By Stephen Downes
March 22, 2005

Stephen's Web Themes
So anyhow, after working on the OurMedia site I was feeling pretty comfortable with CSS, so I decided to redo the website. But I am also very lazy and have tired of rotating my theme every few months. So I set up a system that lets me easily create new themes, and which handles theme selection and rotation automatically. Click on the link to visit my website; you'll be greeted with a random theme. Click on the [Theme] link to rotate themes, or on [View Themes] to select from the list (the link is under the picture on the right). Not the neat thing about this is that you can use my random themes too - check out the sample here (notice it's a completely different site). Here's a template you can use on your website. This is all experimental, so please let me know if you have problems with it. By Stephen Downes, Stephen's Web, March 22, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

One Of Us Is Smarter Than All Of Us
Why I talk so frequently about autonomy and diversity: "The wisdom of crowds comes not from the consensus decision of the group, but from the aggregation of the ideas/thoughts/decisions of each individual in the group." In other words, "Paradoxically, the best way for a group to be smart is for each person in it to think and act as independently as possible." Via elearnspace. By Kathy Sierra, Creating Passionate Users, March 21, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

CCL Calls for Expressions of Interest
The Canadian Council on Learning, introduced here last week, has issued a call for expressions of interest to create the five knowledge centres described in its project plan: Adult Learning in Atlantic Canada; Early Childhood Learning in Quebec; Work and Learning in Ontario; Aboriginal Learning in the Prairies, Northwest Territories and Nunavut; Health and Learning in British Columbia and Yukon. By Press Release, Canadian Council on Learning, March 21, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Students Who Are Tested in a Context Differing Significantly from their Instructional Environment Do Worse
David Wiley hits on another news article describing that Woessmann-Fuchs study that suggests computers do not support learning and makes a good point about methodology: "Why would we be shocked or surprised to find that kids who spend more time with paper and pencil outperform their high tech peers on paper and pencil tests??? If the tests had been administered on computers, which group would have been the top performer?" The news report itself merely repeats without criticism the claims made by Woessmann-Fuchs and the editing is sloppy enough to leave some factual errors in the story. By David Wiley, Iterating Toward Openness, March 21, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Pedagogy-Agnostic Standards and a Much Needed Rant
Commentary on David Wiley's post from yesterday. On automation, Terry Anderson asks, "how many people would prefer to use a human teller at a bank especially one with a long linup in front of it, compared to using an ATM." Imagine, though, the ATM being required to support all banking functions, not only simple withdrawals, deposits and fund transfers. And that the interface had to support all these functions. And where a human teller was not available as a back-up. Automation is tricky - I support automation, but emphasize the need for simplicity, the need for flexibility, the need for choice. If the task is, as Albert Ip suggests, merely "delivering instructions," then a machine can do this just fine. But learning is often so much more than that, and to replace fine-grained interaction with a series of instruction is deeply misguided - and that is why David Wiley rants. By Albert Ip, Random Walk in E-Learning, March 22, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Local Government Gets the Picture
Article along with some slides about the possibility of ceding control of learning to community government. "I think that the effective privatization of much of e-learning - through private companies, corporate universities etc. - has contributed to the poor learning experiences so often reported. Local governments have some claims to representing communities and to democracy - I think a healthy dose of local democracy could be very good for e-learning." By Graham Attwell, The Wales-Wide Web, March 21, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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