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September 2005

Education is Flat Where Were You When You Realized the World Is Flat? (Or Have You?) A Conversation with Thomas L. Friedman You have two children who will be entering the work force in the next few years. What do you say to parents and to young people about how to prepare themselves for the new terrain they will face?

Friedman: I have a daughter who is a sophomore in college and another who is in the 11th grade of high school. My message to them is very simple: Girls, when I was growing up my parents used to say to me, "Tom, finish your dinner. People in China and India are starving." I say to my girls, "Girls, finish your homework. People in China and India are starving for your jobs."

When the world was round, say 30 years ago, you would much rather have been born a B+ student in Indianapolis, Indiana, rather than a genius in Bangalore, India. Because the Indian genius, unless he or she could get a visa out of India, really could not plug and play with his or her talent.

Today, you do not want to be a B+ student in Indianapolis. You would much rather be a genius in India, because that genius can now innovate at a global level without ever having to emigrate. That is what the flat world makes possible. Read More >>>


Education, Web 2.0, & Yahoo!

The recent announcement that Yahoo! and the University of California, Berkeley will open a joint research facility-Y! Research Labs Berkeley--is one of many signs that Yahoo! is rapidly building "the place" on the web for the education community.

As Yahoo! points out, the agreement with UC Berkeley, “expands scope of research in Search Technology and Social and Mobile Media; [and is a] first step in establishing closer ties with university campuses.”

Yahoo! + Social Media

  • Yahoo! has donated hardware, hosting, bandwidth, as well as financial resources to support the expansion and ongoing development for the online encyclopedia Wikipedia.
  • FlickrEDU: While not originally developed as an education tool, Flickr, and other social networking technologies have the ability to play an important part in student motivation, retention and learning—especially in distributed learning environments.

Social software technologies and other Web 2.0 media are important tools because of their ability to foster interaction and communication between students.

  • My Web 2.0 is a new Yahoo! Search product based on social networking, tags, folksonomies, and group collaboration. This new "social search" engine allows users to save their links and then share them with people they know and trust by placing them in a community knowledge pool dubbed, My Community.
  • Y! Search provides a stripped down version of the Yahoo portal, providing students with a “distraction free” zone to conduct research, WebQuests, or other collaborative web-based projects.
  • Yahoo! 360: One of the key benefits of Yahoo! 360, in terms of educational blogging, is that it provides the user with the ability to manage who can view their personal information based, in part, on user-defined criteria. I

In other words, the user controls who has access to any and all parts of the content on their blog. Now open for public beta, Yahoo! 360, features integration with several Yahoo! products including: FlickrMy Web 2.0 (via RSS Feeds).

  • The Open Content Alliance is a collaborative effort of several organizations to build a permanent archive of text and multimedia content. The content archive will be available exclusively via Yahoo! Search.


  • 9/06 Update: Yahoo! buys JumpCut.

H2O Playlist | Academic Social Bookmarking

"H2O Playlists, developed by the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School, are more than just a cool, sleek technology -- they represent a new way of thinking about education online.

An H2O Playlist is a series of links to books, articles, and other materials that collectively explore an idea or set the stage for a course, discussion, or current event." (via)

Additional Resources

Viva Papert! And Kyle too...

I’m fascinated by the different and innovative ways people tweak and tinker with technology to meet their needs. Recently I posted an idea to blend Flickr + BlinkList to create an online tutorial.

Then just last week the My Web 2 blog posted an excellent “real life” example of a student utilizing his blog and online photo software to create an on-demand presentation about social bookmarking for his classmates. Great job Kyle!

Dr. Seymour Papert, co-founder of the Artificial Intelligence Lab at MIT, stresses the importance of bricolage (tinkering) as a pathway to creating concrete knowledge. Bricolage is a French word which (loosely translated) can be taken to mean "trial-and-error," learning by poking around, trying this or that until you eventually figure it out.

