Wednesday, August 31, 2005


Blogger has been long considered the "beginner" blogging platform, but they keep quietly adding features that put it in a different league. First it was a commenting system that works great, then they allowed photo uploads, and this morning I just noticed a little icon button that lets me upload files as well.

Personal Learning Environment

Scott Wilson is already to the UI prototype stage for a very well thought out social-software application. I love this -- so much of the stuff we talk about is just that, talk, but he's going a step further. It made me think that the ELGG platform already has much of this functionality, and could perhaps be modified with some template/interface work. It's also a bit reminiscent of Marc Canter's interface for the digital lifestyle aggregator.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Ed.Tech and Desire

Schools, Web 2.0, and the specter of desire is a nice mind-bender of a post. I'll quote too much of it, because I think these two paragraphs really show the contrast between old views of educational technology and the emerging view:
"It's not about storing and delivering documents, obtaining and protecting content, reproducing the class and department structures, restoring the Ozymandian authority of the pedagogue, driving students back to books, adding a human dimension to the chilly mechanical, regaining their attention, or fighting for brand and relevance. Pederson's rumination casts us back to some of the desires which knitted learners and teachers together in the first place, and still draw us into the same space. Listen to the fluidity of that swarm of desires, and think about how the Web 2.0 platform easily enables them to embody and proliferate.

Such desires are productive, constructive. We don't enter the classroom and await for Freire-free content to pour into our heads; instead we post, comment, search, and agglutinate into clusters aimed at getting knowledge. We publish our thoughts and findings in venues more finely grained, rapidly responsive, and far more broadly accessible than the scholarly paper or presentation, from wikis in process to sequences of archived blog entries. The open, social nature of the new Web means this experience is shareable, and hence replicable, and also driven by desire - I can point to a multiblog, multicampus discussion, then add to it in another entry, garnering feedback from still other audiences., a thing not at all possible with face-to-face classrooms or BlackBoard."
Via Stephen.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Prof Ratings

Stephen linked to this research on this week. I can see why profs don't much like sites that let students vent about them, but it sure is an interesting use of the web, and you start to filter out the venting comments. I checked out the prof ratings in the education faculty at Memorial, where I've been taking online courses in the last couple of years, and found that the ratings were pretty much spot-on for the instructors I've had (and the reputations of the ones I haven't).

Monday, August 15, 2005

Does College Matter?

Last month, Kathy asked Does College Matter?, then answered her question a bit later: College Matters...Sometimes. Both posts are excellent, with loads of solid comments to keep the conversation going. I liked her take on some alternative options:
"Maybe there should be third-party 'learning designers' who you pay to plan and choose the best options and put together a perfectly tailored custom program from a variety of learning vendors (instead of throwing all your learning eggs into one school basket) that still includes some general education, but in the way that makes the most sense for that particular student, and uses both online, distance, and *some* face-to-face learning. If a parent (and more importantly, the student) thinks that leaving home is important, that can be a component as well (although I'm still voting for the crash-course with a backpack and a rail pass thing). The students could go to a kind of "advanced learning camp" that could be anything from an off-campus dorm (complete with cafeteria), or something more primitive."
Rob wrote a related bit about the financial implications and expectations surrounding the college dream. He and Cyn also questioned how well the education system is preparing kids for a changing world. Lots of good big-picture ideas floating around.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Elgg Radio

The Elgg team launched Elgg Radio with their first podcast, an excellent interview with George Siemens (12MB mp3). It sounds like they're also planning a good lineup of future guests.

I'm still not the hugest fan of audioblogging as a way to transmit and glean information, but there is something nice and personal about hearing people speak in their "real" voices. George is one smart cookie, and Dave keeps him loaded up with solid questions. You get the impression that they could have easily turned half and hour into six hours of discussing these topics.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Extracurriculars as the Curriculum

This paper is about six years old already, but provides an interesting vision for change in the education system. I probably wouldn't focus so much on online courses as being the solution to all problems, and the writing does have the ring of the high-tech bubble of that time, but this stuff mostly seems attainable and desirable to me.

Extracurriculars as the Curriculum: A Vision of Education for the 21st Century -- synopsis and full paper (pdf). There are also a number of other papers from the same project that mostly look solid and haven't appeared to have aged badly. A quote from the synopsis:
"The education system in our country, based for too long on the pedagogically invalid 'factory model,' is in dire need of an overhaul. Thankfully, technology is on the verge of fundamentally reshaping the American education system. In particular, the technology to deliver full-length courses is rapidly becoming a reality, and the impact will be pervasive. The early signs of this change are already visible. I see technology driving educational change in the following key areas:
  • New role for teachers
  • New role for schools
  • Centralization of curriculum and instructional development"