SURE Books “ARE” making us stupid

Facebook too, twitter, and television.. Moocs, and guess what.. even school and university..

As a matter of fact, everything is making us stupid… IF we use it stupidly !! And the real problem is that we aften use information sources stupidly.

What is the main quality of the 21st century information sources ? We are constantly talking about 3.0. Basically, it is web 3.0 and then we annexe what ever we imagine, from television 3.0 to education 3.0. What is the magic in this number 3 ? specialists are referring to semantic web and to make things simple, we are talking here about collaboration ; collaborative knowledge creation. This is what defines the 21st century : COLLABORATION (isn’t it?).

Using any information source, in a non-collaborative way, will deprive the user from the benefits of collaboration. When some one sits in his corner surfing the web, with creating any connections or networks, he is using internet stupidly and he will be become stupid. Just as when this some one resort to a book, and read it in his corner, without making use of his reading enriching his knowledge network.

In 1893, H. G. Wells tried to foretell how the man will look like in the year 1000000 ! and he thought he would like look as the pic related to this blog. His body would be minimum, because he would not be using his hand and legs, and his head will be HUGE.. All what man would do at the time is intellectual activities !! To be honest, I do not like the image, and I do not want to look like this “creature”, but when I think about it and about new technology, I find it so realistic. Today, not in 1000000 years, nor even in 1000 years, we are sitting too many hours, living in a virtual world, and in sooooooo many cases, ignoring real life relation ships. If we are keeping doing this we will, sure, be looking like Wells “human been”, which I do not like it ! So in order to prevent this destiny, we MUST concentrate on human relationships and collaboration. This applies on internet, but also on books.


Books (ARE) tools. It is up to us to use these tools, either to make us intelligent or to make us stupid !!

Just 2 notes : 1- I remember that when I was a young child, I did not like reading books, and my parents and brother, who were all day readers tried all their possibilities to transfer their passion to reading to me ! I am sooooo thankful to them !

2- it is “Are” books making us stupid, not “is”!!!! 😉


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I do not agree with Dave Cormier

2347819903_b27aa74183We are supposed to break the rules ! Aren’t we ? So, I am going to the extremity of rule breaking in this mooc, which is not to agree with Dave and ALL the participants that I could read their posts !

 I do not agree with Dave on the fact that cheating is weapon for succeeding and that cheating is the same thing as rule breaking. I believe that there is a great difference between cheating and rule breaking as a weapon. Cheating, in my sense, has this surreptitious aspect.. When somebody cheats, he does not want that to be known by others.. He feels that he is doing something bad, not because he is breaking the rules, but because he is doing something bad or something wrong !! When this somebody breaks some rules knowing that what he is doing is not bad, he will not be doing it secretly. Cheating is bad, because it is done clandestinely ! When you break rules for the sake of the society or the whole universe, you will do it so openly that you want every body to know about it!

 In fact, it must be said that rules are necessary for the human development. We cannot break ALL the rules! Otherwise, we will be in a chaotic situation. Even when you “liberate” your learners from some contraints such as the grade and use of others’ work, some rules must resist or new rules are to be imposed. Can you allow your students to take others’ work without permission?!! Can you just break all the rules and tell your students that they can do whatever they want..and at the end of 4 years they will get certified for a certain field of science?!! medicine for example??!! I suppose not, unless there is something that I am missing! Yes, liberating students from some constraints such as grades might lead to great results, but it is just a “might”.. and it might not!! But even though, you are liberating them from “traditional” constraints, but I suppose that you are imposing new “nontraditional” constraints”.

 That said, two particular activities captured my attention in the posts that I could read. These two activities are related to collaboration and innovation in education and to intellectual property in academia. I will explain why breaking rules in these two fields is a great thing, but in the same time, I will explain why, this cannot be considered as cheating.

 Let me start by the collaboration. When a teaching facilitator “allows” it, collaboration stops being cheating. Collaboration becomes cheating when it is not allowed. And when the “system” does not allow something, it will be so difficult to contradict it. It is only because the system allows us to make something that we do it.. it is only because the system allows us to permit collaboration among our learners that we do this. And here the system, of course, will impose new restrictions! Now I believe that I do not need to talk about the benefits of collaboration in the academia. We all now that, and the evidence is that we are here participating and collaborating in this great mooc!

