OLDaily

Various authors: Exploding SQL, Yahoo Site Explorer and PubSub rankings September 30, 2005
So anyhow, I spent the day yesterday, first, learning the limits of left joins in SQL, and second, trying to get my site back up and running. So there was no OLDaily yesterday, and I'm running behind on links today. I will be catching up over the week-end. And repairing my search function - which may be redundant if Yahoo adds search functionality to this interesting site explorer program. Naturally, I tried it out on my own site and got the unlikely result that I have 52,839 pages on my site and 93,801 links in from other sites. Or maybe I could depend on PubSub, which has a new RSS feed ranking service out - naturally, again, I tried out my own site, which, according to PubSub, was the 5067th most linked site yesterday (and while you're at PubSub, if you are interested in Microformats, check out their structured blogging page). Phew... 6:01 p.m. - time to go home and watch Andromeda. [Comment]

Joanna Glasner: Prof-Ratings Site Irks Academics, Wired News September 30, 2005
When your students say "Your pillow will need a pillow" or "I learned how to hate a language I already know" then you know you're not reaching them. The trouble is, for some professors, the students are saying these things not in class, where they would be disruptive enough, but on public online forums. The big problem with the site is "anyone can contribute ratings, whether they know how to rate someone effectively or not and whether they are enrolled in the class or not." I don't think you need some sort of special skill to rate a professor - but you do need to actually attend a class. Or so it seems to me. [Comment]

Roddy Stinson: The Biggest News That You Didn't Read or Hear Last Week, September 30, 2005
Worth noting is this report about the effect of high-stakes testing. Sharon L. Nichols, the study's lead author, concluded: "A rapidly growing body of research evidence on the harmful effects of high-stakes testing, along with no reliable evidence of improved performance by students on NAEP tests of achievement, suggests that we need a moratorium in public education on the use of high-stakes testing." Well. Via Public Education Network Weekly NewsBlast. [Comment]

Various authors: SchoolPlaza September 30, 2005
From European Schoolnet: "SchoolPlaza is now accessible to all teachers in Europe at www.schoolplaza.org. The portal is a unique collaborative environment where teachers sharing similar interests or teaching the same subject can meet, communicate and work together." My verdict? Try again. The Flash interface is just awful; it took a long time to load (the photos never did finish loading) and the text is tiny (really really tiny) on my screen, and the animation jittery and slow with Firefox on Linux. Registration buttons pop up almost everywhere, and when you hit 'About' it tells you why you should register (instead of, say, what the site is about). [Comment]

Press Release: LAMS Community launched using .LRN, LAMS Foundation September 30, 2005
From the website: "The LAMS Foundation today launches the LAMS Community, a global community website for teachers and developers who use the revolutionary open source LAMS software. LAMS creates 'digital lesson plans' that can be run online with students, as well as shared among teachers. The LAMS Community allows teachers to share and adapt digital lesson plans, and discuss their experiences of using LAMS." [Comment]

Various authors: Pedagogy Forum and Metadata SIG, CETIS September 30, 2005
Slides from the recent joint meeting of the CETIS Metadata SIG (Special Interest Group) and the CETIS Pedagogy Forum held at Milton Keynes September 20. Worth a look (in addition to the Metadata Standardisation Update, listed separately below) include Curriculum Document Modelling and Storage (PPT) by Ben Ryan - the information model alone is worth the price of the download - and JISC Pedagogical Vocabularies Project by Sarah Currier, which "is NOT developing a pedagogical vocabulary", but instead defines the project scope and calls for input. James Dalziel also speaks on LAMS, and David Davies offers a 10 megabyte monster presintation describing content authoring for medical learning (don't download this unless you have a definite interest). [Comment]

Lorna Campbell: Metadata Standardisation Update, CETIS September 30, 2005
The best PowerPoint presentation on this subject I've seen in a while, this report summarizes discussions surrounding the creation of an educational (read: learning objects) profile for Dublin Core (DC). Highlights include Jon Mason advocating a view very similar to mine regarding the definition of learning objects ("It's the act of re-purposing an object that turns it into an educational resource. It is assigning educational metadata to a resource that makes the resource educational.") and Mikael Nilsson illustrating, at some length, why learning object metadata (LOM) needs to be expressed in Resource Description Format (RDF) in order to be adapted into DC. It's a good argument, and many of the same considerations apply when adapting LOM to RSS (though I wonder whether we can't get RDF-on-the-cheap the way RSS 2.0 does through extensions). Still, the presentation makes me think that the best argument for an educational profile in Dublin Core is that it thereby opens to educators the millions of resources already described in DC, that will never be described in LOM, but could become learning objects merely by being used in learning, and therebby acquiring the appropriate metadata. Of course, then, we wouldn't really need LOM, would we? [Comment]

Thiagi: An Interview with Clark Aldrich, Play For Performance September 30, 2005
Thiagi interviews Clark Aldrich in the latest issue of Play for Performance. I wish Aldrich had been a bit more serious with his responses, but I guess Thiagi is disarming that way. So you'll have to read this with tongue firmly in cheek. One odd bit: Thiagi asks, "How about some advice about using simulations and games?" and Aldrich replies, "Don't ever use the phrase, 'using games.' Sponsors don't like it." So? Who cares? There are good reasons not to think of it as 'using games' but this isn't one. [Comment]

Jean Marie Angelo: Watch What You Say: You May Be Violating the 'Speech Code', University Business September 30, 2005
I have spent much of my life in the centre of one controversy or another, and so this discussion of speech codes is one with which I have direct experience. In my own view, the line between aceptable speech and unacceptable speech is the one dividing the use of speech to express a belief and the use of speech to commit an act, where speech codes would apply to instances of the latter where the speech is being used to harass, threaten, embarass, intimidate or in some other way act in coercive or threatening behaviour. Author Donald Alexander Downs, interviewed for this article, suggests that the problem with speech codes is "the common policy connections with the ideas embedded in speech codes," which he interprets as "left, liberal policies." This is in my view a misrepresentation of the current state of speech codes. Try, for example, denouncing patriotism, picketing a church during Sunday service, or criticizing the company or university you work for, to name but three examples. The policy principles embedded in much longer-established speech codes, those that promote what might be called a right-wing agenda, go well beyond the intent of preventing harmful acts. Drawing the line as I suggest above would give people like me much more latitude of speech, while nonetheless limiting the attacks against identifiable minorities that characterize the targets of 'politically correct' speech codes. [Comment]

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Stephen Downes

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Copyright 2004 Stephen Downes
National Research Council Canada

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