OLDaily, by Stephen Downes

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September 20, 2010

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Great student project examples, lesson ideas and links integrating media #learning2cn
Wesley Fryer, Moving at the Speed of Creativity, September 20, 2010.

I think it's great that Wes Fryer and others have been able to visit China, and I think the list of projects and lesson ideas is quite good. So this post is worth a read. The only think that puzzles me is how you can go all the way to China and take part in a conference that, to judge by the photos, doesn't have any Chinese people at it. Being "international" isn't just about being in some place or another. It have everything to do with actually meeting with, and working with, the people there.

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Six Reasons Why I'm Not On Facebook
David Rowan, Wired, September 20, 2010.

files/images/Facebook_4.jpg, size: 97687 bytes, type:  image/jpeg I can understand why people would not want to be on Facebook. But this article from Wired defies credulity. Take the first reason, for example: "private companies aren't motivated by your best interests." Well, maybe not. But we can hardly expect that to be a concern of someone who is publishing an article in Wired. And once we think about it, private companies are implicated in just about everything we do, but we don't stop doing them. Or take this reason: "information you supply for one purpose will invariably be used for another." Well, another big surprise there. Again, all companies do this. We don't like it, but we don't stop doing business with them because of it. Finally, the last reason: "why should we let businesses privatize our social discourse?" Well, isn't this exactly what Wired magazine has done here? Indeed, it's basically impossible to engage in any social discourse not mediated by private enterprise - even this website runs on a service provider in Houston (and I've been very happy with them). Again - there may be excellent reasons to avoid Facebook. But these aren't them.

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Willingham: Left/right brain theory is bunk
Daniel Willingham, Washington Post, September 20, 2010.

files/images/left-brain-right-brain.jpg, size: 72937 bytes, type:  image/jpeg Daniel Willingham finally writes something I agree with, an occasion sufficiently rare as to warrant a post. "In the usual mythology, the left hemisphere of the brain is logical, ordered, and analytic, and it supports reading, speech, math, and reasoning. The right hemisphere is more oriented towards feelings and emotions, spatial perception, and the arts, and is said to be more creative. We have known for at least 30 years that this characterization is incorrect." Quite right. As Willingham says, correctly, "The language we find useful to discuss mental functions is, for the neuroscientist, a rather high level of description. That is, for a function like 'reading' or 'music' much of the brain gets into the act." So if you're one of those people promoting the left-brained, right-brained stereotype, it's time to reconsider your research base.

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Lanier in the NYTM
David Wiley, iterating toward openness, September 20, 2010.

files/images/19fob-essay-t_CA0-articleLarge.jpg, size: 53905 bytes, type:  image/jpeg I thought Jaron Lanier's You Are Not A Gadget was quite good, but agree with David Wiley that his New York Times Magazine article is somewhat less so. The premise of his article is the same as in his book: "If we try to represent something digitally when we actually can't, we kill the romance and make some aspect of the human condition newly bland and absurd." But then he supposes that online learning is the representation of "artifacts of our past accomplishments," of "the transfer of the known between generations [being] digitized, analyzed, optimized and bottled or posted on Twitter." But that's not where the field is headed at all - at least, not this little corner of the field.

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Nameless, Faceless Children (Blogs & Internet Safety)
Julie Cunningham, Weblog, September 20, 2010.

files/images/paperbagboy-199x300.jpg, size: 17082 bytes, type:  image/jpeg I am in agreement with Julie Cunningham here - there is no good reason to keep children anonymous on the internet. "What exactly are we protecting them from? Are we actually protecting them at all by making them feel like their web presence is anonymous?" In fact, children are much more vulnerable to family, people they know and people from the local community - and predators don't need to know the name and address of a child to find one, they just need to hear to the nearest school, where we keep them all together. Keeping children's identities secret is a false security that grossly misrepresents the dangers they face.

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SumTotal Acquires Softscape: The Gloves come Off in the Talent Management Market
Josh Berson, Bersin & Associates, September 20, 2010.

files/images/sumtsoftscape.jpg, size: 6111 bytes, type:  image/jpeg SumTotal has acquired Softscape, a deal that reshapes the corporate e-learning marketplace. "SumTotal is now a large, credible player and can meet the needs of any RFP.... Remember also that the days of a 'standalone' talent management platform are slowly coming to an end. While most companies still have the need for highly specialized training systems (and most companies still have several LMSs), there is a growing recognition that all the core talent management software should integrate seamlessly together (today 75% of all buyers tell us they would like to bring all these tools into a single vendor offering)."

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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