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by Stephen Downes
June 17, 2010

Critical Literacies, Pragmatics and Education

Jenny Hughes and Graham Attwell offered a really nice discussion of this week's Critical Literacies topic. The Elluminate Recording of the discussion is available online (thanks to George Siemens) and they've added a 10-minute audio soundtrack to the slides (well done). The discussion revolved around the idea that meanings (and therefore contents and presentations) are bounded by contextual assumptions, such as culture, language, workflow, and more. Jenny Hughes and Graham Attwell, Pontygysgu, June 17, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

The prospects of global education reform
Does this diagram show 'what we already know' or does is it telling us what we are supposed to believe?

The wrong way to do anything is to take the six billion people on the planet and apply standards to them. This includes education. The idea that there is anything - anything - we want all six billion people to learn smacks of colonialism at best and fascism at worst. And this is just one of the problems I see with these 'building blocks'. Another is the idea that you "train" teachers. Another is the concept of "continuous improvement", a holdover from TQM that treats people as though they're never good enough. And more - what we have here is the technocrat's model of a global education system, but not one that would work with actual humans. What we need in education is not more leadership, but rather, less leadership. Derek Wenmoth, Derek's Blog, June 17, 2010 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Starbucks' free Wi-Fi will let customers get around paywall sites for free, too
Some paywall sites are making deals with hosts like Starbucks to allow free access to their content. This would mean, say, that you can read the Wall Street Journal online if you're in a Starbucks, but not while you're at home. This, of course, kind of makes a mash of net neutrality. See also ReadWriteWeb. Jay Hathaway, DownloadSquad, June 17, 2010 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment] [Tweet]

Your Firefox in the cloud: Firefox Sync and Firefox Home

Syncing is the new cloud. "Currently packaged as a free Firefox Add-on, Sync will be an integrated (opt-in, of course) feature of Firefox 4. It makes your bookmarks, history, Awesome Bar intelligence, passwords, form-fill data and open tabs accessible from Firefox running on other computers and mobile phones. And unlike cloud services that use your data to track your travels throughout the Web for ad targeting or other purposes, Firefox Sync encrypts all of your data before sending it to the server." J. Sullivan, The Mozilla Blog, June 17, 2010 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Sharing Liberally
Level-headed review of what I must confess is an odd concept from Clay Shirky. The concept is this: the internet lets us fill our free time more creatively than we would otherwise by, say, watching television. Now, I have thought of the internet as a lot of things, but I don't think I've ever thought of it as filler to occupy my free time. Evgeny Morozov comments, "Shirky's digital populism not only blinds him, McLuhan-style, to inconvenient facts, it blinds him to the immense complexities and competing values inherent in democratic societies." Now - I use the internet very deliberately to try to improve social and political conditions here at home and worldwide. That's why for me it is much more than merely what I do with my cognitive surplus. Whether the internet can be used in this way is another matter, perhaps - and I'll probably have to discourse at length some time in the future on the subject of the internet and governance, because Morozov and other critics are right in at least this, that a democracy composed snappy one-liners posted in response to YouTube videos is a non-starter. Evgeny Morozov, Boston Review, June 17, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Facebook's Secret Strategy Infographic
Facebook's strategy, in a nutshell:

Pretty much sums it up. And I wonder how many other companies out there have the same business plan. Randy Krum, Cool Infographics, June 17, 2010 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment] [Tweet]

YouTube Video Editor
My NRC colleague Bill McIver sends me this link you a YouTube video editor. "YouTube has a new video editor that lets you create videos using excerpts from the videos you've already uploaded. You can also add a music file from the AudioSwap library, but YouTube mentions that it might display ads if you use some of the audio files." What would be really interesting would be the ability to create and edit videos using clips uploaded by your friends. Alex Chitu, Google Operating S, June 17, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Podcast Episode #6: Stephen Downes
I was interviewed by Intellum's Chip Ramsey last week; this is the audio of that interview. "In this episode, we will be discussing personal learning environments, quirks that stifle e-learning advancement, and free versus commercial learning content." Chip Ramsey, Intellum, June 17, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

on decommenting
D'Arcy Norman has turned off comments on his blog and in this post he explains why. "I've been thinking and feeling about my blog and how I want to continue using it. And I've decided that comments are not helpful for that. If this blog is my Commonplace Book, if it's my Outboard Brain, I need to be able to write whatever the hell I want, without thinking, even for a second, about what might happen in the comments." Fair enough, though now I'm sure he will simply transfer this to thinking about what other blogs - like mine - might post in response.

More to the point, though - there is a great convenience (largely broken by Blogger, but I digress) in having a comment form right next to an article. The issue isn't the having of a comment form, it is in what happens to the comment. When other people can place their thoughts on your page, their motivations are different - they're more likely to be outrageous, self-promoting, spammy. I think comments should end up on the commenter's own website (which is what mIDm was all about). But it hasn't happened yet because OpenID has been hijacked by social network sites. D'Arcy Norman, D'Arcy Norman dot net, June 17, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , , , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

We Must Stop the Avalanche of Low-Quality Research
"We must stop the avalanche of low quality research," says the Chronicle - which itself shows no signs of ceasing to publish articles such as this. The comments are a more entertaining read than the article itself, a boilerplate attack on mediocre content bolstered with ill-considered suggestions such as requiring shorter papers, using impact factors, and limiting the use of publication quantity as a criterion for promotion. Mark Bauerlein, Mohamed Gad-el-Hak, Wayne Grody, Bill McKelvey, and Stanley W. Trimble, Chronicle of Higher Education, June 17, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

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