Stephen's Web

By Stephen Downes
August 30, 2002

Net*Daily For the better part of two weeks in August, 2002, I wrote a daily commentary for Net*Working 2002, an online conference hosted by the Australian Flexible Learning Framework for the National Vocational Education and Training System. These pages consist of the contents of that commentary. Contents include reflections on learning communities, learning objects, Curtis Bonk, Albert Ip, flexibility, lurking, the BBC, Hegel, blended learning, fears, trust, mentoring, usability and knowledge management, corporate learning, time, crisis, communities of practice, learning games, foundations of community, Rousseau, wants, needs and representative democracy. Enjoy. By Stephen Downes, Stephen's Web, August 30, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Developing a Community of Learners: Potentials and Possibilities in Web Mediated Discourse Overview article that summarizes some of the advantages of creating an online learning community for classroom learners and describes some of the techniques employed to support such a community. The strongest part of the paper is about halfway through as the author lingers on the topic of assessment through critical review. Citing Habermas in this context was a bit over the top, though. A view of online community as "discourses as performances in which one seeks to show the grounds for cognitive utterances" is a very narrow construal of what could (and should) happen in online community. Still, that aspect of community is worth exploring, and the author does a good job of it. By Rose M. Pringle, Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, August, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Path to Teacher Leadership in Educational Technology Useful paper that examines issues related to techers' adoption of technology. It examines an earlier model where teachers begin as learners, eventually reaching a point where they reaffirm (or reject) the technology and become technology leaders. But many teachers, after learning, were simply rejecting technology. The authors conclude that instead of a simple path toward acceptance, three critical process must also be in place: (a) convergence of resources, providing a starting point for the change; (b) mutual benefits to those who are affected by the changes taking place; and (c) continuous, extensive free flow of resources and expertise throughout the system to fuel its sustainability. By Lorraine Sherry and David Gibson. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, August, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

ASCD Advocacy Kit From the website: "Through the goal of success for all learners, the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) unites educators worldwide. Yet troubling trends threaten the realization of the ASCD vision. Public support for education is increasingly fragile. Poverty jeopardizes the well-being and education of our young people. And rather than working constructively on education issues, some communities are caught in a downward spiral of cynicism and mistrust.... The kit offers tools including the basics for planning an advocacy campaign, tips for communicating with policymakers, and the nitty-gritty on communicating with the media." By Various Authors, ASCD, August, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Pen as Mighty as the Keyboard Just what the world doesn't need: hand written websites. Why? Because most people have terrible handwriting! Oh, and we don't need handwritten emails either. Please! "With Journal and most other applications on Windows XP Tablet PC Edition, Microsoft's rejiggered operating system, you can do pretty much anything in handwriting. Save as a Journal document and search by keyword, also entered by hand (the system looks for a close match based on your scribbling). Save as an HTML document and throw it onto the Internet within seconds (get ready for a rash of handwritten websites). Reply to e-mail in digital ink. Highlight and red-pencil a presentation without printing it out." By Chris Taylor, Business 2.0, August, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Rub-a-dub-dub, IBM in a Tub I have talked about embedded processing before, but this takes the cake. The eSuds system, developed by IBM and USA technologies, will allow students to pay for laundry by swiping a card or punching a code into their phones. But more, it lets students check a website for empty machines. They can dispense soap and fabric softener into their load from their laptop or desktop. And when their wash is done they get an email telling them to come and get it. People always on the prowl for business models should note this: "Owners should also see their revenue go up as students are more likely to do their laundry if they do not have to kill time between cycles, Douglas said." By Reuters, News.Com, August 29, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Ups and Downs of Wireless Access A good article describing the state of mobile wireless access from the point of view of an itinerant web surfer. The only thing I don't understand is why she had so much trouble sending email. In any cased, her experiences wandering through cities looking for a connection are similar to mine. And the article shows clearly the potential. One hurdle: a patchwork of access plans requiring that you sign up for a day or a year... including one that applies only in Denver International Airport. By Staci D. Kramer, Online Journalism Review, August 30, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2002 Stephen Downes