By Stephen Downes
May 9, 2005

Open Source Means Just That
Scott Leslie levels some criticism at an unnamed open source learning object repository, pointing out quite reasonably that if it won't release its code, it cannot be called open source. I am inclined to agree and can name three projects off the top of my head that could fit his description. "Open source is as much about a form of software development practice and social organization as it is about a form of software license," he writes, which means that when you block people from contributing before the software is finished, you are blocking the methodology that makes open source software unique. By Scott Leslie, EdTechPost, May 7, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Charter Threatens Parents With Lawsuit
One of the advantages of charter schools, we are told, is that they enable direct parental input. Another is that they take advantage of the free market to allow free and informed choice. But Charter Schools USA has nullified both advantages with a single action recently with the sending of a Cease and Desist notice to a group of parents voicing their concerns about the school in an online forum. We need to remember that when private enterprise takes over our normal rights and freedoms are abrogated. Lawsuits like this are just the most obvious tip of the treatment we should look to expect in the longer term. This should be taken as a warning. Via Kairos, which has more links, and Slashdot. By Dave Breitenstein and Lisa Ramirez-Johnson, News-Press, May 6, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Now Grading Your Student Essay -- A Computer
There have been numerous articles and commentaries about this item. For myself, I consider it a trivial distraction. Not because I am opposed to the use of computers to grade essays - I'm not. Not because this program does it well - it doesn't. But because the use of computers to grade essays is old news and because the use of any instrument (up to and including blind mice) to grade essays would be about as fair and consistent as the current practice. I think, one day, we will get beyond grading, a useless and archaic concept that supposes learning is some sort of competition. In the meantime, we get nonsense like this. By Associated Press, CNN, May 9, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

In Praise of Sharing
The author argues, "we should reject the notion that we, or our institutions, own ideas. Even though much of what we do can be made to fit an ownership model, this is the wrong model for the long haul." Moreover, "we should resist the temptation to think about our endeavors in commercial terms." And we should reward sharing. It may be a long haul, but I believe that these ideas will prevail over the "ideas as property" model. By James L. Hilton, EDUCAUSE Review, May, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

From Course Management to Curricular Capabilities: A Capabilities Approach for the Next-Generation CMS
Soimething I've argued for a long time: "The genetic weakness of the contemporary CMS stems from its uncritical acceptance of the traditional features of the classroom model." The author proposes an alternative to the traditional LMS, "a capabilities approach... The learner-centered capabilities are (1) a critical thinking capability, (2) a self-confidence capability, (3) a peer-learning capability, and (4) a knowledge management capability. The CMS curricular capabilities are (1) a discovery-based learning capability, (2) a 360 degree out-of-the-course capability, (3) a knowledge asset capability, and (4) a teach-to-learn capability." By Van Weigel, EDUCAUSE Review, May, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Overcoming the Biggest Barrier to Student Success
According to the abstract, "life interruptions are common for students and that more fixed seat time in courses increases the probability of student failure. Redesigning course schedules is critical to increasing student success." Reasonably short PowerPoint presentation that makes the case. Casting aside traditional explanations for non-completion, such as bad advice or too heavy a course load, the presentation shows a correlation between inflexibility and failure and recommends more flexible scheduling and incentives for course completion. By Ron Bleed, ELI (Formerly NLII) Meetings (2005), May 9, 2005 12:03 p.m. [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Development of Socialization in an On-line Learning Environment
What I like about this item is that it is an application of Gilly Salmon's five stage model of moderation. The context of this application is a set of e-moderator courses designed to train on-line tutors. According to the study, if Stage 1 of the model - "access and motivation" - is effectively designed and facilitated, then socialization follows. What's interesting is that socialization during Stage 2 - "Socialization" - actually drops. This suggests that "effective e-tivity design and implementation at Stage 1 might mean that Stage 2 can be completely omitted from the five-stage model altogether." Via elearnopedia. By Norah Jones and Paul Peachey, Journal of Interactive Online Learning, Winter, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Ms Pancake
Nice item on whether or not to get rid of one's blogroll. Why? As a means of countering the counting of links that produce those 'Top 100' blogger lists that "are hurting us." For example, Doc Searles makes the bland assertion that blogging isn't school, commenting, "These good folks succeed by earning links, not grades. It’s a much better, and a much flatter, system." But when links have nothing to do with content, with what's being read, it's also pretty meaningless. I have never had a blogroll for precisely this sort of reason, and I intend to continue not having one. Via Full Circle. By Shelley Powers, Burning Bird, May 5, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

South African National Curriculum Wiki
Will Richardson reports on this remarkable wiki, a website containing pages for each subject area in each class for the South African grades 10-12 curriculum. Because it's a wiki, anyone can edit the pages, and as a result the wiki is filling up with instructional material. By Various Authors, May, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

[Refer] - send an item to your friends
[Research] - find related items
[Reflect] - post a comment about this item

Know a friend who might enjoy this newsletter?

Feel free to forward OLDaily to your colleagues. If you received this issue from a friend and would like a free subscription of your own, you can join our mailing list at http://www.downes.ca/cgi-bin/website/subscribe.cgi

[About This NewsLetter] [OLDaily Archives] [Send me your comments]

Copyright © 2005 Stephen Downes
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.