OLDaily, by Stephen Downes

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June 2, 2011

Free for All: National Academies Press Puts All 4,000 Books Online at No Charge
Josh Fischman, Chronicle of Higher Education, June 2, 2011.

Remarkable. "Today the National Academies Press announced it would offer its entire PDF catalog of books for free, as files that can be downloaded by anyone.... Barbara Kline Pope, executive director for the press, said it had previously offered 65 percent of its titles-ones that were narrow in scope-for free. 'The 35 percent that we are adding today will reach a wider audience, and we are doing it because it's central to our mission to get this information to everyone,' she said." The system asked me for my email address before allowing me to download the PDF, but I could read the HTML on the website without paying anything. I figured the email address was a good thing to exchange for a free copy of Learning Science Through Computer Games and Simulations, which I have open in my PDF reader right now.

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Trends | Rupert Murdoch in the EdTech Space
Victor Rivero, EdTech Digest, June 2, 2011.

files/images/rupert-murdoch-at-eg8.pngw500h398, size: 308158 bytes, type:   This is a remarkable video. Rupert Murdoch argues, digital advances are making workers more productive, creating jobs that did not exist only a few years ago and liberating us from the old tyrannies of time and distance. This is true in every area except one: education." The current system in the U.S., he says, is "a jobs program for teachers and administrators" and the suggestion that failure is caused by poverty is "arrogant... you can build human capital even in extreme circumstances." He gives three examples of how bringing technology into the classroom will help in education:

- exciting young imaginations. The key is in the software - every study tells you it has to be interactive - guided instruction, instant feedback, practice exercises, and access to hundreds of videos
- more personalized teaching "to make mathematics sticky, to microtarget eighth-grade girls who might want to be physicists, and personalize the reading of each student" and to analyze where children are and what they need to move ahead
- "we can bring the world's greatest thinkers to every student for very low cost" - we do this outside the classroom; for example, we can download the world's greatest Mozart symphony for about a dollar.

We should build such a system, he says, "and ensure that no child is left on the margins of the great prosperity that this global economy offers." Yeah, I know, it's Rupert Murdoch. But surprisingly (or perhaps not?) I support all this. Where do you think connectivism and MOOCs are heading? Examples of all the pieces exist somewhere in the world. Not a day goes by that I do not wish I had the money, and more importantly, the authority, to build the system Murdoch describes. But there are systems in place to ensure that this never ever happens.

[Link] [Comment] [Tweet] [Tags: Connectivism, Personalization, Video]

files/images/newspapermap.jpg, size: 25530 bytes, type:  image/jpeg
Newspaper Map
Various Authors, Website, June 2, 2011.

This is a remarkable resource shared over Diigo last night. Basically it's a map of the world with a smallish dot for each newspaper - there are hundreds, maybe thousands - of dots from everywhere. Click on a dot and you get the newspaper for that city. But even better, a box pops up, allowing you to click on your language and get an instant translation of the newspaper. Now not everything works perfectly; I was utterly unable to read the newspaper from Moscow, and I'm told that Mongolian can't be translated. No matter; browsing through Al-Shaab (Cairo) I marvelled at how small our world has become (sadly, the St. Helena Herald, which I read in detail last night, has today pulled its paper from public view).

[Link] [Comment] [Tweet] [Tags: Push versus Pull, Google]

What I look for when I judge Serious Games
Clark Aldrich, #Unschooling Rules, June 2, 2011.

files/images/1.25.bmp, size: 37827 bytes, type:  image/x-ms-bmp Clark Aldrich summarizes some of the major elements he looks for in serious games, including an interactive world, level components, small and larger challenges, and rigorous assessment. The rigorous assessment "may use a traditional presentation of material that lines up with the destination application, such as in a test or real world problem. This can serve to "prove" that the player has really learned something of value." All good, but I think there are elements missing; when I think of the disappointment that is Civilization V (which contains all Aldrich's items) these items spring to mind: speed of execution (Civ V runs slooowly), rational response (opponent Civs 'denounce' you even when you've done nothing), easing of repetition (Civ V makes you do the same pointless things (like bombing a city) over and over), and the like. These all roll up under the category of 'playability', an aspect without which your game (like Civilization V) is dead in the water.

[Link] [Comment] [Tweet] [Tags: Gaming, Schools, Assessment, Ontologies]

Citizen Scientist Rising: Why and 17 Great Places to Start
Vicki A. Davis, Cool Cat Teacher Blog, June 2, 2011.

files/images/citizen_scientist.JPG, size: 20382 bytes, type:  image/jpeg Two great tastes that go great together: on the one hand, students conducting their own 'citizen science' are able to contribute to real science ("it is pretty easy to use statistical analysis to filter out 'noise' of readings that have been taken in err"). On the other hand, students conducting their own 'citizen science' are learning a lot about science, including (says Vicki Davis):
- It introduces students to the scientific method and data collection
- It introduces students to live science in action and makes it real
- It adds meaning to their work
- they can use science to improve their performance
- it can lead to other cross curricular activities including math, writing reflections, technology

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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