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by Stephen Downes
February 24, 2010

Thompson: The Equality Trust

More evidence of the impact of income equality on educational outcomes. "Just as out-of-school effects trump schools' and teachers' contributions to learning, equality and inequality trumps economic wealth in creating a livable society. Americans living in more equal states live around 4 years longer than those living in more unequal states." Alexander Russo, This Week in Education, February 24, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Science Literacy: What do Students Know and What do They Want to Know?
The Canadian Council on Learning has a new report on science literacy. "To enable lifelong learning of science, students need to be taught how to read such reports. Furthermore, because media reports on the subject of science are often incomplete (due to space limitations), and often written by a reporter who is biased or a non-expert, students must be taught to read such reports critically." Well, yes, but they could just do what I do - don't believe anything in traditional media about science, and learn directly from what scientists write themselves. Connie Korpan, Canadian Council on Learning, February 24, 2010 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Extended Relation Metadata for SCORM-based Learning Content Management Systems
SCORM's Content Aggregation Model "can only describe structure-oriented relationships and cannot express semantic relationships." So argue the authors, who set about describing an alternative set of relationships, drawn from various instances of instructional design theory, such as "Evidence", "Proof" and "Demonstration" - a set of 24 semantic relations in all. The paper then digresses through an entirely needless study of 30 graduate students to reduce the set to 17 possible relations. This article, plus the next two, are from the current issue of Educational Technology & Society, just released. Eric Jui-Lin Lu,, Educational Technology & Society, February 24, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Analyzing Online Behaviors, Roles, and Learning Communities via Online Discussions
According to this article, learning online in groups means knowing your place. Oh, I'm sure the authors wouldn't put it so bluntly. But it is difficult to read the following any other way: "group members must recognize their functional roles in knowledge-related activities, and each functional role requires a corresponding behavior in the processes of knowledge sharing and creation." And you see this perspective echoed in the typology of roles identified in the study. My favorite description is this: "Trouble-makers (R7): This role is composed of B9. These group members frequently caused problems that hindered the completion of group work via their absence from group discussions or inability to finish assigned work on time." And further, in the conclusion, "Among these roles, trouble-makers clearly hinder the formation and functioning of online learning communities. Unfortunately, this role typically exists in online learning communities, as the analytical findings in this study suggest." By contrast, the most important and constructive role, say the authors, is that of "opinion providers", which "seems to be the key role for distinguishing the active collaboration communities from the other communities." Yu-Chu Yeh, Educational Technology & Society, February 24, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Education Technology and Hidden Ideological Contradictions
This paper is almost unreadable, but it makes an important point about learning with technology. In a nutshell, the author argues that because people learn by changing their environment, they cannot learn from types of technology that cannot be changed, such as learning design, learning objects, and the typically inflexible artifacts of e-learning. The associated reductionist approaches are
"directly affiliated with positivist, non-dialectical and ultimately conservative approaches in education." Thus, the paper "pedagogical agents that could more easily support social collaboration and individual transformation." I just love some of the expressions in the paper (eg., "fundamental and totalitarian ideologies of instruction") but the writing is so dense with jargon and cumbersome expressions it punishes, rather than rewards, any effort to understand it more deeply. Alan Amory, Educational Technology & Society, February 24, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Kindle moves from being hardware to software
Kindle is migrating from being hardware that doesn't do what you want to software that doesn't do what you want, all in the name of cornering the ebook market. "Amazon has released a version of the Kindle software for the Blackberry, which still holds about 50% of the smartphone market in North America. Kit Eaton of Fast Company suggests that Amazon's business model doesn't really fit well with being a hardware provider, and we may see Kindles (the hardware) given away in the future in order to sell more digital content." Gary Woodill, Workplace Learning Today, February 24, 2010 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment] [Tweet]

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Copyright 2008 Stephen Downes

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