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by Stephen Downes
September 11, 2007

EduRSS Feed List
I have updated the EduRSS feed list, dropping some weblogs that haven't been updated since the Middle Ages and adding a bunch of new ones. This was motivated by a list published in Edutopia constituting the "cornerstone" of edublogging. As I comment, they may be a cornerstone, but the selection of weblogs - which are all American - represents only a small segment of the wider community. Edutopia editor John Daly suggested that I send in some international contributions. Here's a few hundred. And as Graham Wegner, "Look around at some of the places he suggests and you'll find that some of the issues that US education is exploring as 'things to do' are already 'things being done' in many areas of the globe." It's something that he's written about before. Stephen Downes, Stephen's Web September 11, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment]

Web 2.0 Slam - Performing Innovative Practice
There was a fair amount of coverage around the blogosphere of last week-end's Alt-C conference, which was held in Nottingham. In particular, a number of writers commented on the 'Web 2.0 Slam' session, which consisted partially of a description of Web 2.0 technologies and partially of chaos as people developed their own creation. See it all at the workshop wiki. More from Josie Fraser, Graham Attwell, Kathy Trinder, Emma Duke-Williams and James Clay. david Bryson, meanwhile, created a slideshow video of people blogging the conference (scroll down to see it under the other article). Also from Alt-C we have a summary of the Pathfinder Symposium, by Derek Morrison (who has abandoned Auricle?). Helen Keegan, Weblog September 11, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment]

Understanding Internet Architecture, a Need for Smarter Networks, TCP and UDP Differences
I'm not going to do justice to Wesley Fryer's long discussion of network architectures. But I do want to key on a theme in the title (and found throughout the article) that suggests that the network can somehow be 'managed' to be more efficient. I think that is a fallacy. In general, the most efficient systems involve 'stupid' networks and 'smart' objects (rather than 'smart' networks and 'stupid' objects). Let me give some examples: the road system is a stupid network, as compared to the rail system, which is a smart - but inefficient - network. Or, consider airline baggage, which (stupidly) moves through the smartest network in the world, and still ends up in Omaha. As compared to the (smart) people who travel on the (stupid) concourses, which almost never do. The more you try to built 'smart' into your network, the more you build the potential for error, corruption, and bottleneck. Wesley Fryer, Moving at the Speed of Creativity September 11, 2007 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Will the the Future of the Internet Be Free?
With the release of the Google Flight Simulater as an 'Easter Egg' inside Google Earth last week, you can be forgiven for thinking, as Bill St. Arnauld suggests, that the future of the internet lies in free, not commercial, applications. In his email newsletter, St. Arnauld points to a couple other items that reinforce this point, Andrew Odlyzko writing Digital rights management: Desirable, inevitable, and almost irrelevant, and Paul Budde on meeting John Ralston Saul. "The inclusion of Intellectual Property into the WTO is severely hampering the flow of new ideas and information; it is attempting to control the dissemination of ideas, thus making the spread and sharing of them increasingly difficult. This is damaging the new economy!" Well, not just that. It is damaging us, the people who live in this society. It is amounting to a theft of our culture and an abridgement of our intellectual freedom. It is a global and ignoble disembiggening of the mind. Bill St. Arnauld, Weblog September 11, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment]

International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning
The July issue is now available online and carries a very mixed bag of articles. The quality is quite uneven. I've linked to a couple I liked (below) after reading a half dozen or so - I found two of the three invited papers (Cambridge and Kwo) to be quite weak, while the refereed papers varied from reading like a testimonial (Gilpin) to yet another study of a few graduate students (de Freitas) to a study of physical modeling activities that felt (to me, at least) quite dated (Fenci and Huenink) - I mean, I remember reading about the rods in Holt (1964). Also, try as I might, I cannot get used to the idea of classifying students by race, as was done in a number of the papers. It's just jarring. Various Authors, Center for Excellence in Teaching at Georgia Southern University September 11, 2007 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Developing and Assessing Undergraduate Students' Moral Reasoning Skills
I'm including this paper because I enjoyed it - that must be the philosopher in me coming out, even though I am not deeply into moral philosophy. The teaching of moral philosophy, on the other hand, is something that catches my interest, because it raises the question of how we address a topic in which there is no 'right answer'. The author fails to find progress in 'moral reasoning' after teaching the course the standard way, by surveying the usual variety of moral philosophies. In response, she describes a "plan to focus on only one principled moral theory, virtue ethics, and to have students practice applying these principles throughout the semester." Personally, I think this will leave students deficient, because it doesn't give them any choices. Karen Hornsby, International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning September 11, 2007 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Using the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning at Disciplinary, National and Institutional Levels to Strategically Improve the Quality of Post-Secondary Education
Though this paper has rather more title than is necessary, it is certainly a worthwhile read, especially if you have an interest in the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) at the university level. The vignette the authors use top support the case is worth reading on its own merits, a concise summary of Shulman's analysis 'signature pedagogies' such as clinical rounds in medicines, the legal case in law, the design project in engineering, and homiletics in ministry. This work - which shows that these pedagogies have a bias toward practice - can be used as a platform for the development of greater understanding of teaching in other disciplines. I think the case can be made that we can learn from a scholarly approach to teaching and learning. But I am less convinced that this work needs to be organized and strategized at a national level. People always assume, if only research were managed centrally, with all the research orchestrated, it would be so much better. But I see no evidence to support that, and quite a bit against. So while I would certainly support strengthening communications capacities, I would prefer things to remain more of a 'network of practice', and less of a 'community of practice'. Gary Poole, Lynn Taylor and John Thompson, International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning September 11, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

Top 100 Tools for Learning 2007
Jane hart has made the PDF of her Top 100 Tools guide available for download. The guide lists the tools by popularity and by category. There is also an alphabetical listing. The resulting listing is, I think, very precise. And what was interesting to me was that the listing by category is essentially a snapshot of what we would think a Personal Learning Environment should look like - a web browser, an RSS reader, a personal start page, an email tool, and the rest. Each of the tools listed in the guide is linked to a page describing the tool, with comments from the survey participants. Visitors are encouraged (but not required) to submit their email to be notified when the 2008 list is created. Jane Hart, Centre for Learning and Performance Technologies September 11, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]


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Copyright 2007 Stephen Downes

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