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by Stephen Downes
September 24, 2009

OLDaily Back From The Beyond
You may have noticed OLDaily - and the entire complex of web sites - down for the count this past week. I was forced to pull the site offline and rebuilt from scratch (specifically - from a RedHat Enterprise box). My thanks to Luc Belliveau at NRC and for a bevy of Tech support people at for their help and patience. If you sent me email over the last two weeks, I didn't get it; please send it again. Otherwise, all the content is intact. So remember, everyone: back up your work. Because you never know.

An Operating System for the Mind
Last week, a group called Core Standards released some prototype core standards. These have already been thoroughly criticized (see Tom Hoffman, below) but I wanted to take a different approach. I touched on it, as x28 summarizes, in my last newsletter before the shutdown. Now I describe, at length, why we need more and more to emphasize skills - which I list - over core (or otherwise) content. The paper has already drawn wide discussion in Twitter and a few blogs.

In 'An Operating System for the Mind' I argue, "If we just need basic mathematics - operations, algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and calculus - then we could simply learn the facts and we're fine. But if we envision actually working with mathematics, and extending our knowledge of mathematics well beyond these basics, then our method of learning by adding facts will make it harder and harder to progress, and beyond a certain point, progress will become impossible. If, however, mathematics is taught, not as a set of facts, but as a skill, then advanced mathematics becomes more like new terrain over which we are navigating, rather than new stuff we have to memorize. 21st century skills are, in short, an operating system for the mind." Stephen Downes, Half an Hour, September 24, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment]

Using learning environments as a metaphor for educational change
Good paper that looks in detail at several types of reasons a PLE (Personal Learning Environment) type application may be more appropriate than the traditional LMS. Noting that the LMS replicates features that are bundled in a classroom environment, he suggests that online environments may benefit from a disaggregation of components. these reasons are found in pedagogies, personalization, changing demands, and more. These are represented in the SocialLearn project, in which "learners have a central profile where they list their learning goals, contacts, resources, and tools [and where] the system uses an open API (Application Program Interface), so any third party application can write to it. In essence this allows any application to become a learning tool." Martin Weller, The Ed Techie, September 24, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

Think of this as Second Life in the browser. Use the mouse to point directions, the arrow keys on your keyboard to move (takes a bit of getting used to). Oh, I didn't see avatars or things that people created (and all the rest) but the main thing - the lushly detailed 3D environment - is there. Without a special Second Life browser. As Dean Groom says, "It might not look much here, but go and see how fast it loads, how graphically rich it is, how it deals with sound, runs on a browser, allows flash like interactions, and is already in commercial use on multiple consoles and even iPhone." Dean Groom, Design 4 Learning, September 24, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Ready to get into College Standards?
Tom Hoffman has spent the last couple of days tearing the 'common core' English standard to shreds. The common core standards (which don't even have a standard name, which are supposedly 'internationally benchmarked', do not compare even remotely to actual internationally benchmarked standards and look more like they were drafted by amateurs. He compares the standards to those set by jurisdictions that actually have excellent educational outcomes, such as Alberta, British Columbia, Finland, Hong Kong, and more, much more. Tom Hoffman, Tuttle SVC, September 24, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Google Sidewiki
A bunch of people this week linked to Google Sidewiki. "This is a browser sidebar that lets you contribute and read information alongside any web page." Some people are saying it will make the web lot more social, but I wonder whether it will be much more successful than the old Wikalong extension, which does exactly the same thing. Jane Hart, Jane's E-Learning Pick of the Day, September 24, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Dog Earns M.B.A. Online: Fires Former Coworkers
The kicker, of course, is that "Chester was forced to fire the very people responsible for his new degree and subsequent new position. It seems the crew misused time and company resources during the very stunt that resulted in Chester's degree." The Chronicle also has coverage, naturally. Tom Woodward, Bionic Teaching, September 24, 2009 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

Videos of keynote and invited speaker sessions at the 2009 ALT conference
Got a few days free? Good - then you'll want to site down and watch these videos of major talks at the recent Alt-C conference: Michael Wesch, Terry Anderson, Diana Laurillard, and more - including a representative from the National Union of Students. I really like the way they set up the videos, where the speaker is shown in one half of the frame and their slides are seen in the other half. Alt-C is doing a lot of things right: conference organizers should watch and learn. Seb Schmoller, Fortnightly Mailing, September 24, 2009 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Gist - a Farleyfile for the 21st century
Social networking gets more personal - and more powerful. Jim McGee links to a service called Gist. "we have created a new system to aggregate, organize, prioritize and focus your time on the most important things. We connect to your inbox or social networks to discover your key contacts and companies, automatically prioritize them and bring together personal communications, news, blogs, and the real-time web all into one neat package." Jim McGee, McGee's Musings, September 24, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

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Copyright 2008 Stephen Downes

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