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by Stephen Downes
May 20, 2010

Ebooks in the ‘e-filling station'?
Derek Morrison's "filling station" model of e-learning is coming to fruition with ebooks. "But whose supply route will it be? Sticking with the ebook as representative of one type of ‘fuel' where are we going to be getting our books from in the future? A bookstore? A library? iPrincetonU? iOxfordU? iCambridgeU? iPoppletonU? Or will it be iTunesU or iAmazonU, or even iCloudU?" I would like to think that a specification such as ePub will become the next MP3, and that everyone can create eBooks. We'll see.

Morrison writes, "ePub is similar to IMS or SCORM learning objects in that the book (the object) is actually a package of files and metadata about the files. Because the package has a standardized format that means that reader applications and systems can manage and display the book. In essence an ePub file is just simply a renamed zip file with a bunch of metadata and XHTML files and that is why by building on existing solutions first developed for the web the content reflows no matter the screen size of the device it is displayed on." Derek Morrison, Auricle, May 20, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , , , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

What I'd Like To Be Reading
I've been messing around over the last few days with the ePub ebook specification. I've been inspired by this post from Bud Hunt, in ehich he embeds a link to an ebook (in .epub format) into his RSS feed. Did it work for me? Not out of the box - I needed to download and install an eBook reader. Hunt suggested Calibre, which doesn't just read eBooks but will also upload them to a variety of readers - a lot like iTines, but without the vendor lock-in. Authoring is a bit more involved - Adobe has a product called inDesign, but at $US 600 it's definitely overkill. Calibre will convert PDF to ePub, and Hunt uses InstaPaper to generate output from web sites. I also found a program called eCub (cute) which works but has its quirks. Bud Hunt, Bud the Teacher, May 20, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Zoodles - A Free Kid-Friendly Web Browser
Zoodles is a "kid-friendly" internet broswer that limits access to selected sites. It's free, but "a Premium Membership tier, which enables parents to block ads, block and promote content, and monitor their child's activity" will cost $US 60 a year. It supports Facebook logins, so I guess privacy isn't a big deal. You can block shows (like 'Barbie') and sites (like 'Hasbro') but only with a premium account (otherwise, the companies that market to children (which appears to be most of the content) have free reign. Installing (for my 7 year-old) (cat, Bart) I found it's an Adobe Air application. The application itself is just beautiful, but I would be very hesitant to offer my child this sort of tie-in to mass media and incessant consumer messaging (eg. in 'American Girl' I planted seeds, raised flowers and made honey, but I don't win until I sell the honey). Byrne, Free Technology for Teachers, May 20, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Canada's Got Treasure
"Canada's Got Treasure" is an interesting an innovative Virtual Museum initiative. The idea is to have Canadians photograph or video the country's "treasures" and upload them to YouTube and Flickr, and the Virtual Museum people will include them as part of a virtual collection. There's a TresorTreasure channel in YouTube you can follow to look at them directly, if you want - ignore the topics, scan the list of videos on the right. It will be interesting to see where something like this leads; at a minimum, it will produce a number of worthwhile artifacts. Various Authors, Virtual Museum, May 20, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Feed deposit/Which DC elements
Wiki page analyzing elements of RSS and Dublin Core to be used for repository uploading. It's quite a good analysis, and I support the bulk of it, though as I wrote by email, the link element should retain its typical usage, pointing to an HTML page, rather than being used instead of the enclosure tag to a multimedia resource. Comments are being requested by the author. Barry Cornelius, JISC CETIS, May 20, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Charter School Scandals
There are now enough charter school scandals to start a blog, and that's what Sharon Higgens did. "The unmonitored access to millions of public education dollars is drawing unscrupulous people into the 'business.' At other times, new-found access to funds is tempting lesser criminally-minded people into theft." Wow, who could have seen that coming? Sharon Higgens, Charter School Scandals, May 20, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

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Copyright 2008 Stephen Downes

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