OLDaily, by Stephen Downes

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October 22, 2010

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Initial CORRE discussions with e-Learning Development Officers
Vic Jenkins, Open Educational Resources, October 22, 2010.

Interesting look at some models for the development and use of open educational resources, courtesy of the brand-new blog from the Ostrich project. Here's also (what appears to be) the official Ostrich project blog. "The OSTRICH project... will transfer and cascade, in usable formats, the key outcomes of Leicester's institutional OER pilot project OTTER to the universities of Bath and Derby."

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How to Sell Conservatism: Lesson 1 -- Pretend You're a Reformer
Alfie Kohn, Hiffington Post, October 22, 2010.

Alfie Kohn takes it to the education reformers. I quite like this analysis: "For a shrewd policy maker, then, the ideal formula would seem to be to let people enjoy the invigorating experience of demanding reform without having to give up whatever they're used to.... They've figured out how to take policies that actually represent an intensification of the status quo and dress them up as something that's long overdue. In many cases the values and practices they endorse have already been accepted, but they try to convince us they've lost so they can win even more."

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Army Discovers the Weapon to Kill PowerPoint Briefings…Video Games
Karl Kapp, Kapp Notes, October 22, 2010.

Well, I think the so-called "worlds most challenging PowerPoint slide" is an over-simplification of conditions in the war - you can see the slide here - I think it does illustrate quite well the complexity of the situation in Afghanistan. Complexity is generated, first, by the existence of a number of factors or variables, and second, their inter-relatedness. You you change one factor, the effect ripples through the system, often coming full circle back to change the factor you thought you were controlling. Physiologists will recognize this - the human metabolic pathways diagram, the real candidate for 'most challenging slide'.

The thing about PowerPoint slides is that they lead people to represent things that are very complex as though they were very simple and easy to understand. Then people read those slides, understand the slides, and take it that they now understand the thing being represented. The reason games change this equation is that you can actually model the relations between the entities - in the case above, the relations between factors in Afghanistan, or in the case below, the relations between elements of the metabolic system (wouldn't that the be basis for a great game?). Because you can't understand the system just by looking at the diagram - you have to immerse yourself in it, and get a feel for how it responds.

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Fears made flesh: only STEM teaching grants spared CSR scythe
John Morgan, Times Higher Education, October 22, 2010.

The higher education crisis has reached Britain. "Government funding for higher education is to be cut by 40 per cent over four years, suggesting that public funding for teaching in the arts, humanities and social sciences may come to an end. The Comprehensive Spending Review unveiled today includes a reduction in the higher education budget of £2.9 billion – from £7.1 billion to £4.2 billion – by 2014-15." The education activists respond.

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Babylonian and Assyrian Poetry and Literature: An Archive of Recordings
Various Authors, Website, October 18, 2010.

This stuff is too good to miss. If you want your students to read Gilgamesh, why not have them listen to it in the original Old Babylonian? What, you say, Old Babylonian is a dead language? Not a problem, with the internet - there's always someone out there willing to read and record poetry in Old Babylonian. Via ReadWrite Web.

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Medina's Brain Rules: Informing Teachers as Researchers
Jonathan Martin, Connected Principals, October 17, 2010.

files/images/kegley100910stg2335-300x199.jpg, size: 21009 bytes, type:  image/jpeg Summary of John Medina's Brain Rules, which look (based on this summary) like a good read (I haven't read it and this is not an endorsement). Here are the eight tips in a nutshell:
1. Exercise boosts brainpower
2. Small classes over large ones
3. Modules no longer than ten minutes
4. The value of repetition
5. Healthy sleep and learning
6. Use multiple modalities
7. Less text, more pictures!
8. Learn by exploring
There's nothing here I would particularly object to, but what matters of course is the science on which these tips are based, which doesn't really come through in the review. Then again, I do like the approach, "try these for yourself, and see whether they work." Experience is, as always, the greatest guide to reason.

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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