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Navigating the blogosphere is getting better

As touched upon lightly a couple weeks ago, the blogosphere is getting easier to navigate. Both Alltop and Blogged offer editor-picked/-rated indices of blogs, sorted by topic. These goes beyond the usual scope of blog/news aggregators by incorporating human elements of review.

  1. Receiving generally-positive initial reviews (including a thumbs-up from me), Guy Kawasaki‘s Alltop venture provides a consolidated “magazine rack” of many of the top blogs, editor-picked, and sorted by subject. (For education-related blogs, click here.)

  2. Another resource, blogged.com, launched last month, and provides editor reviews as well as allowing registered users to post reviews. This allows for weighted crowdsourcing of ratings and reviews, which helps to filter out blogs that are used for spam or are simply outdated. The site also provides recommendations for related blogs to readers that might not otherwise be visible through a traditional blog search, based on its categorization system. (Thanks to the editor who gave Education Futures a 9.0/10!)

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The Cape Town Open Education Declaration

Planet Creative Commons from creativecommons.org

Calú twittered this yesterday evening: Declaración de Ciudad del Cabo para la Educación Abierta http://tinyurl.com/2uob4w

The English version of the document can be found here. In short, Mark Shuttleworth’s foundation and the Open Society Institute are launching a campaign to “transform education” by calling for open, free educational resources to be placed online:

According to the Declaration, teachers, students and communities would benefit if publishers and governments made publicly-funded educational materials freely available online. This will give students unlimited access to high quality, constantly improving course materials, just as Wikipedia has done in the world of reference materials.

This brings up a good idea: if public education systems are paying top dollar for the creation of textbooks and other course materials, why aren’t these materials being made available to the public for free?

The rest of the declaration calls for open source education, but I’m concerned that, even if adopted, opening course materials would do little to change education. The key problem is that we’re looking to new technologies and new social models based on these technologies to drive educational change –but, in reality, we’re using new technologies and social models to teach what eventually amounts to “the same old garbage.” Such a pathway can only lead to failure.

Is there something else that we should focus on where we can use new technological and social models to develop innovative tools for education?

Some great ICT for Development (ICT4D) Resources

I thought I would share some of the great ICT4D resources. Happy reading!

Games in the Classroom (part three)

Twenty years ago, playing games over a distance might have meant that you played turn-taking games like chess over email, and you were cutting edge. I remember people playing chess through snail mail! You would make your move and wait for a reply.

What is happening now is taking place in real-time in virtual environments that are interactive and look better than many films. Decisions, actions, and communications happen like they would in a face-to-face conversation, but they are done through a proxy, that is first and second-person perspectives with an avatar: a graphical representation of yourself in the game space.

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Here is my avatar in Second Life.

He is a mix of Yoda, Pei Mei, Zatoichi, Master Po, and Real Ultimate Power. I would have liked to have made him old, but this is only possible if you learn to use some tools outside of the game to create more specialized characters. There are many who do this custom avatar creation, and the cool thing is that you could make your avatar something other than a person. Maybe a virus or a mailbox.

In fact, many people are already creating a comfortable living creating products for in game use. If you have not seen it yet, there are already success stories of people capitalizing on the new economies that virtual worlds have created.

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In this Business Week article, one school teacher in Germany has made substantial gains flipping virtual property!

Imagine that you have the tools and access to build in these environments. In Second Life you do. You can visit models of the Sistine Chapel, Yankee Stadium, or even visit government agencies like the Center for Disease Control. You can build what you like on your virtual land.

What make this kind of play appealing is the ability to play and communicate when you want, and the possibility of meeting people from all over the planet. The prospect of building models and interacting in this environments should be very appealing to educators. This is an extension of the diorama. (Tomorrow I will talk about a project using these ideas in the classroom).

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Video Games in the Classroom (part two)

To do is to be

To be is to do

So Do We?

It is just good teaching

Games taught me that modeling environments and taking on the roles are powerful ways to teach and learn.

Piaget talked about roles as assimilation. You try on the role and see what part of the character is you.

Gibson talked about environment and context, with affordances and constraints. What the world gives you for advice, warning, limitation, and opportunity.

These ideas are present in embodiment and how we might contextualize our curriculum as an activity system.

One of the big lessons from games is design. Good learning is by design. A teacher, like a game designer creates the environment where we learn.

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Top ten list #10: Resources for education futurists

ten-days-sm.pngWe wrap up our ten days of top ten lists with ten resources that can help you start to think as an education futurist. This list is far from complete — feel free to post your own in the comments!

  1. Wikipedia
  2. Wired
  3. The New York Times
  4. The Wall Street Journal
  5. Kurzweil, R. (2005). The Singularity is near: When humans transcend biology. New York: Viking.
  6. Pink, D. H. (2005). A whole new mind: Moving from the information age to the conceptual age. New York: Riverhead.
  7. Gardner, H. (2006). Five minds for the future. Boston, Mass.: Harvard Business School Press.
  8. Kelley, T. (2006). The ten faces of innovation: IDEO’s strategies for beating the devil’s advocate & driving creativity throughout your organization. London: Profile.
  9. Owen, H. (2001). Just how good could you be? grow your personal capital: what you know, who you know, how to use it. Cambridge, MA: Perseus Pub.
  10. Harkins, A., & Kubik, G. (2006). StoryTech: A personalized guidebook to the 21st Century. Minneapolis: The StoryTech Group.