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December 6, 2011

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Posts from a foreign land: Online Educa 2011, No. 2: Corporate Learning
Tony Bates, online learning and distance education resources, December 6, 2011.

Another Online Educa Berlin has come and gone and this two part summary (part one, part two) from Tony Bates is a useful summary. Two things that I picked out of the post that were of interest to me: first, the idea that 'improving efficiency' was not the main priority for corporate e-learning, a change, as Bates notes, from a few years ago; and second, the question of what counts as 'success' in the phrase 'benchmarking from success': "how well does that work when many of these successful organizations themselves are under threat from new competitors who by definition are not yet considered successful but are competing because they do things differently?" For more from Online Educa, see Jo McLeay, who highlights Learnfizz ("enables you to find and organise the myriad of free learning resources"); the Open Classroom; the Pontydysgu live ds106 and Question Time podcasts; and Hans de Zwart on the opening plenary.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Podcasting, Online Learning]

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Sage at the Side
Clark Quinn, Learnlets, December 6, 2011.

One of the ideas to come out of the #Change11 course is that of the "sage by the side". It is of course a twist on that old constructivist standby, "A guide by the side, not a sage on the stage." As I tell people, connectivism isn't constructivism, there's room for sages to (at the very least) model and demonstrate, but they are 'sages by the side'. This is a post from back in November by this werk's #Change11 gues Clark Quinn. And the concept makes a return in today's contribution to the course. Writes Quinn, "I am very much a fan of guided discovery learning (not the unguided discovery learning that was used as a straw-man opponent to instructivist in the Kirschner, Sweller, Clark article), but I do believe guidance is necessary until learners demonstrate self-learning capability. And I definitely think we can and should be developing that capability, but I’m not sanguine that we’re very good at it yet." (OK, the quote isn't an exact match for the concept, but I wanted to get the 'straw man' reference in).

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Connectivism, Traditional and Online Courses, Constructivism]

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On Friction and Sharing
David Wiley, iterating toward openness, December 6, 2011.

files/images/3845415062_f2882c7098_m.jpg, size: 20475 bytes, type:  image/jpeg You need openness, but you also need friction. There is a 'sweet spot' to connectivity. I learned this first from Francesco Varela in 1992 or so, when he spoke at the University of Alberta hospital. But of course it's something we need to keep learning. As Mike Loukides writes, "To many people, Facebook's 'frictionless' sharing doesn’t enhance sharing; it makes sharing meaningless." Or to put the same point anbother way (relative to, say, my Google+ experience), to the sender it's "frictionless sharing", but to the receiver, it's "spam".

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Google, Experience, Spam]

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From Electric Typewriter to the World Wide Web
John Connell, The Blog, December 6, 2011.

In an interview today (it was one of those interviews filled with good clips - I can't wait to release the audio) I commented that I progressed from hand-writing my academic papers to typing them (first on a manual, then on an electric) to writing them on a computer with a word processor in the space of my five-year undergraduate degree. The 21st century arrived, I remarked, somewhere between 1981 and 1986. For the rest of the world it arrived in 1989, as we saw the first of the mass movements created by chaos and connectivity spread across societies. I'm reminded of my remark by this short post from John Connell.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Academia, Audio]

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Vast and Fertile Ground in Africa for Science to Take Root
G. Pascal Zachary, New York Times, December 6, 2011.

I'll read this article as hopeful and think that perhaps one day information technology can be the equalizer in Africa that it has proven to be elsewhere in the world, and for more than just the elite. "The potential for Africans trained in Africa to conduct science attuned to the realities of Africa is not limited to computing. 'There’s a growing interest in research, and science generally, in the region,' said Calestous Juma... The rapid spread of cellphones has fueled an appreciation among Africans for the practical uses of science and technology. And the children of the African elite are also seeing career possibilities in computing science and engineering, beyond the traditional disciplines of medicine, law and finance or the more typical scientific callings of crop and soil science."

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Research, Africa]

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Reading with the Stars: Teaching with the HIGHBROW Annotation Browser
Prof. Hacker, Chronicle of Higher Education, December 6, 2011.

files/images/annotations.jpg, size: 15560 bytes, type:  image/jpeg I was asked this morning to talk about the difference new technologies bring to research. This post provides an example of the sort of thing I was attempting to describe. "Using important texts such as the Bible, the Divine Comedy, and Shakespeare (First Folio), Reinhard’s widget brought these texts together with some of their more famous commentaries. A spike graph at the top of the screen showed viewers where the text had received more (or less) comment, and scrolling down into the text allowed viewers to see specific comments from a range of well known thinkers." Yes, you could have done this with a large table and a whole bunch of index cards, I suppose. But this sort of look at large bodies of data all at once - a 'macroscope' - can only be done electronically.

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The Marriage of Standards and Access: Centralized Services as a Tool for Collaboration, Publication and Curation
Elijah Meeks, Digital Humanities Specialist , December 6, 2011.

I learned a lot at the open data hackathon last weekend and while I have yet to compile my sources on that (I've been working on a way overdue paper for Rory) this link falls squarely into that domain. The point here is to argue for the need for a thought-out and standardized way to access centralized data services (though the lede for this particular item is buried pretty deeply). Best of all is the eye-candy series of graphical representations of common data services. It's not quite as good as the service that lets me look up the value of my home in real time, but it's close.

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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