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by Stephen Downes
July 3, 2009

Are institutions really problematic?
My answer is "yes", but of course there's more depth to my response than that. Much of the harm that comes from institutions, in my view, comes from the way they are structured and governed. But the answer isn't simply to launch oneself at institutions, hoping to (say) "fix them from within," or whatever. Tom Haskins says, "We also keep institutions the same by the ways we perceive, describe, evaluate and think about changing institutions. We inadvertently play into the perpetuation of 'problematic institutions' by the ways we value, favor, contribute, care, get fascinated, and show concern." There's a subtle point here, though. The more we try to fix institutions, the more we reinforce their value, and the more this entrenches their current modus operandi. (This last isn't what he is saying, but it's what follows from what he is saying). Tom Haskins, growing changing learning creating, July 3, 2009 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

Formally Learning Informally

This year's EduBloggerCom at NECC was a bit smaller than previous years, as evidenced by the team photograph. But do check out their blogs (links are provided in the article). Darren Draper, Drape's Takes, July 3, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teachers
I'm not sure I completely endorse this list (I would word some of the items very differently) but it's a fun read. Milton Ramirez, education & tech, July 3, 2009 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

Learning Leaders Fieldbook
I have had the same problem as George Siemens. "After the presentation, a VP (in charge of training and development) approached me and stated that simple messages are preferable. I assumed this to mean that I had delivered a presentation that was too complex." And I ask with him, "when did leading thinkers in corporate learning conclude that their audience can not handle complex subjects?" or, with even more concern: how is it that our institutions promote people who cannot understand complex concepts to positions of leadership? Isn't that tantamount to mismanagement? George Siemens, elearnspace, July 3, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

Those Jerks At the Vegan Restaurant Wouldn't Serve Me a Simple Egg Cream!
Nice analogy from Tom Hoffman. "The GPL is a radical political statement, and as radical political statements go, a damned successful one. If you didn't figure that out immediately, you need to work on your reading comprehension. If you want to eat eggs, go eat eggs, griping at the hippies shouldn't impress anyone." Tom Hoffman, Tuttle SVC, July 3, 2009 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

21st century science, geography
Joanne Jacobs - who writes the most consistently negative (and partisan) blog in the edublogosphere - identifies some science and geography road maps showing how to integrate new skills into old subjects, and then spends her post looking at Common Core blog complaints about the chart. The refrain of oft-stated by the Common Core crowd: "Common Core also wonders how students can learn from the suggested activities if they haven't acquired any information." Leaving aside the question of whether learning is about "acquiring information" (it's not) at all, one could ask, why isn't the activity an appropriate means of acquiring information? What is it about 'content' that requires some sort of rote memorization before you can start doing anything with it? The Common Core crowd reminds me of the type of person who insists that you must read the instructions and memorize them before you can even think of trying to assemble a bicycle or play a video game. But, of course, the opposite is not only true, it's more fun and more productive. Joanne Jacobs, Weblog, July 3, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Open Library Aims to Create a Web Page About Every Book Ever Published
One would hope that this is a necessary first step to a library with a web page containing every book ever published. Related: Daniel Livingstone on the future of the textbook. Richard Nantel, Workplace Learning Today, July 3, 2009 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

PDF's of my Textbook and my Manifesto!
Marc Canter figures out a way to make his Digital City and How to Build the Open Mesh manuscripts available in full as PDF downloads. Recommended reads. Marc Canter, Marc's Voice, July 3, 2009 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

BNN Trying To Silence The Canadian Copyright Debate?
A good example of exactly why proposed copyright laws must be carefully considered as a Canadian television network issues selective takedown notices, focusing only on sites on one side of the contentious political issue. Unattributed, Canadian Coalition for Electronic Rights, July 3, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , , , ] [Comment]

More thinking about blogs rather than Blackboard
Not surprisingly, the idea of using blogs instead of Blackboard is gaining traction. "Of course," responds Nancy McKeand, "people like the ease of use with Blackboard, the relatively easy learning curve. Some reported that there isn't time to set up a blog for a course." Meanwhile, Jim Groom responds to issues David Wiley is having setting up a directory structure for open courses in WordPress. Nancy McKeand, Random Thoughts, July 3, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

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Copyright 2008 Stephen Downes

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