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by Stephen Downes
March 27, 2009

Australia Trip

Here are details of my trip to Australia:
- Sydney ACER Seminar, Tuesday March 31 - 9:00am to 12:00pm. Note: I have heard reports that this is canceled, but have no confirmation. If it is canceled, then if I can find an alternative location, I will hold an informal session. Follow me on Twitter (id: Downes) or Facebook (id: Downes) for announcement.
- LearnX, Sydney, Thursday April 2 - 8:30 to 9:15.
- University of Wollongong, Friday April 3 - 12:30 to 1L30, Room 67.104. All are welcome.
- Melbourne ACER Seminar, Monday April 6 - 10:00am to 1:00pm.
- Australian College of Educators, Melbourne, Monday, April 6, 5:00 to 6:30 pm.
- Melbourne meet-up, evening, April 6 - send me email (so I can make reservations) if you want to join us

Market Endangers State-Run Prepaid Tuition Plans
Who could have predicted that these prepaid tuition plans would run into trouble? Oh, right: I could. Associated Press, FindLaw, March 27, 2009 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Building a Brain On a Silicon Chip
Technology Review is often a little too "golly gee whiz" for my tastes, but overlooking the inevitable hyperbole there is still a lot to interest us in this story about the construction of neural nets on a chip. "The hope is that recreating the structure of the brain in computer form may help to further our understanding of how to develop massively parallel, powerful new computers, says Meier." Duncan Graham-Rowe, Technology Review, March 27, 2009 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

New Gatekeepers Twitter, Apple, YouTube Need Transparency in Editorial Picks
I got a new iPod Nano and went to the iTines store and was startled to find only about 20 movies (and the same number of TV shows) offered. And even fewer music videos. I wondered, who is making the selections here? Not to mention, why can't I access anything that is not for sale? Then I was on Twitter and notice that Anne Marie Cox - aka Wonkette - is the 'featured user'. Who died and made her a Twitter God? And who is picking those featured videos on YouTube. Etc. I'm not the only one wondering these things. And wondering whether money is flowing or inside deals are being made. I don't like these centralized services generally, and this is a major reason why. Mark Glaser, MediaShift, March 27, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment]

This Is the Big One!!!! The OER Bill
David Wiley has been busy recently. His open access learning company, Flat World Knowledge, has received $8 million in venture capital funding - and while I congratulate him, I caution, that VC funding is often the first step toward compromising one's values (the ridiculous PR-speak has already started). Wiley has also been looking at open education and accreditation. And while fighting an anti-OER bill he is celebrating an Illinois bill that supports OER. David Wiley, iterating toward openness, March 27, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

Teaching Economics and Pizza Equations
Mitch Weisburgh sends me this, an item in which a pizza company buys a school's paper in exchange for running an advertisement on it. "So far," notes the NY Times article, "no one has accused him or Mr. Harrison of exploiting students." Of course, if you don't ask anyone what they think, you won't hear any objections. My question would focus on the other pizza joints in town: why didn't they get a chance at this deal? Do you have to know a schoolteacher to get ahead in this town? One pizza ad on a test paper might turn into a lifetime of pizza sales. A direct line into impressionable minds - that's gotta be worth something, you know. Why do you think people bid so hard to put this or that content into textbooks? So if you're going to sell parts of a kid's education to the highest bidder, you'd better be prepared for some kind of tendering process and fair competition. After all, I have a few ads that I'd like to run for a mere $315. William Yardley, New York Times, March 27, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Vote for the D2L Million$Mission On Facebook
Someone has started a Facebook group to petition in support of Desire2Learn's proposal to spend money on education instead of litigation. No word on whether anyone has started a group to oppose the proposal. Commentary also from Michael Korcuska, who notes that "Blackboard has added the new patent to the list of patents on their patent pledge page, so open source projects like Sakai are protected." Meta-media evokes images of Slumdog Millionaire. Michael feldstein can't read the new patent without endangering his new employer; "Does that make sense to you? No? Well, what did you expect? Like I said, it's patent law." Bavatuesday shouts incoherently, "A plague on both their houses!" Barry Dahl calls the D2L offer "Blackboard's last chance." Blackboard, meanwhile, releases a new iPhone application, though as the Chronicle reports, "Students can't take tests or dig into course content using the iPhone application." What, then, you might wonder, does it do? Notify you of new lawsuits? Michael Feldstein, e-Literate, March 27, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , , , , , , , ] [Comment]

EU Says No to Kicking File Sharers Off The Internet
Like the headline says. "The thing about the Internet is this: it's essential. You can't just take away net access from people based on the recommendations of private corporations. As the report states, having access to the Internet is "equivalent to ensuring that all citizens have access to schooling," and this access should not be denied by governments or private companies." Stan Schroeder, Mashable, March 27, 2009 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

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Copyright 2008 Stephen Downes

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