Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Eve Technology Predictions

Every year we are treated to a wide range of predictions in the technology field. Typically Futurists write about what they think will happen. I have included in my list things that I think will not happen as well. This could be valuable advice for investors. My predictions are based on extensive research, a thorough review of data including white papers, reports and various old serials and comic books.

1. Learning Analytics
The big boom in this field will be in the consulting fees for everyone who manges to shoe-horn this buzz word into any project.

2. Learning Management Systems
Frank ShannonImage via WikipediaThe LMS field will still be dominated by programmers, database administrators, and business people. There is a remote possibility that those involved in actual online teaching and learning will have a say in how LMSs are put together.

3. The Semantic Web
The semantic web will become vaguely closer to reality. I am typing this post using with a semantic web tool, Zemanta, and it actually thinks I mean London, Midlands and Scottish railway when I type "LMS." But seriously, I love Zemanta because I have found connections in my writing that I would not have found without it.

4. Conveyor Belt Sidewalks
This year will be a year of continued disappointment to Futurists when the era of the conveyor belt sidewalk, the personal jetpack, and flying cars remain tantalizingly far on the horizon. I am kind of relieved by this because most drivers can barely handle the x and y axis with out having to figure out how not plow their cars through someone's roof.

5. Science Fiction Becomes Science Fact
I believe that this will be the year that the space program will introduce fins on space helmets. Also, the next generation of space vehicles will look more and more like the 1956 Chevy Belair.

6. Personal Robots
Again, despite the best efforts of the Honda Corporation, personal robots will not happen this year. I was about to write that I do not need a personal robot maid to wash the dishes, but then I realized that I already have one - it is called "the dishwasher." All of this personal robot research should be going in to creating artificial limbs - these robots sure as heck can't dance.

7. Social Media on the Wane
There are other sites that have predicted the rise of Google + and other sites have predicted the fall of Google +. The social media bubble will start to burst. It will be the hot topic in 2012 on Twitter, Facebook, Diigo, Google +, LinkedIn, Ning, YouTube, Friendfeed, Twine, Wordpress, LiveJournal, Myspace,, and the blogosphere. New sites will spring up every where to cover this news. The death of social media will become such a hot topic that it will even revive Friendster.

Remember, you can get futurists anywhere that will tell you what might happen, I include what won't happen. And yes, I am available as a keynote speaker - I come complete with futuristic neo-retro Nehru jacket and wrap-around sun glasses.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Monday, December 19, 2011

Vaclev Havel and the 300-Baud Velvet Revolution

A DSL ModemImage via WikipediaI was familiar with Václav Havel through his writings and only later came to understand his significance as a politician (I hate to use that word to describe people I like) as communism fell. Havel had to distribute some of his writings as "samizdat" - slang for self-publishing -  because the means of communication was held by the state. Samizdat was a key form of dissident activity across the Soviet bloc where individuals reproduced censored publications by hand and passed the documents from reader to reader - it was the social media of the day but a lot more dangerous! The Soviet authorities at one time fired him from the state theater and sent him to work in a brewery. He was a signatory of Charter 77 which was distributed in the 70s this way.  The whole "Velvet Revolution" was an amazing thing to watch. There was something so inevitable about it all: the truth was going to prevail despite money, corruption and guns.

You know you are living under a repressive regime when communication tools are against the law. For instance, it is illegal, according to the State dept., to own an unregistered computer modem in Myanmar: "It is illegal to own an unregistered modem in Burma. You may bring one laptop computer into Burma, but you must declare it upon arrival. Limited email service is available at some large hotels. All emails are subject to monitoring by Burmese security services. It is very expensive to send photographs via email. One foreign visitor was presented a bill for $2,000 after transmitting one photograph via a major hotel's e-mail system. During September and October 2007, the military government disconnected all Internet access across the country for extended periods of time." This is not unusual in countries controlled by dictators.

