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by Stephen Downes
March 1, 2010

Reservations about instructional design
Criticisms of instructional design. "Instructional designers are increasingly the tools of management, not folk helping academics. In an increasingly managerialist sector, the 'correct' directions/methods for learning and teaching are increasingly being set by government, government funded bodies (e.g. ALTC and AUQA) and subsequently the management and professionals (e.g. instructional designers, staff developers, quality assurance etc.)" In a comment over the weekend suggested we defer to cognitive scientists who have "developed an understanding of how people learn." My own assessment of cognitive science is that it is as often political as scientific, intended to serve a management purpose rather than to achieve what ought to be the goal of learning, personal empowerment and fulfilment. This post hits right at that divide. Related, David Jones on cognitive science and instructional design: "Cognitive theory has been incorporated into instructional design, but behaviourism influence remains and that causes problems." David Jones, The Weblog of (a) David Jones, March 1, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Using technology to help street kids in Kenya
Tony Bates cites a report from Kenya. "The Ex-Street Children Community Organisation (ECCO) has developed an eLearning programme here that provides street children with a platform that not only enables them to share ideas with each other but also to communicate with rest of the society." Tony Bates, Weblog, March 1, 2010 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment] [Tweet]

E-learning design for social emotions
I won't linger on this, but want to cite it as evidence that e-learning can effect the emotions. Janet Clarey considers the criticism that online media is making us insensitive. "This made me think of a highly emotional e-learning course about palliative care," she writes. But you have to design it with care. "Content that needs to tap compassion may need to be designed without rapid digital exchanges common to social media." Which means - conversely - that if we're becoming indifferent about life and death, it is because we are designing this indifference in to our media. Janet Clarey, Workplace Learning Today, March 1, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Facebook is evil, says Eben Moglen
Facebook is evil, says Eben Moglen, and what we really need are personal web servers. His argument is typically overstated (I don't think Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has really "done more harm to the human race than anybody else his age"). But I agree with this: "We need a really good web server that you can put in your pocket and plug in any place. It shouldn't be any larger than the charger for your cellphone. You should be able to plug it into any power jack in the world or sync it up with any wi-fi router that happens to be in this neighborhood." Thanks to Gary lewis for the link; he also sends this link with audio and video of Eben Moglen, and this Slashdot discussion of the $100 server. Michel Bauwens, P2P Foundation, March 1, 2010 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Why business won't save the world
I have to agree with the author, it's time to get some democracy into philanthropy. As Sami says in D'Arcy Norma's mega-thread on TED, "Let me know when TED covers this topic." It won't, of course; TED is focused on exactly the opposite, the triumph of a privileged few over democracy. But as Michael Edwards argues, when applied to philanthopy, ownership by the private sector, with its business-driven next-quarter focus, makes things worse. "Serious questions are raised by privatising the search for solutions to global problems. For one thing, who decides which problems get attention? ... Even more troubling, corporate philanthropy deflects attention away from the need to change core business practices so that developing countries can capture more of the value added by economic development." Michael Edwards, The Guardian, March 1, 2010 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment] [Tweet]

Ravitch: The Death and Life of the Great American School System
The message of Diane Ravitch's recent book is that there is no research base supporting proposals for reform. "There is NO research base supporting any of the provisions so-called "reformers" advocate - not for charters, not for merit pay for teachers, not for using test scores as the sole measure of the performance of teachers and schools, not for approaches such as those advocated by Teach for America for teachers nor New Leaders for New Schools for principals." Instead, many of the provisions may actually make things worse. "Removing public oversight will leave the education of our children to the whim of entrepreneurs and financiers. Nor is it wise to entrust our schools to inexperienced teachers, principals, and superintendents." teacherken, Daily Kos, March 1, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , , , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

No country for old readers? – a conceptual mashup
The media may change, but are writing and text "not going anywhere", as Negroponte says? It's hard to imagine a more efficient vehicle for communication, even if we are tempted to skim text in the new information-rich internet. "The multiple quotations in this posting are an example. The video or audio material from which they came represented considerably more time viewing, active listening, and transcribing on my part than it will take any reader of this posting to "consume" them. Many gigabytes of video material can be represented by a few megabytes of words."Indeed. If there is anything that will replace text, it would gave to be something that is equally abstract, and it is in that, I would say, that we need to look toward to find the future of communication. Derek Morrison, Auricle, March 1, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

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Copyright 2008 Stephen Downes

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