OLDaily, by Stephen Downes

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November 1, 2010

Google is polluting the internet
Micah White, The Guardian, November 1, 2010.

"An advertising agency has monopolised, disorganised, and commercialised the largest library in human history," writes Micah White in the Guardian. "Without a fundamental rethinking of the way knowledge is organised in the digital era, Google's information coup d'état will have profound existential consequences." Via Digital Humanities Now.

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Radical transparency: Open access as a key concept in wiki pedagogy
Rolf K. Baltzersen, Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, November 1, 2010.

Good report on the use of Web 2.0 technologies to support learning. "This case study indicates several beneficial pedagogical consequences of working in a radical transparent course space. The awareness of the presence of 'the others' outside the course seems to be experienced as motivating in a positive way by most students... students had to try to improve a text made by students last year... increased course availability may generate an experience of being part of the course history in a motivating way." Read more from what is overall a pretty good issue of the Australasian Journal of Educational Technology.

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Measuring learner's performance in e-learning recommender systems
Khairil Imran Ghauth and Nor Aniza Abdullah, Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, November 1, 2010.

This is a study using a very basic type of recommendation system, one depending on instructor-supplied keywords, but it nonetheless suggests that such a system can improve student learning. What's mostly interesting about this article is the way it lucidly describes, in great detail, how such a recommendation system functions, and the sort of benefit expected.
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Learning styles = astrology ?
Johnnie Moore, Johnnie Moore's Weblog, November 1, 2010.

"If you make one change as a result of reading this book," writes Ruth Clark in book reviewed in this post, "give up the learning style myth!" I think she must mean 'one of these three learning style myths', and 'based on better evidence than provided in the sample chapter'. And I doubt that we would even disagree, because she also says, in the same chapter, "The lack of universal effectiveness of most instructional techniques is the basis for what I call the "No Yellow Brick Road Effect." By that I mean that there are few best practices that will work for all learners and for all learning goals." Which was the point of learning styles in the first place (before being flaked and formed and offered as educational chicken nuggets). All of that said, based on Chapter 1 this is a cracking good book, a breeze to read, and authoritative to boot. See also Harold Jarche.

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Deconstructing Jim Groom
Unknown, Passionate Pedagogy , November 1, 2010.

Jim Groom focuses rather more on popular (and sometimes unpopular) culture than is to my taste, but I share the assessment offered here. "There are at least four reasons I can see, right off, that make him so: honesty, modeling, the show-and-tell nature of student tasks, and a new academic mode of expression." This is exactly right, well supported with examples from Jim Groom's writing, and describes what I would like to be when I grow up. Via Chris Lott.

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Archive Team releases massive Geocities archive
Various Authors, The Pirate Bay, November 1, 2010.

Geocities was once a major part of internet culture - a garish flashing blinking part of interet culture - that many considered lost when Yahoo took down the site. But now the Archive Team releases massive Geocities archive - at 641 gigs, officially the largest torrent on The Pirate Bay. But if you're just curious, you should visit a site like reocities, which will let you browse sites without downloading the archive. I have a site in there somewhere - it was Geocities that first taught me how to do a WYSIWYG Javascript editing form. Via Hot Links.

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iTunes U Introduces Free eBooks: Download Shakespeare's Complete Works
Dan Colman, Open Culture, November 1, 2010.

On the one hand, it's nice that iTunes is making free books available. On the other hand, free books were already available, and Apple has simply placed them behind a login window. All this is fine, so long as Apple continues to allow access to Gutenberg. The strategy is pretty clear, though - attract people to iTunes for the free books, and they'll stay to purchase the commercial books.

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Crisis in higher education and limitations that prevent change
David T. Jones, The Weblog of (a) David Jones, November 1, 2010.

While Dave Snowden may argue, "The best chance any organisation has to do things differently is during a crisis," David Jones responds, "when it comes to universities – especially those Australian universities that I'm familiar with – I'm not confident that anything can/will be done." The problem may be structural. "when it comes to e-learning (and universities in general) teleological or plan-driven processes have become dominant." And "for the type of activity and context in which e-learning operates, plan-driven processes are completely inappropriate." I agree.

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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