OLDaily, by Stephen Downes

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January 3, 2011

David Noble, academic and activist, dies at 65
Adrian Morrow, Globe and Mail, January 3, 2011.

files/images/David_Noble_1095162cl-3.jpg, size: 4751 bytes, type:  image/jpeg David Noble's name has appeared in these pages on numerous occasions over the years, as though we varied in opinion on the benefits of technology in education, we nonetheless shared a scepticism around the corporatization of academia. I never met him, and never corresponded with him, but was influenced by him, and always tried, no matter how enthusiastic my espousal of this or that technology, to take his cautions and criticisms in mind. His willingness to think freely and speak his mind represents the best in Canadian academic tradition, and I keep that in mind as well. See also posts here and here.

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The Case for the Virtual Classroom
Sarah Kessler, Mashable, January 3, 2011.

files/images/blended-learning.jpg, size: 11956 bytes, type:  image/jpeg Mashable makes the case for the virtual classroom. It's nothing we haven't seen in these pages, and it's still stuck in old-world thinking about online learning ('classroom'?) but it's still remarkable to see such a plug in a mainstream online publication. We get a plug for 2tor, the argument that "students who studied in online learning environments performed modestly better than peers who were receiving face-to-face instruction," a plug for University of the People, a video from Bill Gates, a plug for the Khan Academy, and a nod to blended learning and Berkeley webcasts.

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What role does technology have in shaping a new future in education?
Graham Attwell, Pontydysgy, January 3, 2011.

The big innovation brought about by technology, argues Graham Attwell, is open education. "The main innovation was in terms of pedagogy and in wider approaches to ideas around learning and here the major development is around open learning... the movement around Open Educational Resources appears to be becoming a part of the mainstream development in the provision of resources for tecahing and learning, despite significant barriers still to be overcome." That's not to say technology invented open learning; that would be absurd. But it's arguable that it reinvented it, and perhaps just in time, as we are now witnessing the clawback. "With pressures on economies due of the collapse of the world banking system, governments are trying to roll back on the provision of free education."

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How can e-Learning, or computer based training, be more effective?
Aaron Silvers, Weblog, January 3, 2011.

files/images/knowledge_funnel-788769-268x300.jpg, size: 17548 bytes, type:  image/jpeg "E-learning," writes Aaron Silvers, "as a means for making educational resources accessible to learners, is still ripe with promise. In practice, the complaints are generally around a devolution of something noble (learning) and how its been commoditized (the e-learning your people might be complaining about)." This is explained, he says, by the development of tools that standardized existing forms of learning, resulting in a Power-Point model of online learning. "We need to once again look at the mystery that is 'learning' today," he argues, linking to ADL's future learning experience project intended to explore this question.

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Three's A Trend: The Decline of Google Search Quality
Anil Dash, Weblog, January 3, 2011.

Anil Dash links to three separate articles making the same point: that Google's utility as a search engine is declining (and from where I sit, the instant search and preview don't help; they just make messy searches messier). One of the articles gets to the heart of the matter: "Google is like a monoculture, and thus parasites have a major impact once they have adapted to it - especially if Google has 'lost the war'." Which means this may be a one-way street: Google's search might not get better again.

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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