By Stephen Downes
July 4, 2005

Using Discussion Webs to Develop an Academic Community of Learners
This is a good article, even if the authors leave the term 'discussion web' undefined throughout (I assume they mean a discussion board with a linking capacity). Essentially, it is an analysis of the use of online discussion in a teacher course with an eye toward the development of community. Mostly I'm uncomfortable with this sort of analysis - 17 people dicussing things in isolation hardly seems like a community, and when things like 'chit chat' are classified as 'failures' I think the analysis is missing the point. But mainly I'm uncomfortable with stuff like this: "Meaning is a dialogic relationship between the question and the response." No it isn't. But more to the point, does the content tell us about the community (assuming there even is a community)? Why would we assume this? Via EDUCAUSE. By Eugene Matusov, Renee Hayes and Mary Jane Pluta, Educational Technology & Society, June, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Is iPodder.org’s Directory Still Relevant?
D'Arcy Norman questions whether his iPodder Educational Directory is relevant, and in so doing provides a great list of podcasting directories. Unrelated: Norman also links to a nifty photo stitching application. By D'Arcy Norman, D’Arcy Norman Dot Net, June 30, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

20 Technology Skills Every Educator Should Have
OK, they aren't talking high level skills here - more like things like word processing, spreadsheets, digital cameras, and the like. And it's not a bad list (but 'copyright' is not a technology skill - sheesh). But even better: along with each skill there is a short description and - get this - links that take you to places where you can elarn the skill they're talking about! Great stuff! That's the way online articles (and for that matter, online learning) should work. Via ADL Co-Lab News. By Laura Turner, T.H.E. Journal, June, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

ADL writes: "Cisco Systems is rolling out a web portal this week that it hopes will help more young students become interested in math and science careers as well as education in general." It's not really a portal; there aren't any outside links. It's not really a gaming site either, despite this notice. It's a site with activities and games for young computer users. There's a really weird vide to this site, though, with the whole 'hacker busters' theme (who thought of that?). It's like the hackers (view them in these sticker pages, or as described in these poems) are the new communists - or something. Weird. Disturbing. By Various Authors, Cisco, July, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Mobile Computing - Imagination on the Move
Mobile computing has become the new 'in' thing, capturing tghe attention of writers and designers throughout the field of e-learning. Not that there's anything wrong with that; the advent of wireless makes support for mobile computing an imperative. This article surveys some pioneering mobile computing initiatives in U.S. universities, including Seton Hall, Georgetown and Carnegie Mellon. Some stupid stuff, though, like this supposed "great idea": "They fired up the access points, but left them unconnected to the network at large, creating a “dead zone” of connectivity inside each classroom." The whole point of mobile computing is to support learning; turning it off where it's needed most defeats the prupose. Via ADL Co-Lab News. By Matt Villano, Campus Technology, July, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The 'Object' of Content Management
The meat of this article is in the bottom quarter with a set of useful tips for those looking at content management. Start small, put someone in charge, network with pioneers, use metadata, focus on design and involve faculty. By William H. Graves, Campus Technology, July, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

New Benchmarking Approach: Open Educational Resources
Surface-level overview with a relentless U.S.-focus, this is nonetheless worth viewing to get an idea of what's happening in open access south of the border. Slideshow created in Macromedia Flashpaper, which (as it turns out) is even more useless than PDF (a new low). Mentions OCW, Creative Commons, Connexions, and some others. Not sure where the benchmarking bit comes in, except for a couple unrelated slides near the end. From the same author, Trends in North American e-Learning (the title is a misnomer, with four slides for Mexico, two for Canada, and 47 for the U.S.) More presentations. By Sally M. Johnstone, NUTN 2005, June 12, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Gizmo SIP client hopes to break Skype silo
I like Skype a lot, but as others have noted, Skype needs to be open, so that we're not all depending on this one company. This item links to Lindows (aka Linspire) producer Michael Robertson's attempt to break that silo, Gizmo. The verdict? Not ready for prime time. Look, but don't download unless you're an adventurer. By Boris Mann, B.Mann Consulting, July 3, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

New Cornell Study Suggests That Mental Processing is Continuous, Not Like a Computer
As I said in my recent paper, the trend in research is away from cognitivist theories of mind. "For decades, the cognitive and neural sciences have treated mental processes as though they involved passing discrete packets of information in a strictly feed-forward fashion from one cognitive module to the next or in a string of individuated binary symbols -- like a digital computer," said Spivey. "More recently, however, a growing number of studies, such as ours, support dynamical-systems approaches to the mind. In this model, perception and cognition are mathematically described as a continuous trajectory through a high-dimensional mental space; the neural activation patterns flow back and forth to produce nonlinear, self-organized, emergent properties -- like a biological organism." By Susan S. Lang, Cornell University News Service, June 27, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

National Game Study 2005
Just came online today. As the summary says, the study presents of a study of Canada's video game industry. "This study is the first to provide a national overview of the growing gaming sector. NRC partnered with New Media BC to survey companies from across the country." Breaks the industry down into types, size of companies and projected growth. Don't miss the map, which surveys the gaming industry across Canada. By Unattributed, National Research Council, Industrial Research Assistance Program, March, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Immersive Learning Environments
Nice take on the article I posted Friday, showing how the network-based approach to learning theory I outline can be applied in the field of health care education. "What better way to develop these proficiencies than to have health professions’ students working and studying together in immersive and collaborative environments. Why educators think that we could possibly educate students in silos and release them into healthcare environments where they are expected to demonstrate and maintain competency in interprofessional teamwork is a mystery to me." By crussell, Technology-Escapades, July 2, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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