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by Stephen Downes
March 4, 2009

Reading the Reader
This is a good paper with a lot of insight and thought which is worth reading even if it does sort of wander in the latter half, a path of enquiry coming to an end rather than concluding. The author addresses the question, "how do we know that students have read successfully," and then examines her use of digital annotations in order to gain insight into the students' understanding. The two questions become sort of confused in the study, especially as unstated critiques from other Visible Knowledge Project (VKP) participants work their way into the narrative. But the insight of using questions posed by students, as supported by the MS-Word annotation tool, to understand their thinking as they read, is a good one, and well documented here. Many more interesting studies from the same issue of Academic Commons are available online. Sharona A. Levy, Academic Commons, March 4, 2009 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

Capturing the Visible Evidence of Invisible Learning
I think the project is interesting, though the paper isn't very accessible. First, if you're defining something, just define it, and do the literature survey later - readers will stagger over the incomprehensible definition of 'invisible learning' offered by the author. Second, avoid obvious falsehoods. The authors write, "Education at all levels has largely taken on faith that if teachers teach, students will learn." Nobody believes this; otherwise, we would never test learners, we would just take their learning on faith. The authors are mostly looking at the kind of learning that happens in non-learning projects - "critically engaging primary sources, social dialogue, and multimedia authorship." The work here is "not merely trying new teaching strategies but looking closely at the artifacts of student work that emerged from them." The authors identify "three types of learning: adaptive, embodied, and socially situated." With sharper writing may come more precise - and useful - insights from this work. Randy Bass and Bret Eynon, Academic Commons, March 4, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

Research and Practice in K-12 Online Learning: A Review of Open Access Literature
This paper "moves beyond the blanket endorsements of the effectiveness of virtual schooling to examine the themes that are prevalent in the open access documents published online from 1997 through July 2008." It is a systemic survey of 226 open access papers on the subject of distance learning in the K-12 sector. Most were authored (interestingly) "outside the academy." Themes emerging: a typology of initiatives, professional roles addressed, the promise and perception of benefits (or lack of same), course quality standard areas, and teaching quality standard areas. The authors (presumably based on this survey, though the connection is murky at best) offer four recommendations: establish best practices for online teaching strategies, identify the characteristics in adolescents needed for success, encourage more interaction between in-school and online students, and examine the quality of online learning offerings. More articles from the new issue of IRRODL. Cathy S. Cavanaugh, Michael K. Barbour and Tom Clark, The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, March 4, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , , , , , ] [Comment]

Stephen Downes Talks About OLDaily and Online Learning
Audio is now available of a recent interview I did for Xiphos. Paul Miller writes, "We discuss OLDaily, before turning to explore Stephen's current research interests in such diverse areas as the Personal Learning Environment (PLE) and 'connectivism.'" Stephen Downes and Paul Miller, Xiphos, March 4, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment]

Amazon Releases Kindle Software for iPhone
The reason this is significant is Amazon's ebook store is now no longer restricted to the Kindle. But the vendor's selection of Apple's iPhone is not an accident - it wants to distribute ebooks only onto platforms where the hardware is controlled by the vendor. This allows them to remotely delete any applications from your hardware that they suspect might be tampering with - or competing with - the Kindle ebook format. And they can keep that annoying free content out of the marketplace. Glenn Fleishman, TiDBITS, March 4, 2009 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

FairShare Launches
FairShare is a centralized content registration service for Creative Commons. I honestly don't see how this is a step forward. Lawrence Lessig, Lessig Blog, March 4, 2009 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

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Copyright 2008 Stephen Downes

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