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by Stephen Downes
September 12, 2007

Opposing View: NCLB Fails Our Schools
I don't know why this is called the 'opposing' view - it seems to be prevailing wisdom by now. But I guess we're still waiting for an autonomous press. Anyhow, New Mexico governor Bill Richardson writes, "I have a one-point plan for No Child Left Behind: Scrap it." I am inclined to agree. From where I sit (and admittedly, that's somewhere outside the building) it seems to me that NCLB is a large exercise undertaken in lieu of actually funding education. It's a way to distract attention from the low teacher salaries, the unequal allocation of funds across divisions, the lack of investment in equipment and resources, and the general abdication of government responsibility for education. I mean - Joanne Jacobs describes a case of NCLB "working exactly as advertised" where, instead of simply funding a remedial reading program for the ten English learners who did not make it 'up to grade' (whatever that means), NCLB called one of the better schools in the state a "failing school" and completely gutted it - without adding resources to fund the mandated changes. In fact, "Napa had to dip into state lottery money and a legal settlement with Microsoft to buy Read 180," a program mandated by the 'restructuring'. Via Tom Hoffman. See also Ravitch's Reversal. (As an aside - as I write this I'm also thinking that NCLB probably also plays into the master narrative described by Jay Rosen today.) Bill Richardson, Yahoo News September 12, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

Commentary: Which Name Is Better - Serious Games or Educational Simulations Or...?
Most of the names suggested for what we most often see named 'serious games' are non-starters. I mean, 'Social Impact Games'? 'Practiceware'? Forget it. We could call them 'serious games', except as Aldrich notes, "Sponsors hate it; instructors from academics, corporate, and military hate it..." I hate it too - why should learning (or business, etc) always be characterized as 'serious'? Me, I think the category is too young to take on a name. For example: I think a 'sim' and a 'simulation' are two different things. How are they different? Well, I don't know, it's hard to characterize - a 'sim' is an object while a 'simulation' is an environment, maybe. I'm not sure we can - or would want - to lump them into the same category. As for "serious games", well I think that's a word made up by press agents and academics trying to get funding (and not a real category of 'thing' at all). Clark Aldrich, Weblog September 12, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

Open Source Holo-Emitter for Second Life
It must be the philosopher in me, but I can't help asking about the ontological status of a hologram produced inside a virtual world like Second Life. Never mind questions like 'is it real?' or not - can it even be said to 'exist'? What is existence, if that exists? Could you get away with criticizing it because the hologram "doesn't look real?" What would that even mean? Brett Bixler, Penn State Virtual Worlds September 12, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Digital Literacy Comes Home
Vicki A. Davis says that students are demonstrating poor critical thinking skills when researching on the web and ought to be taught digital literacy. And digital citizenship. The latter is a whole different issue that i do not want to address here - suffice to say that what constitutes 'citizenship' is very different in different countries. As for the former, well, quite a discussion ensued from the original post. My own view is that you can't teach people what is right and wrong, what is true and false, you have to help students be able to figure that out for themselves. Creating a dependency is not the way to address deficiencies. Davis writes, in a comment, "I am advocating basic literacy of determining the credibility of a source and using multiple sources." Fine, good. But teaching them gives them exactly the opposite message. I know I need to draw this out more - I have not been expressing it well enough to avoid being misinterpreted. Vicki A. Davis, Cool Cat Teacher Blog September 12, 2007 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

If This Is Your First PLE
Good advice for people just trying to get a handle on what we're all talking about when we talk about PLEs and mash-ups and all that. Essentially, what Tom Haskins describes is a process where you more clearly define what you're interested in, use that definition to find related sources on the web, and then progressively interact with those sources. Related: Harold Jarche and Dave Pollard write about web tools for critical thinking. Tom Haskins, growing changing learning creating September 12, 2007 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

Ontario Blogs Is Ready for Bloggers!
"Ontario Blogs provides teachers and students in Ontario, Canada with a vehicle for reading, writing, discussing, debating, sharing, exploring, collaborating, connecting, creating, reflecting, learning... province-wide." Good stuff, well done. Diane Hammond, Nexus September 12, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]


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Copyright 2007 Stephen Downes

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