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by Stephen Downes
August 22, 2007

Microsoft's Class Action
This is a good article, well worth reading, that looks at both the benefits of Microsoft's involvement with school redevelopment in the Philadelphia school system, but also touches on some of the dangers of corporate involvement in redefining education. When schools come to depend on the infusion of talent and money from a corporation, what happens when the corporation pulls out (or threatens to pull out unless the learning takes on a pro-corporate spin)? I think schools - and, indeed, the concept of schooling - can and should include many of the ideas Microsoft is bringing to the table. But what we see at this school is an intensive, hands-on and expensive way of doing it. We need to be thinking about the other practicality - how to make learning affordable and accessible to everyone (on their own terms). Via Tim Stahmer. Elizabeth Svoboda, Fast Company August 22, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , , , ] [Comment]

Social Media In and Out of School: Notes From the Creating and Connecting Report
Report from a study in the U.S. "96 percent of teens and tweens between the ages of 9 and 17 with Internet access in the U.S. are using social networking technologies such as chat, text-messaging, blogging, or visiting online communities such as Facebook and MySpace." I wonder how many of them read books. Not just Harry Potter but, say, textbooks. Christopher D. Sessums, Weblog August 22, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , , , , ] [Comment]

A Call for a Textbook Purchasing Moratorium
I have been calling on libraries to stop purchasing books and journals, and to instead coordinate the open archiving of the content produced by the instutution they serve. This call from Wesley Fryer on schools mto stop purchasing textbooks is in a similar vein - the practice is wasteful and expensive and isn't preparing children for the future. "Education cannot and will not change in the basic, fundamental ways we need and should want it to change in the twenty-first century as long as textbooks, paper, and pencils continue to be the predominant technologies for student expression and individualized access to content." George Siemens also comments. Wesley Fryer, Infinite Thinking Machine August 22, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

I Disagree with Suspending the Purchase of Textbooks
I'll state right up front that I disagree with Vicki Davis's position here. But it should be stated. She writes, "I personally have to underline, write, rewrite, take notes in the margin and work with the text. I just have to. It is how I learn." Fair enough. And I absolutely think that you need to work with the material in order to learn it. When I was in university I also spent a great deal of time rewriting texts on paper (lectures too, which I transcribed as I listened to them). Now I use a computer to do this - and it's an important skill to have. Yes, some people still do it the old way. They shouldn't. And some people today just cut and paste from electronic texts. They shouldn't do that either - they are robbing themselves of their own learning if they do that. Vicki Davis, Cool Cat Teacher Blog August 22, 2007 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

OER Recommender
This is a very nice way to work with things that are not textbooks. "OER Recommender links you to open education resources related to web pages you are browsing." Outstanding! I'd like to see a (paper-based) textbook do that! The only real problem I see with it is that it requires the Greasemonkey Foirefox extension, and then another Firefox extension (these also work in Flock). It's not that I don't like the extensions, it's just that I would prefer the feature to be browser-neutral. Much more web-based than browser-based. But this is a very minor criticism of something I think is absolutely pointing in the right direction. Via Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

What's All the Buzz About Wikibooks? I Found at Least 10 Examples.
Curt Bonk offers us a look at a promising alternative to the textbook, the wiki book. Essentially, the wiki book is an online book written collectively by its readers. Bonk's post is a valuable contribution because it lists and describes in some detail ten separate wiki books projects. This gives readers some concrete examples they can consider following. Bonk is working on a book applying Thomas Friedman's The World is Flat ideas to learning. Richard Hoeg takes the same tack with this post and presentation (which is worth the six minutes to view). We should be careful, though, about mixing Friedman's political book with educational theory. Curt Bonk, TravelinEdMan August 22, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]


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Copyright 2007 Stephen Downes

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