OLDaily, by Stephen Downes

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September 4, 2012

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Personal Learning Environments and the revolution of Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development
Ismael Peña-López, ICTlogy, September 4, 2012.

Ismael Peña-López sent me this item on personal learning environments (PLEs) and Vygotsky's zone of proximal development (ZPD). Recall that the ZPD is what student cannot accomplish on his or her own, but can accomplish with the help of a 'more knowledgeable other'. So how are we to understand the PLE in this context? "The Personal Learning Environment could be understood both as the Zone of Proximal Development and the full set of More Knowledgeable Others," where 'more knowledgeable others' in this context includes the full set of resources available online, not just the people who author them or interact with the student. So "way to build, fill in with or reach out for the tools and people that will help a learner through the ZPD. Another way to look at the ZPD-PLE relationship is how the PLE (re)defines the ZPD itself, continuously, dynamically." The PLE, in other words, helps define "the biggest ZPD possible," because it includes not just some specific knowledgeable other, but all possible knowledgeable others. It's an interesting argument; I would have to think Vygotsky is more relevant than I do to benefit from it, but I'm sure it will be of interest to many.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Personal Learning Environment, Paradigm Shift]

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Content Without Borders
Various Authors, Pearson / Equella, September 4, 2012.

Someone sent me this link, which is to a Pearson Education sponsored open educational resources page featuring one of my talks in a prominent role. Although I have no great affection for commercial publishers, I have no problem with them making these resources freely available. Contrast that with this article from the New York Times touting the "free online" University of the People - which charges people to access content and to take exams. This has the OER University Groups thread in a roil - Steve Foerster writing "it shouldn't be touted as 'free' when it isn't," and Wayne Mackintosh adding "it would be great if institutions providing more affordable access to open education would share back any value additions based on OERs they have received freely." But the defenders of the so-called 'free' Creative Commons licenses, which allow commercial use, are defending exctly this sort of scenario. Rory McGreal even suggests that blocking content behind a tuition wall may be allowed even then a "non-commercial" license is used. But this isn't why people use these licenses. They use them because they want the content to be accessible without barriers, not locked away to give some enterprise something to sell. Funny that Pearson seems to get this, while some of the most vocal defenders of open educational resources do not. Image: UOP Founder Shai Reshef.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Open Educational Resources, Accessibility, Books, Google, Assessment, Tuition and Student Fees]

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Brian Turek, Website, September 4, 2012.

SHA - the Secure Hash Algorithm - is a type of cryptographic hash function which, per Wikipedia, "takes an arbitrary block of data and returns a fixed-size bit string, the hash value, such that a change to the data will (with very high probability) change the hash value." The algorithms are complicated, but the concept is intuitively illustrated in this Javascript implementation of various SHA hashes. SHA is widely used for web security, including password storage and authentication.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Wikipedia, Security Issues]

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How copyright enforcement robots killed the Hugo Awards
Annalee Newitz , io9, September 4, 2012.

In one of the week's weirder events, robot copyright police took down a lice webcast of the science fiction world's most prestigious awards ceremony, the Hugo Awards. The event was being streamed through UStream, which interrupted the broadcast part way through, apparently because some film clips (the Hugos have a video category) were shown. Never mind that the owners had submitted these clips themselves, or that the Hugos had permission to stream them, or that such use falls clearly within the domain of fair use. No - the UStream feed went down and stayed down; no number of appears could bring it back. We will rue the day, I think, that we turned our culture and social environment over to robot justice.

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

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It's Becoming Clear That No One Actually Read Facebook's IPO Prospectus
Henry Blodget, Business Insider, September 4, 2012.

I have to admit, I have been laughing quietyly to myself at investors who bought Facebook stock at the IPO price and then watched as most of their investment vanished into the aether. Though that said, I'm sure there must be better uses for the mountains of cash being hoarded by the world's companies than to just burn it away (they could, for example, give it to me). And I can't say I've thought much of Facebook either, as they have seemed more interested in commoditizing the social graph than in creating anything the rest of us can use. But reading this article - and actually reading Mark Zuckerberg's letter to investors for the first time - makes me feel better about the whole thing. As Zuckerberg writes, "Facebook was not originally created to be a company. It was built to accomplish a social mission — to make the world more open and connected... we don’t build services to make money; we make money to build better services. And we think this is a good way to build something." Well. Whether or not I agree with Zuckerberg's mission exactly, I do agree with the idea of a company designed to do something other than make money. Because, you know, existing only to make money is antisocial.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Books]

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Vendors of Learning Management and E-learning Products
Dan McIntosh, Trimeritus, September 4, 2012.

I can't say enough good about this resource, which I stumbled on today, the day after this update was posted, while working on something else. It is the most comprehensive list of education software providers I've seen, period. I can't imagine how much time and work it has taken Dan McIntosh to compile this, and I can't say enough good about Trimeritus, which published and posted the list openly online. What would be really nice would be were these listings compiled into an open database we could all contribute to and draw from.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Books]

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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