OLDaily, by Stephen Downes

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October 3, 2011

The personal website of a retired classics professor
Kattullus, Metafilter, October 3, 2011.

A gem of a post I'll copy in toto from Metafilter: "Humanities and the Liberal Arts is the personal website of former Middlebury classics professor William Harris who passed away in 2009. In his retirement he crafted a wonderful site full of essays, music, sculpture, poetry and his thoughts on anything from education to technology. But the heart of the website for me is, unsurprisingly, his essays on ancient Latin and Greek literature some of whom are book-length works. Here are a few examples: Purple color in Homer, complete fragments of Heraclitus, how to read Homer and Vergil, a discussion of a recently unearthed poem by Sappho, Plato and mathematics, Propertius' war poems, and finally, especially close to my heart, his commentaries on the poetry of Catullus, for example on Ipsithilla, Odi et amo, Attis poem as dramatic dance performance and a couple of very dirty poems (even by Catullus' standard). That's just a taste of the riches found on Harris' site, which has been around nearly as long as the world wide web has existed."

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Walking the Virtuous Middle Way
David Wiley, iterating toward openness, October 3, 2011.

files/images/pine_cone.PNG, size: 285047 bytes, type:  image/png Pindham says, in the comments, "I truly wish I knew with whom Mr. Wiley is arguing." I agree; it seems to be he's argung with me, but I do not recognize my own - or anyone else's - words in his criticisms. So let me reiterate: allowing a person to manage their own learning does not prevent them from asking for directions, suggestions or advice, and it certainly does not preclude someone like me from offering it. What, then, do I oppose? The continual characterization of MOOCs as an environment in which no direction or advice is entertained or allowed. The MOOC motto is: we suggest, you decide. I think Wiley actually opposes the "you decide" part of it - because if he's had any experience with the way I conduct myself online, he cannot possibly think I eschew the "we suggest" part of it. I am a fountain of suggestions - what's the good of being educated and experienced otherwise? But you decide.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Experience]

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The A-Z Dictionary of Educational Twitter Hashtags
Unattributed, edudemic, October 3, 2011.

Good list of Twitter hashtags, and a valuable resource for anyone scanning the environment to track trends and keep up with the conversation. The page also contains a slide show on using Twitter in the classroom, and an infographic on who uses Twitter.

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A beginner's guide to using the internet safely
Mark Berthelemy's, Mark Berthelemy's Connections, October 3, 2011.

This post contains the usual advice, but it makes me think about what I would advise new internet users (assuming we can still find new internet users). Maybe a list like this (yes, in order):
- always update your operating system, and if you use Windows, use virus protection
- don't believe anything online or on television unless it's verified from several sources
- anything you post online can be seen by your teachers, your parents and family, and all your friends and enemies
- back up your data (text, photos, video, everything) twice
- keep your passwords secret, don't give them out to anyone; if you want to share, create a new account for the two of you

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Microsoft, Video, Operating Systems]

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Innkeeper at the Roach Motel
Dorothea Salo, MINDS@UW Madison, October 3, 2011.

According to this article, library-run institutional repositories are at a crossroads. Without a mandate, professors will not populate the repository; Dorothea Salo writes, "The "build it and they will come" proposition has been decisively proven wrong." Citation advantages and exposure have not been enough to persuade them to make the effort to contribute their work. The repositories, meanwhile, suffer from underfunding and lack of support; "Software and services have been wildly out of touch with faculty needs and the realities of repository management." Salo adds, on the JISC-repositories list, "I'm sure I'm not the only librarian who's been informed that her job is in jeopardy if she irks faculty with all that commie talk about open access."

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC), Learning Object Repositories, Open Access]

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files/images/consciousness.gif, size: 98385 bytes, type:  image/gif
The Central Enigma of Consciousness
Chris King, Mathematics Department, University of Auckland, October 1, 2011.

Pretty interesting paper. What is consciousness, and how do we explain it from an evolutionary perspective? According to this author, it is the brain anticipating events in the world before they happen. "The brain is not a marvelous computer in any classical sense - we can barely manage a seven-digit span, but it is a phenomenally sensitive anticipator of environmental and behavioral change. Subjective consciousness has its survival value in enabling us to jump out of the way when a tiger is about to strike, not so much in computing which path the tiger might be on, (because this is an intractable problem, and the tiger can also take it into account in avoiding the places we would expect it to most likely be), but by intuitive conscious anticipation." There's a lot more in here - it's a difficult paper to read, written at a high level, but rewards the effort.

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The Digital Promise – It Must Be Sustainable
Jim Shimabukuro, educational technology & change, October 1, 2011.

files/images/jims160.jpg, size: 21178 bytes, type:  image/jpeg Jim Shimabukuro poses what appears to be the most significant challenge to learning technology: "The Digital Promise, in its current form, is not sustainable. Over the long haul, no school or school district can afford teachers and administrators plus an additional layer of technical specialists and outsourced services." This leads to a new imperative in teacher training, suggests Shimabukuro. "The thrust of teacher training ought to switch from the teacher as technician dependent on outside sources to teacher as independent innovator." For example, he writes, "A model for a teacher-empowering digital promise is the MOOC," which suggests that "the teacher of the future will be able to develop a teaching and learning environment using the resources on the web."

All very good, but I find I have to reject the sustainability argument. We sustain what we find valuable, pretty much no matter what the cost of the investment. We sustain trillions of dollars of road infrastructure, military endeavours, bank and business bailouts, and other such things. No amount of cost savings will satisfy the sustainability argument so long as we have a political environment that recognizes these other things as priorities. It is good to reform education, but not as a result of the sustainability argument; indeed, in spite of it.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Schools]

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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