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by Stephen Downes
March 30, 2010

Making tech communities welcoming
Let me welcome this Tuesday with a nice post from Juliette Culver on making newbies welcome. "Value people for more than just their technical prowess," she writes. "Yes, I join communities because I want other people with whom to discuss technical things, but I want to belong to a community were relationships about more than just that, and people care in some small way about each other beyond that." Juliette Culver, Weblog, March 30, 2010 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment] [Tweet]

LifeLine checks body vitals, keeps status updated on cellphone or PC
This is a great invention that produces the sort of feedback that leaders to healthier behaviours. "The 'LifeLine' is a health monitoring system that can be worn around your wrist like a bracelet to monitor your heart rate, blood sugar levels, body temperature, and so on." That said, it's not enough to simply display data on a nearby computer - I want it analyzed and stored, and I want it sent (with my approval of course) to emergency responders if my health goes south. Naresh Chauhan, The Design Blog, March 30, 2010 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment] [Tweet]

Thoughts On Anya Kamenetz and the Open Education Movement
"If we are not careful," warns Michael Feldstein, "open education may actually end up reinforcing economic divides." He explains, "It's easy for those of us in the open education movement to see our work in opposition to proprietary technology companies, proprietary textbook companies, and the gatekeepers in the university system. But it's not the 'evil' LMS companies, or the 'evil' textbook companies, or the 'evil' administrators and bureaucrats that are failing these students. It is all of us." Really? Even those working in the edupunk movement - the subject of this post - who are doing everything they can to throw open the gates of learning to all comers? Even the people trying to free learning from the shackles of publishers and vendors that are trying to destroy public education and lock down all learning content? I would like to have it explained to me in what way it is "all of us". What are we not doing? Michael Feldstein, E-Literate, March 30, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Taking Stock: Lifelong Learning in Canada 2005–2010
The Canadian Council on Learning has delivered a major report that is, frankly, alarmist. Reading it this afternoon, it is hard to reconcile its dire warnings with the fact that Canadian students perform as well or better than those in pretty much any other nation. Look at the chart on page 25 of this document, for example - the one with Canada on the bottom row, with "no - no - no ..." listed in the set of indicators. Do any of the nations listed above surpass Canada in PISA results? No! And CCL provides no good evidence to support the contention that their remedies (see p.24) - a national strategy for PSE, acknowledged and accepted goals, benchmarks, and ratings ladders, a quality-assurance system a qualifications framework and system of accreditation, among others - will actually improve learning. You look at nations that have these things - like the U.S. - and their educational systems are in crisis. The CCL's oft-stated an unsupported desire to centralize, measure and manage out educational system is a recipe, if not for disaster, then most certainly for mediocrity. Paul Cappon, Canadian Council on Learning, March 30, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Experiments – the Key to Innovation
A major part of the work I do consists of experimentation (like, say, Online Events daily). Often the value of the experiment is so obscure, the results so uncertain, that it could never be mounted as a project - you have to just try something with some quick code and see if it flies. I have a long history of stuff like this, and it's where I generate a great deal of my knowledge. I am far more likely to depend on the results of my actual experiment than on consultants' reports, focus groups, and even user surveys and corporate needs analyses. So I am in agreement with Tim Kastelle here. "To be innovative, we have to try out new ideas. Some of these will fail... We face an environment that is filled with uncertainty. This makes planning dangerous. The best possible way to meet this uncertainty is not with intuition and guesswork, but with experimentation."
Tim Kastelle, Innovation Leadership Network, March 30, 2010 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Time Warner 'cracking the code' for students
This is interesting - Time Warner Cable, as part of its Connect a Million Minds (CAMM) initiative, launched a new after-school technology curriculum this week for middle school students it calls "Cracking the Codes in the Digital World." The CAMM site presents an impenetrable Flash wall unless you've signed in, so there appears to be no way to otherwise see uploaded "evidence" of connected students (you can find it here though, and an overview here). You won't find links to the after-school program on the TW press release either. So far as I can judge, it consists of tours of cable provider offices. Still. The idea of an out-of-school engagement project is a good one, and having staff work directly with students is (what I would consider) good practice. Stanley A. Miller II, JSOnline, March 30, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

EU Demands Canada Completely Overhaul Its Intellectual Property Laws
The EU is "demanding that Canada surrender its sovereignty over intellectual property law and policy." So argues Michael Geist after the release of a draft of the European Union proposal for the Canada - EU Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement. It's hard to argue that he's wrong - "the EU is demanding nothing less than a complete overhaul of Canadian IP laws including copyright, trademark, databases, patent, geographic indications, and even plant variety rights." Michael Geist, Weblog, March 30, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

The scientist and blogging
What should researchers (including graduate students) blog? Pretty straightforward advice:
- Talk about your research. What have you done in the past?
- Talk about other people's research. Do you agree with their results?
- Talk about issues related to your research.
And yes, if you are an expert in the field, you should be blogging. Not just because it will help your career, but as a service to the community. Sylvie Noël, Population of One, March 30, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

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Copyright 2008 Stephen Downes

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