By Stephen Downes
October 17, 2003

After what must be the best September weather in history, the leaves have started to turn here in New Brunswick and the brisk north wind is nudging at our necks, letting us know that another season of snow and ice is nigh. But in between the haze of summer days and winter's storms there is a brief interlude when the lanscape erupts with colour, nature's last moment of glory before tucking in for the season. We call it Fall, and I have captured some of its glory in this series of photographs. By Stephen Downes, Stephen's Web, October 17, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

B.C. Educational Technology Users Group 'Blogtalk'
Scott Leslie reports on an interesting experiment involving the use of blogs to facilitate an online discussion on possible uses of blogs in education for the B.C. Educational Technology Users Group (ETUG). The experience left him with mixed feelings. "On the applications of blogs to education, there seemed to be a few glimmers but then there were just as many issues that arose." And maybe this isn't the right sort of use for blogs. "I'd say that blogging tools in general do not replicate (nor should they be expected to) the kind of focused or threaded discussion that can (sometimes) happen in discussion forums or mailing lists." By Scott Leslie, EdTechPost, October 17, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Rethinking Thinking
As a former logic teacher and the author of a widely popular site about logical fallacies, I have thought often about the role of (what is called) critical thinking in learning. At first blush, critical thinking is the capacity to evaluate and assess presentations of fact and argument, a skill my own teaching showed me had been virtually eliminated from students' skill sets. In the traditional educational setting, after all, the teacher and the text are the oices of authority, and by the time students reach the point where they should be forming their own opinions, they find themselves lacking the tools to do this. Even in discussions among educators, I find a striking lack of critical capacity. This article reflects some of these concerns, but in my mind it fails to address the key point: teachers must want to instil in their students the capacity for doubt. By Mark Clayton, Christian Science Monitor, October 14, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

A Guide to Institutional Repository Software
As summarized by Melissa Hagemann, "The guide describes the five open source, OAI-compliant systems currently available. As many institutions are developing repositories, OSI thought it would be helpful to produce such a guide so that each institution could select the software best suited to meet its needs. Included in the guide is a brief narrative overview of each system followed by a summary of the systems technical features. The guide will be updated as additional systems are developed." By Various Authors, Budapest Open Access Initiative, October 17, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Child's Play
Todd sent me this item - what do today's kids think of yesterday's video games? Not much, apparently. "It takes this whole console just to do Pong?" asks one, unbelieving. I wish they had shown them some of my favorites, like Galaga and Joust. Oh well. By Crispin Boyer and Shawn Elliott, Electronic Gaming Monthly, October 14, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Learning Ecology, Communities, and Networks
It goes without saying, but in an online environment classes and classrooms are artificial constructs, relics of an age when physical and resource limitations required the clumping of students into discrete spaces. But the twelve-week chunk of learning with predefined curriculum and geographically defined cohort has its limitations, and authors are increasingly exploring more appropriate models for the information age, including especially online learning communities and networks. This article is an overview of such explorations and grapples with the basic concepts: what is a learning community? What is an ecology? Good read. By George Siemens, elearnspace, October 17, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2003 Stephen Downes
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