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by Stephen Downes
December 20, 2007

Free Learning and Control Learning: On the So-Called Failure of Constructivist, Discovery, Problem-Based, Experiential, and Inquiry-Based Teaching
Text of my presentation to SURF Education Days, 13 November 2007, Utrecht, the Netherlands. Stephen Downes, Half an Hour December 20, 2007 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

Eduspaces Crosses the Pond to Mystery New Home
The EduSpaces debacle is being resolved with the same attention to communications and good public relations as was the original closure: it was announced that the community will be hosed by TakingITGlobal. Graham Attwell comments, "Members of the network are grateful for the support but non-plussed as to who TakingITGlobal are and why they have been chosen as inheritors of eduspaces." After all, numerous others had offered to host the community, but their offers were (apparently) rebuffed. "Longer term this should be a wake up call to the community. A new eduspaces community may arise. But this time the community has to develop forms of organisation. TakingITGlobal can be members of such a community. But they cannot be allowed to 'own' Eduspaces in the way Curverider did." And if Curverider wonders why their 'open source' business model didn't work, let me say (again) that it has nothing to do with open source and everything to do with their business acumen. Related: Selling the WELL. Graham Attwell, Pontydysgu December 20, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Canadians Are Humans, With Kids Too
The OLPC project is hitting some bad publicity in its treatment of Canadians as second class citizens, according to this post. This is, in my experience, a problem that exists more generally with nationally, rather than internationally, centred initiatives. Guest Writer, OLPC news December 20, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

The Lightbook: A $20 eBook Reader
A $20 eBook reader unencumbered by DRM. This is what it would take for eBooks to take off, in my view. And the technology is within our grasp; what is missing at the moment is the will. The only thing I don't quite get is the need for the 'illumination' format for content. That said, "it does what Nicholas Negroponte originally intended; namely, it brings education, knowledge, learning, to those billions of human beings in this world who lack electricity, let alone a connection to the Internet, who have never read a book, but whose lives would be improved immeasurably by the ability to do so at negligible cost." Martin Woodhouse, One Laptop Per Child News December 20, 2007 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Makeover: Turn Objectives Into Motivators
Good observation on the design of course objectives. If you are describing objectivs to learners, they should be direct and personal. I would also sharpen the objective into a single, salient point ('you will be able to satisfy dissatisfied customers'). The key here (to anticipate another discussion) is that effective learning objectives (properly so-called) satisfy personal, not group, objectives. Cathy Moore, Making Change December 20, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

At 71, Physics Professor Is a Web Star
Nice story about an MIT professor who is able to awe people with physics and has gained a global following as a result. My own take is that the world is filled with fascinating and compelling people, all of whom are far more interesting and engaging than the 14-year-old child singers the media seems to favour. Walter Lewin is quite rightly a rock star - and it is interesting to see that it is the people's media that makes that possible. Meanwhile, when the panderers at your local television station say, "but it's what people want," maybe nudge them toward the internet and say to them, "oh really?" Sara Rimer, New York Times December 20, 2007 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Networked Learning in a Networked World
I will be in Kuala Lampur during the Future of Learning in a Networked World taking place in January in Thailand, but as Teemu Leinonen (who will be in Bogota) says, most of the event will take place online. And I will be watching with interest. Anyhow, as his contribution to the event, Leinonen tackles the groups and networks debate again, introducing non-formal learning: "Networked learning can also be non-formal. Non-formal means that it is informal but with objectives." And then he turns it around: "I would like to see that 'networked learning' is considered as non-formal or formal learning taking place in a non-hierarchical groups that are constructed from the participants' social networks." Leigh Blackall (another FLNW participant) responds, "Networked learning and non formal learning can appear to be connected if we look at networking, grouping and learning as a sequence, but they are not necessarily." Quite so. And, indeed, you would need the magical intervention of 'objectives' to make it so. Teemu Leinonen, FLOSSE Posse December 20, 2007 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

The Finch That Stole E-Learning
Cute. Corporate holiday plug, but who can resist a line like, "his skill set was two sizes too small." Via Kapp Notes. Various Authors, Enspire December 20, 2007 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Percent of Teens Producing Digital Content Is Up
The Pew survey is of Americans only, of course, and so there's no way to know whether the U.S. is leading a trend or catching up with the rest of the internet world. Still, the trend is a good one. Teens are producing more content, and "the survey found that content creation is not just about sharing creative output; it is also about participating in conversations fueled by that content." And, again, I think if people actually looked, they'd see that the internet is creating what is likely the most creative and literate generation in history.

Just found randomly following the DeviantArt link: Super Fun Buddy. A Tamagotchi with attitude. "This was my final for my Visual Computing class, so it took around a week to make. I've never animated anything substantial before in flash, so this was a real treat :] I made the music track in GarageBand, so don't bother asking what song it is." Do your students have 'visual computing class'?

Or how about this post from Dean Shareski describing those crazy kids and their YouTube. "Dan Pink is on to something. The kid didn't even use a camera. He took a song he liked but more importantly a lyric in the song and crafted a short but powerful message. Just messing around." Are your students studying video production? Shouldn't they? Dave Warlick, 2 Cents Worth December 20, 2007 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

What We All Want
I found this post interesting, not so much because of its advocacy of play - though I certainly support that - but because of the examples offered by young schoolchildren of safety, inclusion, and contribution. None of the distractions they will learn in later life from a media that deliberately misleads. For young children, 'safety' consists of shelter from storms, a place to rest, and a safe feeling. 'Inclusion', for the children, has a lot to do with comfort, love, caring, and taking turns. Think about how these definitions become twisted in our adult lives. That's not by accident. Bob Sprankle, Bit By Bit December 20, 2007 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]


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Copyright 2007 Stephen Downes

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