December 13, 2006


Katy Campbell, Richard A. Schwier and Richard F. Kenny[Edit][Delete]: Agency of the instructional Designer: Moral Coherence and Transformative Social Practice, AJET [Edit][Delete] December 13, 2006
[link: Hits] Today the moderator of ITForum linked to an interesting and informative set of posts. First, she linked to Katy Campbell, Richard A. Schwier and Richard F. Kenny, who write, "designers have not necessarily recognised their agency in the development of a knowledge economy that reflects culturally biased views of teaching, learning, and the construction of knowledge." She also linked to a lecture by Clare Brant on the topic of Mi'kmaq Ethics and Principles, interesting to me because his document reflects very closely my own attitudes and beliefs. She also linked to this site on ethics terms and terminology. [Tags: ] [Comment] [Edit] [Delete] [Spam]

Various authors[Edit][Delete]: ePortfolio: EduTools ePortfolio Review, WCET EduTools [Edit][Delete] December 13, 2006
[link: 144 Hits] Helen Barrett reports, "The WCET EduTools study of seven ePortfolio tools has been completed and is online." Pretty good review, with descriptive accounts of the features. The site also has financial profiles of each of the companies (ANGEL ePortfolio, BB ePortfolio, eFolio,, LiveText, Open Source Portfolio/rSmart and TaskStream). Related: A Review of Literature on Portfolios and Electronic Portfolios. [Tags: ] [Comment] [Edit] [Delete] [Spam]

Kruse[Edit][Delete]: New Rules, Gangrey [Edit][Delete] December 13, 2006
[link: 2 Hits] This is a neat idea. "If you got to blow up your newspaper, effectively immediately, meaning even the potential elimination of the traditional, nuts-and-bolts beats - cops, city hall, school board - and if you then got to rethink completely how we harvest stories... WHAT? What would the 'beats' be?" Some great suggestions, including: "People who keep their baby teeth in tiny boxes. People in their 30s and 40s who work for minimum wage. People who wear sweatsuits." And some better ones, too. Imagine we rewrote the curriculum from scratch. Ditched math, geography, science, music. What would we study? Piezoelectronics? Ecosystems? Movement and dimensionality? Via Joethink. [Tags: ] [Comment] [Edit] [Delete] [Spam]

Will Thalheimer[Edit][Delete]: Assessment Mistakes by E-Learning Developers, Will at Work Learning [Edit][Delete] December 13, 2006
[link: 14 Hits] The diagram in this post is a lot more insightful than may be grasped at first glance. Here is the diagram:

The point Will Thalheimer is trying to make is that "any assessment at the end of the first learning curve is likely to be a poor predictor of future remembering---and show a definite positive bias." Why is that? Well, when learning is tested in the same context it was taught, it is more easily recalled. But introduce the learner to new contexts, and a chaos of variables intervene, making the previous predictions unreliable.

A 'chaos of variables'? That's being a little liberal with the language, don't you think? Well, maybe not. Take a look at this diagram:

It's called a bifurcation diagram, and it is part of a theory, chaos theory, that describes what happens in dynamic non-linear systems. As we can see, there occurs, at the beginning, what appears to be a nice linear path, but this breaks down into a wide range of possibilities after a certain threshold. So why does this matter? Well, the short version is, if you want to know how your learning is performing, then you need to evaluate after the threshold point. The longer version is that there are implications across the board in our profession. To get a sense, look at this article on categorization in dynamic systems. How naive static systems of metadata and taxonomies look after that. But not just those: consider static theories describing learning designs, learning content, learning management and assessment.

"In a social system, such as language, feedback mechanisms may work throughout various levels. Recall that feedback refers to the continual reabsorption of what came before in a system. In the system of categorization, the importance or weight assigned to a given entailment will be influenced not only by current conditions, it will also be influenced by past conditions... a system of categorization emerges whose description is in direct contrast to the traditional system. This new description is of a complex, nonlinear system of categorization. One that is adaptive to its environment, yet not at the expense of stability. One in which meaning is an emergent property. One that is eminently suited to become the study of dynamical systems theorists." [Tags: , , ] [Comment] [Edit] [Delete] [Spam]

Clay Shirky[Edit][Delete]: A Story Too Good to Check, Valleywag [Edit][Delete] December 13, 2006
[link: 1 Hits] Clay Shirky has admirably put into text the reasons to be sceptical about second life. And I like the way he connects the hype with the source: "the press has a congenital weakness for the Content Is King story. Second Life has made it acceptable to root for the DRM provider, because of their enlightened user agreements concerning ownership." Looking beyond the hype, which as Shirkey notes is "push-driven" we see a set of dubious numbers which, even if charitably interpreted, amount to no more than a few tens of thousands of users, and "in a billion-person internet, that population is also a rounding error." I agree with his prediction, that Second Life is a "try me" virus, "where reports of a strange and wonderful new thing draw the masses to log in and try it, but whose ability to retain anything but a fraction of those users is limited." Via Tuttle. [Tags: ] [Comment] [Edit] [Delete] [Spam]

Small Talk[Edit][Delete]: Closing NY High Schools, more on KIPP, Mike Klonsky [Edit][Delete] December 13, 2006
[link: 7 Hits] It's not clear why the two items are in the same post, but what caught my eye was the follow-up on KIPP, the school program profiled in the New York Times by Paul Tough (my coverage here). It's the third in a series of reaction pieces (the first two are also worth a look: first, second). In this, a cite from a post by North Dakota Study Group listserv writer Harold Berlak, confirms some of my reservations. He writes, "This one [the KIPP school] felt like a humane, low security prison or something resembling a locked-down drug rehab program for adolescents run on reward and punishments" and that "three teachers I spoke to said that could keep it up only for a few years." [Tags: , , , ] [Comment] [Edit] [Delete] [Spam]

Jorge Goncalves[Edit][Delete]: - Making and Sharing Presentations on the Web, Learning Online Info [Edit][Delete] December 13, 2006
[link: Hits] This is pretty interesting - it is a bit like S5 combined with a Web 2.0-ish authoring tool. In essence, it allows you to create web-based slide shows. The authoring tool mostly doesn't work on my home system (Firefox 2.0 and Ubuntu Eft) - it just bogs down and eventually stops responding - but will work on most systems. The slides appear to work everywhere. [Tags: ] [Comment] [Edit] [Delete] [Spam]

Meredith Henson[Edit][Delete]: ePortfolio Project and Mahara Update, Eduforge [Edit][Delete] December 13, 2006
[link: Hits] The ePortfolio project called Mahara has released its first iteration on EduForge, with a second to follow shortly. Documentation for the project , includingy a PowerPoint presentation. You can can also learn about the project here and at a post on Seb Schmoller's website. 'Mahara' is Te Reo Maori for "`thought' (think, memory, think upon, remember)." [Tags: ] [Comment] [Edit] [Delete] [Spam]

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I want and visualize and aspire toward a system of society and learning where each person is able to rise to his or her fullest potential without social or financial encumberance, where they may express themselves fully and without reservation through art, writing, athletics, invention, or even through their avocations or lifestyle.

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