Stephen's Web

By Stephen Downes
December 6, 2002

Technology Source Author Forum I had a fascinating back-and-forth webcast yesterday with Jon Paul Potts from MIT's Open Courseware Project (OCW). You'll need a Real Media player to listen to this session and if you haven't been to ULiveandLearn you'll need to install some Java applets to follow the chatroom discussion and slide show. I must say, this is a great job of archiving all aspects of this webcast, and not just voice files. The entire webcast was about an hour: you'll get about a 20 minute presentation from Potts introducing the OCW project and a good question and answer session thereafter (even if I do say so myself). To access the webcast, follow the link, type your name into the field (the top one, not the bottom one), and follow along. By Stephen Downes, ULiveandLearn, December 5, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Art of Blogging - Part 2 The second part of this report on blogging. The author this time provides some practical advice on how to get started, providing examples of popular blogs, blog resource pages, and a quick guide on how to blog. Also introduces the reader to RSS, gently guiding them to some articles (including my own introduction for educators). By George Siemens, ELearnSpace, December 6, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Conference of African Education Ministers This conference is just wrapping up today in Dar-es-Salaam as ministers from more than a dozen countries outlined their countries' programmes and plans for the future. Of note as well were remarks by Commonwealth of Learning president Gajaraj Dhanarajan, who recommended distance learning as a possible solution to Africa's education needs. "There is the big problem of access. Immediately after independence our governments in their ambitious dream to eradicate illiteracy, recruited untrained teachers to take care of the expanded classrooms. But these teachers did not have a chance of getting trained." By Various Authors, UNESCO, December 6, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Palm Reader eBooks Head for the Library Perhaps somebody would explain to me why people would leave their homes and offices, travel through what might be east coast blizzard conditions, and read a text off a Palm in a library. Why not just download off the net? Why do people make technology so hard for themselves? By Ryan, Palm InfoCenter, December 5, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

New Position Supports Use of GIS in Curriculum OK, the article (found in today's Distance-Educator.Com) is interesting enough, though dated, and I am an unfulfilled geographer so I appreciate what they're doing. But mainly, I wanted the chance to get the headline wrong: "New GIS supports use of position in curriculum." Tee hee. By Office of Public Affairs, Dartmouth College, November 18, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Software-Coding Costs Force Indiana U. at Bloomington to Drop a Popular Graduation Guarantee This is one for the books - and I must say, a really embarassing moment for PeopleSoft. According to this article, "the faculty council at Indiana University at Bloomington voted on Tuesday to cancel a popular four-years-and-out graduation policy because the university's new PeopleSoft student-records system could not be programmed to accommodate the policy except at great expense." I expect to read the announcement early next week that PeopleSoft will provide the required solution at little or no charge - which, the cynics among us suggest, was the intent of the faculty council motion in the first place (I'll post a note in OLDaily if I see anything). By Florence Olsen, Chronicle of Higher Education, December 5, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Daypop I saw an article today in the Toronto Star - one of many similar articles from mainstream media - asserting that today's bloggers do nothing more than rehash stories found in the mainstream media. Well I read enough blogs to know that this is false. But how to show it? Well, maybe this: Daypop is a service that lists the top linked items in the blogging community (click on 'Top 40' for example). While you do indeed see items from the mainstream media a good half of the items listed are from private websites, corporate pages, special interest groups, or original entries in other weblogs. By Various Authors, Daypop, November, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Encryption Technology Heralds New Era in Electronic Document Delivery I will just quote from DRM Watch, which says it as well as I could: "The British Library's document delivery service has been a legendarily comprehensive source of hardcopy documents of all sorts for researchers in the UK and around the world. The inside service, launched several years ago, provides web-based search capabilities and some forms of electronic fulfillment. It was the British Library's logical next step beyond hardcopy delivery, but rightsholders' concerns about copyright infringement limited the proliferation of its digital delivery feature. Now the Library has deployed Adobe's Content Server DRM and content distribution solution, and has started the new service with titles from Elsevier Science's vast array of scientific, technical, and medical (STM) journals and other types of content. This is an auspicious beginning to a service that could become a category killer in its segment of the publishing industry. If the British Library succeeds in both attracting more publishers to this service and getting users to accept the Adobe DRM solution, it could create a world-class repository of research documents in protected digital download form that will legitimize DRM in the research market and do an end-run around publishers' own online distribution initiatives as well as those from third parties like Overdrive." By Press Release, The British Library, December 3, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Google Offers SEO Selection Guidelines If any company would have the inside track on search engine optimization (SEO), it would be Google. This article, a review of Google's suggestions to potential purchasers of SEO services, concludes (with me) that the company is offering generally sound (if generic) advice. That, of course, does not prevent the flurry of commentary (see the links at the bottom of the article, some of which no longer work). Google's advice is located here. By Danny Sullivan, Search Engine Watch, December 5, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2002 Stephen Downes