OLDaily, by Stephen Downes

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November 22, 2013

Winamp shutting down after over 15 years
Jacob Kastrenakes, The Verge, November 22, 2013

Now what will I do for Ed Radio? "The famous media player Winamp will shut down next month, over 15 years after its initial release. Though Winamp eventually lost popularity, in the late '90s and early 2000s it was one of the go-to media players for listening to local music or radio streams. In 2002, Winamp's maker, Nullsoft, was acquired by AOL for over $80 million in stock, where it's remained in development until now." I use a Winamp plugin as my digital signal processor (DSP) for ShoutCast. Npow what will I use?

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Fake and Real Student Voice
Dean Shareski, Ideas, thoughts from an EdTech, November 22, 2013


As Dean Shareski observes, a lot of educators are enthused about this video depicting three girls making a Rube Goldberg machine rather than imagining themselves as Disney princesses. "I like the message. I like the way it’s shot. I like the girls," he says. But like most images in advertising, it's not real. And so even if we like the message, we have to question the methodology. But more, "While I might be able to look past that, and I can, I don’t like the perception that this is authentic as it suggests. Which raises the larger question of authentic student voice." And in fact, thd child's voice is usurped far more often than we might like. The Dalton Sherman keynote, for example, urging schools to change. But he never had any hand in writing it. Shareski points to the Logan Lapante TED video as a good example of authentic student voice, but this supposes that a TED video can be authentic, which I doubt. TED only picks messages its well-heeled sponsors want to hear, and a TED speaker, no matter how apparently authentic, is essentially the online world's teacher's pet reciting a preapproved message. Real voices of any kind are genuinely difficult to find, which is why when they appear, the are so valued.

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The MOOC Backlash -- A Response
Jonathan Haber, Huffington Post, November 22, 2013

The Thrun watch continues: Jonathan Haber, "I've seen innovations and experimentation -- some promising, some not -- that demonstrate a development in educational technology more dynamic than anything I can remember." Jason Lodge, "Is the dream of free online university education fading?" Idit Harel Caperton, "Don't Give Up on MOOCs." Lauren Hepler (Silicon Valley Business Journal), Coursera founder Andrew Ng doesn't agree with Thrun criticisms of MOOCs (but like Udacity, Cursera is going after corporate learning).

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9 reasons why I am NOT a Social Constructivist
Donald Clark, Donald Clark Plan B, November 21, 2013

More fun curmudgeonly criticism from Donald Clark. He writes, "I’m not even sure that social constructivism is an actual theory, in the sense that it’s verified, studied, understood and used as a deep, theoretical platform for action." (Me, I see social constrictivism as positing a 'black box' theory of learning - but back to Clark). Some thoughts:

- I agree, kind of, with Clark's criticism of Rousseau (though the Hume quote is unfair, as he was trying to give Rousseau a place to live, not theoretical support) - but I lean toward Rousseau's naturalism, and away from his pronouncements on 'the general will'

- I am also, with Clark, not a Marxist (though I've been accused of being one) - not because of Stalin and Mao and Pol Pot (none of whom actually practiced Marxism) but because I reject collectivism in favour of what might be called cooperativism

- I also, with Clark, don't agree with Piaget, and mostly for the same reasons: "His famous four ‘ages and stages’ developmental model has been fairly well demolished." I agree with a sensitivity to capacities - children are different from adults. But children are also very different from each other. So 'class based' learning theory is probably wrong.

- and, with Clark, I don't agree with Vygotsky, and in particular with "the idea that learning is fundamentally a socially mediated and constructed activity." But while Clark bases his objection in Chomsky's ideas, I do not. I just don't see learning as inherently based in language. That doesn't make society irrelevant - I do endorse the idea of 'scaffolding', for example - but it means that society is not necessary.

- Finally, I am with Clark in his last few points: I agree that social constructivism is inefficient (especially iof you need to just know something), I agree it ignores the power of solitary learning, I agree that it is damaging to the less privileged, and that it appeals to a sense of utopianism. I am not an instructivist - I don't believe in teaching - but I think showing and telling can be incredibly valuable.

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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