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by Stephen Downes
February 9, 2010

Trends in Personal Learning 2
Same slides as a few days ago, but the audio is very different, as this was a formal presentation. As before, I outline the major trends in personal learning that we are seeing in technology today, and I more clearly draw the connections between some of the separate trends - for example, personal creativity, interaction and networking, and simulation and immersion. Audio at Excellent sound quality. Presentation by Stephen Downes, IT Madrid, Online to Madrid, via DimDim, [Link]

That's Just Your Opinion
I see this a lot, from certain quarters, a "failure to distinguish between argumentation and opinion." I have even at times uttered an exasperated "this isn't a question of faith" to a student who felt that it mattered whether or not they 'believed' the assertions I was making, "it's a question of evidence." And with the author, I think reliance on opinion is a poor substitute for good thinking. "Many students, not wanting to stand out, or hurt someone else's feeling, would rather float gently in the open sea of opinions than navigate the perilous waters of rigorous argumentation." Oh, and one more thing - it's not just students. I think that many adults, professionals, and teachers operate of the basis of opinion rather than evidence (it is is from them students are adopting these habits). Laurie Fendrich, Brainstorm, February 9, 2010 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Web 2.0 Strategy
Good posts that notes that most institutions are beginning to look at web 2.0 more seriously and will need an implementation strategy. This is an especially difficult transition for institutions, because it means that many centrally managed functions need to be more distributed - people set up and use their own web applications, for example, and may install their own browser extensions, helpers, and social software support. If it were me (and probably a good number of institutions are doing this) I would provide students with virtual machines; individual environments would operate in a virtual space, an abstract layer insulated from network and hardware controls. Anyhow this post outlines the process of creating an implementation strategy, whatever you decide to do. Janey Clarey, Workplace Learning Today, February 9, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Weave Sync: New APIs and Resources for Developers
More on Weave sync, as Mozilla offers more APIs and tools for developers. "Using this free browser add-on from Mozilla Labs, you can use secure mechanisms to access all of your personal data (including your bookmarks, saved passwords, browsing history, and open browser tabs) across all of your supported devices, making your Web experience instantly more personal and useful. And all of your data is encrypted end-to-end to help ensure your privacy." Erica Jostedt, Mozilla Blog, February 9, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Business schools shouldn't stand on their own
I am inclined to agree with Joey Coleman - business schools will expand not because they offer anything uniquely academic, but "only because they are profitable units within the money-hungry modern university." The success of business schools, in other words, is derived from their clientèle, not their academic content. Which means we should look at the suggestion that they include more of the liberal arts. If we follow this to its logical conclusion, liberal arts will be offered increasingly in business schools, and decreasingly to the general population as a whole. So Coleman's response is, essentially, if business people want to study liberal arts, then great, but they should be studying it from people who actually specialize in the subject, and teach it to everyone, and not some sort of private business-only version. Joey Coleman, Globe Campus, February 9, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Improve the wheel, don't reinvent it
If we tried simply to improve the wheel, not reinvent it, we would never have had airplanes. That's my first response to this article, which argues we should focus on improving what we already have in universities. This is in response to a book, Academic Transformation: The Forces Reshaping Higher Education, which argues "that Ontario's model for providing undergraduate education, the research-university model, is no longer sustainable. Among the proposed solutions are greater differentiation among existing universities and creating new institutions – both liberal-arts teaching colleges and a distance-learning university." All very well to exercise caution, but the counterproposal - a distance network that connects the existing universities - does little to address the real need, much less address cost and efficiency issues. This lack of imagination in existing institutions is why we have to look outside them. Roseann O'Reilly Runte, University Affairs, February 9, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

E-Learning Practices

A large two-volume set summarizing e-learning in countries in Europe and Asia has been released. PDFs: Volume One, Volume Two. Interestingly, as Paul Kawachi writes, "Many countries including most reviewed in this book generally hold onto an apprentice model and experiential learning through a cooperative process. Even with e-learning technology, the apprentice model is still employed." Though the papers are in English, the emphasis is on 39 countries outside the English-speaking world. Ugur Demiray, Ed., Book, February 9, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Are Blog Comments Worth It? Treasure the Conversations
Yes, blog comments are worth it - as Suarez says, a blog without comments is just another website. "There is no interaction. No dialogue. No conversation. No reaction. No nothing. You just basically consume the content… and move on. Just like you would do with a regular (1.0) Web site." I read every comment on my blog (they come to me by email; I have an email subscription set up but it needs a tweak before I can use it). I comment frequently on other people's blogs. Still, though, spam and SEO detritus are big problems for comments - the main reason I set up mIDm so many years ago (before OpenID, even) was to design a system where your comments lived on your blog, and linked to mine only if I could find you in my friend network. Still working on that. Luis Suarez, E L S U A, February 9, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , , , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Video: Don't Do This To Your Students
I can actually hear the sense of entitlement in the narrator's voice. Reminds me of Nirvana: "We are here now, entertain us!" Like the attendees at SXSW. I know that's not what is meant, but that's how it comes across, especially when he asks, "Is this what I paid for?" as though we owe him somehow. David Hopkins, Elearning Blog Dont Waste Your Time, February 9, 2010 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Thousands to lose jobs as universities prepare to cope with cuts
If all you can do is teach at a university, you are about to become underqualified. The long-expected crisis is upon us, and as governments restrain spending the expense of maintaining university professors is beginning to look less and less attractive to them. I wrote (back in 1998, and at various times since then) that the crisis would approach very gradually, and then appear suddenly, as though overnight. Well, it's night. Jessica Shepherd and Owen Bowcott , The Guardian, February 9, 2010 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment] [Tweet]

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Copyright 2008 Stephen Downes

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