I remember reading about people smuggling modems into Czechoslovakia back in the late 80's. Bruce Sterling later recalled the Velvet Revolution in Wired Issue 3.01, Jan 1995: "Back in '89, Czech students were trying to coordinate the uprising across the nation, and the technical students...were running the telecom angle. They used a 300-baud device with the size, shape, and heat of a kitchen toaster. The Czech secret police were far too stupid and primitive to keep up with digital telecommunications, so the student-radical modem network was relatively secure from bugging and taps. Fidonet BBSes were springing up surreptitiously on campuses whenever an activist could sneak a modem past the border guards. Modems were, of course, illegal. Most of the Czech cops, however, had no idea what modems were." The Velvet Revolution was using 300 and 900 baud modems at a time when we were bathing in the lap of luxury with our 2400 baud modems. They used the best technology and means of communication in the most effective way they knew how. Much like the Arab Spring and the Occupy Wall Street folks, no one asked if it was the most "appropriate" or the most "sustainable." A reading literate people can help foster and ensure democracy, Epictetus in his Discourses says that only the educated are free. In his day, that meant reading and writing. In our day it should include a technologically literate people, understanding how we are technologically connected and how to best leverage smart communication networks.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Friday, December 16, 2011

Help Shape Creative Commons 4.0

Creative CommonsImage by jorgeandresem via FlickrThis just in from the ubiquitous Cable Green:

Creative Commons has officially opened the public discussion process for version 4.0 of the CC license suite. Please see the announcement below, and join the discussion by subscribing to the CC license discussion list (link in blog post, below).

As we all know, the core part of any OER definition is the educational resource is either openly licensed or is in the public domain... so anyone can: reuse, revise, remix and redistribute. This is your chance to affect the licenses we all use to share OER.

One of the many reasons CC is considering versioning the licenses at this time is to address how can we improve the attribution requirements to ease citation in open educational resources (OER).
What would you like to see changed?

Starting now through February we are holding a requirements gathering period, an important (if not the most important) time to contribute ideas for improving the license suite. We hope you'll join the discussion and share your ideas for how we can improve the licenses for use with public sector information and data. And please do help us spread the word.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Monday, December 12, 2011

Open Content Licensing for Educators Workshop

Image representing Creative Commons as depicte...Image via CrunchBaseThis in from Cable Green: Creative Commons, the OER Foundation and Ako Aotearoa announce an international professional development opportunity for all educators.

What: Open content licensing for educators workshop (#OCL4Ed)
Where: Online
When: 23 -27 January 2012
Cost: Free
Registration: Open (register today)
  • Cable Green, Director Global Learning, Creative Commons
  • Jane Hornibrook , Public Lead, Creative Commons Aotearoa New Zealand
  • Wayne Mackintosh, Director, OER Foundation.
Open content licensing for educators (#OCL4Ed) is a free online workshop designed for educators who want to learn more about open education resources, copyright, and creative commons licenses.
Wikieducator logo.Image via WikipediaThe course materials were developed as a collaborative project by volunteers from the OER Foundation, WikiEducator, the OpenCourseWare Consortium and Creative Commons with funding support from UNESCO. The course will provide prerequisite knowledge required by educators to legally remix open education materials and help institutions to take informed decisions about open content licenses.


Please spread the word through your networks. Give the gift of knowledge and invite a friend to join you.
Download and share this poster with your colleagues.

We look forward to meeting you during the workshop and extend our thanks to Ako Aotearoa, New Zealand's National Centre for Tertiary Teaching Excellence for sponsoring this professional development opportunity.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Redwood Technology Consortium's Annual Holiday Tweet-Up

The Redwood Technology Consortium welcomes the public to join them at the 3rd annual Holiday Tweet-up, Wednesday, Dec. 14, at Greenway Partners in Arcata from 6:00-10:00 P.M.

The Tweet-up started three years ago with the intention of providing a face-to-face meeting place for community members whose main interaction was through social networking websites, like Twitter and Facebook. The event has become a fun place to gather with laptop computers, smart phones and even without technology devices to visit, play trivia games and win prizes.

English: Bronze statue of President William Mc...Image via WikipediaRTC will also provide a bar with the vodka-based Humboldt Hashtag (a clever nod to the Twitter habit of following the pound sign with a common word or phrase, which makes a topic easy to search), local wines and microbrews and non-alcoholic drinks.

