OLDaily, by Stephen Downes

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September 13, 2010

When worlds collide
Steve Wheeler, Learning with 'e's, September 13, 2010.

files/images/when-worlds-collide.jpg, size: 27110 bytes, type:  image/jpeg Steve Wheeler reviews two articles on PLEs in the recent issue of the journal Interactive Learning Environments from the special issue entitled: 'Towards eLearning 2.0 University'. "The first, by Valjataga and Laanpere, focuses on learner control of the environment, and how it poses a challenge for instructional design... The second PLE paper by Cascero et al, proposes an even deeper form of compromise, suggesting a middle ground between institutional provision and personalised tools and spaces." That's the thing about 'personal' -- someone always wants to appropriate it, and make it at least partially institutional.

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Canadian University Press makes newswire public
Dana Lacey, The Canadian Journalism Project, September 13, 2010.

The Canadian University Press, which occupied a lot of my time in the 1980s, has (finally) made its newswire public. The newswire collects stories from Canadian student newspapers, as well as coverage authored by CUP staff. The service, called Cupwire, also hosts an RSS feed (yay). CUP covers a lot of stories missed or only mentioned by mainstream media, such as Lansbridge University's loss of accreditation, the textbook rental program at U of T and UBC, and UVic's lip-dub video. CUP member newspapers are typically autonomous, which means they are run by the student staff themselves, with no oversight either from the Student Association or the University administration, and as such is one of the major bastions of the free press in Canada.
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My personal ideas for PLENK2010
Heli Nurmi , Heli on Connectivism, September 13, 2010.

PLENK2010 started today, and with enrollment nudging over the 1,000 mark there are too many commentaries to summarize in this post, but a few are worth mentioning. Heli outlines the course and links to an article on e-resonance, which "deals with similarity, not sameness." Dave Ferguson is plunked into PLENK, links to how this course works, and comments "I don't tend to think of the web of people and resources I learn from as a PLE or a PLN." Dave Cormier, one of the facilitators, offers five points about PLEs and PLNs.

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files/images/unschooling.jpg, size: 36898 bytes, type:  image/jpeg
More families are deciding that school's out - forever
Kate Hammer, Globe and Mail, September 13, 2010.

Favourable coverage of a recent "unschooling" trend taking place in Ontario, rooted in the writings of John Holt and based on the idea of experiential learning. Though it would be nice to see a stronger basis in theory, including especially a mention of Ivan Illich, and more description of the role the internet plays in unschooling, the story is nonetheless detailed and descriptive, describing a number of unschooling families. And the coverage must be seen as some sort of breakthrough: when have you ever read coverage of contemporary learning like the following in a newspaper?

"School boards and education ministries are embracing experiential learning. There was a time when students were drilled and heavily tested on rote memory, such as the names and dates of British sovereigns. But research suggests that this is a temporary, limited form of learning: Kids gain more when they can ask questions and learning is tied to emotion...

"Some children thrive in the classroom and others don't and, despite the best of intentions, the system sorts them into winners and losers. Recent initiatives by education ministries and school boards to shrink dropout rates, promote alternative schools and improve kindergarten are all fundamentally an effort to reduce the sorting. Unschooling's underlying idea is that all kids are winners."

p.s. This story was the first found using Calibre, an open source e-Book reader. The software runs on Windows, Linus and Apple, and supports a long list of readers. Cut and paste worked perfectly, the web URL was included with the article, and I was able to copy the image included with this post. Thanks to Nancy McKeand for the link.

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Open-Source Lecture Capture
Steve Kolowich, Inside Higher Ed, September 13, 2010.

files/images/MatterhornLogo_smallweb.gif, size: 4174 bytes, type:  image/gif Coverage of Matterhorn, an open source lecture capture software, version 1.0 of which has recently been released. Matterhorn was created by OpenCast, "a collaboration of higher education institutions working together to explore, define, and document podcasting best practices and technologies." Now, if they'd only add an RSS feed to the Matterhorn Newsletter. There's an odd sort of disclaimer in the Inside Higher Ed article about Matterhorn not being free because "the labor and expertise required to put the platform in place costs money, as do the video cameras, microphones, and other hardware." Somehow I doubt anyone was expecting free video cameras from an open source software project.

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Mental maturity scan tracks brain development
Unattributed, Kurzweil AI, September 11, 2010.

files/images/brainconnect.jpg, size: 17618 bytes, type:  image/jpeg I think analyzing brain function by blood flows is like analyzing computer function by electricity flows. Yes, there is some useful information there, but you're a long way from understanding the software. That said, what attracts me to this report is the novel diagram of brain function produced by these five-minute MRI scans showing linkages between different areas of the brain. Instead of depicting it as a set of disassociated areas, the diagram quite clearly displays the connectivity, and represents improvements in connectivity as improvements in brain function.

We're still nowhere near understanding what functioning is actually taking place with these diagrams. But it does allow researchers to track growth and development. "As the brain matures, these brain networks change. The overall organization switches from networks involving regions physically close to each other, which is the dominant motif in a child's brain, to networks that connect distant regions, the primary organizational principal in adult brains."

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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