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by Stephen Downes
April 27, 2007

And And And And (PLE)
Still very much under the weather and on sick time. To people who are waiting for emails and stuff: as soon as I can. Anyhow. This item reminds me of the old riddle, "How do you string the word 'and' together five times in a sentence - not as a title or someone merely repeating the word, but a proper sentence?" Anyhow. This item consists of links and thoughts about PLEs - personal learning environments. I like Alan Levine's cynical comment: "A PLE seems to be a diagram." OK, the answer to the riddle? Fred was having his "Sanford and Sons" sign repainted, but he wasn't happy with the spacing, so he told the painter, "Put more space between Sanford and and and and and Sons." Now I need a long nap. Ray Sims, Sims Learning Connections April 27, 2007 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

Second Life University
MSN Encarta covers 'Second Life University'. It's mostly upbeat - while nodding to some of the drawbacks (the learning curve, having to type in order to talk) it points to some of the oft-touted benefits of the 3D environment. Via Pacific Rim Exchange. It makes me wonder (because there's a lot invested in making Second Life appear to be a viable platform and the 'next web' - what happens if Microsoft buys Second Life? Could it keep the platform more or less proprietary and essentially take over the 3D web by integrating it with Windows? Yes - it could. Which is why the battle of ideas over Second Life is so important. And why we need to look at the alternatives to Second Life in a new light. Elizabeth Weiss McGolerick, MSN Encarta April 27, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Joomla or Drupal?
When I was fighting with Drupal last fall a number of people suggested Joomla, another PHP content management system. I never did try it (I went back to my own system instead). But I would be remiss in not mentioning it here. Karoli, odd time signatures April 27, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Our Crooked Broker Society
Harold Jarche puts together a chart offered by Dave Pollard and a list offered by Roger Schank and in so doing creates a pretty good explanation for some of the ills of the educational system. "Are teachers the desperate suppliers," he asks, "exploited by the school system which has a virtual monopoly on education jobs? Are publishers, testing companies and universities the procurers who gouge the addicted parents, looking for any advantage in a shrinking middle class?" He suggests that local control would fragment this system - "'Small pieces, loosely joined' may be the right strategy for educational reform." But I'm less sure - in certain hands, the decentralization movement (I'm reminded of the Charlottetown Accord) seems more like a strategy of "divide and conquer". Unless students are granted freedom and autonomy - which, on this picture, would allow them to employ teachers directly, without the exploiter and procurer intervening - local control would not improve the picture. Harold Jarche, Weblog April 27, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

Concepts Not Nodes
Matthias Melcher discusses my recent criticism of one of George Siemens's posts. In that post, I express the concern, with some justification, that the language is too vague to be descriptive. His explanation is that the vagueness is because a word like 'knowledge' has several senses. But we can be more precise about other words, such as, say, 'concept'. I offer a comment at the end of the article suggesting that the vagues occurs because the entitities we discuss when talking about networks are sub-symbolic. So there is not a nice neat correspondence between the physical properties of a network and the semantical properties of, say, a sentence. Matthias Melcher, x28's new Blog April 27, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment]

Short summary of a Graham Attwell talk in which "he argued that he wanted to de-school society to enable real and effective life-long learning" - no link, but this is typical. Wolfgang Greller responds, "it would be very destructive to society to leave learning entirely to self-arranged activities [because learning] also includes learning about your dislikes and opening new, unexpected doors." This is a common response, the essence of which is the fear that learners will make the wrong choices, learn the wrong things, or not learn at all. Which leads me to ask: are we doing so well now? Children grow up today illiterate, they grow up with racist or other prejudices, they grow up violent, and millions upon millions grow up without an education at all. I'm not saying we should suddenly shut the door - that would be irresponsible. But I think that, instead of trying more and more management (which, incidentally, makes education more and more expensive), we could try less management. Watching, yes, to be sure no great disaster happens. But letting go. Wolfgang Greller responds, Wolfie's e-blog April 27, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

Real: Getting Less Real Every Day
I spent some time pondering this diagram, which suggests it's worth passing along. The idea is that, through the division of environments into various blends of real and not-real, we can see how the same sort of role manifests itself differently. This is clearest when we see that the 'hero' in the gaming environment is the same as the 'student' in the learning environment and the 'individual' in the real environment. Clark Aldrich, The Elements of Interactivity April 27, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Trying (and Failing) to Buy WKRP in Cincinnati
WKRP was one of my favorite shows. "Oh my God they're turkeys!" Anyhow, this story reads like an Art Carlson fiasco as it turns out to be quite impossible to but the show on DVD. Why? Because music royalties would make it prohibitively expensive. As a result, the music industry gets nothing and if you want to see the show, well, the only way is to scour the file-sharing networks where there may be copies floating around that your kids have ripped from video. Thanks to Rod, who emailed this to me this morning. Denis Hancock, Wikinomics April 27, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]


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Copyright 2007 Stephen Downes

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