OLDaily, by Stephen Downes

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October 8, 2010

TTI Vanguard Conference Notes - 3
Harvested from Half an Hour Stephen Downes, October 8, 2010 [Link] [Comment] [Tweet]

TTI Vanguard Conference Notes - 4
Harvested from Half an Hour Stephen Downes, October 8, 2010 [Link] [Comment] [Tweet]

TTI Vanguard Conference Notes - 7
Harvested from Half an Hour Stephen Downes, October 8, 2010 [Link] [Comment] [Tweet]

TTI Vanguard Conference Notes - 6
Harvested from Half an Hour Stephen Downes, October 8, 2010 [Link] [Comment] [Tweet]

TTI Vanguard Conference Notes - 5
Harvested from Half an Hour Stephen Downes, October 8, 2010 [Link] [Comment] [Tweet]

Tony Bates, e-learning & distance education resources, October 8, 2010.

Tony Bates comments, "What other profession would go about its business in such an amateurish and unprofessional way as university teaching?" It's a good question, posed in the context of a review of this book on research on teaching, which comments, "There is increasing empirical evidence from a variety of international settings that prevailing teaching practices in higher education do not encourage the sort of learning that contemporary society demands….Teaching remains largely didactic, assessment of student work is often trivial, and curricula are more likely to emphasize content coverage than acquisition of lifelong and life-wide skills." And I like the comments (from the book) on assessing learning providers: "They suggest we challenge the criteria we currently use to measure our success (e.g. number of faculty with Ph.D.s)…Instead, we should focus on measuring improvements in learning,… develop flexible learning 'spaces', and recognize that faculty…need support in becoming effective facilitators of learning." It looks like a good book; I wish there were an open access version available, so I could read it.

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A Virtual World in my Hands: Running OpenSim and Imprudence on a USB Key
John Lester, Be Cunning and Full of Tricks , October 8, 2010.

I really think people need to take seriously the possibilities inherent in the simple USB key (a.k.a. the thumb drive). Like, say, running an entire virtual world from one. This can be done now. John Lester writes of following "Ener Hax's wonderful blog, and a detailed explanation of her own experiences setting up and running OpenSim on a USB key.  I also found a blog post by Peter Miller (the creator of the amazing StoryMachine data visualization tool), detailing his own experiences. Finally I found Roger Stack's detailed research explaining in simple steps how to get it all set up."

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Complexity and Personal Learning Environments
Keith Hamon, Communications & Society, October 8, 2010.

I find fascinating concerns such as expressed by Dave Cormier to the effect that the PLE fosters the idea of people setting out apart from others and learning on their own. It's especially interesting in the context of what I am observing in more recent connectivist courses, such as #PLENK2010, where there is not the sort of effort being directed toward helping others as I would like to see. Some people observed that the course was not for people new to the material, but my thinking was that more experienced people should be creating introductory content to help people new to the material, that this is how they learn. And, on reflection, it leads me to think that it is traditional learning that leads to a selfishness in learning, as you are encouraged to focus only on your own learning (even when you are working in groups) and not on helping other people (that's "teacher's job"). That's a wrong view of learning. And so I think the narrowness of interest Cormier observes is not an artifact of connectivist learning, but an artifact of traditional learning being imported into the connectivist course.

Keith Hamon writes, "Learning as simply a personal activity or as simply a group activity misses the complex reality of learning. Though it can be helpful to look at either the individual or the group, learning is the interplay of the individual with her environment. The individual learns from the environment, and the environment learns from the individual. In the interplay, they shape and reshape each other, learn and relearn from each other, teach and reteach each other." This is well stated. We need to keep this in mind.

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Is There "Meaning" in Connectionism?
Howard Johnson, A Chronicle of a Learning Journey, October 8, 2010.

The relationship between meaning and connectivism is a difficult one to get at. This is an interesting attempt. It depicts the 'cognitive revolution' as an effort to bring 'mind' back into the human sciences after a "long winter of objectivism." Which is fair enough, I guess. But as the author notes, the problem is, as "'we mistakenly "compare the use of words with games and calculi which have fixed rules' (Wittgenstein's Tractatus, 1953, no. 81), we always think that words must have stable, unequivocal, already determined meanings," which we know isn't the case. And that is, for me, a significant part of the reason I want to discuss things like patterns and connections and interactivity - because of the tendency to imagine fixed rules governing meanings and language, and then imagining that they apply to mind and cognition. #PLENK2010

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Edit Firefox's Spelling Dictionary
Ronald Heft, Jr., CaveMonkey50, October 8, 2010.

Have you accidentally added a word to the Firefox spell-check dictionary, as I just have? This page shows you how to remove them.

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SWORDv2 project receives funding from JISC
Stuart Lewis, SWORD / JISC, October 8, 2010.

SWORD has received a funding extension from JISC. "The next version of SWORD will push the standard towards supporting a full deposit lifecycle for all types of scholarly systems by specifying and implementing update, retrieve and delete extensions to the specification. This will enable these systems to be integrated into a broader range of other systems within the scholarly infrastructure." SWORD also has a new website, http://swordapp.org/, and facilitators are looking for comments on a new SWORD White paper (there's a lot of comments already).

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One Step Closer to a National Digital Library
Jennifer Howard, Chronicle of Higher Education, October 8, 2010.

The idea of a centralized 'digital public library' has surfaced once again, this time as a proposal from "a group of 42 top-level representatives from foundations, cultural institutions, and the library and scholarly worlds" - in other words, the people who come up with this idea on a regular basis. They envision it as "an open, distributed network of comprehensive online resources" drawn from the country's libraries, archives, museums, and universities." And what I wonder is, why do you need this? What can't the country's libraries, archives, museums, and universities make their collections open, and allow people to curate their own versions of a digital public library?

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Why MOOC Engagement is So Hard
Steve LeBlanc, Ponderances of Steve, October 8, 2010.

Nice article by Steve LeBlanc on why people find studying in a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) so hard. "So why is a MOOC so hard? Because it breaks all of our expectations about what is supposed to happen in a class. We are asked to transform from the passive role of student to the more active role of self-directed learner." What's interesting to me is that this post follows his own advice - he has taken a small part of the course (various threads of complaints), curated them, brought order to them, and passed them along.

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Jon Stewart and Lewis Black blew it on schools
Valerie Strauss, Washington Post, October 8, 2010.

When a major newspaper calls out a comedy show for missing the boat on criticism of education reform, there's something out of sync. Especially when that newspaper derives most of its income, not from selling newspapers, but from an educational testing service. Yes, I too would like to see what John Stewart and Stephen Colbert would do on education. But I cannot imagine the newspaper, and its ilk, getting off lightly. There are some hard lessons to be learned on how education is managed these days. And some not so pretty stories that have nothing to do with school reform.

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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