Stephen's Web

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by Stephen Downes
November 22, 2007

Learn Yourself
Presentation by Stephen Downes, Sosiaalinen media opetuksen ja oppimisen tukena (SMOOT), Finland, Online, [Link]

Learn Yourself
My presentation online to SMOOT Finland yesterday. Not the greatest video in the world (the quality is OK, but it's just me sitting at my desk and speaking) but it represents a full day's worth of production, as I struggled with my MacBook Pro, Parallels, Windows XP running on Parallels, Adobe Premiere Elements, and various other drivers and support applications, to get the video from the camera to the Google Video site where it now resides. The talk itself is a familiar message, as I talk about how teachers should take control of their own learning and the principles they should use to select technology. Near the end is my latest take on an answer to the old question about whether students need instruction - I know I could answer that question forever and not convince everyone, but I still think it's worth trying to frame that answer in different ways, if only to understand the issue. Stephen Downes, Stephen's Web November 22, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , , , ] [Comment]

The Problem of Talking About the New Web: You Have to Do It, Too
I'm not likely to change my approach to presentations a whole lot (save messing around with recording and backchannels and other interactive play like that) even though I recognize the importance of conversation and local knowledge. Here's why. I do not regard my talk at a conference to be the totality of a person's learning experience. It is partial in two respects. Partial, first, in that it is supported through the very interactive mechanisms of my website and associated resources. And partial, second, in that participants have the entire conference to generate local knowledge, and don't need to do it during my talk. I see myself as playing a role, not delivering the whole package - and that role is to offer a 40 to 50 minute communication of outside ideas to a particular audience. The conversation happens before and after the talk - and I often find myself in the middle of it. Ewan McIntosh considers similar issues in this post. Ewan McIntosh, Weblog November 22, 2007 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Why Does This Stuff Succeed?
It's a rant, but we ned more rants like this. Because while on the one hand there is the scepticism - often expressed in these pages - about standardized instruction and instruction-based learning. But there is the other side of the discussion we need to see: the problem of charlatans who have a 'solution' to sell, that 'improves learning' - though they won't tell you how, nor provide any evidence that it does. And we have in common the objectives of seeing our educational system produce, as the author says, "people who understand through hard study of history and philosophy the challenges of self government." Self-discipline and even self-sacrifice are indeed noble virtues, and we would like to foster them. But students often hear of the need for self-sacrifice from an individual or an institution that will take the fruits of that sacrifice merely to enrich or empower themselves. Where I differ - I think - from the author, is in the manner e should approach these things. Where he, I think, would like to stress greater instruction in the virtues, I would stress greater practice of the virtues on the part of those who would instruct in them. Michael L Umphrey, Weblog November 22, 2007 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

My Advice On Being A More Effective Blogger!
The advice about reading other blogs and taking part in conversations is spot on. If you think your blog is a 'publication' or a form of 'broadcasting' then it will not be very successful. I also stress the importance of having a blogging routine - I have been in meetings all day today but the day isn't done until the newsletter goes out. Because people expect, want and need consistency. The stylistic advice is generally good as well Especially the bit about publishing full feeds - partial feeds are selfish. You are slowing the reader down purely for your own gain. Sue Waters, Mobile Technology in TAFE November 22, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment]

Acquisitions by Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo From July 2006 to June 2007
A diagram well worth taking a look at for a bit - the web 2.0 revolution is basically being acquired wholesale by Google, Microsoft and Yahoo. Sigh. The original is the snowflake effect, "where mass personalization, mass customization, mass contribution are all available to try." Wayne Hodgins, Off Course On Target November 22, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

