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by Stephen Downes
May 19, 2009

7 Things You Should Know About Personal Learning Environments
ELI describes the personal learning environment (PLE). A PLE "describes the tools, communities, and services that constitute the individual educational platforms learners use to direct their own learning and pursue educational goals. A PLE is frequently contrasted with a learning management system in that an LMS tends to be course-centric, whereas a PLE is learner-centric." The 'who is doing it' section is a shameful display of ineptitude. The 'how does it work' section misrepresents the PLE as "instructors or institutions generally provide a framework for student study." Don't save this one; the author doesn't understand the concept, and it shows. Via Bryan Alexander. Unattributed, EDUCAUSE ELI, May 19, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

The More Things Change (Bb Buys Another LMS), The More They Stay The Same (Reaction Filled With FUD)
This article is worth a look just for the decisive smack-down. The article quotes Blackboard CEO Michael L. Chasen, as saying, "In the end, he said, colleges will choose Blackboard over open-source options because buying software works better for most colleges than being part of a do-it-yourself project." It then links to this chart showing that of the 51 Blackboard hosted sites (where Blackboard Inc. hosts the campus' LMS as a service), "41 instances are running the Blackboard LMS in a Linux/Apache environment, 6 are running on Windows and 4 could not be determined." So maybe then open source does make sense. Dian Schaffhauser, CIOh-no, May 19, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment]

JISC Report: Higher Education in a Web 2.0 World
From the conclusion of this JISC report summarized by Jorge Goncalves: "Web 2.0, the Social Web, has had a profound effect on behaviours, particularly those of young people whose medium and metier it is. They inhabit it with ease and it has led them to a strong sense of communities of interest linked in their own web spaces, and to a disposition to share and participate. It has also led them to impatience – a preference for quick answers – and to a casual approach to evaluating information and attributing it and also to copyright and legal constraints." In other words - the usual.
Jorge Goncalves, Learning Online Info, May 19, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment]

This Will Make Junior High Kids Very Happy
Clarence Fisher quotes Rob Carter, chief information officer at FedEx, who thinks the best training for anyone who wants to succeed is World of Warcraft. "Each team faces a fast-paced, complicated series of obstacles called quests, and each player, via his online avatar, must contribute to resolving them or else lose his place on the team." Clarfence Fisher, Remote Access, May 19, 2009 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

Awesome Video About Neural Networks
Graham Glass passes along a link to this YouTube video. "Make sure you watch the demo," he writes, "it's amazing to see these networks in action!" Graham Glass, Weblog, May 19, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

A Landscape of Influences
It's a nice diagram, and it looks all like a network and everything, but it should be noted that it is nothing more than a nice presentation of a (hierarchal) nested list. Still, a nice way to represent what we mean when we talk about influences. Harold Jarche , Weeblog, May 19, 2009 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Rise of Nations: A Model for Assessment?
Some comments on assessment worth repeating: "In any real learning:
- don't leave the learning space to assess;
- marry learning and assessment closely;
- use a trajectory of variables across time in the assessment;
- allow learners to theorize their learning and develop better strategies;
- use the same assessment for formative and evaluative purposes;
- track what learners have done over time and how they have used facts or information as tools;
- don't bother assessing people if they haven't played the game with deep engagement for some time." James Paul Gee, Spotlight on DML, May 19, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

E-Learning: How to Perform Mime
You can learn basic mime in just a few minutes by watching these videos, but mime can take a lifetime of practise to master. This is as clearly e-learning in a nutshell as anything I've ever seen. As Daniel Lemire says, "education is about helping people discover their passion. I have many brilliant students, but few passionate students. Success is more a matter of hard work than talent." Related: Bruce Lee and Jeet Kune Do: "It's not how much you have learned but how much you have absorbed in what you have learned." Deborah Hustic, Personal Cyber Botanica, May 19, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

The End of Theory
David Wiley asks, hopefully, "Could it be that educational research is finally on the brink of making an inch of forward progress?" Well, maybe. But there are two things happening here, and they should not be confused. First is the recognition that models based on simple causality are inadequate to explain phenomena such as learning. And second, there is the availability of massive amounts of data and the suggestion that "we can throw the numbers into the biggest computing clusters the world has ever seen and let statistical algorithms find patterns where science cannot." The first does not entail the second, that is, the failure of causal analysis does not entail the success of statistical analysis. There are many types of patterns, not just those revealed by statistical analysis. And so we see, for example, the Google algorithm tweaked on a regular basis, and the need for sites (such as this newsletter) that select materials based on a non-statistical form of pattern recognition. But that said: yes, by all means, let us declare an end to theory, and the simplistic (and wrong) causal explanations it proffers. David Wiley, iterating toward openness, May 19, 2009 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Wolfram Alpha
As a kid, I would eagerly await the annual publication of the World Almanac, and when it came out, would eagerly devour the new flags, population statistics, industrial and trade figures, and of course the updated maps. Wolfram Alpha, which has just been launched after months of intensive publicity, reminds me most of the World Almanac. It's not the sort of thing people will browse through, or even use as a search engine, but if you want the miscellanea formerly found in the World Almanac, this is your source. That said, the kid in my with the critical eye was disappointed to find population figures already badly out of date, and I despair of the (human?) effort it will take to maintain this resource. Various Authors, Website, May 19, 2009 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

U Georgia Goes Open Source for Student Portal
I haven't linked to uPortal before, and so in the context of this story highlighting its adoption by the University of Georgia it seems relevant to post a link. uPortal is "open source enterprise portal framework built by and for the higher education community [and] enables easy, standards-based integration with authentication and security infrastructures, single sign-on secure access, campus applications, web-based content, and end user customization." David Nagel, Campus Technology, May 19, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment]

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Copyright 2008 Stephen Downes

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