Stephen's Web

By Stephen Downes
October 4, 2002

The New Literacy It may be years before people cease to lament the decline of the literate student (after all, people today still bemoan the fact that students no longer learn Latin and Greek). But lament it we should not, because by avoiding the need to codify knowledge into sentences and seminars students today are acquiring not only different modes of learning, but much more efficient and effective modes of memory and recall. I wrote this for the September Learning Place. By Stephen Downes, Learning Place, October 4, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Interactivity: Another Tack On It (4) Slightly edited version of a post I submitted to George Siemen's ELearningCourse group earlier this week. I wrote this before seeing Terry Anderson's paper (below) but I see that it is relevant to what he has to say. In this article I reassert of the idea that interaction is not equivalent to a change in behaviour. Analysis of the elements of interaction. Discussion of the relation between interaction and learning. With reference to Anderson, note the very different role content plays in my system as compared to his. By Stephen Downes, Stephen's Web, October 4, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

An Updated and Theoretical Rationale for Interaction Interesting paper on interaction that advances the following thesis: "Sufficient levels of deep and meaningful learning can be developed as long as one of the three forms of interaction (student–teacher; student-student; student-content) are at very high levels. The other two may be offered at minimal levels or even eliminated without degrading the educational experience." Of course, to make this work, it is necessary to include among the standard (Moore) list of interactions a "student-content" interaction. Controversial. Something is an interaction only if the (internal) state of both parties is changed - and content, typically viewed as inert, cannot change its internal state. Or can it? "The semantic web provides an environment in which content can be formalized and manipulated, stored, searched and computed automatically through autonomous agent technologies." But... no. Yes, there is a third dimension of interaction. This dimension is sufficient to support learning. But this interaction is not with content itself, but with non-human devices that hold content. Working with online content should be viewed as analagous to working with a human. Changing, manipulating, querying and selecting online content should be viewed as analagous to changing a person's mind, influencing their thought, asking them questions, or picking their brains. Not because I think that there is any real separation between content and the entity that embodies it (that's another issue) but because we want to maintain a consistency of semantic-laden and non-semantic-laden references to entities. Phew! By Terry Anderson, ITForum, September 20, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

In Search of . . . Brain-Based Education The TRDEV list this week was the location of an entertaining debate about whether the common distinction between left-brain and right-brain (as expressed, say, in this BBC Report) has any scientific merit. I am inclined to agree with theorists such as Stephen Kosslyn (an expert on mental imagery) who say that "is simply too crude to be scientifically or practically useful." But this statement, attributed to Jerre Levy, is wrong: "since the central premise of the (left-brain, right-brain) mythmakers is wrong, so are all the inferences derived from it." This is a fallacy; people can be right about something even though their reasoning is flawed. What the inferences lack, though, is proof. By John T. Bruer, Phi Delta Kappan, April 15, 1999 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

KPMG Consulting is Now BearingPoint First Anderson renamed itselt to Accenture. Then PWC's consulting arm decided to call itself Monday. But the grand-daddy of them all came this week as KPMG Consulting decided to call itself BearingPoint. What? I think this sums up my sentiment: "I thought companies like KPMG Consulting were supposed to be stacked stem to stern with bright, creative people who could help other companies fashion a solution to troubles," writes Research Lab correspondent H. Scott Elder. "And then they name themselves so stupidly?" By Press Release, TheStreet.Com, October, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Amphetadesk So much for my morning. Oh well. Amphetadesk is "a free, cross platform, open-sourced, syndicated news aggregator - it obediently sits on your desktop, downloads the latest news that interests you, and displays them in a quick and easy to use (and customizable!) webpage... with thousands of channels available." If you are viewing OLDaily in HTML, you will see an Amphetadesk icon at the bottom (it's the one with the little pill). This means that OLDaily works with Amphetadesk - if you have Amphatedesk installed, simply click on the icon and it will be added to your list of channels. Additionally, OLDaily has always been available in XML; If you simply want to view the XML version of OLDaily, right-click on the small XML button and download the file. By Kevin Hemenway (Morbus Iff), Disobey.Com, October, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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