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by Stephen Downes
August 14, 2008

Common Cartridge Frequently Asked Questions
The specification for Common Cartridge was (finally) released for public comment about two weeks ago. IMS writes, "Due to the enormous response we have received after the release for comment, we have compiled a list of Frequently Asked Questions." Unattributed, IMS, August 14, 2008 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Google Bring Scholar Richness Into Normal Search Results
This is good news, but with a caveat. Google frequently lists academic papers in its search results, but from a service like CiteULike where, instead of the paper, you have a link to a publisher repository that wants to charge you some ridiculous amount to read it. Like this. These results should be expunged from Google, because not only are they useless links, they waste my time leading me down a trail that ends with a subscription wall. Via Peter Suber. Stuart Lewis, Weblog, August 14, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , , , ] [Comment]

Bridging the Gap Between Instructional Design and Double Loop Learning
One of the major criticisms of learning design (LD) is that it is static; the learner is limited to following the processes created by the designer. But in certain circumstances - a real employment environment, for example, where there is an expectation of process improvement - this is insufficient. There is a need to a 'double loop' model - one where learners do not only engage in repeated practice and performance improvement, but also one where learners reflect on those practices and - dynamically - improve the learning (and work) process itself. This paper describes an architecture that resolves the double loop requirement through the development of 'atomic actions', "small pieces of workflow that can be 'stitched' together at will, while retaining the changeability of the so constructed process." This is a model of learning that I think is successful and it is good to see a mechanism where students design their own learning. PDF. Via Dave Boggs. Howard Spoelstra, Maristella Matera, Ellen Rusman, Jan van Bruggen and Rob Koper, Open University of the Netherlands, August 14, 2008 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Rice U. Acquires Rights to Popular Textbook to Offer It Free Online
This is interesting on a couple of levels. The first is the obvious precedent that it sets, since the textbook liberated from the publisher is now available, under a Creative Commons license, not only to Rice students, but to all readers. It would be interesting to know what the cost was for the rights (and how long it will take for people to create a wiki version). Second, the book was posted by Rice through its Connexions open content authoring tool, which represents a new use for this now familiar standby. Jeffrey R. Young, Chronicle of Higher Education, August 14, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

Research + Web = More Consensus, Less Diversity (At Least, So Far)
I should have known the writers at Britannica blog would seize on the ridiculous claim that Google is making us stupid, highlighted here and then in the current link. But I would expect Evans, who offers his support for the thesis, to at least get his facts right. He says, "everyone is looking at the same high-ranking, highly accessible, most easily available sites." That would be true only if Google presents the same search results to everyone. But in fact, Google tailors its search results to the individual. So we do not all get the same search results. So while I certainly agree with Evans that we ought to support diversity of knowledge, I think we are rather more likely to get it from Google than we are from the limited selection that books in a library can offer. More on all this from Jay Cross. James Evans, Britannica Blog, August 14, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

Rethinking Critical Thinking
I will have more to say about this on day in the future, but for now let me say that my own experience teaching critical thinking says that this assertion is wrong: "Critical thinking... is not a skill like riding a bike.... Instead... you have to buckle down and learn the content of a subject-facts..."

A quick thought experiment to demonstrate this. Would you accept the following reasoning as valid: "professor Snell believes that framming is the jim jam, but Snell is a quonicon." Obviously not; this is a clear instance of misdirection, talking about Snell rather than about framming. But the meaning of this example is opaque (I used nonsense words); our criticism is based not on the content but on the form of their example.

Reasoning based on form rather than content is widespread; it is the basis for logic and mathematical reasoning. Learning to recognize, and apply a criticism to, these forms is a skill that can be taught, one that can be applied independently of discipline. This is the entire basis for my Guide to the Logical Fallacies (posted online in 1995 and really in need of an update). Joanne Jacobs, Weblog, August 14, 2008 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

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Copyright 2008 Stephen Downes

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