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by Stephen Downes
September 2, 2010

The IMS Learning & Educational Technology Product Directory
Rob Abel writes, by email, "Implementations of Common Cartridge and Basic Learning Tools Interoperability are growing rapidly." The chart on this page is proof of that. Various Authors, IMS Global, September 1, 2010 [Link] [Comment] [Tweet]

Can MOOCs make learning scale?
Robert Cosgrave questions whether the MOOC course model can succeed. "A core part of the concept of a MOOC is peer to peer learning, through dialogue. But it's a dialogue between 2000 people who all know a little bit about the topic, with the course leaders piping in from time to time. It's as likely to confuse as enlighten." But this objection misses the same point every time someone states it - it assumes that the only clarity that can come in a course comes from course instructors. Which is (frankly) rubbish. Ever spend any time in a science or mathematics course lab? You know who is doing the teaching? Not the professor, who is nowhere to be found, or even the tutor, who when you can get to him or her is uncertain and inarticulate. No, the people doing the teaching in science and math labs are students, of each other. That's why they work in groups. That's why they get together. The MOOC simply draws upon the tactics any science or engineering student has had to adapt (trust me, I've been there; no mere humanities student me!) in order to survive.

Just once, I would like to hear some objection to the model that does not presuppose that the only teaching or clarity can come from the professor. Not only does such an objection fail to take into account the actual dynamics of the MOOC model, it fails to recognize what actually takes place and is empirically observable on any university campus. Goodness, if students had to depend on their professors to set the context, know the relevant facts, or structure and provide the course pedagogy, they'd be in terrible trouble. Let's stop working in theory here - go look at how students actually study, and get back to us with a story telling us why the MOOC won't work. Robert Cosgrave, Tertiary 21, September 1, 2010 [Link] [Comment] [Tweet]

Intute Reflections at the End of an Era
It's the end of the line for Intute, a service I welcomed with great praise and fanfare when it launched. So what went wrong? The short answer is that its funding was cut late last year. This article looks at the long answer. "Our unique selling point of human selection and generation of descriptions of Web sites was a costly model, and seemed somewhat at odds with the current trend for Web 2.0 technologies and free contribution on the Internet.... Technological developments, changing user expectations and diminishing budgets mean that services such as Intute will need to find new ways to engage with their communities, and the search for alternative business models will require new ways of thinking." Andy Powell also comments. Angela Joyce, Linda Kerr, Tim Machin, Paul Meehan and Caroline Williams, Ariadne, September 1, 2010 [Link] [Comment] [Tweet]

Social Networks for Lifelong Learners
Jeff Cobb recommends 20 social networks for lifelong learners. Kristina Schneider highlights five of them, writing, "the following I find are well geared towards workplace learning: LearnCentral ... an open environment that is half social network and half learning community; Udemy ... encourages members to teach and learn online using the site's many free tools and applications; Academici... members can post articles, share resources, and much more; ... an online community that helps academics connect with colleagues and follow the latest research; iMantri ... iMantri is a peer-to-peer community for people." Kristina Schneider, Workplace Learning Today, August 26, 2010 [Link] [Comment] [Tweet]

Chicago Public Schools Launches iPad Trials
Apple has always known the value of introducing its technology in schools, and so it's not at all surprising to see iPads being tested with first and second graders in Chicago. One school's grant proposal "says while second graders study forest communities, classes can take pictures of artifacts from nature, inspect them on the tablet, record observations and incorporate those images into multimedia presentations about the forest." The idea of course is to learn about the forest. The focus will no doubt be on the technology. But to me, the big thing is that students will be learning about forests in forests. Via Ian Quillen. Jessica B. Mulholland , Converge, August 26, 2010 [Link] [Comment] [Tweet]

New and Improved - or Not?

Barbara Fister runs Amy Fry's review of JSTOR and agrees with her conclusion that it is "a fundamental shift from journal archive to 'discovery platform.'" And she adds, "I don't know how your users will respond, but I predict mine will be confused and unhappy – at least until they get the hang of manually selecting "content I can access" every time they search." If this report is accurate, users are in for a long, hard year - there's nothing more frustrating than finding results to your search that you cannot access because you don't have the right account. And I think such an approach is intended to - and does - reinforce the difference between the well-to-do fee-paying users, and the rest of us, who are simply shut out. Barbara Fister, ACRLog, August 26, 2010 [Link] [Comment] [Tweet]

DiigoNotes - Apple Seeking to Patent Spyware
You know what would be nice? It would be if Apple succeeded in patenting spyware and then launched lawsuits to prevent anyone else from using spyware. Then all we would have to do to avoid spyware would be to avoid using Apple. That would be great. Miguel Guhlin, Around the Corner, August 26, 2010 [Link] [Comment] [Tweet]

The Evolving Social Organization
Harold Jarche traces the path leading to enterprise social learning - not the easiest thing to do successfully. You need to resist the urge to manage, and allow staff to adapt - it's the only way to address complexity. "Organizations need to understand complexity, instead of simply increasing complication." Good article with a number of examples of social learning in the enterprise. "As our work environments become more complex due to the speed of information transmission via ubiquitous networks, we need to adopt more flexible and less mechanistic processes to get work done." Harold Jarche, Life in Perpetual Beta, August 26, 2010 [Link] [Comment] [Tweet]

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Copyright 2008 Stephen Downes

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