OLDaily, by Stephen Downes

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September 28, 2010

Deciding Not to Learn at Conferences?
Ellen Behrens, aLearning Blog, September 26, 2010.

I've been to a lot of conferences and so I guess I have some interest in the subject of learning at conferences. Ellen Behrens takes on the statement from Associations Now that "The preferred education format is in person, led by an instructor or presenter but not at a conference, tradeshow, or convention." How ironic to see such a statement beside two advertisements for conferences, she writes. But of course, from my experience, people go to conferences, not so much to learn, but to expose themselves to new ideas, new experiences and new people.

P.S. Behrens also trots out the now-standard "learning styles is a myth" statement. To whch I observe, yet again, that (a) a person who is blind will learn differently than a person who is not blind, and (b) a person who is illiterate will learn differently from a person who is not illiterate, and (c) educators ignore these differences - and others like them - at their peril. The fluffy descriptions of learning styles found in the literature may not satisfy - and there's tons of cheap points to be made criticizing multiple intelligences - but people learn differently in important ways.

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The Future of Education??
Scot Aldred, e-learning, September 26, 2010.

Scot Aldred takes apart 'The Future of Education' by Thomas Frey, offering three criticisms. "The first is that of a standard courseware development template based on one or a limited number of pedagogical approaches. The second is that knowledge provision equates to learning. The final issue relates to the first two (indeed all three are inter-related) and is his apparent oversight of the current Personal Learning Environment (PLE) discussions and literature."

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Annoyance at the Ubiquitous and Protean Notion of '21st Century Skills'
Steve Eskow, educational technology & change, September 26, 2010.

Steve Eskow takes a run at Dave Cormier, attracts my ire, and ignites a raft of comments. And it is worth stating again that the blog is not a formal essay, you are not expected to put the entire background of your (and others') thought into a literature review preceding your few paragraphs, and attacking a post for what's missing, rather than what's there, is cheap criticism. "It is easy to extract one paragraph and present it without that context as overly sweeping generalization. It is a freshman mistake to do so."

I read a great deal of Montaigne in my younger years and for a while I too was enamored of quoting Montaigne in order to show that someone's great ideas had already been thought of by someone else. Then I grew up.

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Seven Wonders, Vannevar Bush, and NMFS_F10
Gardner Cambpell, Gardner Writes, September 26, 2010.

files/images/Klein_bottle.svg.png, size: 104617 bytes, type:  image/png This is a really important point: "The networked seminar is not, or not just, a set of nested self-similar iterations of the same idea." For one thing, "one may find that the inner or "smaller" nodes are actually every bit as large as the complete aggregation, and in many cases even larger." Now this is a difficult thing to visualize if you think of networks as though they were like collections of physical objects. I experience this a lot when reseraching online - and pretty much anyone has had the experience of following a simple link only to find oneself being led down the rabbit-hole, never to return. The main discussion turns out to be a small branch of the offshoot to the main discussion!

I wouldn't say it's all weird - it's just topology - but it sure is interesting. Campbell writes, "Bush's idea of folded-in-associative-trails gets at this phenomenon, though he doesn't explore it as fully as I'd like. For me, this folding-within, up and down the scale until scale itself acquires paradoxical meanings, is where the going gets really, really good. I mean quantum good."

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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