By Stephen Downes
June 4, 2004

NMC 2004 - Who Runs the Show?
Some heat is being generated around the 'Small Pieces Loosely Joined' project at NMC 2004. I can offer clarifications for my bit: all feeds harvested by Edu_RSS are used to generate the NMC 2004 coverage are listed here. Martin Terre Blanche makes this observation: "The 'don't ask me - it's somebody else's responsibility' syndrome is typical of large, centralised bureaucracies and Alan's response (in his persona as centralist faction coordinator) is therefore to be expected. However, I have to admit that it may also be a symptom of decentralisation - of small pieces loosely joined. For a user of systems made up of loosely coupled pieces it can be quite frustrating to figure out who is in charge of what." But you need to understand - my NMC continuing coverage is not part of Alan's presentation. It is a separate and parallel initiative that collaborates with his presentation. This is a new model of organization, one which can certainly be frustrating to someone looking for 'the person in charge'. But the alternative is for me to turn control over my system to Alan - and that's not going to happen. By Martin Terre Blanche, Collaborative Learning Environments, June 4, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

TOIA - A First Look
The author takes a spin though the TOIA - Technologies for Online Interoperable Assessment system - and offers this review. Some usability issues, a quirky Java engine that would stymie someone like me (turn it off? I didn't even know it was on!) and a smallish question bank. The the author notes "this project is funded by the JISC Exchange for Learning (X4L) Programme until the end of July 2005" and asks, "Does this mean that the TOIA software is free in its present form only until that date?" Good question. By Graham Blacker, Auricle, June 4, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

RSS Feeds Can Build Web Traffic, but Fence Sitters Note Problems
The first thing you'll learn from this article is the meaning of the term 'scraping', something I think a number of academic publications are ripe for. Scraping illustrates the power of RSS: "yanking control" over information viewing from the providers and placing it into the hands of the readers. The "fence sitters" described by the author are those publications that have not yet made the leap into RSS syndication: they are concerned about the diversion of ad revenues (mostly) and confusion among readers (a little). The story also refers to the new built-in RSS reader in Opera (a web browser, like Netscape) and to Bill Gates's recent comments about RSS. By Staci D. Kramer, Online Journalism Review, June 3, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Allies Land in France
This is what a news organization can do if it decides to embrace the web - CBC's retrospective of the 1944 D-Day invasion isn't just cracking good news coverage, it's also great educational material. Oh, and if that's not enough, check out this collection of resources at CUNY. By Various Authors, CBC, June 4, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Traditional Skills, Local Content and ICTs
Quote: "I returned to the centre after going around the neighbourhood for sometime. To my surprise, at the centre two women from tailoring classes had made fabulous design of short kurtas with fantastic colours in Photoshop on the computer. They appeared very happy with their efforts. A few others were busy in looking at a site on Indian fashion. One of them wanted to see what was Ms. World wearing on the final day of the contest. She was told about this site by one of her friends to whom the desk manager had shown the site a day before." A lot of people think that online learning will have its greatest impact in schools and universities. A lot of people are wrong. By Savithri Subramanian, UNESCO New Delhi, June 4, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

McDonald's, Sony to serve downloads with Big Macs
Would you like fries with that learning object? OK, maybe not yet, but when free digital content is being given away with McDonald's hamburgers, you can tell from that just how disposable digital content really is (not that, if purchased online, the digital content actually costs more than the burger). By Bernhard Warner, Globe and Mail, June 4, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Practice: Open Access to Scientific Journals Online = More Equitable Access
John Sener wrote in my discussion area, "Based on Stephen's post and Campbell's article, I've written up a description of how Campbell uses open access scientific journals to improve access to learning resources. The description includes a couple of additional links to the PLoS website and a Directory of Open Access Journals." Cool. By John Sener, Sloan Consortium, June 3, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2003 Stephen Downes
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