a new meaning for literacy

via Slashdot, the San Francisco Chronicle reports on November 20, 2008:

Rather than wasting their time, children who gab on Facebook or play online games are gaining valuable social skills and learning some technology basics, according to a study to be released today.

The report, sponsored by the MacArthur Foundation, contradicts the idea held by many educators, parents and policymakers that children should be blocked from online social networks and video games like Halo, which allow users in different locations to play together. Instead, children should be encouraged to use the technologies to gain a certain level of digital literacy, the study said.

… But critics have called social networking a distraction and, in some cases, a danger because of the potential for children to befriend strangers. Hoping to limit children’s use of the services, some schools now block access to such sites.

and why not build online social networks for schools?

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Self-directed learning and brain development

via Kottke, from the New Yorker on November 17, 2008, a critique of the “brain plasticity” research published in the nineteen-nineties,” with emphasis added to highlight the relationship between self-directed learning and brain development:

This research said that, while the infant brain is, in part, the product of genes, that endowment is just the clay; after birth, it is “sculpted” by the child’s experience, the amount of stimulation he receives, above all in the first three years of life. That finding prompted many programs aimed at stimulating babies whose mothers, for whatever reason (often poverty), seemed likely to neglect them. Social workers drove off to homes deemed at risk, to play with the new baby.

But upper-middle-class parents—and marketers interested in them—also read about the brain-plasticity findings, and figured that, if some stimulation is good, more is better. (Hence Baby Einstein.) Later research has provided no support for this. The conclusion, in general, is that the average baby’s environment provides all the stimuli he or she needs.

Marano thinks that the infant-stimulation craze was a scandal. She accepts the idea of brain plasticity, but she believes that the sculpting goes on for many years past infancy and that its primary arena should be self-stimulation, as the child ventures out into the world. While Mother was driving the kid nuts with the eight-hundredth iteration of “This Little Piggy,” she should have been letting him play on his own.

Marano assembles her own arsenal of neurological research, guaranteed to scare the pants off any hovering parent. As children explore their environment by themselves—making decisions, taking chances, coping with any attendant anxiety or frustration—their neurological equipment becomes increasingly sophisticated, Marano says. “Dendrites sprout. Synapses form.” If, on the other hand, children are protected from such trial-and-error learning, their nervous systems “literally shrink.”

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Open Access online research links

This is a collection of free, almost-free and sometimes-free websites that publish peer-reviewed articles and studies that relate to education, learning, web technology and the online world.

Many of these links were found in posts from Online Learning Update, which also exists here.  Some links were found via the Directory of Open Access Journals.  This list will be updated when additional resources are found, and readers are encouraged to add suggestions in the comments.

Free:

Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education ( CITE )

“Established with funding from a U.S. Department of Education … grant, CITE Journal makes possible the inclusion of sound, animated images, and simulation, as well as allowing for ongoing, immediate dialog about theoretical issues.”

The European Journal of Open, Distance and E-Learning ( EURODL )

“an online journal on distance and e-learning, publishes the accounts of research, development and teaching” “free to readers and contributes to the Open Content movement.”

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a view of the blogosphere

via Data Mining: Mapping The Blogosphere:

Here we have a hyperbolic display of blogs using both the WWE and the ICWSM 2007 data sets.

03/1/2007

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“A Vision of Students Today”

is the title to this video by Dr. Michael Wesch and the students of Introduction to Cultural Anthropology,  Class of Spring 2007 at Kansas State University:

which presents a question about how to effectively employ web technology in the classroom.

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Obamagogy

image via Consumerist, from MoveOn

“What we’ve been doing is trying to teach people to do what Obama does during his speeches — to tell their own stories to motivate others,” he says. “You’re building this sense of commitment to both the values and people, but you’re structuring it purposefully to achieve goals like, ‘In this district, we need 2,000 votes.'”

Via Wired on October 29, 2008:

Obama is the first to successfully integrate technology with a revamped model of political organization that stresses volunteer participation and feedback on a massive scale.

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