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by Stephen Downes
October 18, 2007

How the Net Works
The purpose of this paper is to describe how network learning works and to show how an understanding of network learning can inform the design and evaluation of online learning applications. Stephen Downes, October 18, 2007 [Link] [Comment]

Why Use Technology in the English Classroom?
Michael L Umphrey emailed me with information about this literate blog by an English teacher in Montana. I enjoyed the style of writing and most of the topics, and while I didn't always agree with the point of view, certainly think it's worth passing along. Michael L Umphrey, Weblog October 18, 2007 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Labeling Games
I think most people dislike the term 'serious games' (this survey certainly seems to suggest it). But the favoured alternative, 'immersive learning', doesn't capture people's imagination - or attention. Me, I still say, call games 'games' and simulations 'simulations' and forget about trying to put one over on the guy in the corner office. Clark Quinn, Learnlets October 18, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Information R/Evolution
Another one of those videos, with the text. It's ok - but the format has been done. Done, done and done. This one looks at traditional conceptions of information - like, for example, the way we have always thought of it as something that is on a shelf, categorized. "There is no shelf... the links alone are enough." After a look at Wikipedia, it becomes a paean to tagging. Well enough, but experienced Google searchers know that keywords also are not enough. I've had more success with regular expressions, but these too may not be enough. Via Joan Vinall-Cox. Michael Wesch, YouTube October 18, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , , , , , ] [Comment]

Educational Uses of Second Life
This is a remarkable list of educational applicatiosn in Second Life - easily the most comprehensive I've seen anywhere - with descriptiopns, links and screen shots. You could easily spend the entire day with Second Life and this web page going from place to place (I've gone to a bunch of them). Related: Dave Pollard on SL as a platform for meetings. Jo Kay and Sean FitzGerald, Second Life in Education October 18, 2007 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

MySpace Opens Up to Developers in Move On Facebook
TRhe last time I went to my MySpace page I was deluged with noisy intrusive ads. So I didn't really care about their announcement that they will, like Facebook, allow external developers. Of course, facebook isn't innocent - more than once I've wanted to wish away its blinking advertisements. When will someone create a personal space service that allows owners to choose the advertisers they are willing to support? And to turn off the stuff that is noisy, intrusive and offensive? Reuters, Globe and Mail October 18, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

Lost in Translation: (Mis)Understanding Youth Engagement
I've said this before but it bears repeating (from a report just released by the Canadian Policy Research Networks): "The central finding is that 'Generation Y' - those born after 1979 - is far from apathetical and apolitical. However, while very much tuned into small "p" political life, young Canadians are increasingly disenchanted with our formal political institutions and politics as currently practiced." Note how well their recommendation resonates with our own: "this is not about simply transferring knowledge from one generation to another - rather, it is about embracing youth as co-creators and partners in renewing civil and democratic life in Canada." Mary Pat MacKinnon, Sonia Pitre and Judy Watling, Canadian Policy Research Networks October 18, 2007 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

LiveScribe - Smart Pen
The LiveScribe demo is a nifty little movie that makes a pretty good case for the application. Basically, you use a special pen and notepaper, take notes in class, and then when you look at them later, you can get the audio in the room at the time the note was created. The notes are also searchable and sharable. Brilliant. Alec Couros, Couros Blog October 18, 2007 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Do Your Students Understand This Cartoon
Some geek humour that explains why every simple apostrophe that enters my system is 'escaped' into code that will not write instructions into my database. For those who were wondering where the weird apostrophes were coming from during my Brandon Hall talk, that's where. Alfred Thompson, Computer Science Teacher October 18, 2007 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

The Economist Debate Series
The Economist is hosting a debate on the subject "that the continuing introduction of new technologies and new media adds little to the quality of most education." Debators are Sir John Daniel, of the Commonwealth of Learning, and Robert Kozma of SRI International (Stanford Research Institute). Personally I think it's a case of the Economist trying to get into the game and - en passant - annointing the people it thinks should speak on such matters. Which, as usual, leaves us without anything like a progressive view on the matter. Various Authors, The Economist October 18, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

Emergence Is Coupled to Scope, Not Level
Very nice paper (PDF). Some really good observations, including:
- that emergence should be defined by scope rather than level (in my own work I have described it by levels, and not really considered defining it as anything) - and of drawing the distinction (last paragraph) between global and local scopes
- the question of whether emergence is a perceptual (or epistemic) property (ie., 'recognition') as I have defined it, or whether it is an ontologically 'real' property - this paper takes a broad position that it is ontological, but I don't agree with the argument ("Naissance emergence is an ontological concept, since in light of the preceding discussion it cannot be epistemic.")
- that the limitation of mathematical models of emergence is the lack of entropy (which restricts the number of possibilities) - I would contrast this with (mathematical) discussions of scale-free networks
- the description of the phenomenon of 'scaling' - eg. the spread of a disease is the 'scaling' of an emergent property in a network
Alex Ryan, arXiv October 18, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]


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Copyright 2007 Stephen Downes

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