By Stephen Downes
December 18, 2003

Big Time Publishing Fun With Metadata
It is by their own admission a primitive application of the semantic web, but where Harper's is heading is definitely in the right direction. Expore this item, and imagine it listing the contents not of one but of 100 selected publications. "The best way to think about this is as a remix: the taxonomy is an automated remix of the narrative content on the site, except instead of chopping up a ballad to turn it into house music, we’re turning narrative content into an annotated timeline. The content doesn’t change, just the way it’s presented." Can you say groovy? Yeah! By Brian Lamb, Object Learning, December 18, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Bush Reiterates Class Size Problems
The other day I discussed the issue of schools' investing in technology at the expense of teacher salaries. Here's a similar dilemma: investing in classrooms at the expense of teacher salaries. This article seems to put Florida governer Jeb Bush in the position of defending tecaher salaries and issuing warnings to schools that don't reduce class sizes. But it's a bit muddled, and I don't understand the link with high speed rail at all (I guess you have to live there to get the whole picture). Anyhow: the main point is that the issue goes beyond teachers versus technology. Schools represent enormous capital investments. If putting laptops into kids' hands can save even half of this, there ought to be money for teachers. Maybe? By Steve Bousquet, St. Petersburg Times, December 18, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Adobe Opens E-book Store
Adobe has opened an e-book store, offering selections from major publishers such as HarperCollins Publishers, Simon & Schuster and Random House along with electronic versions of publications such as Popular Science and The New York Times. The move is a natural for a company that designed a reader which locks content, preventing copying. This may be more successful than the first wave of e-books: at least you don't have to buy a special reader. But the content would have to be compelling to purchase it in such a user-hostile format. By David Becker, Globe and Mail, December 18, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Universities - The New Context
George Siemens cites this item in his newsletter today. Simply: "Universities in Canada today are booming as a result of the double cohort. But after the boom will come the bust." What follows is an informed series of observations, characterized as 'revolutions' leading to an undeniable reality: " he average student can no longer afford a 4 year term at university away from home. Something in the cost mix will have to break. The current system cannot deliver the price and the quality that the student can afford and that the staff can tolerate." The four points that conclude the article do not constitute a solution, but a framework for a solution: shift the burden beyond the President's office; shift the organizational metaphor from machine to network; raise the strategic debate at the University level from interest to that of principle; and access the distributed intelligence of the university is required. Yes - but what university admionistration can let go like this? By Robert Paterson, Robert Paterson's Weblog, December 17, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Nedtwork Learning Environments
George Siemens also cites this item, which reacts to Jay Cross's Connections: The Impact Of Schooling. It's like he's reading Cross for the first time: "It's nice to see an article... finally start to create an awareness of the importance of networks both literally and as a design metaphor for learning." What does he mean, finally? Sure, understanding networks is important to understanding online learning. And I encourage the development of models, as this article does. Still. What can this mean? "The demise of e-Learning had all the signs of failure from the outset..." Or this? "Narrative is the nucleus of the phenomenon we call learning; narrative is our interface..." Read lightly, this article makes the right noises. Read closesly, this article crumbles. There's no there there. By Brian Alger, Inside Learning Web Log, December 16, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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