This leads to the use of innovation in academia. I think that innovation is breaking rules (but so loudly, not surreptitiously). Innovative ideas in academia such as OERs (and openness in general), new ways of assessment, gamification, BYOD, Social media, critical learning, academia 3.0, m-learning, and much much more are great things to experiment and then to get results, that, we have to admit, might be negative in some cases!

 The other point is intellectual property. As we all know, Internet and electronic documents facilitate “cheating” when it comes to the use of others’ work. You can so easily take the work of somebody, which is published on the net, and claim that it is yours, but this is not ethical!! However, I am not cheating when I am using the ideas of somebody or including parts of his documents in my work as far as I am referencing the resource! It is sure that there is a need to review intellectual property rules in the scope of the electronic media era, but at least when you are referencing the source you know that you are not behaving unethically.

 So, to conclude, I think that rule breaking (not cheating) “might” be a weapon for succeeding, and might not, and we must be careful when breaking rules because this might be dangerous, especially when dealing with sensitive fields such as education. This said, I want to assure that I try my very best to be an advocate of the use of innovative ideas in education, but I am also realestic and suppose that we must believe that every thing we are trying might give great positive results, which I sincerely hope, but might also give negative results!

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Students Motivation!

imagesR7F11AUOSome days ago, I was going to ask my friend Diana Samson, as a joke of course: how can an unmotivated teacher be motivated in order to motivate his unmotivated students?!! I did not have the chance to ask her this question.. But the question/joke came back to my mind today during a meeting about student motivation. Frédéric Chirat du CAPE, who animated the meeting, talked about almost the same thing, when he siad that when a professor sees his student unmotivated, he will be demotivated, because the students are doing no effort with respect to his.. so he will stop making effort.. student will notice this and will be more unmotivated and the whole system will enter in a vicious circle which will never end. The great thing that happenned in the meeting is that I got a copy of a book entitled “la pédagogie de l’enseignement supérieur repères théoriques et applications pratiques” by Denis Berthiaume and Nicole Rege. I am really so excited to read the book!

Here are some points raised in the meeting

  1. I noticed that almost eveybody agreed about the idea of the professor being fully responsable of the outcome of the course (No one talked about rhizomatic Learning ;-)) .
  2. I liked the idea that autotuning is one sign of motivation
  3. Everybody agrees also to link success in a module to the final grade the learner gets

Here are some points that were not raised in the meeting:

  1. Learner-centered education
  2. Project based education
  3. The use of social media as a means to raise the motivation of learners
  4. Innovative education paradigms, such as Quest University
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Textbooks are not a destiny

I think that I am one of the teachers that do not believe in “textbooks”. It is important to note that I am a university lecturer, and thus I am dealing with grownups and what I am saying in this blog is limited to university students!

Yes, I do not believe in textbooks in their “formal” and “traditional” form! I, however believe in affording students with some kind of support that they need, especially when the culture of library is not very much popularized! In fact, in the universities where I teach, libraries are not even relatively well supported by administration! You can find neither sufficient titles nor sufficient copies, and they are not modern in the sense of management!

Thus, what we do, in the best of cases, is to choose topics from among a number references and then make our lectures using presentations and then we might, or might not, give the presentations to the students! It is an “open textbook” policy! (This surely needs a teacher that knows what he is doing, but this is another story…)

Now, if we can use education technology, and make some difficult choices, such as the one taken be the UAE (, open textbooks will be a great choice that does not comprises only “text” but rather videos, dynamic websites, portions from a number of open textbooks, etc.

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Concept map on openness

Concept map on openness.

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Concept map on openness

This is a concept map about how the idea of openness is created. I will not explain it, because I think that concept map must be self explaining! Am I right?


I have just one problem: I tried to use cc images in this concept map. Most of the images used here have attribution rights. What does this mean? Do I have to link every single image to the website I took from or look for the guy who created it or … something else?


