Trans-dimensional Knowledge Forum!

I’ve spoken before about the two archetypes of Internet-based distance education: asynchronous (typically using message boards, email, etc., and allowing participants to contribute at times of their convenience) and synchronous (text or video chat, immersive environments, etc., which permit instantaneous communication and feedback, but require participants to adhere to a common meeting schedule like a traditional classroom).  My interest is mainly in the latter, but there are awfully neat asynchronous environments being designed at OISE and elsewhere to plumb the affordances of time-independent communication, such as deep organization, refinement, and archival of ideas while the communities involved collaborate to build knowledge.  We’ll be talking with Stian and Marlene Scardamalia at my research meeting in an hour or so about Knowledge Forum, which you can learn about quickly with Stian’s video, below.

A Demonstration of Knowledge Forum (v2) from Stian Haklev on Vimeo.

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This isn’t your Father’s Supernova.

Danny from 2017: I came out of undergrad with a passion for (extremely) amateur astronomy and an interest in cool public atheists/sceptics like Richard Dawkins, PZ Myers, Sam Harris, and, as below, Phil Plait.  I’m grateful for what they’ve taught me, but I gradually realised that I preferred my critical thinking in Sagan’s voice rather than Dawkins’, so I don’t follow this crowd nearly as much.

 

Still grumpy as heck about bad science in movies, though.

 

It looks like grudging enjoyment of the new Star Trek movie isn’t just for curmudgeonly jerks like me anymore, but I also got some pleasure out of watching for, identifying, and then riling at the bad science showcased therein.

(More constructively…) A good article, if you’d like a catalogue and readable analysis of the foibles by a sympathetic Trekkie may be found in the lair of the Bad Astronomer, Phil Plait.  Dr. Plait is a lucid promoter of the public understanding of astronomy (and science generally), and Bad Astronomy may be worth a visit if you’re interested in knowing about things.

Galaxy-destroying supernovae indeed.

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Open Education Scoop

Danny from 2017: My stated goal in going to OISE and bashing myself against a master’s degree was to figure out how to make post-secondary education free for everyone, obviating the boundaries of socioeconomics and geography.  Meeting Stian during an orientation session before the start of my first year was both humbling and a massive relief: he was working and developing systems alongside folks at the forefront of “open education” (imagine, I wasn’t the first one to come up with the idea…), and he was in command of stupendous contextual knowledge of the field; so, better men than I were on the job (sigh), and I didn’t need to save the world because better men than I were on the job (hooray!).

As I acquaint myself with WordPress’ levers, pulleys, and screws, I’m haphazardly contributing to a directory of links you can find south (at time of writing) of my biography on the left-hand column. My intention was to devote a section entirely to Open Education links and then gradually introduce them (and the concept of open education itself) to you, patient readers, over the course and career of this ’blog. In typical fashion, however, Stian Håklev just brought together much more information that I would have mastered in the next few months, and presented it with nearly TED-like production value to a largely awed and enthusiastic crowd of our OISE professors. So, uh, you should read his ’blog.

I will still gradually introduce many of these resources myself, largely because I am myself gradually exploring them for the first time and find that they are less daunting if approached more leisurely (this is my pedagogical gambit to avoid a Semelean tan). For those of you with interest in the topic and even less expertise than me, just bear in mind that others have tread here first and if you’d like to move more quickly, Stian is your man. The fast track starts here.

So, what is open education, and why should we care about it? 

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