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by Stephen Downes
July 29, 2008

Help Design the OER Research Network
Cathy Casserly reports, "The Open University and Carnegie Mellon are working on a proposal to develop infrastructure, community and activity to help share research findings on the design and use of OERs. The draft proposal is available on an open wiki." The wiki has quite a bit of content already and is worth a look even if you're not contributing ideas. "The Open Participatory Learning Research Network (OPLRN) proposed here aims to extend this cultural shift, making it the norm to not only publish OERs but also to understand and facilitate their impact on improving teaching and learning by 'closing the feedback loop.'" Catherine Casserly, OERderves, July 29, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

Not a Profession! Nowhere Near...
Patrick Dunn's post gives us the best headline, and Donald Taylor gives us the meat: "A real profession would have more concern about what was acceptable data rather than adopting things uncritically because they look pretty. Also, sadly, it tells us that many people working and writing in learning and development don't seem to want to take the time to stop and think." Quite so. The subject is once again the 'cone of experience' myth, refuted by Will Thalheimer in 2006 (and, in my memory, various others over the years on blogs and in discussion lists) and yet still popular among educators (and it reminds me of the completely uncritical acceptance of the Did You Know video). Patrick Dunn, Networked Learning Design, July 29, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment]

OLPC Nigeria One Year Later: Hard Lessons Learned
With a lot of fanfare, the OLPC launched in Nigeria about a year ago. A lot of water has flowed under the bridge since then. And many of the fear-mongers' fears have come true. Content is a problem. Electricity is expensive. And the program became a target for politics and lawsuits. And what of the school that launched the project? "There are no longer OLPC laptops at the school... there were many problems with the unit, from cables coming unplugged, the wireless network disconnecting, and hardware failure." See also The lost tribe of OLPC (and part two). Wayan Vota, One Laptop Per Child News, July 29, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , , , , ] [Comment]

Open Source Social Software
As the title suggests, a good list of open source social software, including social networking platforms, social news, social bookmarking, video shariong, microblogging, virtual worlds, and lifestreaming. Josie Fraser, SocialTech, July 29, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

Is Open Research a Good Thing?
My answer to the question is "yes". And not just because it results in better research (although it does). But because, by allowing us to see how researchers conduct their practice, it makes it easier to learn how to be good researchers. That's why examples such as the ones cited here are valuable. See also Jim McGee, Attitude, hypothesis, experiment, and evidence. Mike Seyfang, Learning with the Fang, July 29, 2008 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Making Up Our Minds
I'm afraid that Tom Haskins has gone into Crockus territory, though I don't have the time and resources at the moment to prove it. He proposes that "The [right] half of our neocortex is great for deciding what action to take, what timing will work best, what changes to make in the sequence and how to have an intended effect on the situation... [It] takes in a panorama of possibilities and naturally considers long term consequences. It processes information in a non-linear fashion which works superbly for combining approaches, balancing opposing concerns, making tradeoffs and formulating creative alternatives. The way this half thinks is intuitive, inspired and imaginative. The left half of the neocortex sucks at making decisions. It cannot get enough data while ignoring all signs of information overload." I find this analysis dubious at best, but as I say, I will have to await proof. Tom Haskins, growing changing learning creating, July 29, 2008 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

Google's Assault On Wikipedia
Obasanjo writes, "Google is tipping it's search results to favor Knol. Or at least that is the conclusion of several search engine optimization (SEO) experts and also jibes with my experiences." He Danny Sullivan, who writes, "I was surprised to see a post covering how Knol's How to Backpack was already hitting the number three spot on Google. Really? I mean, how many links could this page have gotten already?" Also, Aaron Wall notes that "if Google notices duplicate content then it favors the content on Knol over a site that has existed for years and has decent PageRank." Via Cognitive Edge. Dare Obasanjo, Carnage4Life, July 29, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

The Light Goes Out for Once-Hailed Edison Schools
An offhand comment in today's Bridging Differences column prompted me to look up Edison Schools in the news, particularly after yesterday's glowing editorial promoting the Edison vision in the Wall Street Journal. Well, have I been gone for a month or what? After showing mediocre results and having a number of their schools returned to public administration, after settling in a rape case (during which Edison said it was not responsible for the safety of its students)(more), after losing millions of dollars and prompting an FBI investigation, the company has thrown in the towel. Having given up on schools, Edison has acquired an e-learning company, changed its name to edisonlearning, and is engaged in some sort of online venture. What a joke. As this article says, "in retrospect, that media frenzy just looks bizarre, and the glare of the spotlight was ultimately unflattering to Edison. In any case, that particular experiment is now officially dead." But that doesn't stop some blindly partisan sources from following WSJ's lead and gushing over what turns out to be a corpse. Caroline Grannan, San Francisco Examiner, July 29, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

Giving Up On Work E-Mail - Status Report On Week 24 (Six Months On!)
Luis Suarez has been engaged in a 'no email' experiment for six months now (my communications with him when I visited the Canary Islands were all in Facebook). Why? "E-mail is, probably, not the best of tools out there to encourage open, public and transparent collaboration and knowledge sharing activities amongst knowledge workers and as such, six months ago I decided to stop using e-mail for such tasks." Sounds good to me. A note of caution, though. Dave Pollard, discussing abandoning email, circulates a fictitious 'memo to all staff' wherein the use of email is prohibited. Which misses the point. Decisions about communications must be personal and based on one's own convictions. The minute you start telling people how they must communicate with one another, you've destroyed the organization. Luis Suarez, E L S U A, July 29, 2008 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

Student As Scholar
A new blog launched by Gerry McKiernan. "The 'Student As Scholar' blog is devoted to documenting relevant literature that supports the view that : 'Undergraduate education should adopt the 'Student as Scholar' Model throughout the curriculum." Gerry McKiernan, Student As Scholar, July 29, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

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Copyright 2008 Stephen Downes

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