By Stephen Downes
August 26, 2005

More on EdNA Groups Vs the Open Network
Leigh Blackall responds to the recent statement from EdNA's Mark Tranthim-Fryer on whether EdNA groups should be open. The core of his response: "I think this issue goes to the heart of a more serious educational matter. That being a school and teacher's constant struggle to be relevant, engaging, and accessible to learners. EdNA groups uses a tool that replicates the real (Internet) world, declaring that it insulates its users from 'the noise'. That 'noise' as Mark calls it is actually quite audible information once an adequate network literacy is obtained by the listener. I don't think EdNA groups is helping its users to obtain that adequate and essentially independent network literacy." By Leigh Blackall, Teach and Learn Online, August 26, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Technology Source Archives Are Now Available
Complete archives from the Technology Source (in which I served as a section editor and wrote numerous articles) are now available. By James Morrison, ed., The Technology Source, August 26, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Old-school Community Journalism Shows: It's a Wonderful 'Light'
Article (and sidebar) profiling editor/publisher David Mitchell and the struggles of the Point Reyes Light, a community newspaper, to stay afloat. The lesson is in the story, and (as always) one can read 'student' for 'reader': "The assumption that if you align yourself with your readers somehow or another you're dumbing down means that you think your readers are dumb. That's the inescapable result of that logic. And it's wrong! Our readers aren't dumb. Our readers are great." By David LaFontaine, Online Journalism Review, August 25, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Who's Responsible for Rising Textbook Prices?
I didn't listen to the podcast (I may get to it tomorrow, but it's 5:37 and I have a newsletter to finish). Still, the description is intriguing enough. Here's the point of departure: "The Internet has certainly been abuzz since the GAO published its report on textbook prices last week. This report showed that college textbook prices have increased at twice the rate of inflation and have followed close behind tuition increases." And here's something to ponder, from Rob Reynolds: "My take is that instructors are the only ones that can put a stop to rising textbook prices. I believe we have transitioned from a time when textbooks served as second-level support for the instructor (the core of the learning experience) to a time when textbook (and ancillary materials) are the core piece of the learning experience and are merely supplemented by instructors." There's some truth here, but let's face it, publishers are willing participants in this game (and indeed, do what they can to push it along). By Rob Reynolds and Susan Smith Nash, XplanaZine, August 26, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Text vs. Text vs. Text
Fascinating look at new entrants into the "lucrative textbook market for Econ 101." The author tosses some big numbers around, then profiles two new economics authors, one (apparently) from each branch of the political spectrum. Note: "Some professors predict that public relations, not content, will determine the success of the two new texts." Yeah, that's a great way to select learning content. Good thing there's nothing really important riding on the outcome. By David Epstein, Inside Higher Ed, August 26, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Getting to Grips With Learning Styles
The authors distriguish between learning styles, preferences and strategies (noting that the latter two may be modified by teachers) and then surveys major learning styles theories, including Kolb, McCarthy, and Gardner. Under the heading of learning preferences, they briefly describe Canflield's learning styles inventory. They finally list some learning strategies. The study then looks at the characteristics of VET learners in Australia, suggesting they are more visual, hands-on, social, and not self-directed. The authors then offer some suggestions regarding how to use learning styles in such things as task selection, resource selection and delivery medium. They end with a short discussion of learning style tests. This is a fairly basic overview, and does not get into the academic debate surrounding learning styles. It makes a good introduction for practicing teachers and instructors. PDF and MS-Word downloads. By Peter Smith and Jennifer Dalton, NCVER, August 18, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Understanding Meaning
George Siemens links to this column (actually a series - see the navigation links at the bottom of the page) by Michael Bayler. This particular item is a nice outline of the concept of meaning. I don't agree with all of it (for example, I'm not sure I want to ascribe the moral dimension to meaning that he does) but this bit (also quoted by Siemens) seems right: "Meaning seems at its root to be about connections: between individuals, between groups of individuals, and, also, within individuals, in that it can be experienced powerfully as new or better links between previously disconnected internal bits of us." By Michael Bayler , management-issues, August, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Access to Education
Just to put things in perspective: first, "Education is arguably the key to ending extreme poverty but more than 100 million children worldwide are not in school." And second, "$5.6 billion per year (is) required to achieve universal primary education by 2015." By contrast, worldwide military spending is currently roughly $960 billion. We live in an era of dubious morality. Via education-india. By Unknown, NetAid, August, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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