By Stephen Downes
August 8, 2005

Aspen, Colorado
I am at the mountain resort of Snowmass, Colorado, today, attending the EDUCAUSE Seminars in Academic Computing, where I'll be talking on 'Principles of Distributed Representation' tomorrow. Yesterday I had the opportunity to take the bus to Aspen, where I spent a nice Sunday afternoon wandering around the town (leaving me a bit worn out today, I might add). Anyhow, this link is to my collection of photos, and for those of you with really good broadband, I made a (32 megabyte WMV format) video of my day (Windows Media might stream it for you; my results have been variable). By Stephen Downes, Stephen's Web, August 8, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Reference Models, BPEL and Stitching Web Services Together
Summary of a recent E-Learning Framework (ELF) developers' forum. The 'BPEL' in the title refers to "Business Process Execution Language" and is used "to orchestrate assessment rendering, sequencing and packaging web services to deliver an adaptive learning sequence." Several other projects are described; the author concludes, "through the reference model projects and the use of BPEL, the community is now unpacking the detail of each of the ELF bricks and working out how services can be stitched together to support common processes in HE and FE, including learning." By Christina Smart , JISC E-learning Focus, August 3, 2005r [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Of Course the Curriculum Will Be Free -- It Always Has Been
Discussion of Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales's contention that the curriculum must be free. Most of the article examines "the real gap that exists between what Jimmy Wales predicts and where we are currently," pointing especially to the entrenched role played by publishers. The "gap" involves the participation of instructors, better repositories, and some way to make money. I think there's a lot of internal inconsistency in this article - the assertion, for example, that a free curriculum must make money. Or even in the assumption - not really tested - that the existing curriculum infrastructure must somehow be converted. Or that instructors must write the curriculum. Reynold's argument is a bit like being skeptical about Wikipedia because Britannica has hired all the encyclopedia authors. By Rob Reynolds, Xplanazine, August 5, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Break Down the (Fire) Wall!!
I was at a government office not too long ago (the nature of which shall remain hidden) and during some of the discussions the subject of Flickr came up. Imagine my surprise to find access to the site blocked by network administrators. Leigh Blackall comments on this increasingly pervasive trend, a trend that is characterized as much by its ridiculous application as by its fundamentally undemocratic nature. I know people have strong feelings about what it is appropriate to read or view in the workplace. But to try to enforce those views through a regime of site blockage is dangerous and dictatorial, and ought to be avoided. By Leigh Blackall, Teach and Learn Online, August 8, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Learned Man!
I was drawn here by this blog's interview with Jay Cross but stayed for the website's uniquely Indian point of view on e-learning. The Learned Man! has been publishing since May, 2004. By Unknown, August, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

More About Designing for the Long Tail
Michael Feldstein offers a couple of posts that reflect exactly the issue I am working with as I try to compose my talk at SAC tomorrow. "We need a system that is optimized toward slotting in new pieces as they become available, not as an after-thought or an add-on, but as a fundamental characteristic of the system." Yes, yes, but what does that mean? Feldstein explores the case of Google maps. But what are the more general principles? By Michael Feldstein, e-Literate, Aiugust 7, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

What Education Can Learn From Open Source
Short article summarizing a slightly longer article that outlines three major lessons education can learn from open source: the use of OS technology, the value of 'amateur' work, and the nature of 'bottom-up' knowledge and development. Best quote: "At this point, anyone proposing to run Windows on servers should be prepared to explain what they know about servers that Google, Yahoo, and Amazon don't." By Alec Couros, Couros Blog, August 7, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Rich Media >> Get Rich Quick
Though the term 'rich media' has been around for a while it is only recently that the push toward rich media has begun to acquire meme status. Of course 'rich media' could mean anything from a lecture streamed using Breeze to a podcast to an immersive simulation. This article covers the push to introduce rich media and outlines some of the 'stumbling points' - bandwidth, of course, but also pedagogical issues. "There's a huge difference between a technology-centered approach and a learner-centered approach... few, if any, schools actually use the technology the way they should." Via ADL. By Matt Villano, Campus Technology, August 1, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

University as Author?
Coverage of a case in Kansas in which the state's supreme court is to decide whether public universities can simply assert that it owns all intellectual property produced by professors, in effect treating their books, inventions and other work as 'work for hire'. Related: Distributed Learning Meets Intellectual Property Policy: Who Owns What?, covers the issues in general but not this specific case. By David Epstein, Inside Higher Education, August 8, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2005 Stephen Downes
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