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by Stephen Downes
July 27, 2010


It's All Cat Videos
I don't know whether to be outraged or just gaga with bemusement at the Chronicle of Higher Education's latest folly. The article in question is titled "YouTube Better at Funny Cat Videos Than Educational Content, Professors Say." There is, in fact, no reference to cat videos anywhere in the article, nor possibly in the researchers' work (I've written them and asked, but haven't received a reply back). Rather, what we have is a short article telling us that "while many students turn to YouTube when looking for help with their homework, it can be hard to find good-quality educational clips there." This, of course, is outrageously false. And badly argued. As Alan Levine summarizes, "Two experts in biology looked at web videos for keywords in their discipline, and they found it wanting. Therefore, the only thing YouTube is Funny Cat Videos." Alan Levine, CogDogBlog, July 27, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

In Defense of Lecture
Oh, I think this point in defense of lectures is exactly right. "If you recognize that the complete sentence is 'Lectures don't work…for inexperienced or lazy learners,' then you realize that using 'active learning' with professionals at a formal conference is insulting to your audience. You are assuming that they can't learn on their own, without your scaffolding." Now, sometimes they can't actually learn, even if they are professionals - if they are learning outside their domain of expertise, for example. But people who are interested and motivated and able to learn on their own need little help - they'll turn a lecture into active learning in their own way, through note-taking, engaging with the speaker, or simply listening with an active, questioning mind. Mark Guzdial, Computing Education Blog, July 27, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

David Gauntlett – Making is Connecting

Very nice talk from David Gauntlett titled "Making is Connecting." The thrust of this 9 minute video is that new media supports creativity, and this creativity creates happiness through meaningful work and ties with community. Tim Kastelle relates this to his own work (and unknowingly, to mine): "we connect ideas to people. This is the outbound side of Connection. I write about the idea connections that I make in my blog – as people read it, they start connecting with the ideas. I give as many public talks as I can..." Tim Kastelle, Innovation Leadership Network, July 27, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Open educational resources in Chinese and English
Tony Bates reports, "Recently the Open University of Hong Kong launched its free digital platform called ‘Open Learning ‘." From the description: "Open Learning gathers together a wealth of audio-visual educational materials and courseware unit covering a broad range of subject areas…There are TV programmes produced by the University's Educational Technology and Publishing Unit, and recording of talks and conferences….The platform leverages on rapidly developing social network technology to engage with learning communities. It incorporates tools for creating personalised pages and a learning log where individuals can track their learning experience." Note that the Open Learning page has a musical soundtrack, which might be inconvenient if you're recording something while browsing. Tony Bates, Weblog, July 27, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , , , , , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Why I think Blogs Should be Open
Here's another contribution to the discussion around whether class blogs should be open. "It my opinion," argues Kathleen McGeady, "it is more harmful to "protect" students through a closed blog than it is to open their eyes to the real world of online technologies through open blogs. To me, having a closed blog feels like 'pretending to use technology' and the full benefits of blogging cannot experienced." Some good discussion in the comments follows her post. And it makes me want to question the whole idea of whether blogging in a closed environment is "safe". I wonder whether students who are bullied, privately and discretely, with the teacher's compliance, feel "safe" in such closed environments. Or whether they just feel there's no way out. Kathleen McGeady, Integrating Technology in the Primary Classroom, July 27, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Open education: the need for critique
"Open education is a critique of our formal, institutionalised systems of education," writes Richard Hall. "Or so it should be," he adds. There are risks. In open eduicational resources, for example, "the focus becomes techno-determinist." Or they "simply replicate or re-produce a dominant political economy, in-line with the ideology of accepted business models." Or that "we fetishise the outcomes/products of our labour as a form of currency." Or "that we fetishise the learner as an autonomous agent." In other words, he writes, "The production and re-use of artefacts is of secondary importance to the social relationships that are re-defined by us, and the focus on people and values that are in-turn assembled through open education." Via Pontydysgu. Richard Hall, DMU Learning Exchanges, July 27, 2010 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment] [Tweet]

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Copyright 2008 Stephen Downes

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