George Siemens and Jay Cross: EdTechTalk#23, Ed Tech Talk November 4, 2005
It will take an hour of your time, but this conversation between George Siemens and Jay Cross, along with the hosts of Ed Tech Talk, is well work your while as the guests chat about "connectivism, informal learning, objectivity vs. subjectivity, corporate and higher education, and lots more." [Tags: Connectivism, Chat and Chat Rooms] [Comment]

Edward Christian: A Vindication of the Right of the Universities of Great Britain to a Copy of Every New Publication, Google Print November 4, 2005
There is something just deliciously self-referential in the publication of this book - from 1807 - on Google Print. And as you have a look at it, have a thought about what the sudden opening of millenia of scholarship does for our capacity to know - and to learn - around the world. And how petty the interests of the copyright hoarders seem in comparison. [Tags: Books and eBooks, Copyright and Patent Issues, Google] [Comment]

Lunga Madlala: Sakai software cooks up e-learning storm, tectonic November 4, 2005
Article describing the deployment of Sakai, an open source learning management system, in the South African educational system. "The Sakai Project has attracted the attention of the University of South Africa (UNISA), the University of Cape Town (UCT), the University of the North West (NWU) and the University of the Free State (UOVS)." [Tags: Online Learning, Open Source] [Comment]

Dave Pollard: The Social Networking Landscape, How to Save the World November 4, 2005
Useful diagram and some discussion of social networking and related concepts. [Tags: Networks] [Comment]

Harold Jarche: Education's Three Conflicting Pillars, Jarche Consulting November 4, 2005
Reacting to yesterday's discussion, Harold Jarche draws out "three conflicting premises [of western education] which compete for dominance," specifically "education as socialization, education as a quest for truth (Plato) and education as the realization of individual potential (Rousseau)." Ideally, of course, all three could be equally and consistently realized - but one wonders whether it would take a Hegelian dystopia in order to achieve this. [Tags: None] [Comment]

Agneta Hult, Ethel Dahlgren, David Hamilton and Tor Söderström: Teachers’ Invisible Presence in Net-based Distance Education, International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning November 4, 2005
The November issue of IRRODL is now available online. I highlight two papers, beginning with this look at the incluence of teachers in the directions taken by students in online discussion forums. I am most interested in the direction the paper takes at its conclusion: "The main ethical question, in both off- and online learning, is who does the drawing out [of purpose and value in learning]? Is it an external agent (a teacher)? Is it an internal agent (e.g., student’s own motivation or desire)? Or is it a disembodied agent – the invisible hand, for instance, that shaped the Website?" Readers of this website will note that I have consistently argued that it should be the student's own motivation and desire (in other words, autonomous decision-making) and have warned about the subtle and not so subtle manipulations of this by external agencies. [Tags: Online Learning, Discussion Lists] [Comment]

Steven C. Shaffer: System Dynamics in Distance Education and a Call to Develop a Standard Model, International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning November 4, 2005
This is a very good paper that should be read especially by those of us working toward learning networks and related approaches to education. The author offers a good background of systems theory as it relates to education, highlighting with numerous telling points how failures to recognize systems in learning result in error. For example, "In an educational context, feedback delay could manifest itself in wide swings in policy; for example, administration might fund a DE program, then cut funding too soon after launch, only later to re-fund the program and try again." The author offers a model of the socio-economic environment of distance education (the diagram is too small, though; a link to an enlarged version should be provided). Two major matters spring to my mind in review of this paper: first, the question of whether autonomous decision-making (a la The Wisdom of Crowds) is consistent with this model; and second, the question of systems semantics (how meaning circulates and develops in a system (or network)) is completely untouched. [Tags: Online Learning, Networks, Semantics] [Comment]

Doug Lederman: The ‘Crisis’ in Higher Ed Financing, Inside Higher Ed November 4, 2005
Summary of discussions surrounding the increasingly difficult funding issues faced by American universities, this set amid declining performance levels. This prompts some to tout private education service and others to point to the increasing disparity in society. As budgets continue to shrink - a trend accelerated by the observation that universities are increasingly serving only the wealthy - the crisis will worsen. Related: this article (via University Business) in the Times Argus: "It is not a question of 'if,' but rather 'when,' the middle class will be priced out of access to higher education. The trends are clear: current costs are staggering, causing families and students to take on debt that will burden their financial decisions for years to come. If tuition costs continue to increase at its current pace, the middle class will be shut out of college within a generation. Access to higher education will then revert to pre-World War II status: an institution exclusively for the wealthy." [Tags: Online Learning, Tuition and Student Fees, United States, Private Schools] [Comment]

Projects & Collaborations
Browse through the thousands of links in my knowledge base sorted according to topic category, author and publication.

Browse through the thousands of links in my knowledge base sorted according to topic category, author and publication.

Stephen Downes

About Me
Bio, photos, and assorted odds and ends.

You know, the ones that appear in refereed journals of Outstanding Rank.

Lectures, seminars, and keynotes in a wide variety of formats - everything from streaming video to rough notes.

All my articles, somewhere around 400 items dating from 1995.

Audio recordings of my talks recorded in MP3 format. A podcast feed is also available.

What I'm doing, where I'm doing it, and when.

A collection of my photographs. Suitable for downloading as desktop wallpaper.

Stephen's Web
Since 1995

About this Site
Why this site exists, what it does, and how it works.

OLDaily RSS Feed OLDaily
Edu_RSS RSS Feed Edu_RSS
FOAF (Friend of a Friend) FOAF
Podcast Link
OLDaily Audio


About the Author

Stephen Downes

Copyright © 2004 Stephen Downes
National Research Council Canada

Contact: stephen@downes.ca

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License


I want and visualize and aspire toward a system of society and learning where each person is able to rise to his or her fullest potential without social or financial encumberance, where they may express themselves fully and without reservation through art, writing, athletics, invention, or even through their avocations or lifestyle.

Where they are able to form networks of meaningful and rewarding relationships with their peers, with people who share the same interests or hobbies, the same political or religious affiliations - or different interests or affiliations, as the case may be.

This to me is a society where knowledge and learning are public goods, freely created and shared, not hoarded or withheld in order to extract wealth or influence.

This is what I aspire toward, this is what I work toward. - Stephen Downes