Stephen's Web

By Stephen Downes
July 31, 2002

Distance Ed: Not So Distant University Business magazine seems to have risen from the ashes (somebody could have told me... *grumble*) and is back to producing quality articles for university administrations. This item places distance learning in context for people who tend to focus on daya to day university administration. The message is that distance education is not new any more. There's no question of whether online learning works, but rather, questions look at how to make it work better and more efficiently. And distance learning is bringing with it a new set of assumptions about higher learning in general. Good read. By Patrick Clinton, University Business, July, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Copyright as Cudgel Good article that has as its essential message the thesis that academics have either been sleeping or backing the wrong side when it comes to the copyright debate. "Together, trends in scholarship, copyright law, and mood have combined to generate a set of assumptions about academic work that are weighted toward the exploitation of professors and the protection of a university's 'property,' and against sharing or distributing knowledge." This article is very much what I would write about copyright and represents, in my mind, an important point of view academics and administrators should heed. By Siva Vaidhyanathan, Chronicle of Higher Education, August 2, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Copyright in the Balance: LJ Talks with Lawrence Lessig I really don't like the idea of bringing the handgun debate into the copyright devate, even if the analogy is a good one. In this interview Lessig argues, "clearly there are bad uses of the handgun. But for some reason we don't entirely ban the use of the handgun. If we don't ban technologies that kill people, I don't think we should ban technology that could be used for lots of completely legitimate purposes." OK, sure, but what if you think handguns should be banned? The premise of this argument is more dubious than the conclusion. But despite the flawed presentation, I still think that the principle is correct. "These things that are completely fair uses are now being interfered with by copyright holders' [digital rights management (DRM)] technologies. If we don't have the right to use technology on our side to get around these DRM technologies, the right of fair use will have been erased." By Andrew Richard Albanese, Library Journal, July 15, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

IBM and PricewaterhouseCoopers Last week when IBM and Thomson Learning announced an agreement I suggested that a third component was needed to bolster IBM's elearning capacity. The third part comes this week with IBM's acquisition of PricewaterhouseCoopers Consulting, the branch of the accounting giant responsible for the eArmyU project and a variety of other elearning initiatives. This is IBM aiming rather higher than I had expected as it acquired established contracts along with expertise and technology. By Various Authors, December 31, 200-31 8:33 p.m. [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2002 Stephen Downes