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by Stephen Downes
June 7, 2010

What should the Canadian government do to increase access to post-secondary education?
Tony Bates asks the billion dollar question, how can we increase access to post-secondary education? My own thinking is that it's less and less about access to colleges and universities, and more and more about opening access to the social, learning and research infrastructure normally found at universities to the wider society. In other words, it's less about cramming people into universities and colleges, and more about getting universities and colleges integrated into the wider community. They won't like that, because they'll have to work with less money, and see more support go to learners directly, and see services - including certification and credentialing - established outside their control. But in the end, the result would be an egalitarian system serving all Canadians equally instead of some Canadians specially. Tony Bates, Weblog, June 7, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Tory bill cracks down on copyright pirates
I've held back commenting on Canada's new copyright legislation until I knew what it said. Overall, it looks like a pretty reasonable package. There's no three-strikes law, it's a notice-and-notice system, penalties for personal infringement are minimal, and there are permissions for format shifting and fair dealing. But. There's a big but. The provision on digital locks over-rides all of that. The law includes a DMCA prohibition against unlocking your purchased content, no matter what rights you may have to use that content under other provisions of the law.

The best hope now is that the bill could be amended. Opposition parties are saying they will key in on the digital lock provision. So, maybe, out of all of this we may get a bill that resembles the copyright regime we currently have. Which would be good. There has been extensive coverage of the proposed legislation elsewhere. We Don't Care What You Do, As Long as the U.S. Is Satisfied, says the PMO, according to Michael Geist. He also offers an analysis of the bill. He links to nine newspaper reports. Here's a point-by-point comparison with the widely-unpopular Bill C-61. In addition, educational agencies are seeking changes to provisions that would limit the use of media in classrooms, distance learning, and libraries.
Steven Chase , Globe and Mail, June 7, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

The wireless data crunch
I'm in the market for a new mobile phone (or questioning whether to have one at all). So questions about the cost of online data are of immediate interest. As this article notes, as recently as 2007, in Canada, it would cost $2600 to download one gigabyte of data. Domestically - roaming costs became staggering. Things are cheaper now, but I wonder, is it still worth it? What should I buy? Who should I sign with? And, as this article notes, can I depends on claims of low-cost or flat-rate data transfer? I wonder whether the mobile phone market is sustainable, or whether it will come crashing down as a result of its popularity. Anyhow, your advice on what to buy is welcome. Iain Marlow, Globe and Mail, June 7, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Should academics manually create course websites?
David T. Jones argues that academics should not create their own websites. It's inefficient, he argues, and the outcome is of poor quality. Worse, there is limited institutional control. Instead, he recommends default course sites and wizards. All very fine, for those academics who have no interest or inclination to build their own online presence. But despite the inefficiencies, I would find myself severely constrained by an institutionally managed website. Institutions are often behind the times and use older (safer, more reliable) technology. They do not innovate. So this is one of those cases where something that is generally true should not be implemented as a policy. You can create the option for academics to use institutional website services, and most of them will. But forcing them to do so breaks the system. David T. Jones, The Weblog of (a) David Jones, June 7, 2010 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Definitions of Personal Learning Environment (PLE)
Interesting set of definitions of the PLE, compiled into a slide show. Via Mohamed Amine Chatti, who also gives us another link to a working version of Plem. Ilona Buchem, Slideshare, June 7, 2010 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment] [Tweet]

How to Disable Copy-and-Paste Hijacking Web Sites
I've noticed some websites adding annoying extra content when you copy and paste from the post. The extra text is produced by a company called Tynt. I don't know why people thought it would be a good idea. Anyhow, this post describes how to block Tynt and disable copy-paste hijacking. See also Tynt, the Copy/Paste Jerks, from daring Fireball. Whitson Gordon, LifeHacker, June 7, 2010 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment] [Tweet]

Improbable research: Canadian law faculties like psychotic kindergartens
A retired law professor has caused a stir by blasting the Canadian university system. The actual article is behind a paywall, but you can reconstruct it from the bklog posts. "Retired University of Western Ontario law professor Robert Martin compares Canadian law faculties to 'psychotic kindergartens' populated by 'a horde of illiterate, ignorant cretins,'" says The Guardian. "In 2001, the Dean of the University of Toronto, Faculty of Law decided to transform it into a 'truly great global law school'. As part of achieving this goal, annual tuition fees were to be raised to $20,000 and beyond. The decision of the Law Faculty to pattern itself after a Wal-Mart outlet had certain, predictable consequences," quotes The Jobless Juris Doctor. Mcleans focuses on "closed and fearful institutions." Marc Abrahams, The Guardian, June 7, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Information in Context
Interesting white paper, the first produced by the new Europeana project, in information. The premise of the paper is fairly uncontentious, providing a perspective on the data-information-knowledge-wisdom hierarchy (though it recasts 'wisdom' as 'thinking'), then describing how different types of metadata may be linked. Some good diagrams in the second half of the paper on networked object representations and linking of different types of data. Stefan Gradmann, Europeana, June 7, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , , , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

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Copyright 2008 Stephen Downes

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