OLDaily, by Stephen Downes

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December 7, 2010

Microsoft Education White Paper - Baby steps into the Cloud
Ray Fleming, Microsoft UK Schools News Blog, December 7, 2010.

With this paper on cloud services Microsoft argues that online services will be outsourced, just as power production is. "We don't normally expect a school, college or university to generate its own electricity. There's no building with a bank of generators, no 'Manager of Electrical Generation', leading a team of technicians and adding to the woes of a vice-chancellor, principal, head or business manager." It's an interesting analogy - especially given that many universities centralize infrastructure services on campus in a 'physical plant' or even 'power plant' (look it up; you'll usually find one on a campus map). I guess we would expect MIT to generate its own power. But we also see instituitions like UCSD, Mississippi, Cal Tech, and others generating their own power. The analogy is by no means a lock. Good luck getting the PDF - mine never did make it through the download.

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BuiltWith Technology Usage Statistics
Various Authors, Websites, December 7, 2010.

A lot of this won't make a lot of sense unless you're familiar with web development technologies. But for those who are interested in, say, the uptake of jQuery as compared to YUI, or the distribution between RSS, Atom and Feedburner (never mind that Feedburner is a type of RSS) then this site, which provides comprehensive statistics across a dozen dimensions for the "top million" (whatever that means) web sites will be of interest. Thanks to Guillaume Durand for the link.

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Eight things that I took away from OpenEd2010
Vic Jenkins, Open Educational Resources, December 7, 2010.

It has been a month since the Open Education conference in Barcelona, but this set of reflections on the conference is still fresh. The post is basically eight well-chosen lessons from the conference:
- Design OER for mobile first
- We can afford to disrupt learning
- Be less obsessed with OER content
- Harness the ‘collective intelligence'
- Pads are excellent conference tools
- Learners as producers/authors of open content
- (Re)mix, match, (re)assemble and repurpose
- Where are the Produsers?
I'm not going to say I agree with all of these points, but the tenor of this conference seems to be the polar opposite of the UNESCI conference in Paris I described yesterday.

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Two metaphors for professors and course delivery, comparing North America and China
Stian Håklev, Random Stuff That Matters, December 7, 2010.

More comparisons between the Chinese and Western university system from Stian Håklev. This post looks at different models of university instruction, comparing the 'artist' model that defines some institutional models in the west, with the alternative 'artisan' model that defines many in the Chinese system. "An artisan is skilled at what he or she does, but it can be learnt. He or she may work alone or together with a group of people towards a well-defined goal. The most important aspect is that the final product is improvable, it can be tested and evaluated, and it can be improved upon."

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Education and the social Web: Connective learning and the commercial imperative
Norm Friesen, First Monday, December 7, 2010.

Norm Friesen argues that "constraints presented by commercialized forms and contents... threaten to sharply limit the potential of much newer social media for education and learning, however these are conceived." Advertising provides the basis for the design, organization and maintenance of the services accessed by the personal learning environment, he argues, and this has a direct impact on what the user sees and is able to do in such services. For example, we are prompted to extend the range of our connections, so much so that the term 'friend' has lost any meaning. Moreover, our opinions all point in one direction; "expressions of reservation, nuance and qualification are made difficult if not impossible; and negativity, in both its everyday and dialectical senses is avoided." But, writes Friesen, "learning is just as much about division as it is about connection." These are good points, I think, and Friesen's concerns are well taken. A theory of connections can't be just about forming connections; it has to be about the organization, shape and design of networks of connection, patterns of connectivity. And to me, this means that we need to design learning systems to meet personal, not political, social or commercial, objectives.

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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