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December 14, 2010

21 Things That Will Become Obsolete in Education by 2020
Alan Stange, edustange's posterous, December 14, 2010.

It's always fun to predict what will become obsolete. And when making such a list, you should always follow a few simple rules: include some obvious things (desks, paperbacks, lockers), some insightful things (attendance offices, grades, cafeteria food), and some controversial things (computers, standardized tests, algebra). Ten years is a pretty short period for something to become obsolete, though.

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Best social media mash-ups in higher education
Patrick Powers, Weblog, December 14, 2010.

This post rounds up a half dozen interesting social media mash-ups by American colleges (presented, of course, as the best mash-ups anywhere, but we know what they mean). "I'm talking about a high-quality mash-up where colleges and universities wrangle feeds from blogs, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, and more to create a compelling page that gives a real-time snapshot of all an institution has to offer." More examples may be found in the comments. See also Michael Stoner, Social media and the Admissions Office.

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Richard Menary (ed.), The Extended Mind
Reviewed by William Ramsey, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews, December 14, 2010.

I remember when the Clark and Chalmers paper, 'The Extended Mind', came out. It proposed a radical theory: that the mind doesn't end with the human body. As they argue, if some process in the world would be considered part of a cognitive process were it to happen in the head, then it is part of the cognitive process. Thus, this 'parity principle' is the basis for ideas like 'the outboard brain' and "I store my knowledge in my friends". I'm not quite so eager to go along with the thesis. As Adams and Aizawa argue, merely being coupled with a process doesn't make something a part of that process. On the other hand, I have been and am perfectly comfortable with the idea of concepts - like, say, my personal identity - extending beyond the brain and self. At any rate, if these deliberations interest you, then based on this review Richard Menary's The Extended Mind would make a great holiday read.

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Thought experiment on social networked learning (Connectivism)
George Siemens, Connetivism, December 14, 2010.

I guess the main problem for me with respect to constructivism is that when adherents say that students "make meaning" or "construct knowledge" and I ask "how?" I don't find a coherent answer. Because, if it's simply drawing (deductive or inductive) inferences from statements and/or previously acquired knowledge, then constructivism isn't different in kind from transmission theories. If they say it's developed or grown or in some way embodied, it's not clear how this becomes meaning. Mostly, it seems to me (and I am, of course, open to correction on this) constructivist theories are either silent with respect to the nature of (internalized) knowledge, or incoherent. This to me is a significant contrast with connectivism, which is explicit about knowledge creation (through associations mechanisms), storage (as a distributed set of connections), and meaning (as a set of interactions within a knowing community). Or, you could read George Siemens's take on this here.

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The Super Book of Web Tools for Educators
Richard Byrne, Free Technology For Teachers, December 14, 2010.

Richard Byrne has compiled a book of tools for educators. The 83-page PDF, freely available online (but awkward to download (Yudu never did fully load), and oddly licensed (see the last page)), is composed of descriptions of tools for educators, with suggestions on how to use them. It's a good initiative (maybe I should do something like this). Here's a quick overview of what's inside and who wrote what:
Introduction: pages 2-3 George Couros
An Administrator's View: pages 4-7 Patrick Larkin
Elementary School: pages 8-25 Kelly Tenkely
Middle School: pages 26-35 Adam Bellow
High School: pages 36-42 Richard Byrne
ESL/ELL: pages 43-46 Larry Ferlazzo
Teaching Online: pages 47-50 Cory Plough
Connect Via Skype: pages 51-61 Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano
Elementary School Blogging: pages 62-65 Lee Kolbert
Alternative Ed Tech: pages 66-68 Beth Still
Social Media for Educators: pages 69-71 Steven Anderson

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The World's Facebook Relationships Visualized
Ben Parr, Mashable, December 14, 2010.

This is a pretty impressive image of the world according to Facebook. The author, a Facebook intern, plotted connections between cities, giving them different weights based on the number of Facebook connections, then colour-coded the lines according to weight. Click on the image for the full-sized version.

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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