Stephen's Web

[Chat] [Discuss] [Search] [Mobile] [About] [Archives] [Options]


by Stephen Downes
March 3, 2008

Scope of Learning Responsibility
The March 'Big Question' is, "What is the scope of our responsibility as learning professionals?" One day I need to write at greater length on the subject of 'responsibilities'. Because many people suppose that they can impose 'responsibilities' on other people by virtue of their citizenship or their profession or whatever. I don't agree with this. These things that are imposed ought more properly to be called 'duties' - and the logic of duties is narrow and closely defined. One might read Kant or Ross on duties, for example. Otherwise, the only 'responsibilities' we can be held to account for are those that we freely enter into. I don't accept the dialogue of 'responsibility' - it is a substitution of obedience for freedom, without the ground of reflection or reason. Tony Karrer, The Learning Circuits Blog March 3, 2008 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

What Makes Finnish Kids So Smart?
Smarter? Hardly. Just better educated. A most talked about article this week is the Wall Street Journal's examination of why Finland scores so well on PISA tests. Think about it - students exercise much more personal freedom, the internet is not blocked, there isn't any standardized test mania, post-secondary education is free, and the elites don't get any sort of special privilege. No wonder the Wall Street Journal can't understand it and has to, I guess, attribute it to genetics. Ellen Gamerman, Wall Street Journal March 3, 2008 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

How Podcasts and Other Media Feed Learning Addiction
I'm not sure whether I'm a sufferer. "In a recent series of blog posts (Eric Woods) talked about the concept of 'learning addiction', and that for some people, it can be very tempting to continue acquiring vast quantities of knowlege far and beyond any practical ability to apply it." Hm. Anyhow, this post takes that concept and uses it to highlight difficulties with podcasts. For me, the problem with podcasts is the same as it has always been: time. Eric Woods, JABET March 3, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Many Students Loosely Joined: Social Software to Support Distance Education Learners
The reason Terry Anderson and I take very similar approaches to online learning, I thinking, is that we start with similar values. What values? As stated in this presentation, they include student control and freedom, and education for everybody (not just the elites). This presentation touches familiar themes, including the ideas of abundant content (note the sales versus free downloads of his books) and abundant communications. Ironically, the website says some materials are for ELI members only - in direct contradiction to the message Anderson carries - though I was able to access everything. I think ELI should reconsider - proprietary content is so 90s, and posting 'member access only' just makes it look like you don't understand new media.

Anderson also discusses and links to a post by Jon Dron on the topic of collective intelligence. Dron cautions people on the use of Wikipedia as an example of collective intelligence. "Wikipedia is only partially a collective venture and, from most perspectives, this is not the main part." Quite so - though, what should be said is that it started out as a very uncontrolled and genuinely collective venture, but as it began succumbing to the demand for 'respectability' it has become more and more authoritarian (with an oddly publisher-centric view of authority). Anderson offers some interesting remarks on taxonomy. I'll just note that (a) my own usage of terminology is rarely 'loose' and never based on popular memes, and (b) when I classify entities, it is always by virtue of some significant underlying structure. Terry Anderson, EDUCAUSE Connect March 3, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Some Court Documents
Some more court documents in the Blackboard patent case appear - along with an odd request (from Blackboard lawyers) to remove a link. As of this writing the link to the source - instructional media + magic - is not functioning either. Also, Feldstein writes, "Recall that D2L had posted a comment (which they later pulled at the request of Blackboard's legal team) to the effect that they had uncovered documents during the discovery phase of the trial showing that the reason Blackboard went after them was that D2L was winning too many deals against them. This list certainly is consistent with that claim." See also this interview by Jim Farmer with Fred Hofstetter, a fact witness at the trial. Also see Alfred Essa, Anatomy of a Bogus Patent. Michael Feldstein, e-Literate March 3, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment]

Innovative Math Mashups for Education, Commerce, and Social Networking
Susan Smith Nash looks at the world of math mashups in this podcast. "Integrated math-based mashups and web applications can bring together demographic information and other kinds of data sets in useful, engaging, and productive ways." Susan Smith Nash, E-Learning Queen March 3, 2008 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Publishers Phase Out Piracy Protection On Audio Books
This is a move that is long overdue and which will make it possible to actually listen to these audio books. The books, published by companies such as Random House and Penguin, will be available in MP3. Brad Stone, New York Times March 3, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

IMS Global Learning Consortium Announces Pilot Project Exploring Creative Commons Licensing of Interoperability Specifications
The headline says it. I've had my criticisms of IMS in the past, but I've got to give them a big thumbs up here. PDF. Press Release, IMS March 3, 2008 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

This newsletter is sent only at the request of subscribers. If you would like to unsubscribe, Click here.

Know a friend who might enjoy this newsletter? Feel free to forward OLDaily to your colleagues. If you received this issue from a friend and would like a free subscription of your own, you can join our mailing list. Click here to subscribe.

Copyright 2008 Stephen Downes

This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons License.