Posts Categorized: Technology

Passover Googlebomb

Given yesterday’s fire bombing of a Jewish school in Montreal, I’m doing my part in "Googlebombing" to ensure that racist propoganda is pushed off the web. From Liz Lawley’s Blog, I’ve discovered that the top-ranking Google search for "jew" is a racist site. Therefore I’m linking to Wikipedia’s definition, in order increase Wikipedia’s Google ranking. This in turn will decrease the racist site’s Google ranking [note no link]. This small post is now part of a larger movement in the blog world, showing how a lot of networked indviduals can work together for a better future. Any fellow bloggers, please join in.

I wish all of our friends a happy and peaceful Passover.

Via James Farmer’s Incorporated Subversion.

Atlantic Canada eLearning Case Studies

A recent Industry Canada sponsored report, Innovative e-Learning Practices in Atlantic Canada: Case Studies is now available online. From the eight case studies, the conclusions drawn by the researchers on success factors for elearning in rural areas are:

Address a Clear Market Need
Use a Partnership/Collaboration Approach
Have Access to Broadband Technologies
Create a Sustainable Business Model
Use Prior Learning Recognition (aka PLA)
Training the Trainers/Teachers

Learning Objects Summit

I attended the final day of the eduSource Learning Objects Summit in Fredericton today. An interesting presentation from Doug MacLeod of the Netera Aliance with this thought – open source is a way of nurturing the e-learning industry to become a "real" industry. I guess it’s like railroads, you need the rails before you can start shipping. Open source gives us a common platform.

Also, there is now a training module on IMS content packaging developed by the Unversit?ɬ© de Moncton, available online.

RSS Aggregators Save You Time

If you’re not familiar with RSS (real simple syndication) then read on. Using an RSS aggregator is a heck of a lot faster and less time consuming than using a search engine, surfing the web, and then creating a huge list of favorites or bookmarks.

Here is a short, descriptive article on how blogs work. This site (jarche.com) has a blog, which exports an RSS feed (that’s the orange XML box).

I also use the Bloglines aggregator to keep track of other weblogs related to Learning, Work and Technology. You can use this public version of my aggregator, or you can go to the bottom of the page and "export subscriptions" to your own aggregator. It only takes a minute to set up with Bloglines, and I like their "My Recommendations" feature. Bloglines goes out and finds other sites that may be of interest to you, based on your current subscriptions. Bloglines also has a function that you can add to an Internet Explorer toolbar, so that you can subscribe to blogs or news sites with one click.

Via Seb Paquet, whose blog: "Seb’s Open Research" is in my RSS aggregator’s Technology folder.

“Classroom teaching will not scale”

Stephen Downes succinctly tells us why technology is the necessary equalizer in creating a global learning society:

Classroom teaching, even if supported with technology, will not scale. If we are to provide access to all, we must abandon the idea that education is something that is done for us and support the idea that it is something we can do for ourselves. That’s why we need technology in learning.

New technology, used to support new approaches to learning, is akin to the replacement of scriptoriums by literacy. Just as we no longer need people to read and write for us, we will, in the future, no longer require people to teach for us. The technology should – and will, because people demand it – allow us to teach ourselves. But clinging to the traditional model – in which writing is still done in scriptoriums (albeit, with ballpoint pens and laser printers) is to show a casual disregard for the needs and aspirations of people who not only benefit from writing, but are liberated by it.

In Tunisia I was told that the country had very different demographics than Canada. Most of the population is under 20. In order to make room in the classrooms for the expanding group of younger students entering the school system, the older students’ learning needs were starting to be addressed through e-learning. In this way, the limited physical infrastructure could be reserved for younger children. In Tunisia, classrooms don’t scale well either.

Virtual Networked Organisations

Via Rob Paterson, more on the future of work and business models, with an in-depth paper by George Defermos on the Networked Organisation. From the abstract:

This paper examines the latest of paradigms – the Virtual Network(ed) Organisation – and whether geographically dispersed knowledge workers can virtually collaborate for a project under no central planning. Co-ordination, management and the role of knowledge arise as the central areas of focus. The Linux Project and its development model are selected as a case of analysis and the critical success factors of this organisational design are identified …

This is an excellent synthesis of the rise of the corporate, command and control model, looking at the models of Taylor, Ford and moving on to the work of Senge. Defermos then goes on to a case study of Linux, compared to its competior – Microsoft. Defermos shows that the virtual organisation, as he defines it, is better suited for certain tasks than a centralised structure.

The virtual organisation may be best –
1. When there is a desire for standardisation, in order to increase innovation.
2. To ?��Ǩ?�dethrone a product or vendor?��Ǩ�� with monopolistic tendencies.
3. To maximise the market web and share in the profits.
4. When all vendors need the end-users’ input.
5. To discourage ?��Ǩ?�corporate backstabbing?��Ǩ��.
6. When the project is extremely complex.

It doesn’t seem that the networked virtual organisation will replace the centralised corporation, but it I’m sure that we will see more and more of these project-oriented organisations in this networked world.

Objects & Repositoires

George Siemens distills the essence of the use of learning objects and repositories in the e-learning field:

… content in context is the real challenge. Or put another way, the extraction of meaning from an object is the real challenge. We can have access to all the content in the world, but if we are not able to find what we need, when we need it, in the format we need it, and for the task which we need it, it’s of no use. Content management takes care of organizing resources. The extraction of meaningful content is where systems fail.

I find that there is still a lot of snake oil being sold as e-learning. If you can help people find what they need, when they need it, in the right context to be useful, then you will have effective content management and/or performance support. The rest is what a friend of mine calls "shovel ware".

Link Errors

I just discovered a number of link errors on my previous posts. I had used the wrong kind of quotation marks when referring to a URL, and the link just pointed back to this website 🙁

I think that I’ve cleaned them all up, and have discovered a bit more about HTML, which I’m learning on the fly.

Honesty on the Net

An article in the New York Times [requires free subscription] discusses a Cornell professor’s small study of student behaviour, and found that they will lie more often off-line than online. At first this seems counter-intuitive, but:

On the Internet, though, your words often come back to haunt you. The digital age is tough on its liars, as a seemingly endless parade of executives are learning to their chagrin. Today’s titans of industry are laid low not by ruthless competitors but by prosecutors gleefully waving transcripts of old e-mail, filled with suggestions of subterfuge.

The Internet may be making us all more honest, because our words can live forever, so we’re more careful online. We also have a tendency to spill our guts a lot more – witness blogs. This essay was referred by NewsScan Daily, whose credo is "Be informative, have fun, and get to the point!"

What, more laptops?

Stephen Downes recently attended the RIMA conference in Quebec where, among other things, he covered Seymour Papert’s presentation on learning environmentalism. It was wide ranging presentation, and here is an interesting statement on laptops in schools:

"Putting laptops in schools, he [Papert] noted, is not tantemount to educational change, but it’s the seed of educational change. It is the act of putting the change in motion. But it couldn’t have come from within. Ask educators what the proper ratio of computers to students is, and you may hear, %:1, 6:1 – but the proper answer is 1:1 – but that is something that can be said only outside the system."

So it’s not about the technology. It’s about planting seeds of change, and as any internal consultant can tell you, change from within is difficult. The kids want change, the parents want change, Governors and Premiers want change, but those in charge of the education system don’t think that radical change is necessary. Neither did the politburo.