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by Stephen Downes
October 9, 2008

Diversity in Open Social Networks
Over the summer, Daniel Lemire, Seb Paquet and I got together to try to quantify the advantage of diversity in networks. The idea here is that networks are more robust and less prone to error if their members embrace diversity, as demonstrated by the improved effectiveness of recommender systems. The outcome of that investigation was this paper, in which we show that one aspect of diversity - the having of moire than one connection in a network - reduces the 'big spike' that characterizes more typical 'power law' diagrams of the network, putting all of us - and not just the great unwashed - into the 'long tail'. Daniel Lemire, Stephen Downes and Sebastien Paquet, Website, October 9, 2008 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Is the End of Capitalism Near & New Ways of Value Exchange Emerging?
The credit crunch does not spell the end of capitalism. But it does signify a change in some of its fundamentals. Some of the obvious outcomes will be a renewed understanding of the importance of the social safety net and regulation of vital industries (and not just financial industries - governments should be getting the message about regulation of the food and medicine industries as well). But less obviously, we will see fewer important public enterprises left to the vagaries of the financial markets. Education, for example. And (in other nations) health care and old age pensions. Steve Borsch, Connecting the Dots, October 9, 2008 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

27 Inspiring Women Edubloggers
After being criticized for including few women in his previous list of 25 edubloggers, Zaid Ali Alsagoff offers this list of 27 inspiring women edubloggers. Zaid Ali Alsagoff, ZaidLearn, October 9, 2008 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

Federal Consortium for Virtual Worlds
You are a government agency experimenting with Virtual Worlds? The International Working Group within the Federal Consortium for Virtual Worlds wants to hear from you. Brett Christensen from the Canadian Forces writes, "The objective of the International Working Group is to learn more about the Virtual Worlds that are used by other countries, and to capture international best practices in Virtual Worlds (such as recruitment, embassy outreach). We also want to gain awareness of issues affecting Virtual Worlds in the long term, such as net neutrality, the cost of VW implementation and access internationally." To help this initiative, follow the link and give them your information. Various Authors, Website, October 9, 2008 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Students Feeling Economy's Crunch
"Companies have been walking away from students at a remarkable clip due to the credit crisis. In all, 36 lenders have suspended writing private student loans over the past year, according to, a Web site that tracks the industry." This will have a significant impact on an industry that basically runs on student credit. And governments will be increasingly reluctant to fund what amount to social clubs for the rich. the time for a separation of learning and assessment may be nigh - which would spell an 'instant crisis' for traditional educational institutions (and a boon for alternative and online institutions). Nick Perry, Seattle Times, October 9, 2008 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

OER Models That Build a Culture of Collaboration: A Case Exemplified by Curriki
I'm pretty sure most people by now have seen the link to the E-Learning papers special issue on open educational resources, but I want to be sure to highlight this article that describes the wiki-based Curriki project (the name is derived from 'curriculum' plus 'wiki'). "Curriki supports an online collaborative environment for educators, learners and committed educational experts to work together to share and create educational materials." Barbara Kurshan, E-learning Papers, October 9, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

Avoiding the 5 Most Common Mistakes in Using Blogs with Students
These five things are important, I suppose, but from where I sit they amount to reminding instructors to continue to hold students' hands even while setting them free. The five 'mistakes' are:
1. Ineffective Contextualization
2. Unclear Learning Outcomes
3. Misuse of the environment
4. Illusive grading practices
5. Inadequate time allocation
I think the writer meant 'elusive' and not 'illusive' - which leads to the largest danger of using blogs: students that can't (or won't) read. Ruth Reynard, Campus Technology, October 9, 2008 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

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Copyright 2008 Stephen Downes

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