By Stephen Downes
April 18, 2003

Norman (Pudds) Downes
This is a very difficult week-end for me as my obviously sick 17 year old cat has been diagnosed with a brain tumor. With some palliative medicine we have been able to restore her to something like normal health, but this will last only for a few days. As I write, in about 72 hours the vet will arrive and my beautiful cat will breathe her last. Pudds has been my friend and my companion since she was a little ball of fluff. A kind and gentle soul. We shared years of adventures and experiences together. She was the original cyber-kitty. I will never forget her and I will love her always.

There will be no issue of OLDaily on Monday.

By Pudds, Stephen's Web, April 18, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Will The "Real" Community Please Stand Up?
David Wiley expressed surprise yesterday when he read my comment in OLDaily welcoming him to the learning object community. Of course, he always felt himself to be a member of that community. It's a different community, though, one that includes the leading lights in the community that brought us such things as IEEE-LOM. Of course I am not a member of that community and have, in fact, been openly critical of a lot of what they have been doing. All of this is new to Wiley, and my response (scroll down to the bottom to see it) left him "stunned" and "wondering where (I am) coming from." This afternoon, I tried to draw this out a bit, referring to things like my 'Problems and Issues' summation and my talk at IMS, to name a few. No doubt the discussion will continue; I will likely provide the entire exchange as an article later next week. By David Wiley and Stephen Downes, autounfocus, April 17, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

After much agony with the domain name - which was lost there for a while - open-education.org is now up and running. Watch this space or George Siemens's weblog for news of upcoming events. By Various Authors, Open-Education, April 17, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

How To Get a News Feed Into Your WebCT Course
OK, keep this a secret from the company, since this basically undercuts the nice market for WebCT course packs they built up over the years. In this item, David Carter-Tod demonstrates how to retrieve syndicated RSS content - like this newsletter - and place it into WebCT. Heh. Now, if you read the follow-up discussion you'll see it took less than a day to reach the next logical step: syndicating learning objects themselves into WebCT. Well, hey, I wonder what all those people who invested in course packs think now. By David Carter-Todd, Serious Instructional Technology, April 17, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Reinventing the Training Business
Some good comments mirrored at Internet Time summarizing where the training industry has gone off the rails in recent years, and where to look for salvation. A big part of it is the business model: "The prevailing business model for technology-based training companies has been a multi-year license for a large courseware library. This decades old approach worked because it met the needs of the buyer, not the learner, and it made the vendors a lot of money." As the author comments, "If this model ever worked, it no longer does." Adter a few words of searing criticism about the quality of current offerings, he tells the interested what to look for: meaningful job aids, knowledge bases, external content, two-way communication and exchanges, and personalized and current treatments. Hm. Think the 40 hour course on WebCT fits the bill? By David C Forman, Internet Time, April 16, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Blurbs: Writing Previews of Web Pages
Via elearningpost comes this interesting link describing how to write 'blurbs' - like the thing you're realing right now - for weblogs and web pages. Comments not just on authorship (blurbs should inform, not tease) but also on presentation. Many examples of both good and bad practice. By Dennis G. Jerz, D.G.Jerz, February 5, 2001 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Just released.LRN is an "A fully open source eLearning platform." The creators note, "the core infrastructure and application suite for eLearning should be part of the "intellectual commons" and freely available to all. .LRN is being made available as open source software under the GNU General Public License." Woo hoo! By Various Authors, MIT Sloan, April 12, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Current Edu-Bloggers
As George Siemens comments, "This has been the busiest week I've seen in the field of edu-tech bloggers." Or as Jay Cross says, "It feels like this train is finally leaving the station. Bravo!" I second that; I cannot even keep track of the dizzying pace. If you want to try to keep track for yourself, check out this page of some of the major writers in the field. As Siemens comments, it's probably an incomplete list. But as Chuck Berry might say, "there's a whole lot of movin' and a-shakin' goin' on out there." By George Siemens, elearnspace, April 17, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Why do Colleges Build Dormitories? And Teach Half-time?
Philip Greenspun asks this reasonable question and notes, "A university will spend hundreds of $millions on dormitories, i.e., places for students to drink beer and sleep together. Why is there is no budget for cubicle farms where students in the same major could do their homework together?" His answer, likely to raise ire for its honesty, is that the elite schools are less interested in pedagogy - "If Biff doesn't learn calculus his daddy can still buy him a seat in Congress" - and more interested in making sure rich kids can go to Europe in the summer and to make sure that members of the "ruling class" can get to meet each other. By Philip Greenspun, Philip Greenspun's Weblog, April 14, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Weblog Trackbacks to Provide Context for Learning Objects
Interesting discussion and development of trackbacks - a mechanism to follow the paths of other users - to give context to learning objects. Trackbacks are based on the same concept I used to develop my referrer system, and they provide the functionality of what I have called 'third party metadata,' that is, a means for third parties to comment on learning objects. Be sure to read the discussion following this item. By D'Arcy Norman, D'Arcy Norman's Learning Commons Weblog, April 18, 2003 4:51 p.m. [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Defense Agency Pulls OpenBSD Funding
Hard to explain this one as DARPA pulls the remaining funding from the OpenBSD project. Much of the money went to improve the system's security, but a week-long 'Hackathon' scheduled to be held in Canada next week may be in jeopardy. "The project's leader, Theo de Raadt... said he believes the cancellation was prompted by concerns about the money going to too many foreign developers and to antiwar statements that de Raadt made to reporters." Yeah, that would do it, I guess, in the new world order. By Robert Lemos, CNet, April 17, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

eNRICH. New Software for Knowledge Management
UNESCO accounces the launch of eNRICH, a "customisable knowledge management software for communities." According to the release, "eNRICH is designed to enable communities quickly and easily to build their own gateway to the web and other multimedia resources tailored to meet specific local needs, enriched with local content and available in local languages." eNRICH was built by National Information Centre of India and is available for download. By Press Release, UNESCO, April 15, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2003 Stephen Downes
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