Thoughts and Notes
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 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.
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:
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:
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.
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 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:
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."
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.
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.
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.
This is an interesting example of how an essentially global technology can influence profoundly local interactions.
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.
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...
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.
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.
There are various interesting slideshows on Slideshare.net that show us education and its future in interesting lights. Here are some of them.
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).
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.
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.
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:
- 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.