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January 11, 2012

Knowledge and Recognition
Stephen Downes, Half an Hour, January 11, 2012.

I've posted a few articles in my blog recently - Knowledge and Recognition talks about how one network learns from another. It's pretty dense and might not be for everyone. I also wrote a shorter article on the use of data: "The problem is not with the use of data to make decisions - the problem is with the simplistic one-dimensional use of data to make decisions." And on Saturday I drew out a distinction between memory and memorization.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Web Logs, Networks]

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Deeper Connections Matter More
Rodd Lucier, The Clever Sheep, January 11, 2012.

files/images/IMG_4831.JPG, size: 46014 bytes, type:  image/jpeg I love the image accompanying this article. I don't like the phrase 'deeper connections'. It's misleading. Connections are not 'deep' or 'shallow'. And none of the measures Rodd Lucier mentions in this post - being met face-to-face, online conversation, comment sharing, collaboration to create a presentation, or seeking out - is indicative of 'depth' (where, I guess, 'depth' would mean something licke 'more foundational', 'more detailed or complicated', or whatever). Connections are strong or week; communications through those connections are frequent or infrequent; signals are clear or noisy. A connection is not a semantic entity. Talking about a connection as though it were a sentence (or even a conversation) misrepresents the nature of a connection. In my view.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Semantic Web]

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A Sticking Plaster Mentality to Open Web Access in Schools
Tom Barrett, Ed Tech, January 11, 2012.

Tom Barrett writes, with some justification, "Just before Christmas Google announced the YouTube for Schools platform, which runs through a schools Google Apps for Edu account, allowing students to access selected content. In a week where the focus is on the changes of ICT curriculum I am concerned that the wider debate around open web access in schools will be once again lost." The service is merely "sticking plaster" over the wider issues, especially as children run home after school and access the open YouTube. "I would like to think that using this version of YouTube in schools will make teaching colleagues question why it is in place and broaden their understanding and appreciation for the filters we put in place, but I worry it will simply be swallowed as is."

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Schools, YouTube, Video, Google]

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Commemorating 1812 in the New Year!
Various Authors, Virtual Museum, January 11, 2012.

files/images/18121.jpgh125w125zc1q100, size: 30709 bytes, type:   2012 will be a fun year for those of us in North America as we Canadians celebrate our military victory over the U.S. in the War of 1812 by arguing with Americans who inexplicably believe that they won it. "For a comprehensive list of resources and events, be sure to visit 1812.gc.ca, the official site of the Bicentennial of the War of 1812, produced by the Government of Canada. Resources also include a free downloadable iPhone App, as well as mobile versions of the site for Blackberry and other mobile platform users."

[Link] [Comment][Tags: United States, Canada]

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The Costs of Online Learning
Tamara Butler Battaglino, Matt Haldeman, and Eleanor Laurans, Fordham Institute, January 11, 2012.

files/images/fordham_online_savings.png, size: 29605 bytes, type:  image/png I'm not sure I trust the Fordham Institute - the conservative 'think tank' has been the subject of criticism for bias - but it has released a report arguing that online learning costs less than traditional or blended learning (see chart, right). Education Week's Katie Ash notes that the report finds cost savings not so much through technology but through other means: "While more than half of traditional schools' financial resources typically go toward labor costs, virtual schools can often reduce those costs by increasing the student-teacher ratio or by reducing teacher salaries by hiring only part-time teachers or paraprofessionals." It's not so much that I disagree with these findings - I don't, really - as it seems to me that they are based on off-the-cuff calculations rather than hard data. "Authors of the paper... gathered data from public documents as well as in interviews with entrepreneurs, policy experts, and school leaders." The only documentation of costs came from the U.S. Census Bureau 2009 Public Education Finances and the National Center for Education Statistics Digest of Education Statistics - far too light research to justify the conclusions drawn (even at the ginormous margin of +/- 20%) in this paper.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Schools, Seneca, Research, Online Learning, Blended Learning]

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UK education minister calls for open source curriculum!
Graham Attwell, Pontydysgu, January 11, 2012.

Graham Attwell reports that the English education minister has called for an open source curriculum. "Gove said three main things that technology can do for learning:
- Disseminate knowledge incredibly widely.
- Change the way teachers teach, with adaptive software personalising learning.
- Allow teachers to assess pupils in more complex and sophisticated ways."
All of which are true. In addition, "A website – schooltech.org.uk – has been launched to discuss the new proposals."

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Schools, Great Britain, Personalization, Open Source]

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Digital Literacy Tour
Various Authors, Google, January 11, 2012.

Google has developed a 'digital literacy tour' educators may find useful. Topics range from detecting lies to playing safe online to steering clear of cyber tricks. It's a bit light IMHO (be sure to explore the links to the left or it will seem really light) but it's Google and hence based in good knowledge of these areas.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Video, Google]

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Michael Gove and the computing curriculum: not thought-through
Ian Grove-Stephensen, Yacapaca, January 11, 2012.

Ian Grove-Stephensen voices his objections to an English decision to replace the teaching of 'ICT' in its schools with the teaching of 'computer science',, influenced, he says, by a speech from Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt. "So we have eight months in which to retrain the 80% of ICT teachers who have no background in comp-sci, to write a new curriculum and devise new examinations – something that requires a lead time of at least two years." I guess there's an opportunity there for online and informal learning - and the experience may change the way teachers teach ICT or computer science in the future. (Looking for the silver lining)

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Schools, Google, Experience, Online Learning]

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'Badges' Earned Online Pose Challenge to Traditional College Diplomas
Jeffrey R. Young, Chronicle of Higher Education, January 11, 2012.

files/images/photo_17677_landscape_large.jpg, size: 13421 bytes, type:  image/jpeg A well-written and fair article from the Chronicle on the controversial subject of the use of badges to recognize learning. It outlines some of the early initiatives - MITx, Mozilla Badges - and then interviews David Wiley on the subject, who gets right to the heart of the matter: "We have to question the tyranny of the degree," says Wiley. "As soon as big employers everywhere start accepting these new credentials, either singly or in bundles, the gig is up completely." The author then raises the question of whether this commoditizes the idea of learning, which prompted me to consider that the traditional college degree is already well-commoditized. The article then looks at how a site called OpenStudy rewards achievement. "We've been called a massively multiplayer study group," says designer Preetha Ram. And "Winning recognition for underappreciated educational activities drives many of the college officials who are experimenting with badges."

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

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A Treatise of Human Nature
David Hume, eBooks Adelaide, January 11, 2012.

This is one of my favorite books, but I've never linked to it in this newsletter. Until now. Written by David Hume as a young man in 1739, it "fell still-borne from the press", attracting scant attention, and most of that negative, on first publication. Polished philosophers profess to prefer Hume's mature works, the Enquiries, but I much prefer the more authentic argument of the Treatise, the version unmodified by decades of objections and equivocations.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Newsletters]

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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