OLDaily, by Stephen Downes

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February 1, 2011

Yesterday's post from Cathy Moore on Highlights from the Learning Technologies Conference had the wrong URL. Here is the correct URL.

Also, the link to 'more articles' from the Digital Education Review was incorrect. Here is the correct URL.

Instructure Goes Open Source
Michael Felstein, e-literate, February 1, 2011.

Some sudden moves in the LMS market, courtesy of upstart Instructure. Michael Feldstein elaborates: "Instructure has just announced that they will be releasing an open source version of their Canvas LMS product. Between this announcement, the winning of the Utah Education Network contract (109,000 college students and 40,000 K12 students), and the oh-so-ever-brief lawsuit by Desire2Learn about that win, Instructure has been making quite a splash lately." See more commentary from Alan Levine, to wit, "I did like the use of flame throwers in the Instructure video, even the fun out takes at the end, looking like they had some fun there." See also the Chronicle.

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Open University Undergraduate Module Map
Tony Hirst, OUseful Info, February 1, 2011.

More fun from Tony Hirst in the form of one big course graph. "The links between courses are the ‘related to' links contained within the linked data. The nodes are sized according to degree and coloured according to modularity group, following application of the Gephi modularity statistic. The layout is an expanded form of a Yifan Hu layout. The modularity statistic seems to identify clusters of courses reasonably well, allowing a student of potential student to get an overall view of the courses offered by the OU along with the courses that are naturally taken together." Here's the actual data and more network building.

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Observations of a Critical Theory newbie
Ryan Tracey, E-Learning Provocateur, February 1, 2011.

I've enjoyed reading Norm Friesen for a long time, and so it's interesting to me to see one of his papers reflected through other eyes. Here's Ryan Tracey interpreting Friesen's use of critical theory to critique messages in education technology. Friesen writes, "The central argument of critical theory is that all knowledge, even the most scientific or ‘commonsensical,' is historical and broadly political in nature. Critical theorists argue that knowledge is shaped by human interests of different kinds, rather than standing ‘objectively' independent from these interests." So "In other words, Critical Theory is about myth busting," responds Ryan. And of course it isn't, but Tracey leads us through an examination of some myths to get to that point. It's a light read, but it's well-written and kept me off my guard.

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No Right Brain Left Behind
Various Authors, Website, February 1, 2011.

It's not clear to me that the education system really needs input from the advertising industry. After all, these are the same people who brought us Channel One and other distractions. And even the current campaign, 'No right brain left behind', relies on the outdated stereotypes the industry so fondly repeats over and over, as though their own fictions have somehow become truth. But there is merit in their campaign to refocus attention from 'the knowledge worker' (who seems like a drone in a giant social computer) to 'the conceptual era' where creativity and problem-solving are primary skills. Yet I still get the sense that the purpose of this campaign is to use education for some higher ambition (like, say, propaganda), and the list of 'who we want to work with' doesn't fill me with confidence at all. Via Fact Company

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Unplugging Edmodo
Julie Cunningham, Tartan Learning, February 1, 2011.

Whe I talk about social media in education I get many comments along the lines of "but what if the students aren't ready?" But I wonder whether the problem lies elsewhere. Julie Cunningham writes, "Are the parents ready? Nope. No way. Uh-nuh. This is a huge issue. Which is a sobering thing when you have students heading into middle school, and an overwhelming number of kids who are already using Facebook, email, text messaging, etc. If parents are not actively helping their students navigate the digital world… well, that way be dragons." Edmodo, by the way, is a social media client designed specifically for schools.

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Photography as Digital Storytelling #ds106
D'Arcy Norman, Website, February 1, 2011.

Cary cool resource from D'Arcy Norman on photography for ds106. You might not notice of you're reading that most of the text is actually links to various resources. But even more interesting, from my perspective, is the use of some of the newer web techniques. Depending on the browser you're using, the page renders itself as a scrawl in Norman's own handwriting. It's also askew. There are two things in the style sheet enabling that. First is the use of webkit-specific (and mozilla-specific) style elements (of they're different) creating a 1 or 2 degree skew:
-webkit-transform: rotate(-2deg);
and second is the use of a custom font, created ahead of time by Norman and downloaded at run-time by the web browser:
font-family: 'dnormanscrawlRegular'; src: url(//:) format('no404'), url('/fonts/dnorman-scrawl-webfont.woff') format('woff'), url('/fonts/dnorman-scrawl-webfont.ttf') format('truetype'), url('/fonts/dnorman-scrawl-webfont.svg#webfont5bk341pA') format('svg');
Too cool.

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OpenID: The Web's Most Successful Failure
Scott Gilbertson, WebMonkey, February 1, 2011.

files/images/openid_card.png, size: 5690 bytes, type:  image/png Scott Gilbertson makes the case that OpenID was not, in fact, a failure. H epoints to the fact that some 50,000 websites (including this one) support OpenID. He notes that it solved the original problem it was intended to solve, but then bogged down as the vision expanded. But the main issue with OpenID, he suggests, is that publishers never warmed to the idea because it meant users could enter, leave a comment, and exit, all anonymously. And he points out that things like Facebook Connect do the same thing and do it better, mostly, he suggests, because it shares user details using OAuth. A proposal to enable OpenID with OAuth has been entertained, but has not gained traction. Personally, I think one of the major stumbling blocks for OpenID is that it did not belong to some company. So there was no major push for it. Don't get me wrong - I think this was a strength of OpenID. But with the internet as it is now, with a few major players eagerly dividing the spoils, if it's unowned they're uninterested.

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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