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I am confused about cc licensed educational resources :-(

For the first time in an eternity, I feel confused in an academic task!! For the MOOC  I am following on openness in education, the second activity is to use the advanced search feature of Google to “identify 5 – 10 CC licensed materials that are interesting to you either personally or professionally. Create a blog post in which you, (1) describe the topic you went searching for, (2) tell us why it is interesting to you, (3) link to the resources you found, and (4) describe some of the reuses, revisions, and remixes you might make of these materials.”

Just to start, CC stands for Creative Commons, which, according to the website ( “Creative Commons helps you share your knowledge and creativity with the world.”. According to David Wiley, “The Creative Commons copyright licenses and tools forge a balance inside the traditional “all rights reserved” setting that copyright law creates. Their tools give everyone from individual creators to large companies and institutions a simple, standardized way to grant copyright permissions to their creative work. The combination of their tools and their users is a vast and growing digital commons, a pool of content that can be copied, distributed, edited, remixed, and built upon, all within the boundaries of copyright law.”

At the very moment of writing this entry, I have more than 23 opened tabs on my browser.

What is confusing me in this task? A LOT of things. Let’s start.

First, Google does not want to allow me to use its “usage rights” option in the advanced search to determine the kind of documents I am looking for. When googling for such a problem, no answer L.

Now with some attempts to overcome the problem, it was solved, and the long trip started.

At the beginning, I wanted to look for CC educational resources. With this I was thinking of finding CC resources that I can, legally and ethically[1], use in my classroom. Google was not very helpful, because the results it gave me were results including the words “educational” and “resources” in documents dealing with, explaining and talking about CC. Not really helpful!

Solution: Narrow the subject I am looking for. Look for some one subject that I teach; let’s say: computer networks. Proudly, I google for computer networks and chose the option “Free to use, share, or modify, even commercially”. I thought that this is the most general option, and it will give the maximum number of results! Result: disappointing; nothing as educational resource.

At this point, I started to think; maybe I have a problem about the idea itself. I mean maybe educational resources are “fair use”. According to Wikipedia ( “Fair use is a limitation and exception to the exclusive right granted by copyright law to the author of a creative work. In United States copyright law, fair use is a doctrine that permits limited use of copyrighted material without acquiring permission from the rights holders. Examples of fair use include commentary, search engines, criticism, news reporting, research, teaching, library archiving and scholarship. It provides for the legal, unlicensed citation or incorporation of copyrighted material in another author’s work under a four-factor balancing test.”

Here, I started to google about fair use. And this was a painful task. I wanted to determine what is considered “fair use” in academia? Am I infringing the law (and ethics) when I am making complete lecture notes out of a copyrighted textbook? What about embedding videos from the web in my presentations? And images? The number of tabs augmented and augmented, and to be honest, after a couple of hours, my questions are more in number and deeper! I am confused! (Even google is suspecting my activities at this point and every time I google something it will ask me to enter a captcha, because it seems that no human on earth can look for as much as what I am doing in such a little time!!!!!!!!).

OK, I told myself, this is an artifact to the main task I am working on. Let me go back to identifying the resources I need. I started manipulating the searches in google:

  • computer networks lecture notes
  • “computer networks” “lecture notes”

Always with the previously mentioned advanced search option. Great results: an enormous number of Wikipedia pages. I love Wikipedia, but seriously speaking, it is not what I am looking for at this moment.

Enough is enough; Google does not want to help me with its advanced search options and I have to find my way to identify the required resources. Easy; do not use google advanced search and just google for “computer networks” “lecture notes” cc licensed. Partially it works.

Over 10 of Google search pages, I found the following interesting pages that are CC licensed:

  1. Free Online College Courses That Help You Learn More About Computer Security
  2. FreeVideoLectures
  3. Open michigan
  4. YouTube Education
  5. MIT open courseware
  6. Computer Networks @ SEECS, NUST

Why partially it works? Because it took me TEN GOOGLE SEARCH PAGES to get these 6 pages. I think that this too little!

Why am I STILL confused? Because:

  1. I still cannot understand the fair use doctrine!
  2. I cannot understand why it is so difficult to find cc licensed courseware on Google!
  3. I cannot understand why the advanced Google search option about the usage rights is not satisfying!

[1] I am living in a country where IP is not enforced by law.

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