By Stephen Downes
April 22, 2003

Edu_RSS Upgrade
It was just like old times, me and my cat, coding side by side (well, I did most of the typing). By the time the week-end had ended, I had rewritten Edu_RSS cover to cover, in the process creating the basis of the prototype I want to use to distribute learning objects. Edu_RSS automatically harvests metadata from about 50 educational bloggers, displays the results (updated hourly) and provides a database search of all aggregated submissions. Code will be released shortly once I've added some features and am sure it's stable, under GPL, a gift from Pudds and me. By Stephen Downes, Stephen's Web, April 21, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

A Model of Democracy
Think about this: "have increasingly become more democratized. One of the big reasons for that is the so-called knowledge revolution. The individual practitioners who have specialized knowledge or talents have taken on a much larger degree of the organizational power." I have long held that a society cannot consider itself to be a democracy unless its institutions are democratic: its schools and universities, its businesses and corporations, its charities and foundations. This is beginning to happen, but we are a long way away. This interview with Brook Manville is a writer, consultant and Chief Learning Officer of Saba Software gives me hope; the pointless questions that begin about half way through take it away. By Unknown, Ubiquity, April 21, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Schools Look to Wireless to Boost Learning
Wireless connectivity has the potential to improve educational activities while lowering costs. But it will require an adjustment on the part of teachers. "'It takes a tremendous cultural shift for (teachers) to start thinking of giving students this power in their hands,' Stein said, adding schools might also be overwhelmed by the complexity of the technology and its rapid pace of change." Prediction: teachers will fail to adapt, continuing to communicate primarily by talking at groups of thrity students at once. People will complain that wireless was over-hyped and did not deliver on its promises. Both will be true, and after some convincing demonstrations by early adopters, wireless will slowly spread through various school systems. NY Times; don't even bother if this link is more than a couple of weeks old. By Reuters, New York Times, April 22, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Blackboard, Students and Publishing on the Web
The best bit in this article is near the bottom where the author quotes from the PR flim-flammery intended to be a student manual in the Blackboard system. As with so many corporate websites, this general rule applies: keep the public relations people (and their useless adjectives) as far away from the actual product as possible. The author's main point - that Blackboard doesn't offer students any place to write - is also well taken and reveals the way some LMS companies still think of education as some sort of broadcasting. By Laura Gibbs, Xplana, April 21, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Low-End Media for User Empowerment
I don't really like the title of this article, since the main point is that simple media (rather than low-end media) is better for readers. Of course the two are often the same. But when it's simple, high-end media often accomplished the same result: for example, though I am not a fan of streaming media, I have been listening to hockey games on NHL.Com rather than reading the text-based play-by-play. I've said this before: if people have to read the instructions to figure out what to do, it's broken. By Jakob Nielsen, Alertbox, April 21, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2003 Stephen Downes
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