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Mangabey invitation


Posted on 28th July 2006 by Judy Breck in Subject Sampler

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This gorgeous Cercocebus torquatus welcomes you at the Primate Info Net. Animal sciences

The Smallest Page on the Web


Posted on 25th July 2006 by Judy Breck in Subject Sampler

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Learn microbiology in this virtual guidebook through the hidden world of freshwater microorganisms. Biology

The mobile camera factor at the British Open


Posted on 24th July 2006 by Judy Breck in Mobile Learning

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Golf junkies like myself noticed yesterday that mobile cameras were the factor that came the closest to costing Tiger Woods the championship. At least twice the television cameras stayed on Tiger as he backed off of tee shots having been distracted by a mobile camera clicking to capture his image. Apparently that happened several times when the cameras were not watching. The ABC commentator complained that the officials should walk ahead of Tiger warning the crown not to use their mobile cameras. On one of the holes coming in to the finish, Tiger backed off his tee shot growling about a camera, then still appearing angry hit is ball on to and over and past the green. It was one of his few shots of the tournament that was not almost perfect. Not long after that, as the TV cameras looked over the shoulders of the grandstand crowd at the 18th hole on the final day, there were mobile cameras to be seen raised in the hands of spectators.

As the tournament was televised, a standard shot of the first tee included Ivor Robson, Official Starter, who announced each golfer. He preceded the introduction by reminding the audience that cameras were not allowed on the course and that mobile phones must be kept in an “off” position. The logic of that policy is obsolete now that most mobile phones have cameras built-in. The issue becomes the same as it is in schools. Are we going to have to take the mobiles away from students and golf fans, or will students and golf fans have to learn not to use the devices to blow the attention of teachers and Tiger? I have more hope for the students than for the golf fans.

Carnival of the Mobilists 37


Posted on 24th July 2006 by Judy Breck in Carnival of the Mobilists

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The drums roll at Mobile Opportunity to announce this week’s Carnival. Enjoy the exciting illustrations and terrific writing about the advance of the digital venue into mobile phones.

Egyptian Gardens and Plant Explorers


Posted on 18th July 2006 by Judy Breck in Subject Sampler

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Egyptian garden
The website here gathers the history of the discovery of plants. For ancient Egypt it reports:

The first plant hunting expedition recorded in history was on the orders of Queen Hatshepsut of Egypt, when she dispatched five ships to gather valuable plants, animals and precious goods from the Land of Punt. It was in the tenth year of Ma’at-ka-Ra Hatshepsut’s reign, during the 18th dynasty of ancient Egypt. This would date the expedition to some time around 1500 BCE. The ships returned some months later,

“Laden with the costly products of the Land of Punt and with its many valuable woods, with very much sweet-smelling resin and frankincense, with quantities of ebony and ivory . . .”


Carnival of the Mobilists 36


Posted on 15th July 2006 by Judy Breck in Carnival of the Mobilists

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The Carnival is at MobileJones this week — and GoldenSwamp is mentioned in the first line! Drop by the midway to read the finest blog posts this week about things mobile.

Laptops and textbooks: do the math


Posted on 13th July 2006 by Judy Breck in Schools We Have Now

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An article here in today’s New York Times discussions the investigations by reporters of duplications in text among competitive school textbooks. As we know from our own schooldays, when a student takes a course, a textbook has been selected for that course. The result is that what you are assigned learn as a student is essentially what is in that one selected textbook. Delivering study stuff that way made a lot of sense when I was in school back in the 1940s-50s. But today, if a student has access to the Internet, he or she has multiple sources for virtually any study topic.

Although the Times essay is about other questionable aspects of limiting 21st century kids to learning from textbooks at school, I think the math is the thundering flaw that roars out of the article:

Just how similar passages showed up in two books is a tale of how the largely obscure $4 billion a year world of elementary and high school textbook publishing often works, for these passages were not written by the named authors but by one or more uncredited writers.

$4 billion a year! Let’s do some math. There are upwards of 40 million students in elementary and high school in the United States (if you include homeschoolers). At $4 billion a year, every one of those kids could have a new $100 laptop every year! When the day comes that the mobile phone fully accesses the Internet, spending billions on textbooks will not add up at all.

The iCommons is a network


Posted on 12th July 2006 by Judy Breck in Networks

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The iCommons is a network. A network is defined by nodes that are connected by links. Even to the terminology designated by the board of “nodes” for the projects linked together in the iCommons, we are a network.

I suggest that in the discussions among iCommoners, what is known about network structure and theory should guide how such things as inclusion and governance are done. We should be very careful about getting drawn into a storm brewed by pre-network theories of organization.

In the 1950s when I was studying political science at Northwestern University, the chairman of the department, Professor William McGovern, taught us that power in a political structure can only move in two directions: down (tyranny) or up (democracy). McGovern died before network theory came along, but as his student I would tell him now that there is a third way that power moves in the 21st century: laterally, sideways, virtually, omindirectionally.

