like 'maximum grip' at the expert stage, we need a non-rules-based model of representation, or better (as Dreyfus says), intentionality without representation: a neural net (albeit one based in the human condition). By Hubert L. Dreyfus, The Electronic Journal of Analytic Philosophy, 4, Spring, 1996.[Refer]

Death of the Course One of my more controversial predictions in The Future of Online Learning was the end of the course as we know it. This thinking is becoming more mainstream. Witness this article: "Adults crave education they can grab onto and put to immediate use. They take a pluck-n-play approach to knowledge. They pluck what they need to know from books, online discussion lists, Web sites, and the brains of their co-workers. This contrasts to the historical orientation of the formal course, where stress is laid on learning everything from A-to-Z, step-by-step, just-in-case one might need it later." By Vicky Phillips, Virtual University Gazette, November, 2001.[Refer]

Will Employers Value Degrees Earned Online? A survey of human resource professionals reports that only 26 percent say that an online bachelor's degree is as credible as a traitional degree. And only 30 percent of them have even encountered one in their recruiting. "Most recruiters won't immediately dismiss candidates with online degrees on their resumes, but they might say, 'Hmmm, this merits further questioning and investigation.'" Fair enough - in my mind, any claim to knowledge merits further investigation By Peter Vogt, College Journal, November 8, 2001.[Refer]

Man the Lifeboats: In a Laboratory Interesting article about the Ultralab project. The British centre's founder, Stephen Heppell, is designing online learning based around the experiences learning provides rather than on content and courses. "It should be about asking, 'What will people be able to do that's delightful?' All Ultralab's projects are about creative excitement online." By Jim Kelly, Financial Times, November 17, 2001.[Refer]

Education System Improvement Program I haven't been able to find any news articles, so this dry government document will have to do. It dtails a $US 1.2 billion plan to improve schols in Argentina, including $US 250 million for information and communications technologies. You may want to look at this program against the backdrop of another paper, Why Do Youngsters Drop Out of School in Argentina and What Can be Done Against It? Both documents are PDF files. By Unknown, Inter-American Development Bank, November, 2001.[Refer]

Learn Alberta Launched Monday, Learn Alberta is a portal of educational objects matched to the provincial educational curriculum. The Alberta government has licensed a variety of materials for access by K-12 teachers and students, including newspapers, reference books, Grolier Enclyclopedia, the Canadian Enclyclopedia and more. The site also links into a resource catalog where educators can purchase classroom materials. By , , .[Refer]

How Our Universities Are Failing America and What Can Be Done About It In a short essay that is getting wide ciculation and press, the American Council of Trustees and Alumni calls American universities deficient as a consequence of American academics' and students' opposition to the war in Afghanistan. PDF file. By Jerry L. Martin and Anne D. Neal, American Council of Trustees and Alumni, November, 2001.[Refer]

Who's History? Who's Heritage?
The American Council of Trustees and Alumni has released a report stongly condemning the failure to teach American history and values in U.S. universities. This is in response to academics and students blaming the United States for the September 11 attack and opposing the war against terrorism. This article questions the central premise of the article: that the teaching of American values would change the response of the academics and students. By Stephen Downes


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