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by Stephen Downes
June 8, 2009

A tour of Bom Jesus de Monte, Portugal

This set, shot over three days, takes you from the base of the stairs leading to Bom Jesus, stopping at each station to observe the artwork depicting the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. After reaching the top and visiting the church, we keep climbing the hill, wandering through the gardens above, out the other end and up a road to discover another set of stairs leading to Santuario de Nossa Senhora do Sameiro. After reaching the top, we return to Bom Jesus through a foggy forest and look at the city lights below. Do watch the slide show version to get the best effect of the tour.
Stephen Downes, Flickr, June 8, 2009 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Critical Thinking in the Classroom
Scanned from my print archives, I wrote this article in 1993 for a presentation I did somewhere (probably in Northern Alberta). It is an overview of critical thinking, outlined from the perspective of its application in the classroom. Fifteen years later, as certain pundits maintain that there is no such discipline of critical thinking, I think that this paper can stand on its own merits as an argument - and a demonstration - to the contrary. Today's educators may also find it to be a valuable resource as well. Stephen Downes, Half an Hour, June 8, 2009 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

Maritime Reflections
This post has nothing to do with online learning. It was written in the summer of 1989. During that year, and with the world changing around me, I took a month-long train journey across the country and back. This is an account of my reflections, from a very personal perspective, or those times. Stephen Downes, Half an Hour, June 8, 2009 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Elsevier Fake-Journal Tally Now 9
Every time I look at this story, the number has increased. "Like AJBJM, the other journals in this series -- the company added three more titles to those it listed in May -- contain no original, peer-reviewed research and consist largely of reprinted articles, and summaries of previously published research papers." I also wonder, if we looked into it more closely, what we would see about editorial and publication priorities in its other journals. Peter Suber, Open Access News, June 8, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Glue Goes Mainstream With New Internet Explorer Plugin
This is an interesting concept. "Glue is very different than most social network's you've likely used - Glue is entirely browser-based. With Glue there is no destination website, your network lives inside your browser, and is always available as you browse the web. Using some semantic web special sauce, Glue will pop up a small toolbar at the top of the page whenever you land on a site that Glue tracks." Most of the sites are destination sites like site like Amazon,, Netflix or Wikipedia, so Glue still focuses, in its own way, on the centralized services. Still, there's some there there. Scott Gilbertson, Wired, June 8, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

Canada's Telecom Crisis: My Appearance Before the Senate Transport and Communications Committee
This presentation should just be heard by some committee. Its indictment of three major aspects of the Canadian internet - wireless, broadband, and net neutrality - should be nailed to the front door of Parliament. "All these issues are connected. They reflect a Canadian telecommunications environment that is in crisis, lacking in competition and gradually declining in comparison with peer countries around the world." I don't think lack of competition is the problem - you could add more competitors, but they would just collude. It's a lack of regulation that allows the private providers to charge as much as it can while doing nothing to extend the infrastructure. Michael Geist, Weblog, June 8, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

January-April 2009 issue of Learning Technology.
I don't want to highlight any of the short articles in this issue of learning Technology, but the edition as a whole deserves a note. "This issue discusses current research about new and emerging mobile learning technologies, and especially its usage in extreme situations. The issue introduces papers dealing with frameworks for mobile learning, practical learning technology solutions, and summaries of research about particular topics." The content is quite good and generally accessible. Related: the proceedings of mlearn 2008 are now available for download (via Ignatia). Various Authors, IEEE TCLT, June 8, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

8 Ways Cloud Computing May Change Schools
Good summary and diagram taken from Hinchcliffe's longer article for ZDNet. The theme of the changes is essentially that cloud computing will allow you to do more, but at the risk of compromising autonomy and security. Derek Wenmoth, Derek's Blog, June 8, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

Introducing Copyright
This is a reasonably balanced and well-researched book that will introduce the reader to modern international copyright law. The treatment of the history of copyright, and especially the international treaties, demonstrates an attempt to be neutral, though the author still parrots the falsism that "There have to be international standards of copyright protection if authors and artists are to be properly rewarded for their work." The elements of copyright - holders' rights, for example, remedies, copyright transfers and licensing - are well and lucidly explained. It is good to see the discussion of open licenses and Creative Commons in this context, as well as of digital rights management and cultural knowledge.
Julien Hofman, Commonwealth of Learning, June 8, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , , , ] [Comment]

Learning for Development
This is the Commonwealth of Learning's next three year plan, and it identifies eight areas of focus in two broad domains. The education focus includes open schooling, teacher education, higher education and the Virtual University for small states. The livelihood and health focus includes skills development, learning for farming, healthy communities, and integrating e-learning. Various Authors, Commonwealth of Learning, June 8, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

The Impending Demise of the University
If you are known by the trends you start then David Wiley is very well known, as ever since his prediction of the demise of the university the meme has been making its way through the trend circuit. The latest instantiation is an article from Don Tapscott, who while he takes pains to remind the reader that he has been saying this "for fifteen years" is nonetheless restating the newer, and more extreme, prediction. Radical stuff. Though Tapscott, to be fair, is mostly providing advice on how this demise can be prevented. "If universities want to adapt the teaching techniques to their current audience, they should, as I've been saying for years, make significant changes to the pedagogy." Don Tapscott, Edge, June 8, 2009 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

Connecticut District Tosses Algebra Textbooks and Goes Online
When it's cheaper (and better) to develop a new curriculum from scratch, the economics of online learning begin to make sense. "Frank Corbo, the head of Staples' math department, said the district spent about $70,000 to develop the new math curriculum - half to pay two dozen teachers to work on it over the summer, and the other half to pay HeyMath!, whose Web server in Singapore gives students 24-hour, 7-day-a-week access to class lessons, tutorials and homework assignments. He said that the district will soon save at least $25,000 a year on textbooks." Winnie Hu, New York Times, June 8, 2009 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

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Copyright 2008 Stephen Downes

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