By Stephen Downes - Stephen's Web. The World Is Now Closed
There is a world of difference between the sentence "You have no friends" and "Your xBox says you have no friends." One is a statement of fact about the world. The other is a statement about the xBox's understanding of the world. Of the two, only the second is likely top be true. Social networking sites do not have some sort of special knowledge about the world, and according to the author, they shouldn't communicate as though they do. Attribution of statements will become increasingly important. More...
By Stephen Downes - Stephen's Web. 72 Optical Illusions and Visual Phenomena
Another optical illusions page. I've been working through the examples over the last few days. What I really like about this site is than not only does it present the now familiar illusions, but that it also provides explanations for the phenomena and links to the scientific papers describing them. More...
Guidelines for the Creation of Institutional Repositories at Universities and Higher Education Institutions
By Stephen Downes - Stephen's Web. Guidelines for the Creation of Institutional Repositories at Universities and Higher Education Institutions
This is quite a good report that deserves a wide readership, especially among its target audience in Latin American Universities. It outlines the process of creating institutional repositories, describing their purpose, typical contents and potential authors. It looks at content management, including metadata, copyright issues, software and quality control. I found the discussion to be well-informed and precise. For example, instead of simply stating that the repository would contain 'learning objects' the authors note that "The concept of learning objects is now evolving into more dynamic, granular and re-usable realities." This is quite true - and something you would learn not from product brochures but rather a depth of knowledge and experience in the area. More...
By Stephen Downes - Stephen's Web. Advantage New Brunswick
The big news here in New Brunswick is the release of the government's new post-secondary education plan. I just finished reading it. It is in general unimaginative. This represents the problem with establishing policy by 'stakeholder' consultation. Some of the things I agree with. Some I don't:
- I don't disagree with the creation of Polytechs. I think they'll serve a useful function.
- I don't disagree with cutting the satellite campuses. NB has a tendency to spread things out too much.
- the ND PSE Commission is essentially a provincial accreditation board, and hence reasonable.
- I would have gone further and made the four remaining instances of NBCC separate institutions, which their own (self-chosen) names.
- I think there should be tuition cuts, but I support the conversion of loans to grants.
- I support spending an additional $50 million on the PSE system.
- I support requiring private institutions to satisfy quality requirements.
- I am disappointed that distance education merited only a couple of paragraphs, and online learning no mention at all (they didn't even spell 'Athabasca' correctly).
- I think NB would have been better off setting up an independent DE institution, because UM and UNB won't support distance education - this is evident even in the commission's remarks, that "care should be taken not to duplicate an educational opportunity that already exists in a cost-effective and accessible manner" which by definition for these institutions is all of them.
- We need to continue the emphasis on attracting international students, especially through online and distance learning. More...
By Stephen Downes - Stephen's Web. LearningPortal
Worth a quick look - Learning Portal is offering YouTube style audio and video lessons for sale. "The company enables content publishers to distribute valuable training and eLearning products to a global community of interested learners." The intent here is to make it easy for content producers. More...
By Stephen Downes - Stephen's Web. Tablet PC Articles Available
I have always thought well of tablet computers, even though they've been overshadowed recently by things like Facebook, Second Life, and the iPhone. I still think they have a good future, and so I welcome this issue of the IEEE Computer magazine (this link, available only for a short time, is circulating inside Microsoft and HP, natch - if you don't get to it before they shut off the taps, send me an email). More...
By Stephen Downes - Stephen's Web. The Chronicle Spots the Dark Side of Second Life Usage
Bryan Alexander picks up on some more 'fear and trembling' coverage from the Chronicle, this time describing Second Life. "You see someone really playing out the self that they want to explore," she says. "It's not always who they want to be. Sometimes they can be exploring a dark side of themselves." Meanwhile, I've been following the discussion on the Second Life for Educators mailing list on a longer - and very negative - report by Michael J. Bugega in the Chronicle's hidden pages on Second Life. Chris Collins writes, "I'd characterize it as a scare article, and not very well informed." Raven Phoenix writes, " The short bit I was able to read is definitely geared to scare readers about Second Life. More...