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by Stephen Downes
December 5, 2008

College May Become Unaffordable for Most in U.S.
I have always been involved in online learning because of the potential it offered tenable those who could not afford it access to an education. Now it is beginning to appear (as I have always thought it wood) that providing this alternative access will become a necessity, as the majority of the population will not be able to afford college tuition and expenses. Karl Fisch comments, "if we stop "preparing them for college" and actually make their education meaningful and relevant right now, a by-product will be they will actually be better prepared for college and the world of work." See also Mike Klonsky. Tamar Lewin, New York Times, December 5, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

World'S Largest University Opens Almost ALL Its Materials!
This article coul do without the introduction, and should link directly to the eGyanKosh home page, so people have a starting point, but otherwise the repository of free materials is well described. I also agree with the criticisms - there is no need to force people to do a free login, and the materials should be licensed to allow reuse (at the very least, to liberate them from PDF). Stian, Random Stuff that Matters, December 5, 2008 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Because my project work is taking up all my time, I have had to end my series of articles in Innovate. But the magazine is more than making up for my absence with the launch of the i-blog. The authors are people I know through the Innovate board (which I will continue to sit on) and are knowledgeable and informed. Even better, their writing, instead of being locked behind a registration window, will be available to readers (and search engines) on the wider internet. I am looking forward to linking to some excellent material here, something you can judge for yourself by looking at the articles posted for the launch. Various Authors, i-blog, December 5, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Wiring the NHS - Echoes of Another?
This, I think, is key:" "A specification leads to contracts, design documents, project plans, prototypes, pilots etc. If the specification, however, is based on an assumed homogentity which doesn't actually exist what can result is either a simplified incremental view of a very complex, multifactorial, and fast changing world, or a solution that only satisfies stakeholders in some contexts and not others." Derek Morrison, Auricle, December 5, 2008 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

In Google We Trusted and Now Our Project's Busted
More on the demise of Lively and the concerns raised by the difficulty in salvaging any of the work that has been done. It is worth reflecting for the moment on Richard Stallman's idea of 'freedom' in software - not having anything to do with price, but rather, having to do with being protected from the whims of corporate software producers (that's also why I use real links in this newsletter, and not proxy links such as Feedburner - people using Feedburner may want to reflect on what happens to their web footprint should the service disappear or start charging). Vicki A. Davis, Cool Cat Teacher Blog, December 5, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

Wikipedia - the Dark Side
This refers to an ongoing dispute between a writer and editor of philosophy entries, Peter Damian, and a Wikipedia editor and critic, FT2 (both names appear to be pseudonyms; the only Peter Damian I can find is an eleventh century monk, and no actual credentials are presented in Peter Damian's case). The main focus revolves around the question of whether the article on neurolinguistic programming should be deleted, Damian arguing that it is merely an extended advertisement for a pseudoscience. While I am sympathetic with each side of the argument, neither proponent appears particularly forthcoming. The article as it stands in Wikipedia is (more or less) acceptable. The alternative, apparently authored by Damian, is not. That said, I don't think Damian succeeds in his own defense. All of this is fascinating reading that kept me occupied for a good hour this morning. Dave Snowden, Cognitive Edge, December 5, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Facebook Officially Tries to Take Over the Web
My view aligns with Marc Canter's here. Facebook Connect is not a step forward. "Now over a year later we continue to see evidence that Zuckerberg and Facebook really think the web IS Facebook and that they would do everything they can to suck IN content and people INTO the black hole known as Facebook, and dam the rest of the web." Mark Zuckerberg's announcement. More from Bryan Alexander, Mashable, Lost Remote, Wired News. Marc Canter, Marc's Voice, December 5, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Connectivism Taxonomy
Why do education theorists, when they reach a certain point, always strive to create a taxonomy? At a certain level, because it's easy - you don't have to do any actual research, you just reinterpret common vocabulary and couch it within the parameters of your own theory. And, at a certain level, it's reassuring - you are telling practitioners that their existing knowledge is, after all, correct. Just look at the way people in the comments are suggesting connectivism build on this or that taxonomy, as though it weren't a critique of these positions after all. But at its heart, the creation of a taxonomy is just an arbitrary categorization of phenomena, often without a theoretical basis or grounding. And a 'connectivist taxonomy', in particular, is at odds with a network-based theory of meaning. George Siemens, Connectivism, December 5, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment]

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Copyright 2008 Stephen Downes

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