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by Stephen Downes
February 2, 2009

Cycles, Chasms and the Hype Curve
Hm. The Gartner hype cycle is just the technology adoption life cycle with the 'chasm' included as the 'trough of disillusionment'. Dave Snowden, Cognitive Edge, February 2, 2009 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

A New Way to Grade
The Chronicle absolutely hates this system in which first-year writing classes are coordinated by computer (it being, I guess, "more personal" to have them taught mostly at random by a series of barely qualified instructors who still never meet you). One can only wonder what the author of this report would make of the system described in Science of computers as writing instructors. The author writes, "As noted above, Reid's thrust is on the "meaning and value" of student writing. However, meaning and value shouldn't be limited to writing to people. It's interesting that just as we don't question architects using computers to aid in creating aesthetically pleasing buildings, neither do we question coaches who have their players practice drills over and over and over to perfect their skills. No one says, These drills don't have meaning." Paula Wasley, Chronicle of Higher Education, February 2, 2009 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

How Are the Mighty Fallen: Rejected Classic Articles by Leading Economists
Juliette Culver links to this article in which "Joshua Gans and George Shepherd write to Nobel prizewinners and other similiarly eminent economists and ask them about papers they had rejected." Needless to say, many of the classical works in the field were rejected by the process of peer review, and mnoreover, those major thinkers in the field who avoided rejection did so by avoiding publication in journals. My own belief is that the system of peer review prevents innovation and academic soundness, rather than recognizing and rewarding it. Joshua S. Gans and George B. Shepherd, The Journal of Economic Perspectives, February 2, 2009 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

What Is Scientifically Based Research?
As Doug Noon says, this is "another example of how, when you write the rules, accountability is for everyone else." This being a description of the scientific method for teachers, an account that Noon (quite accurately) describes as "like the introduction to a sixth-grade science textbook." Here's where this is relevant: there is a movement, started (as was the Campbell Collaboration) in the health care sector, called knowledge mobilization. This, basically, is the idea of "putting research into practice." It sounds good until you realize that it's a one way relationship; practitioners are merely (willing or unwilling) recipients of (so-called) scientifically based research. Noon asks, "how much weight should be given to teacher observations in instructional decision-making?" The sixth-grade view of science tells us, "none." But real in real science we understand that the controlled experiment is often a very poor approximation of reality, and would never eliminate actual experience form the equation. Doug Noon, Borderland, February 2, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

How To: Take Your Data Back From Google'S Claws
A couple of these tools are useful to me - I need to be able to access my calendar and my Blogger posts. In general, getting my data back from Google shouldn't be so hard (but at least it's easier than Facebook and Apple). Stan Schroeder, Mashable, February 2, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

Says it all: "if we start paying teachers bonuses or firing them based on test scores at the end of the year, we're pretty much establishing as policy that retention doesn't matter." Tom Hoffman, Tuttle SVC, February 2, 2009 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

$10 Laptops On Anvil for Students
If you thought a $100 laptop was audacious, consider this $10 version being touted as under development in India. This country has a long history of developing low-cost computing, including the Simputer, and rejected the OLPC, "objecting to the aggressively marketed OLPC plan on a range of issues," one of which was price. More from the Chronicle and from The Times of India. And more from Physorg. And I-Blog. Unattributed, India Express, February 2, 2009 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

eTechOhio, School Reform Ideas and Smaller PDF Files
Nothing like a tip I use the instant I read it. I've been struggling with an extra large PDF version of my slide presentation (I had to use PDF because Apple uses Quicktime to compress images, resulting in images that can only be seen using Apple - which, btw, is evil). This post points to a little-known way to reduce the size of PDFs using Apple's Preview software - hidden, for no apparent reason, among the colour filters (this sort of obfuscation is also evil). Tried it, and converted my 56 megabyte file to 4.7 megabytes. Why, I wonder, wasn't this compression available in the application that wrote the PDF in the first place? Wesley Fryer, Moving at the Speed of Creativity, February 2, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

(New) Monday Broken ID Series: Objectives
Expertise, writes Clark Quinn, is not based on knowledge of facts but rather is a memory of processes and activities - skills based on pattern-matching and finding meaning rather than memorization. This translates to the workplace, where managers are interested not in what people know, but rather, what they can do. Consequently, he writes, learning objectives ought to be written in terms of performance rather than recall. Clark Quinn, Learnlets, February 2, 2009 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Blogging in a Walled Garden
A common criticism of the typical learning management system is that it takes a good idea and wrecks it. A case in point is blogging within the confines of, say, Sakai. The motivation is intuitive and makes sense. Staff don't want a separate login for the blogging tool. And they want to be able to restrict access. But this creates a situation where student blogs cannot be read outside the LMS and where they cannot even link to each others' posts. Christy Tucker, Experiencing E-Learning, February 2, 2009 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

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Copyright 2008 Stephen Downes

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