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by Stephen Downes
October 29, 2007

Design Matters and Flat Classroom Project 2007 Keynote
Julie Lindsay enthuses about Dean Shareski's 'Flat Classroom Project keynote Address' (Vicki A. Davis does too) and posts the video on her website. "Yes, we all agree 'design does matter' but what also matters in this flat world is immediacy, communicating a message so that the concepts are accessible, and having fun doing it." I like this sort of initiative, but I'm less comfortable with the use of the word 'flat', as in 'The World is Flat', when it so evidently is not. It's a nice metaphor, but it's mostly intended to allow rich people to feel comfortable with their wealth, by fostering the belief that the wealth has spread around the globe, which it hasn't, and won't, so long as we think in terms of doing the same sort of thing things we have always done, like, say, 'classrooms'. Julie Lindsay, E-Learning Blog October 29, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Turn-Taking Etiquettes
I don't have a mobile phone and I don't like calling people. This item nicely illustrates why. "It's always seemed weird to me that people who would never consider barging into the middle of someone else's life in other ways, at least not without serious motivation and elaborate apologies, think nothing of making a randomly disruptive phone call." Mark Liberman, Language Log October 29, 2007 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

Passive Voice for Web 2.0 Writing
As with any rule, the recommendation to "use the active voice" has its exceptions. An example is shown in this Jakob Nielsen column, where, when readers read only the first two words, use of the passive voice may actually offer more information. Well, sure. Because what we really need to note is that the subject of our sentence ought to be what we are talking about - and sometimes (usually) the subject does the acting, but sometimes, what is important is that the subject is acted upon. My rule (and yes, there are exceptions) is to decide what I am talking about, and to put it first. Via Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment]

Design Bash: Moving Towards Learning Design Interoperability
The 'design bash' concept is a good idea in itself, but I am highlighting this post because of the way it describes three types of interoperability: conceptual, semantic and syntactic. Now I wouldn't define these as the author does. I think semantic interoperability has to do with meaning, and not whether or not a given function is present. This, along with interoperability of format, should be classified as syntactic interoperability. That also allows us to classify what the author calls 'conceptual' interoperability as a type of semantic interoperability. Why is this rewriting important? Because while I think syntactic interoperability is a good idea, I think striving for semantic interoperability is dangerous and misguided. We use a common language, sure, but we must be free to say different things. Sheila MacNeill, Weblog October 29, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Spiders and Starfish
Summary of a recent book, The Starfish and the Spider, by Ori Brafman and Rod Beckstrom, another book about centralized versus decentralized organizations. The authors talk about a 'sweet spot' half way in between (say) Craigslist and department stores - but when the distributed alternatives work so well, one wonders what's so 'sweet' about breaking that model, even if only a little bit. Also, "If you think that decentralization is not an option for your organization, consider that your employees may strongly disagree, as reported by Ross Dawson." Harold Jarche, Weblog October 29, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

E-Learning Mythbusters #3
I think that there is a point to this commentary. The suggestion is that, while community is important in learning, students do not want to create a community in their class (online or otherwise). Why? Because they already have a whole bunch of communities. So - the students are wrong, right? Well, not necessarily. Barry Dahl, Desire2Blog October 29, 2007 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

The Learning Federation: A Nationwide Initiative to Encourage Development of Interactive and Interoperable Learning Objects in the Schools Sector
Written entirely in politic-speak (and hardly resembling an interview at all) this article nonetheless gives readers a good feel for The learning Federation. "There are collaborative groups to: focus on scoping the content within the curriculum priorities; provide feedback through the content design and development process and use of the content within a teaching and learning context; collaborate on specifications, infrastructure, metadata, and intellectual property issues. The single greatest challenge for Curriculum Corporation is to ensure these groups work effectively in their roles." Yes, because you wouldn't want them to work outside their roles. Unattributed, IMS Global Learning Consortium October 29, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , , , , ] [Comment]

When Wikipedia Is the Assignment
This article covers an EDUCAUSE presentation describing the use of Wikipedia for student assignments. Neat project, and what's also interesting is that an EDUCAUSE conference presenation is getting coverage in a newsmagazine website. Oh I know, it's far from the first - but given that these conferences run almost every day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, there is it seems to be, a gold mine for the press to follow and report on - and a much better way to report the news than the more traditional focus on politics, conflict, innuendo and unnamed sources we see in newspapers and on television. Andy Guess, Inside Higher Ed October 29, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment]


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Copyright 2007 Stephen Downes

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