Thoughts on Stephen Downes' ITI Keynote

I listened to Stephen Downes' ITI keynote (and here in AAC AudioBook format) on the commute (first half last night, second half this morning, thanks to the wonders of AudioBook ;-) )

It was quite a good presentation. Some of it might be considered common knowledge (open is good), but this particular audience may not have heard the message before (or, they may have needed the extra "open in elearning is good" ).

Anyway, I just wanted to capture some catch-phrases here so I can remember them later... Quotes are paraphrased from memory (wasn't taking notes), so any errors are mine. Any great gems are Stephen's (or Alan Levine's & Brian Lamb's, where noted below).

"What we really need (yesterday) is a 'Blogger for elearning'" - he's not talking about a blogger as a person, but rather, which was the first brain-dead simple weblog tool that allowed everyone to actually have a voice without needing knowledge of MySQL, PHP/Perl, UNIX, whatever...

DN: It strikes me that APOLLO and Pachyderm will actually come pretty darned close to this. Pachyderm from a more institution-friendly bundle-of-content approach, and APOLLO from a more in-the-trenches dynamic and on-the-fly approach... Note to self: be sure to show Stephen the APOLLO and Pachyderm stuff...

"Filter, repurpose, re-mix, feed forward" - this should be the mantra for what we do moving forward. He talks about how this process can describe many proven things, from the innards of a human brain, to "standing on the shoulders of giants", to using learning objects (actually using them

"Improvisational Learning" - he talks about how the "learning standards" (ick) only enable top-down, authoritarian, predefined bundles of content, and don't allow for the in-the-moment stuff. Even Learning Design misses the mark, only providing a richer vocabulary for predefining bundles of content (and further predefining the roles that people will be allowed to take while interacting with said bundles of content).

"Open/free is about access, not cost" - make the tools available to anyone, for any purpose, and the cost doesn't matter.

"low-bar entry" as an essential parameter for success. He gives the example that if you want to produce some kick-ass content, and provide it for free, you'd still need to hire a team of librarians to create the standards-defined metadata so people could find your content. This is just silly. Back to the "bag of keywords" approach - simpler to use, lower bar to entry...

"Successful (e)learning needs to teeter on the edge of chaos and order" - just like a successful classroom... The hierarchical top-down ordained-from-above crap just won't fly in practice... Stephen references the EduChaos presentation by Marie Jasinski

"Fast, cheap and out of control" - he borrowed this from Brian Lamb (and Alan Levine), but it really describes the most successful approach for in-the-trenches learning.

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