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by Stephen Downes
January 28, 2009

Social Software Related Reviews
Terry Anderson summarizes some recent articles from the journal Review of Educational Research. The first looks at sources of self-efficacy in distance learning while the second looks at social comparison. In both, notes Anderson, without transparency, students cannot compare themselves with each other, which may result in anxiety and less opportunity for self-improvement. Third, Anderson summarizes a meta-analysis that looks at the development of critical thinking skills. "The mixed method where CT skills are taught as an independent track within a specific subject matter course proved most effective." Terry Anderson, Virtual Canuck, January 28, 2009 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Push Your Brain! Institute for Human and Machine Cognition
Here are some more free online resources. Rich Hoeg writes, "IHMC (Institute for Human and Machine Cognition) is the same great academic organization which provides the mind / process mapping tool for which I recently provided a tutorial. Even if you don't want to use the software, attend one of their free IHMC lectures via the web. Here are some recent offerings." Rich Hoeg, eContent, January 28, 2009 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Facebook Is Insecure
All Alfred Essa's Facebook friends (including myself) received an 'urgent help needed' message from him over Facebook. It turns out, however, that the person in question was a scammer, having somehow hacked into Essa's account. In this post, Essa examines Facebook's login and determines that it does not use secure sockets layer (SSL). That is rather a surprise, and it means that if you are accessing Facebook over (say) a public wireless connection, your password can be lifted by someone 'sniffing' your communications. I've seen this before, where people hacked into people's blog accounts. As a general rule, do not log on to sites in public unless you know they are secure. Alfred Essa, The NOSE, January 28, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

Academic Earth
Another launch advertised via email to the edublogosphere (there has been a lot of that recently). This site, Academic Earth, presents "Thousands of video lectures from the world's top scholars." It seems that "top scholar" is being defined as one who teaches in one of the name U.S. universities - a rather narrow definition of "top scholar" if you ask me. That's not to say that they're bad - I sampled a number of them and they are, as expected, clear, articulate and authoritative. But there is an issue of equity and democracy here. We need to see knowledge and the world not just as seem through American scholars' eyes, but through the eyes of the widest possible range of interpretations and world views. Which we will most definitely not find represented in these lectures. Various Authors, Website, January 28, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

US Patent Awards: Where Has All the Innovation Gone?
This article points out that most U.S. patents these days are taken out by overseas companies. "23 of the top 35 companies granted U.S. patents in 2008 are based in other countries. American companies took only four of the top 10 slots." The American patent system has traditionally functioned as a tax on foreign companies doing business in the U.S., but it is increasingly a tax on their own innovation. Jeff Meisner, E-Commerce Times, January 28, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment]

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Copyright 2008 Stephen Downes

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