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by Stephen Downes
July 12, 2010

What does 'open' really mean?
Another article on open education hidden behind a journal paywall, but who cares when we have Tony Bates to provide us with what is probably much more insightful analysis. And I certainly support his observation about the model being described here: "I think the idea of opening up classes to non-registered students is a good one, but not just making them relatively ‘outside' participants of a class designed deliberately for face-to-face teaching. Wouldn't it be more logical to open up classes deliberately designed for distance delivery to non-registered participants, and design them carefully for joint use?" Yes. This is what George Siemens and I have done with the Connectivist-style courses. Bates also says "our systems are unnecessarily restrictive in allowing in particular mature adults to access university programs. The real problem is a lack of places in the system, and hence over-zealous admission requirements, rather than finding means to combine registered students with others." Too true. Tony Bates, e-learning & distance education resources, July 12, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Transparency law for professors sets off academic freedom debate
Professors oppose transparency. Or, at least, this is what might be concluded from opposition to a new "transparency law" in Texas. The law requires "universities... to post professors' syllabi, curriculum vitae, published works and salaries. Attendance costs and departmental budget reports also must be posted." Brian Leiter says, "this new law has one and only one purpose: to make it easier for right-wing crazies and ignoramuses to target and harass faculty." That may be true, It doesn't make it a bad law, though. What does make it a bad law is that it is aimed at state institutions only. I'd like to see transparency applied across the board. I'd like to know what private schools teach, and what it costs them. I'd also like clear reporting of corporate and executive salaries, the contents of the reports and analyses they send each other, holdings, subsidiaries, and agreements and cartels with other corporations. Once we have this information, we can make an informed decision on how overpaid and underqualified professors are, and how well public institutions compare with their private counterparts. Leigh Minsil, Dallas Morning News, July 12, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Online Learning and Traditional Universities
Online learning is making clear the contradiction between equity and elite institutions. This contradiction is especially apparent when the things that define an institution as "elite" have nothing to do with learning. The real objection is loss of faculty control, as University of California staff argue that e-learning "not only degraded education but centralized academic policy that undermines faculty control of academic standards and curriculum as well as campus autonomy…a picture emerges of undergraduates jammed through a mediocre education and ladder rank faculty substantially removed from both control over and involvement with undergraduate education." If faculty showed any interest in keeping costs down,reaching more student, or even making academic papers openly accessible, I'd have more sympathy with their desire for control. But the relation between the professors and their entitled students is symbiotic - they need each other, to reenforce the idea that they deserve to be there, that they are better than other people. George Siemens, elearnspace, July 12, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

OLNet Fellowship Week 2 – Initial Thoughts on Tracking Downloaded OERs
Scott Leslie describes how to track the use of learning resources, and deals with the objections to them. "I can hear the objections already... does this infringe on the idea of "openness"? What level of disclosure is required? ... I do want to respect these concerns, but at the same time, I wonder how valid they are. You are reading this content right now, and it has a number of 'web bugs' inserted in it to track usage yet is shared under a license that permits reuse." For the record, I do not use 'web bugs' or other tracking software in OLDaily. I find it distasteful, like looking in people's living room windows. Your mileage may vary, and I'm not making judgements.
Scott Leslie, edtechpost, July 12, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Knee Jerk Reactions
Raj Boora asks, "is the edtech-sphere disliking the BB Collaborate announcement because of some real concerns with regards to BB and how they do things to those systems that they acquire, or is it something more 'religious'?" Given the mistrust Blackboard has generated over the last few years, it's not surprising to see disappointment over the latest announcement. And in Canada, as Tony Bates notes, it's disappointing to see yet more of our innovative technology sold south of the border. But overall, with a "well played" from Siemens and acceptance that it was a smart move by Blackboard, the edublogosphere has been remarkably moderate in its response, and not really knee-jerk at all. Raj Boora, EDITing in the Dark, July 12, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Fring's mis-use of Skype software was damaging to our brand and reputation
It would be nice if web conferencing systems like Skype all interoperated, but that seems not to be in the cards. Fring is accusing Skype of blocking them. "Now that fring expanded capacity to support the huge demand for video calling for all users, Skype has blocked us from doing so. They are afraid of open mobile communication. Cowards." Skype denies that it's a block, exactly. "Fring was using Skype software in a way it wasn't designed to be used – and in a way which is in breach of Skype's API Terms of Use and End User License Agreement." And accusing Fring of doing the blocking. Either way, it's pretty petty. Robert Miller, Skype Blogs, July 12, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

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Copyright 2008 Stephen Downes

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