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by Stephen Downes
July 27, 2009

Tinkering Toward Utopia
Will Richardson channels Phillip Schlechty's newish book Leading for Learning: How to Transform Schools into Learning Organizations and writes, "Schlechty refers to past efforts at reform as "tinkering toward utopia" and says that if we continue to introduce change at the edges, we'll continue to spin our wheels. He says that schools are made up primarily of two types of systems, operating systems and social systems, and makes the point that up to now, most efforts to improve schools have centered on changing the former, not the latter." Will Richardson, Weblogg-ed, July 27, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment]

Myths, lies and ...
Leigh Blackall launches a screed against myths and lies in relation to education, "especially in relation to social media, openness and online learning." Language warning; don't click if you don't care for profanity (the language doesn't add to its expressiveness, it just makes it harder to link to or to quote). Blackall has a general point that's worth making, I think - that worthwhile initiatives (such as open education) in online learning have been misappropriated, and ordinary technology (such as YouTube) has been misrepresented. "Could it really be true, that education has never been about the empowerment of people really, rather the survival of an institution?" Then all of us in e-learning have been chasing the wrong goal, which is why it is so difficult to make such simple progress. Leigh Blackall, Weblog, July 27, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

Are Brains Computers?
Graham Glass offers a very nice plainly stated description of what brains are and how they operate. "The neurons seem to embody some general purpose algorithms for learning, creating, evaluating, and acting. These algorithms are implemented on the cellular level, but only achieve their power when operating in a large network of cells." Graham Glass, Graham Glass, etc., July 27, 2009 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

P2P And Education: Robin Good Interviews Peer-To-Peer Evangelist Michel Bauwens
Text and a bunch of videos recorded in Rome. "Peer to peer is much broader than file sharing: what it is really about is how computers are organized, but crucially how the people are organized. So peer-to-peer is a relation, dynamic distributed network. It's a network whereby every individual has a freedom to act and a freedom to engage in relationships without asking permission. So these are really the keys: permissionless networks." Luigi Canali De Rossi, Robin Good, July 27, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

SkillSoft survey provides evidence for rethinking learning
Clive Shepherd cites a Skillsoft study that stresses many of the themes we've explored in these pages. "Almost half (49%) said that the formal classroom training they had been given was only useful in parts, with an overwhelming majority (87%) preferring to learn at their own pace." Clive Shepherd, Clive on Learning, July 27, 2009 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Experts split on 'Kindle in Every Backpack'
Honestly, the only way I can imagine that "experts" are split on the concept is if some of them have been unfrozen from the 1600s or are not, in fact, experts at all (they just play 'expert' in the media). But hey, here's a link, judge for yourself. Maya T. Prabhu, eSchool News, July 27, 2009 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

Blog Spam
Tim Bray writes, "I have comments, but no spam in my comments. Here's why." Then he describes how he fights spam: small hurdles, different set-up, simple Turing tests, sneaky error messages. My own system, which sometimes frustrates users but allows me to accept anonymous comments with a minimum of spam, also has these features. In addition, it exchanges a secret code between form and comment script. It also looks at your comment and rules it out if it "makes no sense" (a lot of fly-by one-word commenters have been deterred by this as well, a bonus!). I ease up on the rules if you're logged in - but I screen all new accounts manually, eliminating the spambot accounts before they can start posting. Tim Bray, Ongoing, July 27, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Federal Circuit Rules in Favor of Desire2Learn Across the Board
A huge win for D2L. "We are pleased to announce that the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has ruled on the appeals that resulted from the trial in Texas. The Federal Circuit has ruled in favor of Desire2Learn across the board and confirmed that all 38 patent claims asserted by Blackboard are invalid." Seb Schmoller expresses some doubt, but I read the judgement pretty carefully, and it seems to me that the ruling "AFFIRMED IN PART, REVERSED IN PART, and DISMISSED IN PART" means that it agrees with the parts of the ruling where some patents were ruled invalid ("we affirm the district court's decision that claims 1-35 are invalid as indefinite"), disagrees with the courts ruling that some of the patents shoudl be ruled invalid as a matter of law (JMOL) ("we reverse the district court's failure to grant JMOL on that issue") and dismisses the rest as moot ("We also do not address the parties' contentions with respect to infringement of those claims". That's my reading; IANAL and your lawyer's mileage may vary. Reaction coming in as fast as I can post this; Heff Bohrer Announcement, Desire2Learn, July 27, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , , , , ] [Comment]
Dick Moore, Director of Technology at LearnDirect (here's a post describing it), has started a new blog. It's an interesting system, the first CommentPress theme blog I've seen. Nifty; it allows you to comment on each paragraph. The content thus far (two posts) is interesting, as Seb Schmoller says, "the kind of level-headed longer, experienced-informed piece that we need." Dick Moore, Weblog, July 27, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

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Copyright 2008 Stephen Downes

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