OLDaily, by Stephen Downes

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July 12, 2013

Five Feet of Books
Metafilter, July 12, 2013

Thinking of progress. "During his days as Harvard's influential president, Dr. Charles W. Eliot made a frequent assertion: If you were to spend just 15 minutes a day reading the right books, a quantity that could fit on a five-foot shelf, you could give yourself a proper liberal education." In 1909, these books were published as 'The Harvard Classics'. When I was a child, they were available in cheap paperback, and my parents could afford them. Today, they're available for free on the internet, here. If it's even remotely true that we can give ourselves "a proper libveral education" (and my own experience suggests it is) then the world will be a different (and better) place in 50 years.

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Wholesale Adoption of iPads by Schools a Mistake
Harry Keller, educational technology & change, July 12, 2013


The headline makes you look twice, but the objection isn't to tablets or technology, it's to iPads in particular. "With the iPad, we have a tool with much greater cost than alternatives, more than twice that of a Chromebook, for example." Apple's major product is marketing, with which it enters and dominates markets against better and lower-cost rivals.

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BREAKING: Blackboard Uses “MOOC” in a Sentence
Michael Feldstein, e-Literate, July 12, 2013

Michael Feldstein on the Blackboard MOOC announcement: "As far as I can tell, what Blackboard has announced is that they have an announcement. A newsworthy announcement for sure, but still just words." More to the point, though, "As Phil has pointed out, the collision course between MOOC providers and LMS providers is becoming a clear and significant trend, and Blackboard’s announcement is one data point confirming that trend."

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How to follow learning online? LASI13 LAK13
Heli Nurmi, Heli Connecting Ideas, July 12, 2013


Summarizing the Learning Analytics Summer Instituite (LASI), Heli Nurmi notes in passing "During the week we got the recordings from the LAK13 conference,which was held in Leuven, Belgium. There are 40 presentations, 19 hours to watch and listen." She recommends Abelardo Pardo (who gives a nice talk on the 'middle space' between learning and technology) and Doug Clow, as well as blogs by Stephanie Richter and, again, Doug Clow.I've added both to the mix of sources I read.

Me, I don't think people have grasped yet the scale of academia today. In any given field, there are more experts and geniuses working at this very moment that in the entire history of the field. If I went into the office Monday and started watching these videos on the job, I'd be done some time Wednesday. Nobody can understand everything in a field; even mastering a subfield can be a significant challenge.

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Two Opposite But Important Elements of Learning
Karl Kapp, Kapp Notes, July 12, 2013


"Without these two elements, a person does not learn as deeply as they could. When designing a learning intervention, you need to design both high levels of activity as well as quiet times for reflection." I have called these elements 'practice and reflection', while Karl Kapp opts for 'interactivity' and 'reflection'. But I think we're up to the same thing:

  • In the former: "Learning is about action, activity and engagement. The learner needs to be practicing the task he or she undertakes, the learner needs to be engaged in the instruction and working in an authentic or realistic environment."
  • In the latter, "After an activity or experience is over and the learner sits back and reflects upon what happened, that’s when learning occurs... he or she gains insights into behaviors and the proper way of performing a function."

This is a common pattern: activity, then settling; activity, then settling. It's how we forge iron to make steel, it's how nature creates crystals, mountain ranges and river systems, it's how we govern through conflict then conciliation. It's a law of thermodynamics, it's a computational mechanism, it's a learning theory - perhaps the learning theory.

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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