The iCommons can be seen as a first grand experiment of a global network toward a shared purpose. Obviously that purpose has to open for the network to function, and the purpose of opening cultures seems ideal to me for this grand experiment.

My sense of the leadership at final iSummit ’06 meeting was to aim to link up nodes — and not to create a top-down control. Out of 20th century habit there is a natural urge to push for power from a bottom up. But a network has no top or bottom. It seems possible to me that iCommons can be a network that is a conversation through the year and a congregation at an annual iSummit. If that can happen, the achievements of the component nodes can be both unimpaired and enthused by being a node in the iCommons network.

Where would I tell Professor McGovern that the leadership and financing are in the network? My best guess is that they will continue to emerge dynamically and pattern themselves in response to the activities of the nodes — and not the other way around. That is what happened to create iSummit ’06, and I hope it continues.

Singapore’s Masterplan does not alter schools


Posted on 11th July 2006 by Judy Breck in Emerging Online Knowledge

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These are the bold targets set for Singapore’s newly launched ten-year infocomm masterplan:

• Singapore to be No. 1 in the world in harnessing infocomm to add value to the economy and society
• Achieve a two-fold increase in value-added of the infocomm industry to S$26 billion
• See a three-fold increase in infocomm export revenue to S$60 billion
• Create 80,000 additional jobs
• Have at least 90 per cent of homes using broadband
• Ensure 100 per cent computer ownership for all homes with school-going children

The goals were set in Singapore by a steering committee with representatives from the infocomm industry, sectors like education, healthcare, manufacturing & logistics, finance, tourism & retail and digital media, as well as the government. The full article quoted in this post is here.

Did you notice that the masterplan does not include fiddling with schools? The implication of that omission is very interesting: Singapore plans to be No. 1 in the world in harnessing infocomm by having homes with at least 90% broadband coverage and where all school-going children have computers at home.

Ten years from now will world leadership be determined by whether a country’s students have had broadband online Internet engagement outside of school? My guess is yes: at least connecting kids during the next decade will be among the top factors, as they think in Singapore.

Phones teach written literacy


Posted on 10th July 2006 by Judy Breck in Mobile Learning

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Necessity can be the mother of learning literacy — or at least of mastering key words. In a Washington Post article here about the huge and growing impact of cell phones in Congo, this passage may be the most important:

Iyombe said text messaging has been slowed by widespread illiteracy but has started taking off in recent months as people learn key words to text, such as “Call me.” He said it is becoming more popular largely because a text message costs five cents, compared with 26 cents for a one-minute voice call. When his mother wants to talk to him, he said, she sends a text telling him to call.

“It was a little difficult getting her to use texts, but now she’s very good at it,” he said, smiling at the thought.

Do we demean this mother in a remote Congo location by thinking she will only learn perhaps a few more keywords she needs for the phone? Or do we realize that by putting a cell phone with a keypad into her hands we have given her a tool for practicing and rewarding literacy itself? Perhaps not every Congolese (and/or the other billion+ people in developing countries who now have phones) will become literate by using them. For sure some will.

Suggestion: incorporate language practice applications into the phones. This is a stunning new way to reach remotely located people with literacy lessons! Let’s do it.

Dow Jones Learning Center


Posted on 9th July 2006 by Judy Breck in Subject Sampler

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Dow Jones history
The interactive history here traces the timeline of the famed New York Stock Exchange Dow Jones market average, with dates, facts and trivia. History

Carnival of the Mobilists 35


Posted on 8th July 2006 by Judy Breck in Mobile & Ubiquitous

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Xen cheering
Xen is our host this week. Take in the week’s best mobile blogging on her Xellular Identity homesite.

Nikon beauty and textbook correctness


Posted on 8th July 2006 by Judy Breck in Schools We Have Now

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Should the NikonNet website here be off limits for students to use to learn photography? Of course the goal in creating and hosting these web pages is self-interest for Nikon. Others are served too. Some outstanding professional photographers get to showcase their work. Amateurs have a shot at doing so too. Do we need an industry that builds subject web site exclusively for learning? Why not use the virtual real world? For one thing, doing so would reduce the cost of education dramatically. For another, commercial interests like Nikon would compete to win the attention of learners. That is happening already.

Learn Inspire Share Photo Expertise


Posted on 8th July 2006 by Judy Breck in Subject Sampler

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photographer Grand Canyon
Nikon pours ideas from the experts freely into the beautiful materials here. Arts

Abraham Lincoln’s Classroom


Posted on 5th July 2006 by Judy Breck in Subject Sampler

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Abraham Lincoln
The highlights and quizes here link to the excellent resources of the Lincoln/Lehrman institutes. Biography