By Stephen Downes
November 19, 2003

New Feature: Reviews
Those of you who have read my Resource Profiles paper will have noticed the bit where I talk about evaluative metadata. This is an announcement of the implimentation of such a feature in Blogware: "Blogware is one of the first (if not *the* first) blogging tools to support Reviews and Review metadata. Reviews are essentially article entries with a twist. Sitting at the core of this feature is support for the RVW module for RSS 2.0, an extension to the RSS specification that '...allows machine-readable reviews to be integrated into an RSS feed, thus allowing reviews to be automatically compiled from distributed sources.'" The article also links to last May's Review (RVW) Module for RSS 2.0. I have a similar prototype running, but alas, as it does not yet make the metadata available, it lags the Blogware implementation. How can this not come to the world of learning resources, where the need is even greater? By Ross, Blogware, November 1, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Solveig Singleton on Open Source, Games, and Public Policy
Given that games are widely touted as the guture for online learning (especially by me) the implications of this article are interesting. The central thesis of the item is that there are few open source games, and the author seeks to explain why. "The open source business model seems to have trouble coming up with large initial investments at the cutting edge of innovation, where risks are greatest," argues the author. The lessons drawn for public policy are that government sponsored technological development should not be released as open source (to reward companies for the 'risk' they took, though the logic here defies me, since it is the public, not the entrepreneur, that took the risk) and that government procurement policies should be neutral. The paper drew a large number of replies that, in my view, effectively undermine its central presumptions (especially as I spent many years of my life programming these very same 'non-existent' open source games). By Solveig Singleton, PoliTechBot, November 18, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Internet Access in U.S. Public Schools and Classrooms: 19942002
Though this document appears to report the blindingly obvious (the head in TechLearning News was "School Internet Use Soars") it is nonetheless a treasure trove of information about scholl access as of 2002, including information on availability, laptop acdess, use of filtering software, and much more. By Anne Kleiner and Laurie Lewis, National Center for Education Statistics, October 29, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

SCO: GPL Threatens $229B Software Market
I may not like them - they are, after all, undermining open source software. But they sure make the issues clear, even if their depiction of the other side reads like a caricature. SCO CEO Darl McBride "likened the notion of free software to a variety of movements including file sharing, the dot-com bubble, and even free love. He predicted that the proprietary and open-source worlds were on a 'collision course,' that would ultimately result in the end of the GPL license." By Robert McMillan, InfoWorld, November 19, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

UK Schools' Websites
Somebody saw an awful lot of school websites in the last few months as all 3644 school websites in Britain have been visited, catalogued, and listed in this new version of the database. By Various Authors, SchoolsWebDirectory, November, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Plans for the BBC Digital Curriculum
Because half the material will be produced externally, the European Commission plans to give 150 million to the BBC to produce free teaching resources. This document is a central planning document for that initiative in preparation for a conference for independent producers next week. The priorities revealed are interesting: three central principles expressiong some of the cautions no doubt expressed in back rooms ("There will be no cherry-picking of small areas where content is easier to deliver") and a statement of both teacher and student needs. By Various Authors, BBC, November, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Making Sense of Learning Specifications & Standards: A Decision Maker's Guide to their Adoption
The second version of this longish (82 page) PDF document is now available for download. Based from the point of view of SCORM, this document introsuces readers to the concept of learning objects and metadata. Through the use of case studies, the paper is able to get into not only the use of but the make-up of the learning objects. This is not an issues paper; it is an explanation paper, but from a clear point of view: the use of learning objects to support mass personalization. By Elliott Masie, ed., The Masie Center, November, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2003 Stephen Downes
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