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December 9, 2011

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Facebook Is Making Us Miserable
Daniel Gulati, Harvard Business Review, December 9, 2011.

Granted, Facebook is making those of us plugged into its news cycle more miserable. But take this story an for every reference to 'Facebook' substitute the expression 'consumer culture'. Think about it. "Accomplishments like, 'Hey, I just got promoted!' or 'Take a look at my new sports car,' trump sharing the intricacies of our daily commute or a life-shattering divorce.... the issue with this constant 'tabbing' between real-life tasks and (consumer culture) is what economists and psychologists call 'switching costs,' the loss in productivity associated with changing from one task to another... the battle to maintain off-line relationships will become even more difficult, which will impact their overall quality, especially in the long-run." It's not just Facebook - it's the whole Harvard Business School mythology. It's not the tech - it's the transvaluation of value. Related and relevant: Westren Culture Stands on a Cliff Edge. "Historian Niall Ferguson, author of Civilization: The West and The Rest, believes that after half a millennium, Western predominance is clearly ending – and explains why, judging from history, we should expect it to collapse suddenly and dramatically."

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Schools, Books]

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Google Schemer: Social Goal Management
Alex Chitu, Google Operating System, December 9, 2011.

Activities are the next social media gold mine. Google Schemer, pictured above, " is an invite-only Google service for sharing and discovering things to do. 'A scheme is any activity that can be done in the world, whether it's ordering a favorite dish at a restaurant or snorkeling in the Caribbean with sharks,' explains Google." Or you might be interested in EventGrabber, which scans the environment and finds local events for you to do, as described by Mashable. "The EventGrabber team finds and grabs most events from Facebook, and then from local radio stations, online newspapers and magazines and other external sources."

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Is Peer Review a Coin Toss?
Tim Vines, The Scholarly Kitchen, December 9, 2011.

So you submit a paper to an academic journal. Is its acceptance purely a matter of chance? According to Time Vines this is the attitude that seems to be fostered by things like acceptance rates, but it's not random at all. "In reality," he writes, "if a paper is below the quality threshold for the journal, it’s almost certain to be rejected; and if it’s above that threshold, then it’s almost certain to be accepted." The article, in my view, seems to suggest that there is a linear scale of 'quality' of different journals. Hence, the author argues, "authors will try to pick journals where their paper falls into the transition part of the figure — too far to the left, and they will almost certainly be rejected; too far to the right, and their paper will be easily accepted." But in fact, what is described here as 'quality' is in reality a mapping to features of papers desired by journals, and this mapping varies from journal to journal, and authors experiencing the 'randomness' effect are those only partially conforming to this feature set.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Academic Journals, Quality, Academia, Academic Publications]

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Microsoft Learning Suite – free download now available!
Ellie G Jones, The UK Schools Blog, December 9, 2011.

A pretty impressive list of software titles is available from Microsoft. Ellie G Jones writes, "Learning Suite is a comprehensive set of free software specifically all schools and teachers now ready for you to download. These titles add so much to Windows OS and Office. See below for the titles you can get. Learning Suite can be downloaded FOC by logging onto the Partners In Learning Network or alternatively directly from here with your Live ID/Sign up details to the Partners in Learning Network." Titles include Songsmith and Photosynth, Academic Search, Worldwide Telescope, Office Add-in for Moodle, Getting Started & How-to Videos, and Digital Literacy. See also Sharepoint Search for education.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Schools, Microsoft, Video]

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Open Educational Resources Expand Educational Inequalities
Justin Reich, Educational Technology Debate, December 9, 2011.

Justin Reich offers the challenging argument that open educational resources (OERs) are actually increasing the gap between rich and poor. "we can use research to answer these questions empirically. This is what I have tried to do with my research with wikis. My assessment of our findings is that in the case of wikis, the second scenario (pictured above) is certainly true." The paper, available (as a MS-Word doc) here, argues "wikis created in schools serving low-income students have fewer opportunities for 21st century skill development and shorter lifetimes than wikis from schools serving affluent students." This isn't just an off-the-cuff observation based on surveying 14 graduate students so common in education research papers; "We analyzed hundreds of wikis randomly drawn from a population of nearly 180,000, publicly-viewable, education-related wikis." In these wikis, a survey measured a Wiki Quality Index, a set of factors describing "'opportunities for 21st century skill development,' a set of behaviors which are pre-conditions for 21st century skill development." The essay is very good, and you can't just dismiss the research, meaning you have to take seriously the authors suggestions for improvement.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Schools, Open Educational Resources, Research, Assessment]

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Online and Traditional Courses: The Debate Is Over?
Jim Shimabukuro, educational technology & change, December 9, 2011.

The argument posed by Gary Brown and Trent Batson is straightforward: "almost all educational experiences, no matter where they occur, are now online to some degree," and therefore, "the debate between online and traditional courses is over." There's a pretty good case to be made for the former point, writes Jim Shimabukuro. So why does he question the inference to the conclusion? Class-bound students are not freed by their use of technology. By contrast, "In completely online classes, students have no such space restrictions. They can be anywhere. And if we add the time advantage, they can also learn at any time."

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Traditional and Online Courses, Experience, E-Portfolios, Online Learning]

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Images Actives
Various Authors, Website, December 9, 2011.

Joachim Dornbusch from the CRDP of Versailles writes, by email, "We inform you that our software Images Actives, which transforms pictures or patterns in images with interactivity, is available under the GNU-GPL." I had a look at it on the demo site, and it looks like a useful tool for creating Flash-animated images. Nothing too fancy - highlight an area and display a message. But effective.

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Ed Radio Show Notes, December 9, 2011

Here's what was broadcast on Ed Radio on Friday, December 9:
- Caroline Walters' Speech at the Whole Education conference 2011, from Edutalk
- Interview with Jim Smith @thelazyteacher at the Whole Education conference, from Edutalk
- Interview with Caroline Walters at Whole Education conference 2011, from Edutalk
- Interview with John Bateman at the Whole Education conference 2011, from Edutalk
- interview with Chris Yapp at Mirandamod, from Edutalk
- Radio Edutalk - 30th November 2011
- Nora Young, Full Interview: David Weinberger on LibraryCloud and ShelfLife, CBC Spark
- Google Schemer: Social Goal Management
- Kristin Kipp, national online teacher of the year, Life of an online teacher
- Scouts Canada apologizes to sex abuse victims
- Puppies Attack
- EasyBib Student Writing Guides & Google Apps Integration
- Video Interlude: ESL Teacher Sings To Kids, This Week in Education
- O'Reilly Radar, Visualization of the Week: Visualizing Bach
- Rabble, Giant squirrel causes chaos in office!
- Rabble, Canadian Youth Delegation to COP17: Youth: 1, Minister: 0

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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