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Another good heads up from Derek Wenmoth towards PeopleAggregator. Could this be the beginning of the truly nomadically/mobile, socially networked Internet?

From the TechCrunch article:

Here’s how it works. PeopleAggregator.net will be a fully functioning online social network in and of itself, but it will share information with other services through common identity standards for our profiles and through APIs (application programming interfaces) for our writing, multimedia and contacts.

Perhaps most important, PeopleAggregator will also provide new social networks with hosted software and later next month will offer downloads of the software for organizations who prefer to host it themselves. Licenses will be free for nonprofits and will cost commercial ventures a one-time sum after they successfully monetize the system.

What this means is that it will be easy to come and go from new social networks, instead of being locked in to one just because you’ve put the time and energy into using your account there. Instead of being at the mercy of one centralized database and service, if Canter’s vision succeeds then countless social networks will proliferate with unique styles and function but with interoperability.

They only thing that tells me this (one in particular) won’t work is the name. And, as sad and shallow as that may be, I think its fair to say that the name makes or breaks the success of a social software… I hope I’m wrong though, and its name may still be easy to change..

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Derek Wenmoth has posted a round of interesting stuff to his blog recently, one of which is right up my alley at the moment:

In a globalised world, mediocre teaching is doomed

By 2036, the forms of teacher preparation that currently prevail in Western nations will have sunk into oblivion. We will have discarded schools of education, the pedagogies they teach, and the certification apparatus that they serve. Such schools, pedagogies, and certifications have clung to life stubbornly for the better part of a century despite ample evidence of their unsuitability. Why predict that in the next 30 years they will finally follow the giant ground sloth into the La Brea tar pit of history?

air on the back of your neck stand on end 🙂

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Art rightly had a go at my positive impressions last week, towards superficial readings of data looking at ICT use in NZ schools. The survey results were linked in by a comment from anonymous – someone who has been dropping unhelpful remarks in here ever since I moved to Dunedin. Of course Art is right to point out the inadequacies of these surveys and reports, and to criticise my lack of vigilance… what I was really trying to do though was encourage that Anonymous to come out. No more of that. That’s enough worrying about negative remarks from Anonymous comments here. Let’s hope this Dunedin weather (or whatever it is) doesn’t keep clouding my vision or freeze over my brain.

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The US wants to delete predators. DOPA. How embaressing for them.

My suggestions for our networked colleagues in the USA:

  1. Leave the USA, seek refuge.
  2. Homeschooling
  3. Daily excursions to the local Internet cafe
  4. Start a community wireless project
  5. Assign censorship and hacking as in class activity, and traditional curriculum for homework
  6. See my posts realating to filtering and security in Australia

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I don’t mean to help those Yahoos with their advertising, but there is something else in this video that reminds me about how hard or impossible it is to change education.

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From the EdNA news feed comes a confirmation of a wack of (bi lingual) open course material coming out of Japan.

Now, if you decide to go a bit this way, you really must come up with something to keep the momentum of open source going. I suggest multi lingual, multi media wikis.

Nagoya University OpenCourseWare (NU OCW)

The site provides free access to teaching materials used in selected courses. Teaching materials from twenty-five courses available, each set of courseware consists of a Course Overview, a Syllabus, a Calendar, Lecture Notes, Assignments, Grading and Evaluation Criteria, Related Resources, and Classroom Insights.

Waseda University OpenCourseWare

Waseda OpenCourseWare is linked to the university’s electronic lecture information search system. Included are course materials for: Numerical Computation, Information Technologies, World Englishes and Miscommunications, Reading Simplified Japanese Characters, Circuit Theory, Numerical Computation with Guaranteed Accuracy, Coexistence in Asia.

University of Tokyo OpenCourseWare

A free and open educational resource for faculty, students, and self-learners around the world. Global Focus on Knowledge (Science of Matter); Medicine (Instruction to Pathology, Clinical Bioinformatics); Engineering (Applied Acoustics; Fundamental Physics for Electronics; Machine Design Technology; Statistics mathematical principle; Quantum Mechanics); Humanities and Sociology (Sociology of Care); Science (Molecular Computing); Economics (Business Administration); Arts and Sciences (Historical development of Spanish language; Geographical variation of Spanish language; World Model; International Politics); Education (Educational Administration and Finance); Frontier Sciences (Nonlinear Finite-element-method; Physics of Transition Metal Oxides); Interfaculty Initiative in Information Studies (Information Semiotics; Communication system; Evolutional Ecology Informatics).

