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Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Online Content Cannot Remain Free. [Slashdot] the publishing industry is having difficulty with the transition from dead tree medium and distribution to the internet era - seems like the railroads passenger service missing out on airline travel passenger service because they could not look up from the tracks.  The publishers similarly misunderstand their opportunity to provide an experience to the reader rather than the opportunity of providing semantic materials printed on dead trees delivered somewhere near to the readers.  The dead tree based publishing business will continue just as the rail passenger service continues but only as an increasingly quaint tourist style experience of what it used to be like to live in the olden days. -- BL

6:52:58 AM    comment

Handbook of Enquiry and Problem-Based Learning.

This online volume by the Centre of Excellence in Learning and Teaching, National University of Ireland in Galway, contains valuable chapters about the theory and practice of enquiry- and problem-based learning. Instructors in all fields will find the handbook useful but I also believe the approach is valuable for self-guided learners--both students in colleges and universities and solo learners. Students who are stuck in traditional lecture-based programs are especially in need of some perspective on how they can enrich their own learning. Several of the chapters include excellent web links to additional EBL and PBL materials. ______JH (Thanks to Stephen Downes for this resource.)


"Enquiry-based Learning (EBL) is used here as a broad umbrella term to describe approaches to learning that are driven by a process of enquiry. The tutor establishes the task and supports or facilitates the process, but the students pursue their own lines of enquiry, draw on their existing knowledge and identify the consequent learning needs. They seek evidence to support their ideas and take responsibility for analysing and presenting this appropriately, either as part of a group or as an individual supported by others. They are thus engaged as partners in the learning process."

"Problem-based Learning is seen as a set of approaches under the broader category of Enquiry-based Learning. One of the main defining characteristics of Problem-based Learning, which distinguishes it from some other forms of Enquiry-based Learning, is that the problem is presented to the students first at the start of the learning process, before other curriculum inputs. Another defining characteristic of PBL is that in PBL tutorials students define their own learning issues, what they need to research and learn to work on the problem and are responsible themselves for searching appropriate sources of information."


Handbook of Enquiry and Problem-based Learning: Irish Case Studies and International Perspectives , Centre of Excellence in learning and Teaching. This comprehensive volume composed of about twenty individual essays not only offers a good grounding in enguiry and problem based learning but looks at them in practice, as each essay contains numerous examples and case studies. If you are interested in either approach to teaching and learning, then this volume is a must-read. Nice to see the free download and Creative Commons license, too. [] [Tags:] [] [Stephen's Web ~ by Stephen Downes ~ OLDaily RSS 0.91]

[EduResources Weblog--Higher Education Resources Online]
6:41:27 AM    comment

Rat Brains Fly Planes. [Slashdot]
6:39:17 AM    comment

First Cell Phone for Dogs. [Slashdot]
6:37:29 AM    comment

Internet addiction: Anatomy of a problem.

Take a look at these graphs:

Most bloggers and web designers will find this sort of chart familiar — it’s a record of Cognitive Daily’s visitor statistics for the month of November. The first graph records the amount of traffic we received each day. Notice that the pink bars are shorter — these correspond to the weekends. You might think that weekend traffic is lower just because we don’t post new articles on weekends. But we didn’t post an article at all on November 14, a Monday, yet still saw an increase in traffic compared to the day before. The second graph charts a number of indicators of traffic based on hour of the day (U.S. Central time). Here you’ll notice that our busiest hours are right smack in the middle of the U.S. workday (over 75 percent of our traffic comes from the U.S.).

It’s no leap of faith to suggest that many, if not most, readers of Cognitive Daily are doing it at work. This is not to say our readers don’t have legitimate, work-related reasons for visiting this site. They may be psychology teachers. Or they may simply be seeking information for their employers: for example, employers might want to know that 64 percent of corporations in a recent survey have disciplined employees for inappropriate use of the internet at work. However, the site statistics on my personal blog follow a similar pattern. I have a hard time imagining an employer that would want its employees to read about my video game marathon with my son or my hike with my daughter, on company time.

One survey of employee internet use indicates that nearly 15 percent of workers surf the internet “constantly” while at work, and over 27 percent use active measures to conceal their surfing habits from their bosses.

One caution about the vault.com study — unlike the other studies we cover on Cognitive Daily, this one does not appear to be peer-reviewed. So what does peer-reviewed research have to say about the subject? In a 2004 descriptive article, Kimberly Young documented the phenomenon of internet addiction. She bases her definition of internet addiction on models for gambling addiction. Internet users are asked the following eight questions:

  1. Do you feel preeoccupied with the internet (think about online activity or anticipate the next online session)?
  2. Do you feel the need to use the internet with increasing amounts of time to achieve satisfaction?
  3. Have you repeatedly made unsuccessful efforts to control, cut back, or stop internet use?
  4. Do you feel restless, moody, depressed, or irritable when attempting to cut down or stop internet use?
  5. Do you stay online longer than intended?
  6. Have you jeopardized or risked the loss of a significant relationship, job, educational or career opportunity because of the internet?
  7. Have you lied to family members, therapists, or others to conceal the extent of involvement with the internet?
  8. Do you use the internet as a way of escaping from problems or of relieving a dysphoric mood (e.g. feelings of helplessness, guilt, anxiety, depression)?