From Serious Games to Serious Gaming (Part Six): Common Threads
Henry Jenkins brings together some threads underlying the concept of serious games. The principles include things like: games occur with specific learning contexts; the games supplement, but do not replace, teachers; games should inspire exploration and experimentation; games promote social and not individual learning; every element of the game is meaningful. I think these principles are problematic, a set of principles that will please existing educators and educational institutions, but which do not point the way forward. If I had to put the distinction in capsule form, I would say that this describes "games in learning" but what we really want to be exploring is "learning in games". Just like, say, the distinction between "communities in learning" and "learning in communities". Henry Jenkins, Confessions of an Aca/Fan November 22, 2007 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Aggregative or Emergent Identity? Rethinking Communities
Dave Snoeden offers his take on the distinction I have styled as the one between groups and networks. He describes the distinction, as the title suggests, as one between aggregation and emergent identity, which very much accords with my thinking. He brings to this discussion the concept of the 'crew': "I think that starting to take the concept of crews into a wider organisational role would give us a new and highly functional capability that would exceed that of any current community. We already use them in military and medical environments amongst others so it's not that revolutionary an idea." I wonder whether this would correspond to what Terry Anderson is calling a 'collective'. I think I like the concept of the 'crew' a lot better than that of the 'team', though there is a lot of overlap. Dave Snowden, Cognitive Edge November 22, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

LOM Re-Synch
Activity is beginning to heat up again around the whole learning object metadata (LOM) scene. There is the Dublin Core educational metadata (DC-ED) meeting I missed today, but which I will be following. And as Erik Duval writes, "Over the last year or so, there has been quite a bit of discussion on how we want to make LOM evolve over the longer term." What I really like - and what I really encourage - is that these will be open meetings, hosted online using FlashMeeting (which mostly works with every browser these days). I plan to be there, but even if I miss the meeting, it will still be accessible later, so I can follow what happened. Here's a meeting on metadata harmonization that took place Monday. I don't know yet whether there's a common calendaring system for these meetings that will let people (say) subscribe to a feed and pick which meetings to schedule to attend (someone could tell me?). Erik Duval, Erik Duval's Weblog November 22, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment]

Why You Really Want to Be Short
Three design principles, illustrated, with which I am in agreement: skip the intro; show, don't tell; and set the learner free. Together, they keep the learning resource short, and hence, easily used by the learner. Cathy Moore, Making Change November 22, 2007 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Giant Global Graph
The social graph as described by Brad Fitzpatrick is, according to Tim Berners-Lee, the semantic web. "I called this graph the Semantic Web, but maybe it should have been Giant Global Graph!" And it's a way, not of creating technology, but a way of thinking. About being excited about connections, not nervous. Tim Berners-Lee, DIG November 22, 2007 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Graphics, Streaming, Reflection
From the time I was about 12 years old I delivered newspapers. There was one occasion I was delivering a paper to a red-brick house on Brentwood, with an aluminum screen door, and as I reached to deposit the paper between the doors a young blond boy of about four years old opened the door, and I gave the paper to him. "This is something he might remember the rest of his life," I thought. Then I paused. "No," I decided, "this is something I will remember for the rest of my life." So periodically thereafter, I have replayed the scene in my mind - the door opening, me handing the paper to the kid. And I still remember it, a lifetime later, a small, inconsequential memory reinforced through nothing other than reflection. So when Jay Cross says "Reminiscence reinforces the brain's neural pathways, thereby improving memory," I know it's true. Jay Cross, Informal Learning Blog November 22, 2007 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

So You Want to Be an E-Learning Consultant...
Many of the people I know in this field have become consultants. In this article, Harold Jarche talks about developing your business as a consultant and the challenges faced by freelancers. And yes, Harold, you should have included the importance of long bike rides and the resulting thinking time. Still, consulting isn't for everyone. My own career has taken exactly the opposite tack - I work for the government. Though there's a lot of overhead and paperwork, I enjoy a different type of freedom: the steady income that allows me to not worry about running advertising, offending clients, and the whole client-server relationship. Harold Jarche, eLearn Magazine November 22, 2007 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]


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Copyright 2007 Stephen Downes

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