Tokyo Institute of Technology OpenCourseWare

The site provides free access to course materials aiming at releasing the Tokyo Tech’s high-level educational resources on science and technology as the world’s public property. Included are course descriptions and lecture notes from the: Graduate School of Science and Engineering, Graduate School of Bioscience and Biotechnology, Interdisciplinary Graduate School of Science and Engineering, Graduate School of Information Science and Engineering, Graduate School of Decision Science and Technology, Graduate School of Innovation Management, and Common Course of Graduate School.

Osaka University Open Courseware

The site offers a collections of Osaka University’s educational materials. Included are course materials from the Schools of: Dentistry, Economics, Engineering, Engineering Science, Frontier Biosciences Human Sciences, Information Science and Technology, International Public Policy, Law, Law School, Language and Culture, Letters, Medicine, Pharmaceutical Sciences, and

Kyoto University OpenCourseWare

Free access to course materials from Kyoto University. Included are materials from the: Faculty of Integrated Human Studies; Faculty of Letters; Faculty of Education; Faculty of Law; Faculty of Economics; Faculty of Science; Faculty of Medicine; Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences; Faculty of Engineering; Faculty of Agriculture; Graduate School of Letters; Graduate School of Education; Graduate School of Law; Graduate School of Economics; Graduate School of Science; Graduate School of Medicine; Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Sciences; Graduate School of Engineering; Graduate School of Agriculture; Graduate School of Human and Environmental Studies; Graduate School of Energy Science; Graduate School of Asian and African Area Studies; Graduate School of Informatics; Graduate School of Biostudies; Graduate School of Global Environmental Studies; Kyoto University Law School; College of Medical Technology.

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Chris Harvey left a comment link to this impressive video of Richard Stallman talking about freedom and software.

Quite an inspirational video, with a setting that kinda reminded me of a 1960’s avant guard film – like Wavelength by Michael Snow (my personal favourite). Its hard to tell but the curious composition of this Stallman film makes it look as though he is in prison, secretly sending out this message from behind his bunk. Come to think of it – this must have been deliberate.

Amazing film. Thanks Chris.

This video is formated to the open standard Ogg. I use VLC media player which supports this and many other formats.

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For a while now, I’ve had a little Anonymous lurker leaving generally unfriendly comments – but today she’s come good and left a link to back up one such remark and point out some more information regarding the state of play for ICTs in New Zealand schools.

I was joining Artichoke in a bit of a rant as to why the investments in ICTs didn’t seem to be turning into significant changes into real changes in teaching and learning. Anon pointed to a list of reports from the Ministry that seems to say otherwise. I’m still reading through them, but at first glance it seems at the very least the reports point to some very good results infrastructure wise. Now looking for the stuff that’s harder to see though – is that infrastructure producing digital and network literate staff and students? While I look a little, check this summary out:

Major findings of the 2005 survey

Outlined below are several major findings of the 2005 ICT in Schools survey. Further detail are provided in the main findings of this report, which can be accessed via

