OLDaily, by Stephen Downes

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February 22, 2011

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Goodbye academia, I get a life
Massimo Sandal, blog.devicerandom, February 22, 2011.

I can't say the description of academia is inaccurate. It has indeed been set up as a type of pyramid (or 'ponzi') scheme, based mostly on selling your theory and earning acolytes. " In general, science career is a race, where three people go to the podium and all the others sooner or later will go back home (See also this article from the Economist on the problem). The competition for funding and positions means that not only the hopes of getting a job are really lousy, but that people become nasty. Like, really nasty.

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Embracing THEIR Version of Online Courses
Miguel Guhlin, Around the Corner, February 22, 2011.

This is a good initiative: making archive copies of Moodle courses you can upload into your own Moodle available for free. Miguel Guhlin writes, "Accessing Utah's online courses can provide insights into what society, legislators and educators think of what school should be... Digitizing curriculum with an awareness of what can be provides some room for innovation, and a way to tap into scarce tax dollars." This post is much more than just a set of links to Moodle courses (though it does have that). It's a discussion of the implications of digitizing curriculum, an examination of the opportunities it affords, and contains a video on how to install the archived courses in your own Moodle.

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Peer Instruction in the Humanities and Arts a resource from Monash University
Seb Schmoller, Fortnightly Maining, February 21, 2011.

Brief, to the point, and clear. "You can forget facts, but you can't forget understanding," says Eric Mazur, explaining his approach to teaching. Students do the reading and work ahead of time, and then through online interaction, "They tell me what it is that they want me to cover." He then engages in a mechanism of questioning and response - "I will talk a few minutes and then I will put on the overhead projector a question, and then tell them to take a few minutes and think about it." The students then vote, and depending on the results, he either proceeds or explains further. "For more on Eric Mazur's peer instruction, go to Data is not the plural of anecdote, this two-minute overview, or the Mazur Group web site. Or read the book." Because, you know, there's always a book.

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NDPR Bruno Mölder, Mind Ascribed: An Elaboration and Defence of Interpretivism
Reviewed by Timothy Schroeder, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews, February 21, 2011.

What is it to say we possess a mental state, to say that, say, we 'have' a belief, or that we 'hold' an opinion. Our language seems to suggest that we are some sort of vessel in which beliefs and opinions and other mental states may be deposited, and where these states may be inspected and seen to exist. But how? Other than introspection - which is notoriously unreliable, not to mention epistemologically suspect - how? Ascription theory says, basically, that for a person to 'have' a belief P is to say that (under typical conditions) this person would be ascribed by others (in empirically verifiable ways, such as observable statements and the like) to have that mental state. It is one thing for me to say what I believe (or think, or know, etc.), but what I in fact believe (or think, or know) is knowable only by the ascriptions of others. This is a tough, challenging theory - and to a large extent, correct.

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Weekend Diversion: Stand Up, Wisconsin!
Ethan Siegel, Starts With A Bang, February 21, 2011.

Like he said: "You might not even be aware of this issue if you live in the United States, but support for Wisconsin's workers -- who are about to lose their voices too, in the form of the right for workers to bargain as a union (seriously, what is this, the 1890s?) -- is worldwide." Seriously, what is this, Libya? When a government that has just passed significant tax cuts for the rich, and then declares financial exigency in order to eliminate public services, pushing the poor deeper in the hole, there comes a time to be stand up and counted. And don't think we don't notice this happening in Canada too.

Also, Teachers and public servants speak out in Wisconsin: "I'm not pampered. If I had a Master's in business instead of education, I'd probably be making a minimum of seventy grand... I didn't enter the profession for the money. However, I still want to earn a living wage.... It was Wall Street and greedy investors who screwed over America. Let's be straight about that.... It's not simply about budgets. The true war is a war on public institutions." And more.

Also, 12 Things You Need to Know About the Uprising in Wisconsin, including: " Wisconsin's public workers have already made sacrifices to help balance the budget, through 16 unpaid furlough days and no pay increases the past two years,... There are already 13 states that restrict public workers' bargaining rights and it hasn't helped their bottom lines." And ten more.

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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