OLDaily, by Stephen Downes

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October 18, 2010

Feature Article
Where I Draw The Line
Stephen Downes, October 18, 2010.

Harvested from Half an Hour

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Parents vote to shut off Wi-Fi at Ont. school
Peter Nowak, CBC, October 18, 2010.

"The parents believe Wi-Fi at the school, which has about 350 students, is causing a number of symptoms among students, including headaches and an inability to concentrate, all of which disappear on weekends."

Let me animate this story by way of a parable. This is a true story. Years ago my brother was having great difficulty in school. nobody knew what it was. He was having headaches, couldn't concentrate, was irritable. We thought it was maybe the fluorescent lighting, or the ventilation. We would, maybe, have suspected the WiFi, if there were any back then. He solved it himself, eventually. He started smoking. That way, he was getting nicotine all day, instead of just evenings and weekends at home. Just saying.

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#PLENK2010 Assessment in distributed networks
Jenny Mackness, Jenny Connected, October 18, 2010.

We discussed the question of assessment in distributed networks (ie., networkjs using PLEs) last week, and I confess, I'm not satisfied that we resolved this one. Jenny Mackness offers an intelligent discussion of the question and pinpoints the issue with this: "If we cannot rely on peer assessment and self-assessment (which we may not be able to do for validated/accredited courses), then we need more assessors." But there's no easy way to provide more assessors - is there?

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How is the UK HE Sector Using YouTube?
Brian Kelly, UK Web Focus, October 18, 2010.

This is a good overview, with concrete statistical backing, of UK higher education institutions' use of YouTube. For a wider look, you may also want to look at the YouTibe directory of university channels (the full list may take a few seconds to show up; click on 'most subscribed' if you're impatient (like me)). "The institution with the largest number of upload views is Cambridge University with 1,189,778 views and Coventry University with 1,039,817 views. Note that such statistics will be skewed in institutions make use of a single institutional YouTube channel or use several (as the Open University does). It should be noted that the Coventry University account, which has the second largest number of downloads, is provided by students."

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Top 100 Tools for Learning 2010: Final list, presentation and more
Jane Hart, Jane's Pick of the Day, October 18, 2010.

Jane Hart has finalized her 'Top 100' list of tools for learning for 2010. This year's list compiles results from more than 500 e-learning professionals (and me) from around the world. There's also a winners and losers page, showing what technologies have moved up or down the list the most. Most interesting to me is that the top browser is Firefox, at 29th - even though you need it to use almost all of the preceding 28 applications. The browser really is the computer for people these days.

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QR Codes - a new way to "LIKE"
Brent Schlenker, Corporate eLearning Strategies and Development, October 18, 2010.

You see a QR code posted somewhere - like, say, a store window - and hit it with your mobile, and voila! You've 'liked' something, or maybe given the business access to your Facebook data. Wait... what? Remember - QR codes are (sometimes) just links, except that you can't see what you're linking to (and consequently, can't see what you're agreeing to). Here's a better plan: put human-readable URLs in your window, and create a URL-reading application for mobile phones. So there won't be a spate of QR-surprises.

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PD opportunity: Online conferences on now!
Julie Lindsay, E-Learning Journeys, October 17, 2010.

files/images/CRSTE_2010_logo.png, size: 36359 bytes, type:  image/png Two free online conferences are taking place right now, the K12 Online conference, which I mentioned last week, and the 2010 Global Symposium, which started Sunday. CRSTE, which sponsors the latter, is "a signatory member of the Partnership for 21st Century Skills Action Agenda, promoting those skills that will allow American students to compete successfully in the global economy of the Information Age."

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Introduction to SCORM, Part I
Aaron Silvers, Weblog, October 17, 2010.

Aaron Silvers introduces the first of what is intended to be a series of videos from ADL. If you are new to the Sharable Courseware Object Reference Model (or 'SCORM') then this eight-minute video might be a good place to start. Aaron Silvers is the Community Manager for Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL); Advanced Distributed Learning is the originator of SCORM.

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Will Technology Kill the Academic Calendar?
Marc Parry, Chronicle of Higher Education, October 17, 2010.

The Chronicle discovers self-paced learning. This in itself is somewhat astonishing, as self-paced learning has been around for generations. As Tony Bates says, "this is an old chestnut in distance education, long pre-dating online learning." When I worked for Athabasca University, 1987-94, the majority of my students were self-paced. They would enrol with the university, start whenever they wanted, and would finish at their own pace. And it's a surprise that the Chronicle quotes Randy Garrison as saying "Educationally, it's not defensible." Not simply because I think it is defensible. I think he must have been referring to something else; Garrison is a long-time colleague of Terry Anderson, who now works at Athabasca. Technology will, eventually, kill the academic calendar. Bates says, "for students somewhere in the middle, a ‘moving walkway' program may be just what they need." That's what I create with my serialized feeds program, which can lead people through online courses.

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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