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by Stephen Downes
June 9, 2008

Work Literacy
Tony Karrer and Michele Martin have launched a project called Work Literacy. Karrer writes, in an email, "Our goal is create a vibrant network of individuals, companies and organizations interested in participating in a variety of ways: learners, testers, experts, teachers, coaches, and I'm sure many others. The network is intentionally defined in a way that will allow it to emerge over time, but there are some very interesting people involved already." Tony Karrer and Michele Martin, Website, June 9, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Browsers can search for people willing to offer live video online lessons and receive lessons for a (per-hour) fee. Prices are pretty high now, but I can easily see them declining. Though the site has exclusivity conditions that render it unusable, its approach to offering a marketplace of learning opportunities is definitely worth a look (the conditions are: "You are free to reuse the material you present in such lectures, but the recording of the lecture itself may only be used by you on the Service..."). Related: Susan Smith Nash reviews LearnHub, a site "combines social networks and content management to allow users to create, use, and manage online learning (training, tutoring, mini-courses, reviews)." Various Authors, Website, June 9, 2008 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

I have added three new videos to my site in the last few days: How the Net Works, a 42 min recording of a videoconference I presented to viewers in Adelaide last July; Civilization Revolutiona 3 min recording of Sid Meier introducing the new Civilizations game at the conference in Fairfax; and Light, Agile and Flexible: Collaborating the Web 2.0 Way, the 45 min recording of my presentation at the Fairfax conference. Stephen Downes, Stephen's Web, June 9, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

Walter Bender Discusses Sugar Labs Foundation
Interview with Walter Bender on the reasons he left OLPC and where he expects the Sugar system to go in the future. "Bringing the concepts together, the culture that is embodied in the FOSS movement - a meritocracy that is built upon both collaboration and critique - is synergistic with some core principles of learning, so, where possible, I try to embrace that culture." Tom Hanson, Open Education, June 9, 2008 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

The End of Static Learning Objects
To my mind, the discussion of learning objects went off the rails when people started treating them as static publications rather than mutable elements of an ongoing conversation. History bears this out: "TLF (The Le@rning Federation) Learning Objects became irrelevant to today's learners about 2005 - when user-generated and filtered content began to gather more relevance than that of top-down institutions." Why? "TLF LOs were/are too hard to access and that it was mostly impossible to assess student's learning because they did not allow a venue for conversation around the content." Nothing that couldn't have been predicted. Paul Reid, Digital Chalkie, June 9, 2008 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

If You Can't Beat Them, Join Them!
The writing, as they say, is on the wall. "At Britannica, 'readers and users will also be invited into an online community where they can work and publish at Britannica's site under their own names,' the encyclopedia's blog explains." Derek Wenmoth, Derek's Blog, June 9, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

Spray Your Updates Everwhere with Ping.Fm
This is such a bad idea. The last thing the world needs is a way for people to post the same thing on 20 sites at once. I have to say, if I start getting multiple copies of the same message from people, I'm going to start blocking. It's bad enough that people twitter that they've just posted to their blog (what, nobody uses RSS any more?) but not getting this sort of spam will basically wreck the social networks ecosystem (such as it is, which isn't saying much). Alan Levine, CogDogBlog, June 9, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , , , ] [Comment]

On the Death of Ideology
What's the difference between an ideology and a meme? From where I sit (and perhaps a little overgeneralized) the former is a product of, and inducement toward, group behaviour, while the latter exemplifies network behaviour. I personally think that ideologies - like morality - are best expressed by individuals, not by groups. If edupunk has an ideology, it should be emergent - not shared by some members of some group, but created through the interactions of a loosely defined cluster of individuals. That's why trying to pin down edupunk in a wikipedia article is probably a bad idea. Jim Groom, bavatuesdays, June 9, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

Conflating Teaching and Political Activism
This criticism of edupunk shows exactly why edupunk (the meme) has been valuable: "These people conflate their teaching work with political activism. They truly are impetuous, irresponsible, and incapable of seeing their own 'will to power'. Are they so afraid of the truth that they have to instill beliefs like all good ideologues. They fear that the youth will not imbibe their own authoritarian mores (believe what we believe, but do not question leftist orthodoxy) so they have to push them on the kids." Kids are taught history, kids are taught culture, in some countries, kids are taught to hold their hands over their hearts and recite a pledge of allegiance - and the politicization of the educational system, which includes everything from rote-based standardized testing to the small schools movement to charter schools, vouchers and religious education, is evident for all to see. If edupunk is nothing more than the collective realization of people in the educational system that they are being used as political agents, then it is important. Miguel Guhlin, Around the Corner v2, June 9, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

PC Is Not a Good Educator
Teemu Leinonen reports on a study that is in turn covered by Slate to the effect that the provision of computers to lower-income Romanian families via a voucher program results in lower grades and lower likelihood of attending post-secondary education. With Leinonen, I agree that simply tossing computers into homes is more likely to produce a distraction than anything else. Also with Leinonen I wonder about the economists' naivety - why would they ask for "mothers at home" instead of, say, "teachers"? And I am suspicious of their metrics: do the figures really show lower grades, or is this simply an artifact of the data manipulation, and do lower grades in the Romanian school system really constitute a poorer education (or just a different one)? Teemu Leinonen, FLOSSE Posse, June 8, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

VLC Media Player Tutorials
Useful set of tutorials that will help you: "1. Convert FLV to MOV using VLC Media Player, 2. Save to MP4 from a DVD, 3. Save Audio to MP3/OGG from Video." Miguel Guhlin, Around the Corner, June 9, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

OpenEd 2008 Submissions and Scholarships!
If you have been thinking about attending the Open Education Conference in Logan, Utah, you will want to do it this year. And so while I have a rule about linking to calls for papers, I'll make an exception in this case (and mention as well that scholarships are available). David Wiley, iterating toward openness, June 8, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Certifying Online Research
I applaud the Chronicle's Gary A. Olsen for looking at the question of recognizing online scholarship, though I would not agree with his proposal to have scholarly societies 'recognize' sites via "a certification process in which a site owner can apply to have a site reviewed and recognized, perhaps for a nominal processing fee." I think thyat what we will find is that societies that seek out and identify worthwhile sites have more credibility than those whose opinions can be purchased. And why need it be a society? It's better to have a collection of individuals - like this newsletter - working independently. Via Barbara Fister. Gary A.Olsen, Chronicle of Higher Education, June 9, 2008 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

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Copyright 2008 Stephen Downes

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