ICT in Schools Report 2005

  • All Schools now have access to the Internet. Overall, schools more commonly reported 80% or more of their computers were connected to the Internet.
  • Furthermore, most schools use a high-speed (broadband) Internet connection (93% secondary and 78% primary).
  • Nearly all schools also have an Internet safety policy or strategy (91% primary and 96% secondary), although only three quarters of all schools reported specific Internet safety measures.
  • The ratio of computers to students is now one computer for every four secondary students, and one computer per five primary school students. In Māori Medium schools, the ratio of computers is one computer per four students.
  • More than one-in-five schools mostly run computers three years old or older. For these schools the old computers account for three-quarters to 100% of all their computers. There is also evidence that Māori schools are less likely to have new machines.
  • The TELA laptops for teachers programme has had a major impact on accessibility of laptops for schools, and has become the primary source of schools’ laptops.
  • There has been no change in the proportion of networked schools using cable, as a total of 66% (cf. 66% in 2003) of schools can be described as `networked’ (80% or more classrooms are linked by cable). This year’s results also revealed that about one-in-ten of all schools are networked wirelessly.
  • A large number of schools (71%-82%) reported that principals and teachers now have remote access (e.g. from their homes) to the school network: however much fewer permit remote access by students (19% primary, 26% secondary) or parents (15% primary, 7% secondary).
  • Teachers generally have good access to data projectors for lesson delivery (62% primary, 89% secondary and 60% Māori Medium schools). However relatively few classrooms have these permanently mounted (1% of classrooms in primary, 8% classrooms in secondary and 4% of classrooms in Maori Medium schools).
  • Nearly all principals were aware of the Ministry of Education’s resource LeadSpace. At least 70% of principals actually used the web site, with at least 15% accessing the site `at least weekly’.
  • Principals’ use of the World Wide Web has increased considerably compared to 2003 with 78% of primary principals and 83% of secondary principals indicating that they now use the web daily (cf. 67% and 70% respectively in 2003).
  • Principals are continuing to give priority to ICT professional development (ICT PD). Approximately two thirds of principals indicated that they had attended an ICT professional development programme during the last 12 months and a similar proportion intend to participate in further professional development during ht next 12 months.
  • Teachers professional development is receiving a similar high priority with approximately three quarters of all schools indicating the 50% or more of their teachers would be participating in ICT PD during the next 12 months.
  • While there has been no change in the proportion of secondary schools with web sites, the proportion of primary schools has increased noticeably (50% cf.. 35% in 2003).
  • However, in approximately one third of all schools with web sites, responsibility for updating the web site is still in the hands of the ICT support technician.
  • Schools are demonstrating a strong interest in e-learning, with the technology infrastructure largely already in place. Moreover, around three quarters of all schools are indicating plans for implementing at least one e-learning activity during the next 12 months. In some specific areas such as linking with other schools by video or audio conferencing for virtual events, Māori Medium schools are demonstrating leadership.
  • The proportion of schools’ ICT spending from their Operations Grants varies widely; however the average spend is 12.6% among primary schools and 15.2% among secondary schools.
  • Continuing the trend from earlier years, an increasing proportion of principals report efficiency and quality improvements in curriculum delivery through the use of ICT (66% primary and 72% secondary report efficiency gains and 71% primary and 76% secondary report quality improvements).
  • Primary school teachers continue to lead the field in terms of the adoption of ICT. 16% of primary teachers are now ranked at the highest level of adoption (“creative application to new contexts”), representing a 7% increase from 2003, while 6% of secondary teachers are ranked at this level, an increase of 1% from 2003.

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Michael Nelson is still the most progressive teacher I have met. Recently he posted an update to his work in developing his web design course offered at the Blue Mountains Campus of TAFE NSW in Australia.

Michael was one of the first to jump on the wikiversity initiative and develop a resource for learning web design. Now Michael and his students each year maintain that resource – this year they are working on a levels design for the learning.

Michael has also recently developed a few flash cards for learning things about basic html and css. Personally I think this is an excellent way to get and keep acquainted with the basics. Last year Michael and a student were toying with networked first person shooter games to learn this stuff. Would be great to see a coming together of these two approaches.

And through Mike I’ve discovered so many handy tools, like Google Spread Sheet. Well worth keeping track of Michael and his student’s work.

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Many thanks Bill – your notes are fair and clear, and I agree with almost all of it. I agree with your criticism:

My criticism Leigh, is not that your position is wrong (I believe it is right) but that you have over simplified something that is quite complex. Your argument sounds like a technocentric magic bullet.

You’re right, I can sound as though I’m talking up a technocentric magic bullet, though I think it depends who’s listening and how. So I’d like to reinforce the original intent of the TALO post you are critiquing, especially where I say, “..we’re not asking too much really..”

As you acknowledge, I was concentrating on a comparison between networked learning and previous attempts by schools into elearning. By schools, I mostly mean tertiary. By “not asking too much really” I meant compared to in the past where teachers were encouraged and funded to learn html, java, action script, css, cms, meta data tagging and scorm at the worst, and to produce digital content in quite a complicated ways using broadcast quality videos and fully intergrated “learning objects”. compared to all that – creating a blog, participating in a wiki, and using a camera phone to record and distribute video is so much easier and more clearly more sustainable – therefore, compared to content centric, managed learning system, we are not asking too much.

