Thoughts and Notes

The knowledge delusion: What changes and what stays the same

Classical Definition of Kno

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An interesting discussion took place between two prominent e-thinkers who both agree that the 'nature of knowledge' is changing but disagree on how and what the implications are. Stephen Downes summarises the notion of changing knowledge as follows.

Twitter backlash exposes shallowness of modern psychology

Twitter's Update Page

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The Inquisitr responds to a recent Times article on Twitter with the phrase 'load of bollocks, up to a point'  but he is wrong. It is entirely and thoroughly bollocks. There is not a single quote in that article that is not at least partially nonsense. More than anything the psychiatric response to Twitter stems from the profound failure of modern psychology which for the last hundred or so years has lived off a populist reification of some of Freud's interesting insights. For instance this quote from Alain de Botton:

A load of Twitter - Times Online “To ‘follow’ someone is to have a fantasy of who this person you’re following is, and you use it as a map reference or signpost to guide your own life because you are lost,” says James. “I would guess that the typical profile of a ‘follower’ is someone who is young and who feels marginalised, empty and pointless. They don’t have an inner life,” he says.

 

The female mystique nonsense

Bandai Co., Ltd.

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The perceptive folk at Shiny Shiny have hit the nail on the head. I've been meaning to write about this for a while and I'm preparing a column about this for Lidové Noviny at the moment so this post came as a pleasant surprise. The bottom line is, the folk theory that men find it difficult to understand women because of some inherent gender difference is nonsense. The vast majority of the difference is a result of the constant discursive reinforcement and socialisation by men and women, as was so perceptively observed by Shiny Shiny:

Shiny Shiny: Bandai helps women understand the men As the old clichés go, women are hard to read, woman don't know what they want (bla bla bla) and this ultimately ends up with men relentlessly moaning about how much disdain they have for not being able to understand what we want. Such a phenomenon is this little bugbear there was even a whole movie about it. But, I think a lot of you will agree (especially the women) this incomprehensible slump that men grumble about swings both ways. And if the Onna Dameshi (Girl Tester) is anything to go on, we need help understanding the male species too.

If a word falls in the woods...The interactional nature of meaning

It seems the Oxford dictionary has inadvertenly posed a rather serious challenge to the semanticians of the world. They launch a fun little website asking the net to save individual words reminiscent of the parrot Gerald Durrell's "Talking Parcel". Lifehacker immediately recognized the utility of such a project for party entertainment:

No fair in Bulgarian: Universals of language and particulars of culture

A rather silly comment in the Christian Science Monitor about the consequences of the supposed lack of the word for 'integrity' in Bulgarian on the Bulgarian economy recently drew the ire of Mark Lieberman on the Language Log: 

Gendered discourse as a consequence of gendered socialisation

I've been planning to write a column or speak on the radio about this for a long time and I'm happy that Amanda Carpenter beat me to it. Her observation on fashion and make up being to women what sports are to men, is one of not insignificant sociological depth. What we talk about and consequently what we're interested in is a function of the group we talk about it with. And the discourse (and even the interest) has a dimension of group utility.

Everyone is a discourse analyst now: Multimodality and hypostasis

What is the difference between a discourse analyst with training in linguistic methodology and a blogger or the reader of a blog? Discourse analysis relies on the human capacity to understand text but it is also embedded in the social practices of discussing and inferring the meaning from text. The following example of a simple computer-generated graphical representation of Obama's speech (courtesy of Wordle.net) in many ways does the job of half an academic paper. It presents the data and lets the reader infer meanings (particularly in comparison with other speeches).

Obama, Socialist Realism and the Inventory of Expressive Units of Culture

Obama and swaying fields of corn was a major theme of his 30-minute pre-election and then Elizabeth Alexander's poem at the inauguration brought it home during the inauguration:

Anaphoric islands, the free world and folk theories of language

BBC NEWS | World | Americas | The 'misunderestimated' president? "I want to thank my friend, Senator Bill Frist, for joining us today. He married a Texas girl, I want you to know. Karyn is with us. A West Texas girl, just like me."

Getting new technologies used

Another example of why the adoption of technologies is not dependent only on the technologies themselves but rather on the desire of the users themselves. This reminded me of two instances of extremely popular and seemingly easy-to-use Web2.0 services falling short on usability.