Throughout the year, the RTC focuses primarily on advocacy for broadband duplication and education. This year, the Humboldt Internet Marketing Group was created, under the RTC umbrella, and community members meet at lunchtime on the second Tuesday of each month to discuss topics that focus on marketing businesses of all sizes in the internet age

This year, the RTC has seen the retirement of board members Steve Stratton and Robert Beckerdite, and welcomed new members Geoff Cain, Terry Olgin and Monica Topping. Veteran members Seth Johannesen and board president Mary Cruse, and board treasurer Sean Connors remain.

Greenway Partners is located at 1385 Eighth Street in Arcata, across the street from the Arcata Kinetic Lab.

The RTC Holiday Tweet-up is a no-cost, all-ages event.

Contact: Monica Topping (707) 498-3534
Redwood Technology Consortium
Enhanced by Zemanta

Saturday, December 03, 2011

On Learning Latin

Bust of Emperor Augustus wearing the Corona Ci...Image via WikipediaI once walked into a beginning Latin class at U.C. Berkeley. I hadn't made up my mind whether I was going to take the class or not. Right off the bat, the teacher had us reciting "amo, amas, amat..." - all 40 of us in unison - in other words, it was going to be one of those classes where rote memorization was the key learning method. I raised my hand and asked why we were chanting verbs and declensions and the instructor said that if we didn't do that we would be forever tied to a dictionary. I sat listening to the students and wondered how long students have been attempting to learn Latin this way; probably a couple of centuries, but I have some ideas from my reading over the years that that method is fairly Victorian. The tables of verbs and noun declensions fit the mechanistic age of logarithm tables, early assembly lines, and the industrial mills. I figured out that the teacher thought that we had to know grammar in order for us to read Latin. This is ridiculous, of course, because I was talking and reading simple sentences long before I knew what a coordinating conjunction or a transitive verb was. I got up from the desk, walked out of the classroom, willing to resign myself to the possible fate of being shackled to a dictionary for eternity like some lost Jacob Marley.

Why do we still do "drill and kill"? Some of it is educational hazing: I imagine the instructor thinks "I had to go through this misery and now my students have to as well."  To be fair, that is how the instructors actually learned it. In college, they are not trained in teaching, so they know no other way. Others make the argument that unless a student is thoroughly proficient in the rudiments, they can't master the subject. And that is my objection, what do we really want to teach? Do these teachers want Latin grammarians or readers of Latin literature and history? I had a teacher ask me once (in a blog posting) - "You wouldn't give students a Latin text and ask them to figure out the grammatical rules on their own?" Well, maybe I would.

Even what I consider to be the best texts make the mistake of thinking that students are going to find some kind of clarity around lists of verbs. Wheelock's Latin is a standard text and the thing that actually makes that textbook so useful is all of the examples from actual Latin texts. We used this at Sonoma State in my Latin classes, but the instructor also had us translating texts from day one. My textbook hero is Clyde Pharr - he wrote a textbook on Homeric Greek that has students reading right from Homer within a dozen chapters, and his Vergil's Aeneid has them reading from Vergil even earlier. Either of these texts could be used as primary textbooks. The sick thing is that Pharr did most of his work in the 1920s and many teachers have not figured all of this out yet. Pharr follows the assumption that children learn grammer by using language; they can learn the grammar in context just as they learn to speak grammatically in context. They are not going to use Latin if it is essentially a boring, tedious plow through inane paradigmatic sentences and tables of verbs. They are going to read if the work they are reading is interesting and engaging - Homer and Vergil are certainly that.

If rote memorization is the main teaching method, the teachers will only have students with a high tolerance for the tedious. If you teach students rote memorization, that is all they will be good at. I am sure we want more from our students than being good test-takers! Being able to jump through the hoops is not the same thing as critical thinking.

Notes 12/04/11:
Learning Latin in Context - This project shows the possibilities and importance of learning in context and in a community. (networked learning - or Connectivism).
Enhanced by Zemanta