By Stephen Downes
June 9, 2003

CADE 2003
Today's OLDaily is coming to you from the 2003 Canadian Association for Distance Education (CADE) conference in St. John's, Newfoundland. If you are looking for my presentation - it's not available yet, as the only internet available is via the 'cybercafe' stocked with awkward Sun machines with Netscape 4.7! and 'locked browsers' - no wireless (*sigh*) - and, at the same time, my dial-up internet connection has mysteriously ceased to function. The talks have been good, and with any luck I hope to be able to get some of the conference content (and photos) to you some time before I return home on Wednesday. By Various Authors, CADE 2003, June 9, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Is Big Brother the Future of British Hovernment?
With this entry I go off topic a little to try to flag some important trends. Saturday's Globe and Mail noted that only 21 percent of Canadians under 30 bother to vote in elections. Why might that be? Well, it could be because there's no point. Representative democracy simply doesn't respond to the needs of the electorate. Rather, politicians tell us what we need. "When Tony Blair recently appeared before a studio audience of women who did not want war with Iraq, he sat there telling them why it was necessary." So what would work better? Big Brother - the show, not the overlord. " can't have been the only viewer who was waiting for him to invite us to press the red button on our digital handsets to let him know the result. Big Brother has given us a taste for direct democracy. The cat is out of the bag." Now I wouldn't say that a television show is the answer to our society's problems. But what I am saying is that this sort of phenomenon shows that people not only want, they expect, direct influence over the things that affect their lives. Politicians ignore this at their peril, not because they won't be re-elected (the same old crowd will keep voting them in) but because they will become increasingly irrelevant. By Unknown, The Telegraph, June 8, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

An Exploration of Adventure and Discovery Projects
So how - one might ask after hearing my presentation today - might we get beyond the stringing together of learning objects to create lessons and courses? This page offers a bit of a glimpse. This page lists and links to various online adventures and projects that students can link to and follow, adventures such as the Odyssey United States Trek, the National Science Foundation's Polar Connections, and the Teletext CAMELL Expedition, which attempted the first ever circumnavigation of Australia by camel. This article also links to some meta pages including tips and strategies along with some usefil listings and registries. By Graeme Daniel and Kevin Cox, Web Tools Newsletter, June 7, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Metadata is Essential Web Writing Skill
This is Part One, the better (but still questionable) content is in Part Two. The gist of the series is that everyone should place metadata into their web pages, and to (in part two) offer guidelines to the creation of such metadata. I really question this. First, because of metadata spam, search engines don't use web page metadata any more (or, at least, not to any greate degree). Second, the person who should create metadata about a web page isn't the author (beyond such basics as naming the title and the author), but rather, the reader. This is, of course, the role that blogs serve: and the really useful information about this page consists in comments (like this one), and not the author's own appraisal, right? By Gerry McGovern, New Thinking, June 2, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Music Biz In a Pearl Jam
People will look back and say that this is the moment it ended. Pearl Jam, one of the major recording acts in the world today, has abandoned its label in order to go it alone on the internet. This is the end, my friend, this is the end. "So what is at stake? Everything. If the marquee band can leave the most important label in recording history with impunity, then the major label lock on the music business is over." By Eric Olsen, MSNBC, June 5, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Students Shirk Cursive as Keyboard Rules In Third Grade
In a nutshell, "Such attitudes are worrying to a growing number of parents, educators and historians, who fear that computers are speeding the demise of a uniquely American form of expression. Handwriting experts fear that the wild popularity of e-mail, instant messages and other electronic communication, particularly among kids, could erase cursive within a few decades." First (and with a big roll of the eyes), I don't know about people in Britain or Australia, but I learned cursive and I am most definitely not American - when authors say something is 'uniquely American' (and this happens a lot) they should actually look outside the United States to verify whether this is so. Second, so we lose cursive. No loss. I stopped using it somewhere in early high school, opting to print any written work I did. By Associated Press, CNN, June 8, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Laptops In Schools Click, Win Support
As the school year ends, praise for Main's laptop program is almost universal. "I'm optimistic. You can't hold this back. Parents have told me, 'You better not touch that laptop fund,' " he said. "It's almost like the students and families are going to be demanding that it be continued and expanded." More. By Associated Press, Portland Press Herald, June 9, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

As a final note for today, we at NRC welcome Sebastian Paquette - of Seb's Open Mind fame - to our research group in Moncton. Welcome, Seb. By Seb Paquette, Seb's Open Research, June 9, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2003 Stephen Downes
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