Tips on introducing new technologies

This is an interesting list of tips for  disseminating technology in an institution. I find 4 and 5 particularly intriguing. Not doing a pilot seems so counterintuitive but given that so many pilots get so entrenched that their adoption is a given no matter what the results that skipping them in certain instances (and just doing a brief trial) may be the best solution. More creative gathering of feedback may include walking into classrooms and asking the students. Well-worth reviewing.

More than features: Criteria for software selection

This report suggests that institutions should pay attention to more than just the features of a given platform. OpenSource (Sakai) and closed-source (Blackboard) systems alike relying on the Java enterprise approach are often too heavyweight for relatively small institutions. Even a basic install requires enterprise-level support. Moreover, more lightweight equivalents Moodle, Elgg and Drupal can be up and running on a single left-over machine and scale up when uptake increases.

Think globally, interact locally

This is an interesting example of how an essentially global technology can influence profoundly local interactions.

Homegrown Software Boosts Classroom Interactivity at Community College

Personalisation by the back door

It looks like another way to approach personalisation is through the acknowledgment of the fact that the educational routes of people today are too diverse to be manhandled into a single jacket. Portable personal e-portfolios would certainly be one such way. They do not require the personalisation of provision or even assessment but rather the personalisation of qualifications. Which is ultimately the goal of all personalised approaches.

Personalisation and Technology

An interesting presentation on integrating ICT and personalisation innovation. [slideshare id=11208&doc=ict-and-personalised-learning-20312&w=425]

Institutional skills bank: Something to consider

All the talk about adopting new and emergent technologies in education often overlooks one important factor! You need people with underlying skills to implement them and, not insignificantly, people with the proper skills to use them. (All that in addition to a proper institutional innovation and development culture.) This article in PC World hints at what those might be, but...

PC World - Web 2.0: The Skills Behind the Buzzword

How critical should we be of Web2.0?

ESRC Society Today - Harnessing the power of the 'new' worldwide Web The event is part of the National Festival of Social Science, organised by the Economic and Social Research Council to showcase cutting edge research and highlight important issues in the social sciences.

Who is scrutinising the scrutinisers of the impact of Web2.0?

The approach of the following story did not exactly fill me with confidence.

Web 2.0's impact on students under scrutiny - ZDNet UK A committee chaired by Sir David Melville, former vice chancellor of the University of Kent, plans to report in December on how such technologies affect the behaviour and attitudes of existing students and those about to move into higher education.

IT skills and habits AFTER education

Here's an interesting study that shows that business practices are often not quite in sync with what students use at school (and quite likely not quite in sync with what companies say they want).

The Future of Technology and Education

[slideshare id=10108&doc=the-future-of-technology-and-education-9876&w=425]

Education 2.0? Futures, pasts and presents

There are various interesting slideshows on Slideshare.net that show us education and its future in interesting lights. Here are some of them.

[slideshare id=24743&doc=education-20-20553&w=425]

[slideshare id=62181&doc=future-of-education3726&w=425]

[slideshare id=40271&doc=the-future-of-online-learning-and-personal-learning-environments-2553&w=425]

Can social systems do the same for classroom time that teaching machines never did?

Creating a Collaborative Syllabus Using Moodle A "collaborative syllabus" is one in which the students have the ability to help determine the specifics of a course. Those specifics can be any element that a professor is willing to be flexible with (such items as the objectives, grading, attendance policies, types of assignments, and so on).

Can personalisation address the digital generation's issues?

This video presents a vision of the new generation that may or may not point us in the right direction for personalisation. It puts forward a vision of radical social and cognitive difference that we need to take into account when constructing an online space. On the other hand, we need to approach this critically lest we fall into the trap of innovating based on the surface appearance.

Gluing it all together

If we lived in a perfect world, we could design a learning system that would do everything right the first time and serve us perfectly forever after. However, in such a world, we could never get to the system which tends to evolve in similar ways organisms evolve. New revs mutate and some mutations are more suitable to the current environment so they survive. That's how we got some of the best in Web2.0 design inspite of the mirriad of Web2.0 mutations that didn't make it. In other words, this evolutationary approach is a great metaphorical vehicle for technological progress.

PBL on YouTube

YouTube is obviously useful for more than just silly cat videos, it's a surprising source of information about student learning. Here's one that shows how students are personalising their learning at a US secondary school:
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZX1bv30rYIk&rel=1]

  • They offer another way of reading PBL - Project-Based Learning but it's still basically a technique for encouraging personal involvement of students in their learning and giving them increasing control over deciding what to learn. In other words, Personalised Learning.