By Stephen Downes
August 30, 2004

Stephen's Web - The Redesign
You should have noticed a bright new look today as my website redesign is launched to the world. My focus was to make better use of the screen (it is semi-liquid, flowing to fill smaller screen sizes and staying fixed in larger windows), a bright new colour scheme (which will change with the seasons), and strong CSS support. The biggest change in content is my new home page, which now features a 'Community' section, consisting of the most recent posts to my discussion list. I also updated the Photos page, with additions from Saskatchewan, Newfoundland, Manitoba and Ontario. The newsletter has also been redesigned; using less ambitions CSS, it should work in your email client, and should still display properly if CSS fails. The new design also sets the stage for some later experiments designed to make the newsletter more visual and more interactive. But let's get the basics right first. Is it working for you? Problems, comments, complaints - click on the [Reflect] link and let me know (then look for your comment, front and center, almost, on my home page. By Stephen Downes, Stephen's Web, August 30, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

It never bears repeating enough: if you are using Internet Explorer, switch to Firefox. There. Now that I've convinced you, you may be wondering how to get all those doo-dads that made Internet Explorer so nice. This page covers many of them - GoogleBar, ChromeEdit, Luna Theme, and many more. Via Robin Good. By Dan McTaggart, August 30, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Wide Open Spaces: Wikis, Ready or Not
As promised last week, items from this month's EDUCAUSE Review. "Remember when the Internet was about opening up access to information and breaking down the barriers between content creators and content consumers?" asks Brian Lamb. Here's the answer: wikis. "The signature of a wiki is a link at the bottom of the page reading 'Edit text of this page' or something similar." What's important about wikis is that they change the traditional approach to publishing. "Access restrictions, rigidly defined workflows, and structures are anathema to most wiki developers. What’s unique about wikis is that users define for themselves how their processes and groups will develop, usually by making things up as they go along." After dealing with 'the standard objection,' the author examines the use of Wikis in education. "They are popping up like mushrooms, as wikis will, at colleges and universities around the world, sometimes in impromptu ways and more often with thoughtful intent." Beautifully written, thorough, informative, and with a bonus wiki added. By Brian Lamb, EDUCAUSE Review, September, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Game-Based Learning: How to Delight and Instruct in the 21st Century
The author collected interviews from leading researchers in educational games, including Mark prensky and james Paul gee, to provide this overview look at new learning. After a discussion of the (ir)relevance of traditional classroom, the participants look at the learning benefits of games. Many good quotes. For example: "The higher degree of social mesh you have, particularly in the game industry, the more learning you get, because the real power of the stuff is in peer-to-peer learning, not in what goes on between a single individual and a document." And: “The teacher is embedded in the programming” Well worth noting is the observation that people want to build things. "You don’t have to do this stuff yourself. You don’t have to program a whit, because your kids do that. Your students do that. They can do it in Flash. They can do it in C++. You want more sophistication?" By Joel Foreman, EDUCAUSE REVIEW, September, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Open Source Parade
The author profiles three major open source projects central to the educational mission: uPortal, to create portal software for education; Sakai, a next-generation course management system; and OSPI, to address the software need for ePortfolios. These three projects illustrate, according to the author, that "Open source software projects that are developed of, by, and for higher education are providing favorable economics and are harnessing the industry’s vast innovation capability." By Brad Wheeler, EDUCAUSE Review, September, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Presentation
Barbara (Bee) Dieu writes from Brazil: "Last Wednesday August 25th, I had the audio workshop on blogs for Cyberlangues on Alado (details posted in the previous message). Together with me in the computer room at the Lycée Pasteur in Sao Paulo, nine teachers and two students of mine, who came to give their testimonials on how they view blogging in the classroom." Many links on this page including some to some presentations. Dieu's own slides are available in French in HTML format. By Barbara (Bee) Dieu, Bee-coming a Webhead, August 29, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Sun, Microsoft Meet on SOAs
Coverage of the activities of the Redwood Group (of which there haven't been many so far), the group that "was spawned from an IMS Global Learning Consortium Inc. meeting held in late July in Redwood Shores." The article plays on the theme of a Microsoft-Sun rapproachment. "At the meeting, developers from both companies decided to try to set some basic rules of engagement for Web services, starting with educational systems." By Darryl K. Taft, eWeek, August 30, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Mastery, Mystery, and Misery: The Ideologies of Web Design
Jakob Nielsen has become less relevant over the last couple of years - an expert on usability should have a better website. Really. This column, though, is a nice take on three design approaches. My own website - both before and after the redesign - is based on the 'mastery' meme - it is intended to be open and navigable, without making it difficult to find links or get to the items you want to read. By Jakob Nielsen, Alertbox, August 30, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

E-Learning Queen
Started five days ago, E-Learning Queen is a new blog, with three posts to its name. The first, a look at the ethics of video game-based simulation, is well worth a read. The next two posts introduce readers to the world of educational blogs, including this one. By Susan Smith Nash, E-Learning Queen, August 30, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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