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by Stephen Downes
March 18, 2009

What City Should You Live In?
Geetha Krishnan created then deleted a post linking to this quiz (it showed up in my RSS feed, but was gone when I went to look at it). According to the survey, he - and I - should live in New York City, which is exactly wrong for me. Anyhow, the payoff comes at the very end of the quiz, when it offers to publsih the results in my Facebook feed. I can also Tweet the result or post it to Digg. That's very elegant. Not that I would publish this silly and inaccurate survey to my account, but I might publish something creative. Of course, what I want is for things like this to figure out who I am (via my OpenID, or better, mIDm in my browser header) and post it to my website, not some commercial space owned by Zuckerberg or Williams. How hard could that be? Various Authors, Website, March 18, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment]

SCORM 2.0 and Beyond LETSI Seminar
Summary of a recent meeting updating 190 attendees (really quite impressive) on the state of play of LETSI, SCORM and the future of learning standards. Things are very much in a state of flux right now - ADL is apparently keeping SCORM, LETSI is developing "SCORM 2.0" (but it won't be called SCORM 2.0, don't be misled), and we read "LETSI will work with existing bodies to help shorten adoption lifecycles through filling a gap in the current standards community [s]pecifically by helping to build communities and developing agile software development processes." Which means something like 'standards on the fly' - rapid development, rapid implementation, rapid change. Or maybe not: "LETSI is not a standards development body or a trade association. It sees itself rooted within the implementation community." Instead of NITLE doing pointless prediction markets on Facebook, it should try to project the lifespan of LETSI. Sheila MacNeill, Sheila's work blog, March 18, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Recurring Issues Encountered by Distance Educators in Developing and Emerging Nations
"If students are still reading by candles and kerosene lamps, expecting them to learn online may not be realistic." We heard this sort of concern fairly often in the UNESCO open education forum. But is it a real assessment, or simply anecdote from a few loud voices? Certainly, in some places, the stories are not apocryphal. "In June 2007, Kenya's education minister, Professor George Saitoti, stated that approximately 80% of the primary schools and 35% of secondary schools were not connected to the power grid... In eastern and southern Africa, the cost of Internet access can be 20 to 40 times the cost in North America." I read frequently statements like this: "The challenge [in Africa] from a governmental and regulatory perspective is what can and should be done to create an environment to encourage investment, both domestic and foreign, by the private sector." Yeah, right. But "The average Rwandan makes US$220 a year." No profit for the private sector means no investment. What would it cost to provide electrification in Africa, and internet access? Less than the cost of wars. Less than the cost of stimulus packages. But will the politicians allow it? Will the present providers, mobile phone companies, and vendors of educational materials? Clayton R. Wright, Gajaraj Dhanarajan and Sunday A. Reju, International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, March 18, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment]

Do You Dream In 140 Characters?
I can't believe I'm being dragged into the world of Twitter. It's not on purpose - it began when I connected my Facebook status updates to my Twitter account (which I have actually had, but rarely used, since the first few days of Twitter) and people started following them, and replying, and expecting to be heard. Fair enough, and I've been working the system a bit to continue as a single unit the dual stream of Facebook updates and Twitter status reports, but with fewer annoying links. In case you're wondering, I have 897 Twitter followers and 780 Facebook friends (a reversal of sorts; SXSW, which was Twitter heaven, added dozens of Twitter followers). I still won't follow you - sorry, I just think it's really bad taste to post a list of my 'friends' - but I do have my ways of hearing you if you address your Twitter to '@downes' (my Twitter account and Facebook account names are the same: Downes). But note: my main output is still here; my Twitter and Facebook feed (one and the same) will not be deep and analytical. And I still want a distributed and non-proprietary system for doing all this, and am really disappointed the community can't get its act together on this. Jeanne Meister, New Learning Playbook, March 18, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Sakai Development Process
"The Sakai Foundation and Board of directors is proposing a new development process for Sakai and would like your feedback." The attached white paper describes the challenge faced by the project. "Sakai, unlike some other open source initiatives, has distinct user and developer groups. Rarely do you see a student, a professor or a researcher write the lines of code necessary to make the product better." Nor do they direct those who code. "The notion of a centralized organization controlling most aspects of Sakai development is not appropriate at this time." So a "product council" is being established to determine whether developed code should be included as part of the final project. Good idea. But choose the members of the product council carefully to avoid gerrymandering and favoritism, and ensure they actually have some sense of end-user needs (but don't simply parrot them). And be careful not to reduce 'selection for inclusion' to 'competition' - it's not a race, it's cooperation. Michael Korcuska, Sakai Blog, March 18, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

Building a Collaborative Workplace
This is overall a good paper that will be useful to people hoping to develop workplace collaboration, so I'll focus on criticisms. First, I don't thnk you get to subsume 'network' under 'collaboration'. They're different types of things. People in networks 'cooperate' rather than 'collaborate'. Second, the deployment proposed consists mostly of telling, not doing. According to the paper, you have a collaboration leader, then you work with company leaders, then you implement the tools, then you start communities. Classic corporate deployment and OK for command-and-control environments, but for workplaces with any degree of independence you have to model and demonstrate the benefits. Via Lynn Wernham. Shawn Callahan, Mark Schenk and Nancy White, Anecdote, March 18, 2009 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Video of University of Calgary Presentation
A George Siemens presentation. I'll let him describe it: "D'Arcy Norman has posted a video of my presentation at U of C as well as images and links (Thanks D'Arcy!). My intent, and I think I explored too much territory in the talk, was to present how changing information interaction is (will be) mapped into the future of universities." Related: George Siemens and Peter Tittenberger release a Handbook of Emerging Technologies for Learning (HETL) and as well as a wiki. It's hard not to be impressed with Siemens's prolific (and quality) output. George Siemens, elearnspace, March 18, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

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Copyright 2008 Stephen Downes

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