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by Stephen Downes
May 23, 2007

Building Ecologies - Making Room for Communities and Networks
OK, I think that networks and ecologies share properties in common. That's why I employ the ecology metaphor from time to time when talking about networks. But that said, you can't just take any old collection of things and call it an ecology. Ecologies have as defining features the lack of a central authority and the lack of planning or purpose. Ecologies are composed of autonomous, interacting, entities. You can, technically, bild an ecology, though historically this is difficult and rarely successful (Biosphere 2 was one major example). When you create things like ant farms or communities, you have something more akin to 'walled gardens' - not ecologies at all. If you model your community on an anthill - or some other construction - that's fine, but then (to my thinking) you have built a group, not a network. A farm or factory, not an ecology. Dave Cormier, Dave's Educational Blog May 23, 2007 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

How to Make Your Personal Opinion Seem Popular
Now you know why I return to the same subjects over and over - so you'll believe me! More seriously, this item shows why diversity is important in networks: because humans are not good at distinguishing between many opinions, and one opinion repeated frequently. "Even though they realize that they're just listening to one voice, the incessant repetition of key talking points makes it seem like it's more representative of the population at large." So get out there and start reading someone else! Dave Munger, Cognitive Daily May 23, 2007 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

What Is Weighing Down Learning?
This post is worth visiting for the diagram alone of the factors that are "weighing down" educational change. I would want to add the word 'outcomes' to 'Bureaucratic Weight'. But as for the question of systemic change, there remains this question: change to what? I have my own views as to where education should go, but my views are by no means consensus - nor either is there any view that even approaches consensus. It's not just the things weighing education down, but also, the different people pulling in different directions: industry pulling one way, religious and spiritual organizations pulling another way, activists pulling yet another way - everybody, it seems, has a stake in the education system, with the result that no philosophy can ever gain the upper hand. Harold Jarche, Weblog May 23, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Live Webcasting Via Ustream
Looks like an interesting application, and I'd like to offer the 'Downes Live' show, but it's beginning to look like the MacBook Pro video camera and Flash 9 don't get along. There's no reason why it shouldn't work; Skype video works just fine. Well, that's today's mystery. Anyhow, I'm not so interested in 'lifecasting' - I don't have enough time to live my own life, I'm pretty sure other people don't have the time to watch it! Or the patience! But I do want to play with very low overhead videocasting. Wesley Fryer, Moving at the Speed of Creativity May 23, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Ecto Online Learning Environment
Is Ecto a Personal Learning Environment? It claims to be, on its home page: "Ecto is a hosted, open networked Personal Learning Environment. Use Ecto to transform learning into an interactive, collaborative, and student centered activity." Ecto, of course, began life three years ago as a learning management system (LMS). I have it a quick workout, but I don't see anything really PLEish about it. It's a way to retrieve remote content, sure, but item by item - and I had to cut and paste the Flickr URL. It allows for the creation of groups, but is no different that dozens of services in that. And, most of all, it's hosted - all your 'network' activity happens on one sites, with no suggestion that you can be part of the network without being part of Ecto. Ray Sims, Sims Learning Connections May 23, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

OER and Open Source Models
Stephen Carson, replying to David Wiley: "Educational systems don't run on the same operating system, and often don't share the same protocols, so it's difficult and unwise to try to converge on a single solution." Intuitively, he writes, our sense of "success" points to large audiences (there's that 'measuring success' meme again) but this may not be appropriate for Open Educational Resources. I think it raises an interesting question: has teaching remained a cottage industry, despite the industrialization of everything else around it, because it had to? Stephen Carson, OpenFiction May 23, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Zoho Notebooks Goes Public - Imagine the Educational Potential
I spent some time playing with Zoho Notebook this afternoon. In theory, this is an outstanding piece of software, doing many of the things I would expect a PLE to do, and more (I really like the shared creation tools). It would be great for creating unworkshop legacy pages, for example. I was unable to record video on either a Mac or a Windows machine - it asks for permission to access the camera but never seems to find it. Same for record - this appears to be an issue with, which powers that part of Zoho. Still, once these Day One bugs are ironed out (Zoho officially launched yesterday) the possibilities for use in schools is almost endless. Follow the link to view a video describing Zoho. Jeff VanDrimmelen, EDUCAUSE Connect May 23, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]


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Copyright 2007 Stephen Downes

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