But you did acknowledge that intent in my post, so it must be the extension to my opinion that you are critiquing most of all, in which I say:

By doing so [networked learning] we believe teachers will rediscover the relevance in their topics that their students need and crave. By doing so we believe teacher’s live’s, attitudes and moral will improve. By doing so we believe teachers will discover ways of integrating those “distractions” such as mobile phones, MP3 Xbox, PSP and television players and laptops, into their classroom activities. By doing so we believe teachers will learn how to communicate better in our digitally networked world.

I don’t think we are asking too much really.

And I whole heartedly agree with your criticism Bill, that I am over simplifying.. Getting relevance into School curriculum is complex (impossible?) it is here that we are clearly asking a huge if not impossible amount. So the extension and my final sentence at this point is actually a cynical and sarcastic close.

We all know what teachers do and say are entirely separate things.. “do as I say, not as I do” is how it generally goes right? I winged about this a bit last year as well. Getting teachers to acknowledge it and take responsibility back for the curriculum, away from the Boards of Study and curriculum centres, and develop something more immediate and locally relevant with which is a hard (impossible?) task for everyone involved. And seeing as you link to that work in progress called teaching is dead – long live learning (which I’m now confident is a very good name), you can see that I have a somewhat cynical and sarcastic view of teaching as we commonly know and experience it. I don’t believe school is where we go to get an education anymore, remembering that I speak mostly of a tertiary and sometimes secondary school.

So Bill, if we agree that there is a need for a radical change in our education system, I guess it’s a matter of whether we agree who and what is ultimately responsible. No matter what the complexity and detail, I think it is a system made up of teachers that is the problem… ((talk about biting the hand that feeds. I can feel myself about to be taken round the back of the shed to be shot..))

You made the interesting opening in your post, explaining why you think change cannot happen systemically, and why some form of “revolution” is inevitable. In many ways I share that view, but I also feel that your critique of my efforts could be tool with which “Schools know very well how to nip this subversion in the bud” as you say. Kind of like white wash, absorb the foreign body by digesting it into our complex system… classical

By simplifying, I feel it is easier to mobilise or at least motivate people who are interested in seeing our education system change, (not just teachers) and creating a larger foreign body. At the very least it helps people quickly see that there is some sort of problem, and that schools are not the hallowed ground we think they might be, and a place in which they might have a stake to claim. Sure, there are some who don’t appreciate the simplifications and strive to describe the detail, sometimes by first discrediting the other revolutionaries, but I’m not overly concerned because I’m satisfied that this revolution is driving itself now. I’m not overly concerned at the prospect of alienating some teachers and managers, because it is not only teachers or managers that should hear this.

What I want to do is meet or convince others of the need for whole change, and who feel that something like the information communications technologies we are using today will enable that change. I have met all sorts of teachers who harbor these feelings in some way. Old deschoolers, anarchists, outreach workers, lefties and has been unionists – always in places I least expect. Perhaps simplification of the issues is often what is needed to enliven those people and inspire them to see the possibilities and take action of some sort – start a blog perhaps, support blogging in the organisation.

Apart from over simplification, you also quite fairly criticise my opinion as being technocentric. Is it really technocentric though, my arguments? I guess to someone who is not used to producing and accessing digital formats of information, and communicating with and through it online it would seem very much so. But I don’t think the work of education has ever been free of information and communications technology, whether it be blackboards and a screenprinter, or networked communications through a computer (for lack of a better medium for the mean time). So I think its just a matter of familiarity with technologies and their usefulness that determines if someone else is technocentric. But it is you who is accusing me of being technocentric, someone who is very familiar with digital and networked communications, so I need to sit up and take notice.. but suppose the reverse is true in your critique at this point. Suppose that the view of my talk for networked learning being technocentric is guilty in itself of over simplifying a proposal that is actually more complex than just technology? Because I don’t think I’ve ever been guilty of talking about technology without also talking of some form of social or political application for it. Actually, I think I tend to focus more on the social and political and then the technology that enables it.

This response to your critique has been a toughy Bill. I hope I make some sense and am not just digging myself a hole here. In the end I think what you say about the way in which I express my opinion is to some extent true. But I don’t think I’m all that concerned by being seen to over simplify. What I am concerned about is the possibility that you are looking at the finger more than what it is pointing at. To what end is that? You want me to point at more and different things? I’m pointing at what I can see, tell me more about what you can see out there.

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