OLDaily, by Stephen Downes

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January 6, 2011

JISC CETIS OER Technical Interest Group
Lorna Campbell, Lorna's JISC CETIS blog, January 6, 2011.

JISC CETIS has established an open educational resources (OER) technical interest group. "This group will provide a forum to explore a wide range of technical issues relating to the creation, description, dissemination, aggregation, discovery, use and tracking of open educational resources. In addition, the group will help to surface and identify current and best practice in these areas." Sign up for sign up for oer-discuss@jiscmail.com and look out for blog posts and tweets tagged #oertig

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Intentional objects
Tim Crane, Ratio, January 6, 2011.

I used to read (and write) stuff like this a lot and it has had a lasting influence. This paper, from 2001, is new to me but an excellent representation of how I would think of things like sentences in the brain and objects of thought. The argument at its core is simple: while we naively think that we think about thinks in the world, such a story cannot be true because we can just as easily think about things that don't exist, like purple dragons, or about entities with indeterminate properties, like a man with no particular hair colour. The 'aboutness' of the thought is in the thought itself. This (to me) means that the meaning of thoughts is not the same as the meaning of sentences, and therefore, that thoughts are not sentences (Crane reaches much the same conclusion). More goodness from Tim Crane.

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The power of a voice, hope, and second chances
Garr Reynolds, Presentation Zen, January 6, 2011.

files/images/williams.jpg, size: 8408 bytes, type:  image/jpeg I've lived close enough to the edge in my own life to know that the difference between living on the street and working in the corner office is small, fractional, minuscule (though the people in the corner office will go on to no end about how they achieved their success solely on their own merits, and how it's their own fault that people are poor and homeless). And this is the message Garr Reynolds derives from the now worldwide story of Ted Williams, the golden-voiced homeless man finally getting some recognition for his talent (and of course there is the requisite unpleasant businessman ready to say Williams doesn't deserve success).

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iPad Learning for All the Wrong Reasons
Ewan McIntosh, Huffington Post, January 6, 2011.

Ewan McIntosh taps into two very good points in this analysis of the trend toward using iPads in schools. First, purchasing the $750 machines might not save the money administrators expect. Not only will they be very out of date by the time they 'pay for themselves', the computers also require ongoing software and media purchases, increasing their costs. Second, the trend toward purchasing general use iPads, effectively recreating the computer labs in use in the 90s, belies the fact that iPads are intended to be personal machines, customized to their owners' preferences, and that many of the benefits of an iPad are lost if they are anonymized. Good points, good argument.

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The Truth Wears Off
Jonah Lehrer, The New Yorker, January 6, 2011.

Anyone involved in research should read this article in the New Yorker documenting a phenomenon whereby interesting research results seem to 'wear off' over time when (and if) researchers attempt to replicate them. This phenomenon, reports the author, represents a systematic bias in research toward positive results, a bias exaggerated by the preferences of funders and the decisions of journal referees. Consequently, many phenomena believed today may be nothing more than statistical noise, and the sweeping changes in practice recommended as a result nothing more than a waste of resources. Via @gsiemens.

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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