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December 16, 2010

Rethinking the O in OER
Amber Thomas, JISC Information Environment Team, December 16, 2010.

I think this is exactly right: "OER (Open Educational Resource) is a supply-side term. To judge whether university-released OER is valuable to users, we need to understand what enables and constrains use. Legal and technical openness are multi-dimensional and inter-related. There's a spectrum of use, reuse and repurposing, as it applies to academics and other sorts of users. We shouldn't overweight the use case of academic repurposing." See also John Robertson with some models and metaphors of OERs.

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That Was Then
Kevin Carey, The Quick and the Ed, December 16, 2010.

This post is worth reading strictly for the Diane Ravitch quote (originally in audio, here). Ignore the petty, mean-spirited and presumptuous criticism offered by Kevin Carey that surrounds it. Here's the quote:

"These are indeed two different worlds. Different definitions of success. Different career ladders. Think-tankers blog. Blogging counts for nothing in ed school world. Academe requires peer review before publication; thinktankia does not. Ed schools focused on ideology, methods, closer to schools and practitioners. Thinktankia focused on politics, outcomes, 'results,' connections with policymakers. Ed schools tend to see education issues from ground up. Think tanks from top down. Ed schools see through eyes of practitioners. Think tanks through eyes of policymakers (seeing like a state). Ed schools veer to left. Think tanks veer to right. Ed schools identify with powerless. Think tanks identify with powerful."

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Why this blog?
Bill Storm, Bill Storm on Ed Tech, December 16, 2010.

Perfect justification for a new educational technology blog: "Since the blogosphere really should be more 'multi-nodal' in nature rather than piling everything up in one place, this blog will be where we can spend some time discussing topics on which there cannot be too much said." Via Doug Johnson.

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Google Explores the Human Body With HTML5
Christina Warren, Mashable, December 16, 2010.

files/images/bodybrowser-skull.jpg, size: 77053 bytes, type:  image/jpeg Google has created a nifty HTML5 demonstration which lets you view the human body as though it were a 3D Google map. The display allows you to focus on bones, muscles, blood vessels and internal organs. The only body I could find was female, and her outer layer is very demurely covered with sportswear (though this outer layer may be more or less transparent, giving you the feel of being an airport security agent). I personally find it a bit off that the skin must be covered with clothing, but that the layer immediately under the skin may be displayed with no constraint whatsoever. But then again, I seem to be about the only person complaining about what they allow on those forensic-evidence crime dramas (I mean, really? a fully charred set of semi-skeletal remains? We need to see that?). If you have a beta version of Firefox, Safari or Chrome the demonstration should work fine. It's not that detailed, and the zoom just makes things bigger, not more detailed. Still, the display will prove to be endlessly fascinating to middle-school students across the nation.

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Why Your Smartphone Will Replace Your Wallet
Sarah Kessler, Mashable, December 16, 2010.

OK, this isn't going to happen next year - I remember using ATMs in the 80s long before they became ubiquitous. And the cost of owning a smartphone will have to come down to a level anyone can afford - but it will (in fact, they'll be giving them away). That said, your smartphone (or whatever it's called in 2025) will be your wallet, your set of keys, your identification papers, your communicator and internet browser, compass and map, and much more. It won't be everything (contra some enthusiasts) - you will use your pad for larger-screen tasks, like drawing, editing and reading, and your wad for space-sharing, watching video or sporting events and for gaming.

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Publishing giant Pearson looks set to offer degrees
Hannah Richardson, BBC News, December 16, 2010.

More on the move by Pearson to offer its own degrees. The company, which owns its own testing unit (de rigueur among publishers these days), wants to offer the degrees directly, which will require a change in law - and while such a change would effectively break the colleges' monopoly on degree-granting status, might keep the monopoly to a large degree intact, opening it only to sufficiently large (or well-connected) corporations. The company is arguing that the move will save money, keeping the cost "to a level acceptable to the majority" while the existing institutions are arguing that "the pursuit of profit is incompatible with the maintenance of high standards in higher education." This, folks, is the story of the year, even though it broke in mid-December, well after most 'story of the year' lists have been compiled.

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Learning Without Frontiers
Various Authors, Website, December 16, 2010.

Learning Without Frontiers this morning sent me their awards finalists - no, I'm not nominated for anything; more interestingly, the list consisted mostly of people I don't know. There's an interesting commentary there - people who think they are in the community of online learning - even me - are deluding themselves. Communities are surfacing like bubbles in water at a rolling boil. Learning Without Frontiers itself is mostly based around a set of conferences it runs, but it also includes a large number of communities, and video recordings of proceedings are available for some of them.

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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