According to Dr. Papert this is one of the best ways to approach learning on the computer and very significantly, widens the range of opportunities to engage as a bricoleur. “If you do something wrong," he states, " the sky won't fall, you won't get shot. Just try again...Soon you will come to enjoy this process, becoming a true bricoleur.

So (and here's the big tie in) when thinking about integrating technology into your curriculum, you must allow yourselves (and your students) space and time to experiment with new technologies, and web tools in an authentic context. It's during this process of 'tinkering' that learners will be able to 'construct' new knowledge.

Moreover, utilizing web-based tools not only provides students with an opportunity to design their own learning experience through self-directed projects, but also allows them to work in a collaborative matter in an authentic context, using the technology as a tool to facilitate and support their own learning!

Tres cool, no?

Digital Culture & Learning in a Digital Age

"Rethinking how today's kids that grow up digital learn, think, work, communicate and socialize. Understanding today's digital kids is of growing importance, not only to educators, but also to human resource departments, strategists, and marketing folks.

Understanding the social practices and constructivist ecologies being created around open source and massively multiplayer games will provide a glimpse into new kinds of innovation ecologies and some of the ways that meaning is created for these kids -- ages 10 to 40.

Perhaps our generation focused on information, but these kids focus on meaning -- how does information take on meaning?" - John Seely Brown

Read more of John Seeley Brown's thoughts on learning in the digital age on his website. You can also view his presentation: The Social Life of Information in the Digital Age and Kids that Grow Up Digital ; view paper or video (Quicktime).

Advancing Open Source Education Conference


Advancing the Effectiveness and Sustainability of Open Education Conference, is the 17th Annual Instructional Technology Institute at Utah State University. This growing field of research and practice is called "open education."

Advances in information technology have spread communications capabilities to every clime. There is a great potential and responsbility for educators, instructional technologists, and learning scientists to leverage these advances in order to extend educational opportunity to literally everyone who desires it. As Epictetus said, "Only the educated are free."

It is a multidisciplinary event designed to promote discussion of research and development activities that advance the effectiveness and sustainability of the open education movement. Two of the four conference themes for 2005 are:

open educational resources - new and old media that provide reusability across a variety of open access environments, including learning objects, knowledge objects, and sharable content objects, as well as "older" media like books and movies

overcoming barriers to open education - services and tools that make it easier for people to learn using open educational resources in a diversity of formal and informal environments, including wireless infrastructure, blogs, wikis, massively multi-player online games, simulations, instant messaging, texting, and discussion boards, as well as "older" tools like hand-powered radios or televisions

Please join us September 28 - 30, 2005 on the Utah State University campus to discuss, share, and work together in this important area of educational and technological research. Among the keynote speakers is John Seely Brown noted author and expert in digital culture, ubiquitous computing, organizational and individual learning.

Please help us advertise the conference by using this PowerPoint slide or this flyer. (via)

Simulation and Animation in e-Learning

A lot of people in the e-learning community are buzzing about the use of simulations, animation, and other participatory media as an avenue to provide experiential learning opportunities for students in both online (and blended) learning programs.

I recently interviewed Quinn J. Sutton VP of Marketing and Education at TestOut, a leading provider of online labs for IT training and certification, about the pros and cons of using simulations and animation in education. Quinn J. Sutton is rapidly becoming a sought after expert in the field of simulation and animation in e-learning, and has extensive experience working with education organizations in both the U.S. and Europe.

Sutton noted that “simulations lend themselves to task or skill related objectives but are less effective in knowledge-based objectives. On the other hand, animations, demonstrations, video instruction or even some text-based media tend to be better for knowledge-based learning objectives.”

In the August 2005 edition of the TestOut Academic Newsletter, Sutton makes the important point that while animation and simulation can greatly enhance the online student learning experience, it’s vital that their use be closely tied to course learning objectives.

