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by Stephen Downes
February 15, 2010

Five Honorees of Bunkum Awards Announced for their Contributions to Sub-Par Education Research
When you demand "research-based" changes in education, be sure you don't mean this Bunkum research. Read about one report that "attributes positive reform outcomes to policy changes that had not yet been implemented." Or another that "cherry-picks a few weak studies to critique proposals." Or the special Friedman prize to the Friedman Foundation, which has "cloned the same study on the cost of drop-outs in at least seven states, a tax credit voucher report in at least six states, and opinion polls on school choice in 15 states." Via Education Notes Online. Nikki Rashada McCord, Education and the Public Interest Center (EPIC), February 15, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

More Than One LMS Option
There's more than one LMS option, writes Ellen Behrens, with different systems for different tasks. "Yes, an LMS is a learning management system. But some learning we offer online is instructor led, and some isn't. Some of us offer Webinars, some don't. A few of us make asynchronous, stand-alone courses available, others don't. LMSes have come through a long series of revisions over the years. Iterations have included training systems designed primarily for classroom use to those designed to launch only asynchronous, stand-alone courses." I would like to have seen at least some discussion of open source alternatives. Ellen Behrens, aLearning Blog, February 15, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

iTunes and iTunesU in a Browser, via HTML
Is it possible to view learning content from iTunesU in a web browser? Yes, according to Tony Hirst. Here's an example of the application. Basically it takes the XML feeds offered by iTunes and renders them into (badly designed) HTML. The videos are then viewed directly from the providing institution's website. I can't imagine it will be around long - how dare people use a non-commercial means to access free educational content! Tony Hirst, OUseful Info, February 15, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Finally! A SAFE, easy way to show & share YouTube videos in school!
I can't imagine this service will be around long, but here's a way to show ad-free and edited YouTube videos. "Safeshare.TV is a free service that lets you trim all the extraneous material from a YouTube video – and even set specific start and end points." Kevin Jarrett, Welcome to NCS-Tech!, February 15, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

A critique of Tapscott and William's views on university reform
Tony Bates strikes exactly the right note in his critique of Tapscott and William in EDUCAUSE. "Tapscott and Williams write as if they have discovered something that has in fact been known by many people for some time," he begins, and then shows how they nonetheless get the analysis wrong. "Tapscott and Williams write about the 'new' constructivist way of teaching. I'm sorry, but this is not new. It's been around for over 100 years and has been used in elite universities from the middle of the 19th century... [and] The basic problem is that you cannot use constructivist learning approaches with classes of 100 students or more." Moreover, "Just putting students into social networks will not automatically lead to the development of academic knowledge." And finally, "the suggestion that the privatization of the universities or 'market forces' are needed to bring about change also misses the point." Tony Bates, Weblog, February 15, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

This is Not A Test
I still don't understand the nuances behind Scholastic's censorship of an education blog. Among others, Doug Noon comments on "the disappearance of Marc Dean Millot's post from Alexander Russo's TWIE (This Week in Education). Here's the post that was pulled. Millot, unfortunately, writes like the lawyer he is, meaning that his explanation of the matter (part one, part two, part three forthcoming on Tuttle) is incomprehensible. But I do understand that the issue is about connections and influence, and that Scholastic is up to its armpits in educational policy and politics. And as Noon notes, "another test of Alexander Russo's editorial independence presents itself" as "Los Angeles schools Supt. Ramon C. Cortines earned more than $150,000 last year for serving on the board of one of the nation's leading educational publishing companies, a firm with more than $16 million in contracts with the school district over the last five years." That company? Scholastic. Doug Noon, Borderland, February 15, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Predictors of Success for Adult Online Learners: A Review of the Literature
The list of predictors for learning success is a familiar mix. In adults, according to this review, motivation remains a prime factor. Meanwhile, a PISA report on Canadian students stresses the importance of strong reading skills by age 15, "indicating that strong competencies could overcome effects of disadvantages." And despite the Globe and Mail's attempt at misdirection, "students with university-educated parents were 4.5 times more likely to attend university" and "almost two-thirds of students from high income households attended university compared with one third from the lowest income group." Finally, this report in the BBC News indicates that the language skills poor children lag a year behind their better-off colleagues. Elizabeth A. Gruenbaum, eLearn Magazine, February 15, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Implications arising from the absence of the "sameness of meaning"
David Jones weaves the argument that there is no commonality of meaning out of a set of my tweets. "Given the impossibility of any commonality of meaning and the huge complexity and diversity of the meaning associated with e-learning, learning, teaching, universities, people and technology, the processes within universities and e-learning should be aimed much more at experimentation, at sharing of meaning, at encouraging surprise and enabling effective response and interaction." David Jones, The Weblog of (a) David Jones, February 15, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Frustration Over Framing
With much more free learning content, framing by commercial sites is an issue again. This article pits Purdue University's Online Writing Lab (OWL) against's actions reflect an increasing use of frames recently - social network sites like Diigo and URL shorteners like routinely use frames. And the argument is now well rehearsed: makes "identifies Purdue as the source of the content and includes Purdue's trademarks and copyright notice" and "Most content sites are thrilled with the extra exposure they get by being part of's resource library." Still, it's the ambiguity that drives revenues: "we are reviewing those pages to make sure that all users understand that access to the resources is completely free." Steve Kolowich, Inside Higher Ed, February 15, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

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Copyright 2008 Stephen Downes

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