By Stephen Downes
June 7, 2004

RSS: Grassroots Support Leads to Mass Appeal
Learning Circuits has run my article on RSS, surveying some of the details of the syndication format and discussing the relation between RSS and some other initiatives such as OAI and social networking. Though a technical subject, I try to cover the material in a non-technical manner, providing links to various resources for those who want more. By Stephen Downes, Learning Circuits, June, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Microsoft's Patent Plans Worry Open-Source Supporters
Microsoft's plans to leverage a badly flawed U.S. patent system to begin crushing open source by licensing and litigation has advocates worried. Eric Raymond: "This is aimed directly at us. It's a classic Microsoft attempt to crush the competition." By Antone Gonsalves, TechWeb News, June 4, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

No Network Effect
Rafe Needleman tap into a long-standing concern of mine, networks that don't interoperate. Examples abound: instant messaging, social networks, push-to-talk, VoIP. While customers benefit from network effects, he writes, companies simply see it as lost revenue. In the field of learning technology, there is nothing like a network - all the interoperability promised by various standards allow only vendors to interact, but never allow users to access the entire e-learning system. Some day, some how, this is going to change. By Rafe Needleman, AlwaysOn, June 7, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Reed Elsevier Gives in on Free Research
Fallout continues from Elsevier's agreement to allow authors to publish their articles own on their own web sites (how odd that sounds!) including this article describing it as "a major concession to the 'open access' lobby." Not that there is such a thing as "the open access lobby" per se. In another item Jeremy Warner (scroll down in article) writes that "it's a concession which plainly weakens the business model to some degree." Meanwhile, rival publishers are cited in a Guardian article as describing the move "as a cynical piece of public relations" and only a "token effort" to open access. By Saeed Shah, The Independent, June 4, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Designing Collaborative E-Learning For Results
Case study of the adaptation of a two-hour lunch seminar on conflict resolution to online deliver. The author uses the case to identifiy a series of 'success factors" important in the design: manage expectations; make synchronous sessions highly interactive; use learner-generated data; collaborative projects should focus on application; monitor progress with a learning director; and include closure and next steps. By Glen Mohr and Julia M. Nault, Learning Circuits, June, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

How to use Weblogs to Create Engaging Learning Experiences
Nice overview article that describes the educational uses of weblogs and describes three-step design process using blogs to teach a program: "1) intelligence gathering, 2) co-creation (design and development) and 3) facilitated engagement." By Maish Nichani, Australian Flexible Learning Community, June 5, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Sun Blogs Show Uncensored Public Face
This is remarkable. "As of now, you are encouraged to tell the world about your work, without asking permission first," reads the policy, posted on Tim Bray's blog. The announcement today of Sun's new employee blogs pushes the envelop and represents a new openness in corporate communications. Here's a list of the Sun blogs. By Robert McMillan, Computer World, June 7, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

When the Cows Come Home: A Proven Path of Professional Development for Faculty Pursuing E-Learning
The title promises more than the article delivers, but this summary of the University of Houston's CampusNet Online Workshop, or COW, is worth reading. A COW "introduces 30 or so faculty members to the prospects and expectations of planning and delivering an online course." The article described the typical composition and delivery of a COW and describes to some extent the impact of the program. By Gary W. Kidney, T.H.E. Journal, June, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Let’s Build More “Learning” into Even Basic IT Tools
I don't think I really like this idea but I'll pass it along in any case. The author's proposal is that the software tools students use on campus should have educational ads built into them. It sounds like a neat idea - but I don't thing that educational content should intrude its way into our lives. We have too much trouble as it is with unwanted messages - we shouldn't make education part of the problem. If I want learning I'll ask for it; otherwise, leave me alone. By Terry Calhoun, Syllabus, June, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

In the Land of Confusion
A nice application by Seb Fiedler of Philip Candy's 1991 Self-direction for lifelong learning to some of the confusion surrounding self-directed learning on the web. Fiedler draws on Candy's notion of "ownership" where in some cases of self-directed learning the influence of the professor may linger, while in others it is absent. "The "ghost" of the instructor lingers on, subtly influencing the learner's choices, and even the criteria used to make those choices... in the final analysis, independent study is still a technique of instruction." By Seb Fiedler, Seblogging, June 6, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright © 2003 Stephen Downes
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