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by Stephen Downes
December 30, 2009

Response to George on Openness
David Wiley responds to George Siemens's post (see below) calling for more radicalism for open education. It's a moderate response, reminding people to heed to the goals of education, and not the means. In this I agree - open education is not an end in itself, but part of the means by which we reach our goals of an education for all in a just and sharing society. And he argues that, therefore, "the ideal [of openness] needs to mean specific things in specific contexts in order for it to be applied usefully in those contexts." This is true as well - at the margins. But the examples cited by Siemens - Twitter, Blackboard, Facebook - aren't marginal cases, and claims that they are somehow 'open' in a way that is conducive to a free education in a just and sharing society somehow ring hollow. David Wiley, iterating toward openness, December 30, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Open isn't so open anymore
George Siemens quite rightly rails against the watering down of the term 'open' in education. "According to Wiley," writes Siemens, "openness is not an ideological concept, like democracy, but rather a functional or utilitarian construct: like a door or window being open or partly open... [but] It's like saying being alive is a gradient. We are more or less alive." We need "some good ol' radicals in open education," he writes. "You know, the types that have a vision and an ideological orientation that defies the pragmatics of reality. Stubborn, irritating, aggravating visionaries..." Well, maybe. I could use the company. George Siemens, Connectivism Blog, December 30, 2009 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Reputation, Authenticity, and Credibility
Michelle Lentz says, in this video, that getting yourself out there establishes your credibility. The comment is part of a wider discussion, led my Mark Oehlert, asking how we can manage out own authenticity and credibility online. The problem is, your credentials may get away from you; as Janet Clarey says, it gets more confusing as a person's many interests get involved in the mix. In the video, Oehlert suggests we need some sort of ranking service for pundits. Well, maybe, but what are the indices? You can gain a lot of traffic, as Tim Bray says, by being offensive. You can't just measure volume (ie., number of posts, number of links, number of retweets, number of votes) to measure credibility. Apart from an assessment of the veracity of the content itself, evaluating credibility is elusive. Which is why people who 'manage' their credibility are able to get away with it. Gina Minks, Adventures in Corporate Education, December 30, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Using Mobile Learning to Teach Reading to Ninth-Grade Students
This is a good overview of mobile learning followed by a pointless trial using grade 9 students. I say 'pointless' because the 63 students were given task-specific mobile phones twice a week over a two or three week period to do vocabulary lookups. "The high school permitted the treatment group to use the phones in the classroom for only 20 minutes each day for 7 days or a total of 160 minutes." What would you expect to learn from such a study? More articles from the current issue of JCT. Lucianne Brown, Journal for Computing Teachers, December 30, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

A Collection of Citations on Open, free, participatory, and commons-oriented learning approaches
This article is composed entirely of citations, but it hangs together surprisingly well. Of course, the citations, examining free and participatory learning approaches, themselves unite behind a common theme and philosophy. "When you look at children's learning outside school, it is driven by what they are interested in, which is the direct opposite of school-based learning." Michel Bauwens, P2P Foundation, December 30, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Synthetic Culture Activities
As a final project in a philosophy class, I once assigned students to design their own religion. They would take into account the various dimensions of religiosity we had explored in the class. Moreover, I told them they could use any presentation format they wanted: a video, a paper, a toolkit, a cube. I got a wild assortment of spectacular religions presented in every format imaginable - and gave out a lot of As and Bs. This exercise by Thiagi is similar. "Synthetic Culture Activities assign participants to artificial groups in which a few selected dimensions are specified at their extreme values." It's a bit more structured than my approach - though this structure could be varied to adapt to any content matter, from social studies to language to arts to sciences. Sivasailam (Thiagi) Thiagarajan, Thiagi Gameletter, December 30, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Ten Exciting Ways To Waste Your Training Dollars
One way to waste your training investment is to conduct classes oblivious of the civil war outside. There are other, less extreme, but equally wasteful approaches to training development. Thiagi sums them up nicely in this article which stresses the importance of practice and activities and the paucity of an over-reliance on content and presentation. Sivasailam (Thiagi) Thiagarajan, Thiagi Gameletter, December 30, 2009 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment] [Tweet]

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Copyright 2008 Stephen Downes

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