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by Stephen Downes
November 20, 2009

What will Higher Education look like in a 2050 -80% +2c 450ppm world?
A lot of futurists simply straightline or exponentiate existing trends. But the future always combines trends. This post looks at the future of learning as impacted by global warming. I think it's conservative. Joss Winn, learninglab, November 20, 2009 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

My first infographic competition
The subject of infographics greatly interests me, being as it is a mixture of art, design and critical thinking. Doug Belshaw - from his new blog location - links to a number of infographics blogs, including Flowing Data, Cool Infographics,, Information Aesthetics and Simple Complexity. Here's more from Belshaw on infographics. Doug Belshaw, Weblog, November 20, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

25 practical ideas for using Mobile Phones in the Classroom
Good list of ideas, credited to Doug Belshaw (here is his new blog location). A lot of people promote the use of mobile phones in learning. But here's my take: I want to see something like a cost-analysis on this. How much does using a mobile phone (with unlimited data transfer, at decent (3G or better) speeds) as compared to using (free?) wifi and a netbook? Or as compared to a typical desktop with DSL or cable? Also, I would like to see a study of how much freedom a mobile phone user has to use software and access content as compared to a computer user. We're getting a lot of promotion for mobile phones - but honestly, I think moving in this direction in any serious way would be a big mistake. Graham Attwell, Pontydysgu, November 20, 2009 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Scaling up Innovation

The next time someone throws the "does it scale?" line at you, show them this diagram and ask them to be more specific - what sort of scaling was it they were worried about, exactly? Another tidbit, "The Microsoft UK Education team has a dozen people in it (surprised?) who are focused full-time on education..." - and with even more in North America, I would expect to see a lot more of blogging and writing out of them. Where are they? Ray Fleming, Microsoft UK Schools News Blog, November 20, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment]

Twitter New Retweets Are Terrible Because
I actually got a Twitter retweet today - it was the Twitter main account retweeting a Dave Winer post on how Twitter retweet is great. Well, I am so glad I subscribe to exactly one Twitter account, because the deluge is well and truly upon us. As Randy Thornton says, "violate the fundamental rule of the timeline that I only see who I follow - instead I now see strangers I do not follow whether I want to or not." Randy Thornton, Metamedia, November 20, 2009 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

California Is Burning
This is the leading edge of the crisis in education that is coming. A staggering 32 percent tuition increase - which will be nowhere near enough - has students in the streets. "The misery of tens of millions in every sector of the public -- in education, health, income security, could be swept away if we forced more bankers and executives to live like teachers and nurses for a year or two. That pent-up misery is volatile, though, and starting to flow around the feet of the bankers. More and more of us are waking up to one thought: It's the capitalism, stupid!" More on the occupation movement, students call it the death of public education, reaction from the right,, some snark from Kevin Carey, coverage from Jezebel, Inside Higher Ed, some good graphics from 10,000 words. Marc Bousquet, Brainstorm, November 20, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment]

Canadian Ebook Store Offers 'Free' Public Domain Ebooks -- Claims Copyright Says You Can Only Make 1 Copy
I have in the past argued about how commercial distributors take free and open content and 'enclose' it in proprietary formats and closed markets. Here we have a case in point. The ebook store launched by Chapters-Indigo provides "free" ebooks - but all claimed to be copyright to the store, all displayed in closed Flash format, and all limited to one download per person. "This isn't the first time we've seen bookstores DRM up and claim copyright over public domain works. The DRM stuff is dumb, but understandable, since they just want to have one system and often seem to choose an anti-consumer one." Mike Masnick, TechDirt, November 20, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , , , , ] [Comment]

Taking OER remix to new levels: WikiEducator, Connexions and Mediawiki
Wayne Mackintosh of WikiEducator announces, "Collaborating with OER projects which subscribe to licenses which meet the requirements of the free cultural works definition, WE aim to provide educators with greater freedom of choice to mix and match the best of two OER worlds, namely "producer-consumer" models with more traditional work flow approaches and commons-based peer production." All of which is fine, except that condition on licenses seems to suggest that commercial use will have to be permitted, a condition which I have argued in the past should not be imposed on learning content, as learning content is more free when people are not blocking access to it by requiring payment. Discussion follows the announcement. Wayne Mackintosh, WikiEducator Google Group, November 20, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

Live Blog: Google Chrome OS Event
The big news today is Google's release of Chrome, its browser-OS hybrid, as open source. This is a direct challenge to Microsoft, enabling the possibility that users could run applications off the web using a minimal (Windowless) operating system on slimmed-down computers. Things, maybe, like this Android tablet. Here's how to try it for yourself (warning: not simple). Here's the video intro (now a Google staple). Reax from CNN, Chatti, Mashable, Bryan Alexander, CNet, Technology Review, BBC News. Lance Ulanoff, GearLog, November 20, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , , , , , ] [Comment]

Selling Lessons Online Raises Cash and Questions
We've seen the same sort of thing enough times in other areas to know how this is going to pan out, mostly.

A few teachers will make some money selling lesson plans and such. School boards will get into the act, claiming they own the rights to this work. There will be a lot of debate, and an attempt to formalize the marketplace. Large providers will express interest. meanwhile, others will be sharing lesson plans and such for free, which the providers will say is undercutting the market. There will be a push toward standardization and quality assurance. The marketplace will be formalized. Then, research will find that teachers are not, in fact, reusing the lesson plans that have been shared. Attempts will be made to formalize usage, to ensure that teachers use only the commercially available lesson plans. An alternative, open source, provider will spring up, offering the same resources, with the standards and certifications, for free. But by this time, the use of predefined lesson plans will have become irrelevant, as teacher practices and technology takes them in another direction. Sceptics will lament the millions wasted on lesson plans that were never used.

So - does that sound about right? We now return you to your New York Times article, that breathlessly announces the creation of this new market, and a response from an outraged Apple author. Winnie Hu, New York Times, November 20, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , , , ] [Comment]

In Going Free, London Evening Standard Doubles Circulation While Slashing Costs
Mike Masnick notes how charging money makes less and less sense for newspapers. "Charging can be expensive," he writes. "It takes quite a bit of effort to charge, to take money, to manage the money, to set up the accounting and bureaucracy for managing each transaction." The same is true of government services, which is why it makes more sense to offer government services for free, rather than to charge a user fee. Mike Masnick, TechDirt, November 20, 2009 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

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Copyright 2008 Stephen Downes

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