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by Stephen Downes
June 19, 2007

How Do You Know?
I have been toiling with a few problems recently, not just the answer to the question, how do I know, but also others ranging from the discussions around the measurement of blog impacts, to my criticisms of the Canadian Council on learning, to my own doubts when I present a talk that is, in my own eyes, less than effective. I've tried to capture some of the issues I wrestling with in this item (and related items on the nature of concepts, learning and ownership, the virtual and the physical, and the definition of knowledge). These are - at least in my mind - all aspects of the same problem, which I think I'm getting closer to here. Stephen Downes, Half an Hour June 19, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Ten Steps to Better Photographs
I thought this was a pretty good guide and accords with my own experience taking digital photos. I especially like the advice on deleting photos: don't. You can't tell by looking at the camera whether or not you've taken a good photo. But also, though, you shouldn't depend on being able to fix the photo in Photoshop. If you can take another photo with different settings, do so (looking at my photos from Taiwan, I found that all the photos on one setting came out blue - making me glad I twiddled with the settings and took numerous shots of the same scene). Michael Calore, MonkeyBites June 19, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

YouTube Is Mixing It Up
A technical development worth noting - support for mash-ups in YouTube. "Sometimes," writes Jim Groom, "instant gratification video is just the thing you need." I hear you. Jim Groom, bavatuesdays June 19, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Diversity in Educational Technology Leadership
Its time for the annual discussion of diversity in educational leadership that follows the annual lack of same in various education conferences (you know who you are). This post offers links to some of the discussions and observes that they suffer from the usual biases, that "leadership had to emanate from institutions of higher education and leaders should have PhDs." Ray Rose, e-Learning Evangelist June 19, 2007 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Sakai Amsterdam 2007: The State of the Union
Michael Feldstein takes the pulse of the Sakai project (Sakai is an enterprise level Java based open source learning management system (and more)) and concludes, "I can honestly say that I have never been more hopeful about the future of Sakai than I am today." This conclusion is not so much an assessment of the state of the technology (which can change rapidly) but of the community. "The Sakai community seems to have suddenly shifted into a different gear," he writes. Among the major changes: a commitment to transparency, a sense of ownership from non-developer stakeholders, openness to change, and commitment to usability, quality and standards support. These are exactly the things I pointed to when I reviewed Sakai a bit more than a year ago, so this report is heartening. Michael Feldstein, e-Literate June 19, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , , , , , ] [Comment]

Humanities Greatest Advances?
I walked through the campus at Harvard a couple of months ago and marveled at what I thought would be a wonderful place to learn. But I cannot think of a more scathing indictment of what is often touted as one of the great universities of the world as this statement: "I left Harvard with no real awareness of the awful inequities in the world - the appalling disparities of health, and wealth, and opportunity that condemn millions of people to lives of despair... I left campus knowing little about the millions of young people cheated out of educational opportunities here in this country. And I knew nothing about the millions of people living in unspeakable poverty and disease in developing countries." The speaker? Bill Gates. John Connell, Weblog June 19, 2007 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Notes From Alan Kay'S Keynote at EduComm07
From this summary, it sounds like Alan Kay gave a cracking good keynote (shouldn't he have a blog by now?) ranging from the teaching of calculus to the $100 laptop that really exists. Interesting statement: "The big change 400 years ago, that Bruno was willing to be burned for, was the statement that our speculations can only go so far until we submit them to trial and error in the real world - if you don't do this with kids you are not teaching them science, you are just teaching them a new form of religion." Kay makes this an argument in favour of measurement - but I see it as an argument in favour of experience. Wesley Fryer, Notes from Alan Kay's keynote at EduComm07 June 19, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

The Need to Characterize Open Content Projects
John Concilus has managed to capture in words a general unease I was unable - or too delicate - to state myself: "I think that right at this very moment there are many, many smart people trying to find ways to make money from the public funds channeled through grants to non-profits, NGO and other non-commercial organizations. Open Content projects are perfect candidates." This leads, he says, to a need for a discussion of just what constitutes Open Content. because on the one side there are 'open content' projects that are very closed from the perspective of potential contributors - some of the ManyOne Networks projects (the 'expert' alternatives to Wikipedia) allow participation by invitation only. While others - he cites Rice's Connexions - allow anybody to create content, and allow the marketplace (or some such 'wisdom of crowds' mechanism) to move the best content to the top of the heap. John Concilus, The Education Bazaar June 19, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment]

Social Networking at IBM
I mentioned some of this during discussions today. The flip side of all these nice stats about IBM and Web 2.0 is - these blogs and wikis and all are invisible to the outside world. Creating your own private world isn't what people mean when they talk about Web 2.0 - if IBM really wants to benefit, it should expose its inner workings to the outside world. Tom Werner, Weblog June 19, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Questioning the Admissions Assumptions
On the subject of measuring learning, you'd think that if grades could be used to predict anything, it would be future grades. Nope. While the grades are the best predictor of future grades (forget about those hopeless SAT scores) the bulk of variance in future grades - 70 percent of it - remains unexplained. "Why are we emphasizing prediction [of college success] as the central value in admissions if we do it so poorly?" Most of the emphasis, of course, will be on the uselessness of the SAT scores - so much so that it will be almost completely overlooked that grades, while better, are also pretty ineffective. I like Mike Klonsky's cynical comment today, that test score are of the most use to real estate agents, as 12 percentage points on the test corresponds to $5000 in the value of the house. Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed June 19, 2007 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Should Kids Tuck in Their Shirts?
This video is wrong on so many levels it just defies description. I don't know whether to focus on the way it panders to a climate of fear or the way it simply misrepresents the implications of untucked shirts. Dean Shareski, Ideas and Thoughts from an EdTech June 19, 2007 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

New CCL Report: Canada Must Unlock Potential in Adult Learning
The Canadian Council on L:earning has released a report urging a focus on adult learning. While I agree with the idea that we should promote a "learning culture" I simply don't see it as a problem that "two-thirds of Canadians do not take part in any formal learning activities." We don't need classes any more, we just need good access to the internet, some relevant online resources, and the time to use them. And while I agree that "There are clear and well-substantiated links between lifelong learning, productivity and innovation," I don't like the focus on adult learners as "workers". People should be encouraged to learn because it improves their lives, not because it makes them more productive. Press release, Canadian Council on Learning June 19, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Right click on this link and 'save link as' to access the WMV file (45 megabytes). Stephen Downes, Stephen's Web June 19, 2007 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]


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Copyright 2007 Stephen Downes

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