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by Stephen Downes
March 26, 2010


NRC's Institute for Information Technology has another promotional video out. Watch for my one second of fame (pictured above) near the end. Various Authors, National Research Council, March 26, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Managing Metadata with Resource Profiles
Short paper authored to state a position at an upcoming learning metadata standards conference. I won't be at the conference, but I'm hoping this paper will represent my views. Here's the abstract: Existing learning object metadata describing learning resources postulates descriptions contained in a single document. This document, typically authored in IEEE-LOM, is intended to be descriptively complete, that is, it is intended to contain all relevant metadata related to the resource. Based on my 2003 paper, Resource Profiles, an alternative approach is proposed. Any given resource may be described in any number of documents, each conforming to a specification relevant to the resource. A workflow is suggested whereby a resource profiles engine manages and combines this data, producing various views of the resource, or in other words, a set of resource profiles. Stephen Downes, Half an Hour, March 26, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Computing and the Common Core

One of the things I've wondered about common core is why language and maths are the big winners. From where I sit, things like science and explanation, logic and critical reasoning, and learning how to learn are equally important. And the author of this post makes a good case for computer science (which by itself manages to incorporate both language and mathematics, and much more besides). But that's the problem with a core generally - the selection of what constitutes a core is ineliminably political, and therefore all (so-called) 'common' core initiatives are (thinly disguised) political campaigns. Via Computing Education Blog. Image via Russo. See also Alfred Thompson, Where does computer science belong? Also, this: "Pick a random high school in the United States. With enormous probability, it will have zero computer science." Cameron Wilson, Communications of the ACM, March 26, 2010 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment] [Tweet]

It's Easy to Throw Real Stones at Virtual Glass Houses
An enthusiastic, wide-ranging, well-illustrated and detailed look at events in Second Life. "I'm just coming off of a two day utterly engaging experience in what we do at the NMC as online conferences," writes Alan Levine. "These are not your webinar slideshow brigades - for 3 and a half years, we have run two to four conferences per year in a virtual world space, ones where people pay money to attend, and I can say first hand that the ones we have run are a completely different, and from what I have seen, more participatory experience from your typical web-based conference." Maybe that's the secret to creating engaging Second Life events - fee-paying subscribers. Alan Levine, CogDogBlog, March 26, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Write good papers: my slides
What annoys me most about research papers is that they're almost unreadable. Also, I dislike references to obvious facts. Like this: "The internet is growing. (Bates, 2010)." Also, I have little need for a literature review (just link to a few key articles, ok?) or 'placing of the work in a theoretical context' (as though you can just go from theory to theory (or 'lens' to 'lens') as though they were plug-and-play). Sample sizes that can be measured in two digits also annoy me, as do surveys of populations consisting of grad students or the investigator's friends. In fact, I prefer hard data to surveys any day. And what also annoys is a conclusion that states very little ("In the final analysis, students like the web") or that says further research is needed (what would be amazing would be a conclusion that says "This pretty much wraps it up; no more research is needed"). Don't like my version? Click the title (click it twice if you're reading by email or RSS) to read Daniel Lemire's slides (which are very good) about what makes a good research paper. Daniel Lemire, Weblog, March 26, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Major change to a SIOC term: User is now called UserAccount
The SIOC specification (Semantically Linked Online Communities) is an effort to distribute the social graph. It is basically a union of Fried-Of-A-Friend (FOAF) and SKOS (Simple Knowledge Organization System). The documentation is opaque, unfortunately, and it is a shame to see a semantic web initiative without an RSS feed. I discovered it only through the reposting of this item on various email lists, which describes the renaming of the 'user' element to 'userAccount'. Some of the applications look interesting, like Twitter2RDF - but I still get the feeling that this is YATDS (Yet Another top Down Standard), because they don't even do the little things right (like an RSS feed, actual author names on the posts, text instead of an image for a title). Cloud,, March 26, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

15 Insanely Popular Lady Gaga YouTube Videos
OK, your students have seen all these videos - I know this because Lady Gaga videos have been viewed a billion times online. She is the first artist to reach this mark. So take an hour or so and watch these fifteen videos. Better yet, take the rest of the evening and explore the full Gaga canon that has formed online. There's a lot going on in them, so keep an open mind. They're probably not safe for work. Gaga is a genuine internet phenomenon, and a large part of her huge popularity is the widespread availability of her songs and videos free online. Samuel Axon, Mashable, March 26, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

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