In his July 2005 column, Virtually Better Than the Real Thing, he further notes that, “Simulated labs, if done properly, can provide students with as much reality as is necessary to give them the hands on experience they need to learn real skills.”

In the end, effective neo-millennial course and user experience design should provide engaging content that allows the user to draw connections between the context of the learning objectives and “real world” applications, while maintaining their ability to mediate their (current) level of understanding within an interactive simulation-based learning environment.

Quinn Sutton produces a new monthly newsletter for Test Out geared towards the education community, which you can subscribe to by clicking here. In addition, Test Out sponsor’s the TestOut Challenge, a free, worldwide computer skills contest for high school students.

Blog to School

mgsOnline: The website of Musselburgh Grammar School, was the first British school to use public weblogs, where pupils could write posts and expect comments from their friends, teachers or anyone on the planet who wanted to have their say. They were used principally for international exchanges of work and ideas between pupils.

edublogs: Ewan McIntosh shows how blogs and podcasts aren't just a gimmick: they can be used to provide powerful learning in Scottish schools.

Blogbinders: A self-publishing tool that allows students to transform their weblogs into book format on demand.

RAMBLE (Remote Authoring of Mobile Blogs for Learning Environments) has been investigating the use of weblogs as a reflective authoring activity in an educational context.

Yahoo! 360: One of the key benefits of Yahoo! 360, in terms of educational blogging, is that it provides the user with the ability to manage who can view their personal information based, in part, on user-defined criteria. In other words, the user controls who has access to any and all parts of the content on their blog.

Now open for public beta, Yahoo! 360, features integration with several Yahoo! products including: Flickr, My Web 2.0 (via RSS Feeds), and a recently added feature allows users to blog via Yahoo! Messenger.

Social Networking & Learning Podcast

Click podcast icon to download file!

Social Networking & The World of Learning: A 7 minute streamed Podcast audio segment (or text transcript) with Elliott Masie.

Social Networking tools, techniques and technologies will be evolving within our organizations. The learning field has an opportunity and perhaps responsibility to sponsor, direct, manage and integrate diverse Social Networking capacities from these areas:

  • Collaboration Arena (email, instant messenger, web conferencing, groupware)
  • Knowledge Management
  • Talent Management

via MASIE Center

Blogger + Word = Blogging Bliss

Blogger for Word is a plug-in that lets you write your blog posts in Microsoft Word and then publish them to your Blogger blog--directly from Word.

Jason Shellen, Product Manager for Blogger, explains on the Google blog how they came up with the idea to integrate Blogger and Word:

“Last July, a few of us visited the Democratic National Convention to see political bloggers in action. Many were using Microsoft Word to post their reports. It was a multi-step process that didn't look like fun, but for citizen journalists, punctuation, spelling and grammar are important. That got the Blogger team thinking about how to help Word users to become bloggers.

So just now I fired up Microsoft Word, wrote this, hit 'Publish' on the brand new Blogger for Word toolbar and voila - you're reading it. Which means there's really no excuse, blogwise, if you prefer to finely craft your posts over time. Use Blogger for Word as a way to back up your document drafts with the 'Save as Draft' button or work on posts while you are offline and post them later. Hope you enjoy this new add-in.”

I think that many educators will be more apt to try blogging now that they can use familiar software like Word. Not to mention that students will be able to use Word to blog as part of techno-constructivist activities that develop writing and technology skills.

This is an exciting development in social software and blogging, and one that I hope really opens educational blogging to many new possibilities--and converts!

Additional Resources

NYT: Social Software and Gen Y

Last week The New York Times published three noteworthy articles on the convergence of social software, tech gadgets, and Generation y students.

Together, they provide an interesting look into the ways students use technology, as well as the way teachers are using social software to support student-led learning.

  • The Digital Student: Packing for the 'Net Generation' {view}
  • New Tools: Blogs, Podcasts and Virtual Classrooms {view}
  • The Gadgets They've Got, And Why They Got Them {view}