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by Stephen Downes
February 17, 2010

NCBI ROFL: Parachute use to prevent death and major trauma related to gravitational challenge
I think this item, which pokes fun at evidence-based medicine, equally applies to education. "As with many interventions intended to prevent ill health, the effectiveness of parachutes has not been subjected to rigorous evaluation by using randomised controlled trials. Advocates of evidence based medicine have criticised the adoption of interventions evaluated by using only observational data. We think that everyone might benefit if the most radical protagonists of evidence based medicine organised and participated in a double blind, randomised, placebo controlled, crossover trial of the parachute." Unattributed, Discover Magazine, February 17, 2010 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment] [Tweet]

Journals as Filters and Active Agents
Terry Anderson offers a spirited defense of peer review. In the comments (and on my blog) I offer a spirited response. Terry Anderson, Virtual Canuck, February 17, 2010 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment] [Tweet]

The, um, fad of the day is something called Chat Roulette. Launched last November and spread through word of mouth, the idea is that you open your mic and video, then connect to a random stranger to have a live online video chat. Great idea, right? Well, the key word here is stranger. Kottke reports, "During my session, the average "chat" lasted about 5 seconds and I observed several people drinking malt liquor, two girls making out, many many guys who disconnected as soon as they saw I wasn't female, several girls who disconnected after seeing my face..." and more. Now I don't take any of this too seriously, and so to me it's pretty funny. The plain site is safe to visit. But you need to be pretty tolerant if you continue from there. Mashable askes readers, will you Chatroulette? Here's a link to some Chat Roulette screenshots (mildly NSFW). More screenshots (warning, disturbing, NSFW (but if seen in the appropriate frame of mind, hilarious) here. More links from Pontydysgu, Cynical-C, NY Mag, Anil Dash, Jezebel (NSFW). Andrey Ternovskiy, Website, February 17, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Getting Started With Wookie Widgets
Various widget platforms exist, but the principles that apply to one generally apply to the others. Wookie, writes Tony Hirst, "is an Apache (incubating) project that is making huge inroads as an implementation of the W3C widget specification." They resemble what we now call apps. "The Wookie platfrom essentially provides a W3C widgets compliant packaging format around bundle of zipped up HTML, Javascript and CSS files that implement an app typically designed to fit in a sidebar or fill the screen of a mobile device." This post demonstrates a simple load and render of a JSON feed, load and render of an RSS feed (via server proxy), and generation of a Google maps embed code. Tony Hirst, OUseful Info, February 17, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Schools Teach Working for Walmart 101
"Four inner-city schools have teamed up with Walmart to run classes in how to be an ideal worker drone." So writes Alex DiBranco, linking to a report from Charlotte Hill. "The real message goes more like: Your educational system has failed you. Because of mass class inequities, you will not be offered opportunities to succeed in life. In fact, we've so given up on you, that even though you still come to school, we're going to turn school into training on how to hold down the worst job possible." For some people, the only opportunity will be found through free and open online learning. Alex DiBranco,, February 17, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

How to Disable Google Buzz
Oh, why did I just know it would be this way with Google Buzz? "While you can click on 'turn off Buzz' in Gmail, you don't disable Buzz. The setting only hides the Buzz section and you can display it again by clicking 'turn on Buzz'... Google added a new option that lets you disable Buzz, but you need to delete your Google Profile." My oh my. I use many Google applications, but not Google Mail, because it just seems like a giant vacuum. Alex Chitu, Google Operating System, February 17, 2010 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Learning and Assessment
This is a little post I made in my best Kathy Sierra style to depict the core elements of connectivist learning theory (according to me). Thanks to Rapid E-learning blog for suggestions and fonts (additional fonts from here). Stephen Downes, Half an Hour, February 17, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Greetings and Salutations
The new blogger arrives at Education Week straight from a conservative think tank. Rick Hess is the director of education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute. His latest book, Education Unbound, is a paean to entrepreneurship in education, looking for ways to "free-up" schools to be "more responsive." His most recent column for National Review is Obama's Secret Edu-Judges. Personally, I would be embarrassed by this selection, but I guess Education Week (the Fox News of scholarship) is OK with it (so is Joanne Jacobs, who says "Hess wins my heart by quoting P.G. Wodehouse's characterization of Jeeves" and applauds Hess's second post, It's Not For the Kids). Rick Hess, Straight Up, February 17, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

USB Microscope
Oh yes, I want a USB microscope. And a USB telescope, too. "You also have the possibility of a live preview, therefore showing what is happening live under the microscope through a data projector, even to an interactive whiteboard. James Clay, e-Learning Stuff, February 17, 2010 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment] [Tweet]

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Copyright 2008 Stephen Downes

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