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by Stephen Downes
May 6, 2009

Blackboard to Acquire ANGEL Learning, Inc.
Another stunner in the e-learning marketplace. "Under terms of the agreement, Blackboard will acquire ANGEL Learning for approximately $95 million, net of cash acquired and excluding transaction costs. Both companies' boards of directors as well as ANGEL Learning's shareholders have approved the transaction and closing is expected in May 2009." The Angel website simply points to this page on Blackboard. Press Release, Blackboard, May 6, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

LaaN Revisited

Interesting reconceptualization of the concept of LaaN (Learning as a Network - interesting acronym). "In my opinion," writes Mohamed Amine Chatti, "double-loop learning and connectivism complement and enhance each other. Connectivism focuses on making connections (at external, conceptual, and neural levels) and seeing patterns. Connectivism, however, misses some of the double-loop learning concepts which are crucial for learning, such as learning from failures, error detection and correction, inquiry, challenging and eventually changing our theories-in-use to meet the requirements of the new environment." Well, not exactly, as I have been at pains at times to include back-propagation as a form of associationist (and hence connectivist) learning. Nonetheless, I think he is right to emphasize both connection formation and error-correction as essential aspects of learning. And I think the diagram (above) is useful.

Mohamed Amine Chatti, Technology Enhanced Learning, May 6, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Who Is the Slacker Who Got Them Into This Mess?
Best (and maybe most accurate) quote of the day: "I'm beginning to think the simplest explanation for some of the education journalism and commentary I've been reading is a space-time rift causing alternate realities to bleed through." Tom Hoffman, Tuttle SVC, May 6, 2009 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Sclipo Mashes Up Informal and Formal Learning to Good Effect!
Zaid introduces Sclipo. "Sclipo is a Social Learning Network for continuing education that offers apps for e-Learning (course manager, knowledge manager, webcam-based web classroom for live online teaching, etc.) integrated with social features. At Sclipo, any member can teach and learn, enabling informal or social learning online. Sclipo is for formal & informal teachers that find traditional eLearning (Moodle, Blackboard, etc.) solutions too complex and costly." Zaid Ali Alsagoff, ZaidLearn, May 6, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

Sustaining Social Networks
This slide show is less about sustaining social networks and more about how they are designed and implemented in the project. Still, I found myself nodding a lot, especially at the 'everything is a url' slide. If only people (especially metadata authors) could wrap their mind around this. Pru Mitchell, Slideshare, May 6, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

Dell Must Hate Us
One of the things i can't wrap my head around is the idea of a company having a "voice". Oh, I know, it's a common thing - and people actually expect certain things out of a company voice, which is why this post is such a negative response to the very informal nature of Dell's Twitter "voice". But how did this come to be? How did we even give inanimate objects, like companies, a very human attribute, a "voice" - and given that we did so, why do we presume, as we so obviously do, that such a voice has to be prim, proper, conservative, dull, boring, mawkish and patronizing? I am totally tired of there being only one sort of 'appropriate' form of corporate voice. Because if a corporation (as a concept) can only be one sort of thing, all the more reason to kill it. Shelly Blake-Plock, Teach Paperless, May 6, 2009 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Amazon to Launch Kindle for Textbooks
It's not surprising to see the newspapers and traditional media going gaga over the new, larger, Amazon Kindle, because they are seeing it as the saviour of their business model (which is, recall, to (a) create a cartel for content, and (b) force people to pay for it). The problem for these pundits is that there is no basic problem with the existing model, where content is distributed in an open and accessible format over the web, and people read it using their device of choice. of course, with that model, there is (a) no cartel, and (b) no payment. What Amazon - and the rest of them - have to do is to convince people to return voluntarily to the closed environment, and to pay for the privilege of doing so. They have a lot of marketing punch, still, so there is the chance they could do so, especially as they enlist the aid of those who would benefit from the closed content cartel. But if Amazon can build the Kindle, any kid in a garage can build its more open competitor. It's not rocket science; it's all smoke and mirrors. More from Technology Review, The Chronicle, CJR, TidBITS, Gizmodo, Boggs, MediaShift, Mashable, Wired News, BBC News, New Learning Playbook. Geoffrey A. Fowley and Ben Worthen, Wall Street Journal, May 6, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Rest in Peace, RSS
There has been a lot of blog reaction to this article suggesting that RSS is dead and has been replaced by Twitter. Most people reading it probably found it by RSS, since while Twitter is really good at real-time, it is not nearly so good for content syndication. Why not? Real-time networks are much less dense than content networks, because people have a limited capacity to keep up with connections in real time. Because the networks are much less dense, it takes many more hops for content to work its way through the net, meaning that most content can reach only a limited set of recipients (the obvious exceptions being the 'big spike' celebrities who have come to typify the Twitter experience). So Twitter can't duplicate the function of RSS, which is to widely distribute (most people's) content, which is why most people read this article via their RSS feed, and not Twitter. Steve Gillmo, TechCrunchIT, May 6, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , , , , ] [Comment]

A Better Open Textbook Bill
David Wiley proposes to revamp legislation that would produce open textbooks. "The legislation would create competitive funding opportunities to create open textbooks in any content area. These would be multi-stage grants (like the SBIR program), with additional funding tied to the successful completion of initial project goals." people would file proposals answering key questions, such as the nature of the book, the cost of existing books, management and marketing plans, and proposed licensing scheme. Disbursement would be incremental, based on meeting project goals. And "A content-complete version of the open textbook must go online with all text, images, and other features of the printed version available to the public for free, unrestricted, unfettered access." I am mostly in agreement with Wiley's proposal (I oppose the "letter of support from a reputable publisher" as this would torpedo the whole project), and would support a similar mechanism here in Canada. David Wiley, Iterating Toward Openness, May 6, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment]

Wittgenstein's Form of Life
I am disappointed that the reviewer finds that "(David) Kishik's volume will be of little value to students of Wittgenstein," but nonetheless, the review itself is thoroughly entertaining and quite useful. The subject of enquiry is Wittgenstein's expression "forms of life," the basis for our knowledge and beliefs. Kishik's error appears to have been (from my reading) to equate 'form' with something innate or inherent, and something structural, much like Plato's forms. If so, the bulk of Wittgenstein mitigates against this interpretation, and this review is essentially a sustained and convincing argument against such a reading. Reviewed by Newton Garver, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews, May 6, 2009 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

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Copyright 2008 Stephen Downes

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