Wikis in Education

See this Educause article about wikis; hat tip to Many2Many for the link.

Indeed, an instructor could structure and regulate interaction to such an extent that the wiki is effectively transformed into a stripped-down course management system. But doing so risks diluting the special qualities that make wikis worth using in the first place, with the result being, in the words of Heather James, “pumped-up PowerPoint.” James has described the experience of using wikis in her teaching as her “brilliant failure.” She regrets that she “changed the tool, but did not change the practice,” and failed to account for the “great potential in this tool to be completely disruptive (in a good way) to the classroom setting.” With the benefit of hindsight, she concludes that for wikis to fulfill their promise, “the participants need to be in control of the content—you have to give it over fully.”26 This process involves not just adjusting the technical configuration and delivery; it involves challenging the social norms and practices of the course as well.

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Gelernter on “Bush’s Greatness”

With the caveat that I think Bush is doing only one thing right (i.e., his prosecution of the war against Islamo-Fascism), I found this piece from David Gelernter quite refreshing.

THE WAR IN IRAQ is dual-purpose, like most American wars. Take the Civil War. At the beginning, the North fought mainly for pragmatic reasons. No nation can tolerate treason, or allow itself to be ripped to bits or auctioned off piece-wise by malcontents. Midwesterners couldn’t allow the Mississippi to fall into foreign hands; they needed their outlet to the sea. And so on. Slavery was overshadowed. But as the war continued, slavery emerged as the issue, and the war’s character changed.

The Iraq war started as a fight to knock out a regime that invaded its neighbors, murdered its domestic enemies with poison gas, subsidized terrorism, and flouted the international community. Obviously such a regime was dangerous to American interests. But as the war continued and we confronted Saddam’s gruesome tyranny face to face, the moral issue grew more important, as emancipation did in the Civil War. For years the Iraqi people had been screaming, in effect: “Oh, my God. Please help me! Please help me! I’m dying!” How could America have answered, “We don’t want to get involved”? We are the biggest kid on the playground. If we won’t help, who will?

There’s quite a lot; read the whole thing.

Gelernter knows personally about terrorism; a package from the Unabomber blew off his hand.

UPDATE: Forgot the hat-tip to Photon Courier.

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Guerre de Luxe

Belmont Club has a good post about the options Russia had available to it during the recent terrorist attack on a school in Beslan. They have this to say about America’s prosecution of World War IV:

America’s unmatched power allowed President Bush to select the most humane course of war available. No European power, nor all of them put together, could have embarked on such a precise campaign for lack of means. It was a rich man’s strategy, a guerre de luxe.

Read the whole thing; it’s short and to-the-point.

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Fall 2004 Classes Start Tonight

I begin taking classes tonight. I had wanted to start with something, anything, other than the information systems course, becuase that’s all I’ve been doing for five years. But I wanted desperately to take the Research Methodology course from Emin Babakus, who was my boss for a time when I worked at FCBE, and everything else conflicted with that. So information systems it is.

Research Methodology is Tue/Thu, 5:30 to 6:55 pm.

Management Science and Decision Technology is Tue, 7:10 to 10:10 pm.

Information Systems in Organizations is Wed, 7:10 to 10:10 pm.

My God, on Tuesdays I’m in for four and a half hours of classes after working all day. What the hell was I thinking?

Research Methodology had better be worth it. 😉

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Object-Oriented … News?

Belmont Club writes about the rise of internet media (bloggers) over traditional big media gatekeepers:

So when the Swiftvets story shouldered its way into the public consciousness despite the best efforts of the “gatekeepers” to consign it to oblivion, it posed an existential challenge to the news foundries. For where one could come, more would follow. The Mainstream Media responded to accusations by Swiftvets that Kerry had misrepresented his combat record in Vietnam by creating their own alternative news object, whose methods were restricted to OutrageAgainstBush( )  and SympathyForKerry( ), with read only properties Responsible and Respectable. They could no longer block the data, but they could still transform it.

Kind of a funny analogy. 🙂

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Alaina Visits Memphis

My sister Alaina is in town; she arrived yesterday afternoon and immdiately fell in love with Wendy, my new dog. Alaina and I went out to eat and caught up on each other’s lives. She’s moving from Indianapolis IN to Columus OH in a month or so.

Here’s the funny thing: I’m not a very religious man any more, you could call me more an agnostic or a Joseph-Campbellian. I like to think, as Franklin did, that there is a Providence that leads us toward good ends. Providence appears to have led me to adopt Wendy so that Alaina could take her home. I could be very happy with that end. 🙂

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A New Dog

Last week, my neighbor Phyllis from down the street was talking about a dog she found at the corner of Riverdale and Quince. Phyllis has four cats, and they were terrified of the new dog, so she couldn’t keep it. At the same time, she didn’t want to just “give the dog away” — instead, she wanted to adopt it out to a good home. I told her to bring the dog by to my house Monday evening; while I wasn’t going to take another dog in, I have another friend (Libby) who is a dog fanatic and who would know of any good homes in the area.

On Monday, the new dog arrived in my backyard for play-time and looking-over. A good natured creature, mostly lab but with a little chow, perphaps some dachshund (long nose), about 25 pounds with a short golden brown coat. 6-9 months old, some minor tooth problems, sweet as could be.

So I took her in. 🙂 I’ve started calling her Wendy; it’s not a Peter Pan reference, although I could work one up easily enough. “Wendy” just sounds right for her. She and Zoe (my first dog) are quickly becoming used to each other.

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If It’s Worth Doing…

… it’s worth over-doing.

Look here later for my ideas about PHP programming, character and ethics, leadership and management, public education, business, economics, government, science, the proper use of power, emergent systems (complex adaptive systems), and much much more. Let it never be said that I do not have a wide range of interests.

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