OLDaily, by Stephen Downes

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January 18, 2011

QR Codes: The nuts and bolts
David Hopkins, eLearning Blog Dont Waste Your Time, January 18, 2011.

files/images/qr.jpg, size: 12709 bytes, type:  image/jpeg Warning! Do not scan the QR code to the right. It will take you to one of the internet's most notorious and infamous web sites. I created the QR code using Kaywa. Maybe I'll make stickers of it and attach them to products in stores. What could you do? You scan the code and - horrors! - you are taken to this infamous web site. Maybe one day somebody will describe for me the defense against this attack. Until then, I cannot see the merit of taking a URL and encrypting it into a non-readable code. Just saying. (See also Ellen Wagner).

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Former Kaplan Students Tell The Washington Post: Shut Down Kaplan University Online
Carol Scott, Change.org, January 18, 2011.

files/images/onlineschool-250x166.jpg, size: 16250 bytes, type:  image/jpeg I've been more pushback against the for-profit online universities recently. For example: "Students at "for-profit" colleges like Kaplan University and the University of Phoenix are promised an easy, convenient way to earn a college degree. Instead, many students are drowning in debt with nothing to show for it. The University of Phoenix's graduation rate is just nine percent, the Education Trust reports. For-profit students make up almost half of those who default on their student loans." Some of the criticisms are unfair, but things like guerilla registrations - the practice of signing students up for courses (and hence, charging tuition) without asking - are quite underhanded.

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Norman Mailer & Marshall McLuhan Debate the Electronic Age
Dan Colman, Open Culture, January 18, 2011.

"When you step up the environment to those speeds, you create the psychedelic thrill. The whole world becomes kaleidoscopic. And you go inward, by the way. It's an inner trip, not an outer trip." these words could only emanate from Marshall McLuhan (and it's interesting to contrast them with Sherry Turkle's Alone Together, reviewed recently by David Weinberger). The clip is from a discussion between McLuhan and Norman Mailer (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, or the whole 28 minute video). It's fun to see McLuhan define an environment as information, while Mailer struggles along with the idea of an environment as (mere) physical reality. "The present is the enemy," says McLuhan. "The present is only faced by the artist." The rest of us, meanwhile, live in an environment consisting of unreal (and inaccessible) histories, myths and projections. "The artist, when he encounters the present, is always seeking new patterns, new pattern recognition, which is his task... he alone has the sensory awareness to tell us what our world is made of. He's more important than the scientist."

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How to Publish Your Book on Amazon Kindle
Dylan Love, Business Insider, January 18, 2011.

files/images/340x_kindle-in-provence.jpg, size: 30269 bytes, type:  image/jpeg For those of you who aspire to sell a book on Amazon's Kindle platform, these easy-to-use instructions will guide you from text to profits (minus Amazon's 30 percent cut, of course). You'll need Mibipacker (for Windows only) available here and you'll upload your completed .prc files here, on Amazon't Kindle upload page. If you want also to publish your book through iTines, Apple has a site to get you started. One wonders what traditional book publishers can do in the face of this sort of competition. Because I have to tell you, upload-your-own sure beats the slush pile. Via LifeHacker.

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The Master Switch, digital citizenship, and WWIC
Artichoke, Artichoke, January 18, 2011.

"'Choice, freedom and openness' is not a given in the information business" says Artichoke, noting that there has been a not-so-subtle "shift from helping students adopt cyber-safe practice online to helping students become responsible cyber-citizens." The former, it seems to me, is about empowerment, while the latter more resembles indoctrination. As Tim Wu says in The Master Switch, "History shows a typical progression of information technologies: from somebody's hobby to somebody's industry; from jury-rigged contraption to slick production marvel; from a freely accessible channel to one strictly controlled by a single corporation or cartel – from open to closed system."

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Natural Sound Electronics Tablets
Tom Hoffman, Tuttle SVC, January 18, 2011.

Video of vendors demonstrating some Android tablet computers at a trade fair. They are basically similar to the iPad, with the same touchscreen functionality, and with more extras (like video cameras). But notice the price point: $US 100 (for a volume purchase; retail might be double that). This is, as Tom Hoffman says, what disruptive change looks like.

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What happened to feed auto-discovery in Firefox 4?
L.M. Orchard, 0xDECAFBAD, January 18, 2011.

A couple of posts (Second) from L.M. Orchard discussing the disappearance of the RSS feed button from Firefox 4 and how to customize the browser to bring it back. Basically, the argument is that it was removed because it wasn't used enough. "That feed button has to get a lot more interesting if it's going to serve alongside UI all-stars like Back, Reload, and Location." But I agree with this counter: "Mozilla and other browser makers should be improving feed-related features, rather than pushing them into the background."

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Simple Communication Tools
Lucy Gray, High Techpectations, January 18, 2011.

This is an introductory post about using blogs, wikis and other online tools to improve communications between parents and schools. There's a good (short) list of blogging tools, an even shorter list of wiki tools, and some publishing tools. Also listed are some sources of Edu RSS feeds, but though she doesn't mention it I really don't think you can do better than my list.

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Our Viral Web
Steve Wheeler, Learning with 'e's, January 18, 2011.

I agree with Steve Wheeler when he says, "I don't believe we have even begun to tap into the true potential of social media yet." As he explains, "As more and more people connect with each other in different ways... we are going to see some extraordinary things happening, socially, culturally and politically." But what he describes here is an extension of old media, not the influence of new media. It is not significant that some Twitter comment or YouTube video becomes a mass meme, accelerated by traditional media. Social media, properly so-called, is not about mass. I think the real changes when everybody is talking about different things, not when they who world is talking about the same things.

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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