Using a similar model, Louis Leung surveyed 699 Net-geners (members of the generation born between 1977 and 1997 who grew up in a world dominated by computers and electronic communication) in 2001 in Hong Kong and found that 37.9 percent met the criteria for internet addiction.

So what’s special about these internet addicts? Perhaps surprisingly, they don’t spend a lot more time online than non-addicted Net-geners: 34.8 hours a week compared to 27.1 for the non-addicted. They don’t use the internet more than average Net-geners for commercial activity, seeking information, or social interactions such as online forums, games, or bulletin boards. The only significant correlation between internet addiction and a particular online activity in this group was use of ICQ (generally called IM — Instant Messaging — in the U.S.), and even that was a relatively moderate correlation of β = 0.13.

But some other general patterns about internet addiction emerged from Leung’s study. Internet addicts tended to be female students, in contrast to previous studies finding that most problem computer use was among socially unskilled males — the traditional “computer geek.” There were few socioeconomic differences between addicts and non-addicts, and Leung believes that as internet availability becomes more widespread, whatever small differences that remain will disappear.

Finally, and perhaps most critically, there was no difference in experience using the internet between addicts and non-addicts: addicted users averaged 2.64 years online, compared to 2.75 years for non-addicts. It seems that the critical dimension of addicted versus non-addicted behavior is the ability to control one’s use of the internet.

Kimberly Young points out that there are several factors which make internet addiction difficult to treat. Employers and schools often encourage internet use, even to the point of integrating it into business and curriculum procedures. This makes addiction difficult to identify, and potentially legally problematic for businesses who are providing the very item their addicted employees crave. The newness of the disorder makes it difficult both for victims to be taken seriously, and for practicable treatments to be created.

In reading through the research, I’ve identified another problem: the technologies that researchers are trying to study are progressing so quickly that they often have changed or ceased to exist by the time of publication. Leung writes extensively on ICQ and bulletin boards, which have now virtually vanished from the online landscape, even though the article was published in late 2004. Young’s 2004 article cites data on online use dating from the late 1990s — an eternity ago in internet time. Today, we want to know about the impact of MMORPGs and podcasts, but in the several years it takes to carry out a peer-reviewed experiment on the subject, these technologies may have morphed into something else entirely. In the meantime, there’s little doubt that addictive online behavior will continue to be a problem, so continuing research on the issue, no matter the difficulties, is essential.

Leung, L. (2004). Net-generation attributes and seductive properties of the internet as predictors of online activities and internet addiction. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 7(3), 333-348.

Young, K.S. (2004). Internet addiction: A new clinical phenomenon and its consequences. The American Behavioral Scientist, 48(1), 402-415.

[Cognitive Daily]
6:33:08 AM    comment

Greasemonkeying Google Video. There was great rejoicing at Macromedia when Google Video switched its player technology from VLC to Flash a couple of months ago. The move validated what the Macromedians had long been touting: the combination of the Flash 7 player and the FLV (Flash video) format makes a no-hassle playback solution for Windows, Mac, and Linux. And from my perspective, it's an opportunity to prototype some of my ideas about what the video web could -- and I argue should -- become. ... [Jon's Radio]
6:28:12 AM    comment

Emory Chemistry Professor Offers Enhanced Podcasts.

The Emory Wheel Online reports that Emory University chemistry professor Justin Gallivan is offering enhanced podcasts of his chemistry classes available free via iTunes. The article reports that in addition to audio, visual materials are available along with the podcast. A TA takes pictures of diagrams drawn on the blackboard, which are then included as part of the enhanced podcast. In fact, the podcasts are available via iTunes. Right now I’m listening to lecture 16, which was posted December 5, 2005. Static digital images are sync’d with the audio and appear in the album artwork window as the audio is playing. If an image is difficult to decipher, you can click on the image to see it in a larger window.

This is a slightly different approach than that of Jean-Claude Bradley (Drexel U., also a chem professor), who for his iTunes feed intersperses PDFs in the RSS feed, which are then automatically downloaded by iTunes as part of the feed subscription. The PDFs include diagrams drawn during the lecture. Here is a link to his Chem 421 Organic Chemistry I lecture in iTunes

[Syndication for Higher Ed]  --- this may be the birth of a new form of online education support to students -- BL

6:25:58 AM    comment

Autistic children’s brains grow larger during first years of development.

By age 2, children with the often-devastating neurological condition physicians call autism show a generalized enlargement of their brains, a new University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University medical schools study concludes. Exactly why this roughly 5 percent greater brain growth occurs and what it means are not yet clear, scientists said. Indirect evidence suggested that the increased brain growth probably began during the later months of the children’s first year of life.

[Science Blog -]
6:21:51 AM    comment

Immune response to HIV differs, even in identical twins.

In findings illustrating the difficulty of developing an AIDS vaccine, UCLA AIDS Institute researchers report the immune systems in two HIV-positive identical twins responded to the infection in different ways. Detailed in the Dec. 5 issue of the peer-reviewed Journal of Virology, the findings show that the body's defenses against the virus are random rather than genetically determined.

[Science Blog -]
6:19:22 AM    comment

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