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by Stephen Downes
July 24, 2009

Very off topic: Why I won't be at my high school reunion
You can be sure there are very many people out there - people you would probably never talk to - reading not only this post but every one of the 413 comments on this post (and the 215 comments on the overflow post). The author writes, "the way I was by my classmates in high school was pretty typical for a geek. At best, I was ignored. At worst, I was beaten." Or, if you want to take the gloves off, Dan Savage's Clique...Clique...Bang! It is clear from these comments that school - and especially high school - remains a bastion of fear for many people, not from stalkers or predators, but from their own classmates. Via Stephen Hsu.

When I went to my high school reunion, I found no sign of my presence there, and ran into only one person (hiya Dean) from the people I knew. My high school experiences were pretty bad until around Grade 11 or so when Ralph James taught me to box (thanks Ralph) and defend myself. Even so, I was still pretty miserable, and I left high school as soon as I could, before graduating, completing my studies in the city at night school while working at Lansdowne Park. I was accepted at university five years later as an "unmatriculated adult". If it had happened today, with higher tuitions and tighter enrolments, I would never have entered university. Mark C. Chu-Carroll, Good Math, Bad Math, July 24, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

Deja Vu All Over Again - Blackboard Still Stuck in the Innovator's Dilemma
Some frank discussion of Blackboard's innovation challenge from an attendee at Blackboard's annual conference. "While I'm very encouraged by Blackboard's announcement (re-iteration) of it's intent to fully support the Common Cartridge standard and to move toward opening up its database schema for administrators, I'm left wanting much, much more. All of the major announcements–the partnership with Echo360, the acquisition of Terribly Clever, the integration with Wimba (not really new news), the Kindle integration, the focus on closing tickets faster–had little to do with the core concerns about the CMS I have been blogging about for the last year." Jon Mott, The End in Mind, July 24, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , , , ] [Comment]

Meaning, Mapping, Panalogy, and Netflix
The panalogy principle: "we don't understand anything until we understand it many ways. There are no whole-truths, but we can get by reasonably well with a large number of half-truths." That's why we need diversity, why we need many points of view. Peter Turney , Apperceptual, July 24, 2009 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

Forget the Kids--It's the Adults Online Who Need Critical Thinking Skills
Totally agree with Michele Martin: "If anyone needs training in critical thinking on the Internet, it's the adults who are still living in a world where media is something they consume unquestioningly because they've never had the experience of making it themselves. It's the adults who were raised on 'authorities' and 'experts,' in a monocultural world where many subcultures remained hidden from view and therefore assumptions about 'truth' and 'fact' were not questioned." For younger people, I would recommend much more subtle forms of critical thinking I've been discussing recently, in addition to the ones they already know: design patterns, television tropes, and the rest. Michele Martin, The Bamboo Project, July 24, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

New eBook Reader to Challenge Amazon's Kindle
There has been widespread coverage of a newly announced eBook reader from Plastic Logic intended to challenge the Amazon Kindle. So far, the only benefits to these things I'm seeing are to the publishers: users get to pay more for their content, and to have it erased at the publishers' whims. Still, at least this new reader supports PDF, Word, PowerPoint and Excel, and not just Amazon's proprietary format. Naturally, content produced for one does not work on the other. Gary Woodill, Workplace Learning Today, July 24, 2009 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

OER Road trip
Good account of a fact-finding tour of OER institutions, including MIT, CMU, NSF and University of Maryland University College. Key similarities observed: "seed funding from large foundations such as Hewlett has, and continues to be key for starting initiatives," "all have a basic production process," and more. Realted: Useful resources from the OER. Sheila Macneill, OER Road trip, July 24, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

On What it Would Mean to Really Teach Naked
I agree with this: "Eliminating technology produces not the effect of a more engaged literate student populous, rather it produces the reverse, an ill informed, uncritical, unengaged student populous who will become at the very best passive consumers of the technology being resisted, and at the worst its willing victims." Which is why it's a shame that the Chronicle's report on SMU professor Jose Bowen is framed as as an anti-technology stance, instead of what it really is, an effort to improve, not eliminate, technology. Dave, Academhack, July 24, 2009 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

Survey Title: Institutions and Cloud Computing
Wilbert Kraan announces the results of a survey on cloud computing at institutions. PDF. His colleague Li also has a blog post on it, and there's also a (pretty good) general briefing document on cloud computing. Various Authors, JISC-CETIS, July 24, 2009 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Metadata Registry Functionality
Sarah Currier writes, via email, "Do you, or would you like to, make use of a registry service for metadata schemas / application profiles and/or controlled vocabularies? In other words, a service where you can find, share, store, update, etc. application profiles and vocabularies, with a wider community that you wish to interoperate with? Or, are you developing registry software or service or tools? If so, could you please go and fill out the survey mentioned below?- must be completed by July 31st 2009." The survey is being distributed for Dublin Core Metadata Initiative's Registries Task Group, the Joint Information
Steering Committe (JISC) and UKOLN. Corey A Harper, SurveyMonkey, July 24, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , , , , , , ] [Comment]

There has been some discussion back and forth on the IEEE Learning Technology SubCommittee (LTSC) about the languid state of the initiative and the crash of its website (I guess it's looking for a new home). Meanwhile, the LOM standard has been renewed by IEEE (according to this report) which means it will be around for another five years.

Phil Barker writes, "The IEEE have now reaffirmed the LOM data schema (1484.12.1), which means that it continues as a standard for another 5 years.... We discussed Draft 5 of the corriegenda." Expressing LOM in the Dublin Core Abstract Model was not discussed.

Meanwhile, on the LTSC mailing list (archives do not appear to be extant, so I'll quote at length), Scott Lewis warned:

"The LTSC Web site was lost to a computer crash, I think, more than a year ago. As far as I know, the information that was lost has not been recovered, and the existing LTSC site is still subtitled "Blog and Temporary Home Page of the IEEE LTSC." Further more, I'm not sure anyone cares except members of the RAMLET TWG, which lost information that was not recorded elsewhere."

Christian Strake reported:

"First, the challenge with WG20 was that there was a very active SWG on Competencies starting after publication of the approved RCD specification. This work in parallel to WG20 has maybe lead to a standstill of WG20. It seems that also the SWG stopped its activities. BTW: As far as I can remember, Luc was at the LTSC meeting in Leuven (I think it was 2006) at least for the WG20 meetings.

Second, the renewal of LOM has been done and the approval by IEEE was given during the last days.

Third, the SCORM specification including the IEEE specification has passed successfully the second stage towards an ISO standard (as TR): The ballot resolution meeting by the ISO standardization committee SC36 was this March in Wellington and accepted the SCORM specification as submitted without changes or modifications."

Meanwhile, Luk Vervenne updated the group on competency standards projects:

"Now that also HR-XML has accepted the IEEE RCD as its definition part (version 3.1 to be announced), the WG20 goal is to ‘do the next step' which is developing a competency profile/map standard. Point is, there are many (new) competency initiatives, some of them trying to reinvent the wheel."

In fact, in addition to the IMS Work, there are numerous competency initiatives, summarized here from the Berlin Symposium.

Vervenne writes, "As IEEE and HR-XML co-chair I intend to promote any 'synergetic' activities with other competency initiatives in making portable competency profiles a reality. As such we would like to organize an EU event in the fall. Possibly joined by a closing activity of Prolix and/or an iCoper event, and possibly be joined by the emerging joint activity group between IMS and HR-XML on harmonizing employability data."
Phil Barker, Phil's JISC CETIS blog, July 24, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , , , , , ] [Comment]

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Copyright 2008 Stephen Downes

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