OLDaily, by Stephen Downes

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February 17, 2011

Understand RSS and make the Web Work for You
Jeff Utecht, The Thinking Stick, February 17, 2011.

To make the point very briefly, I think RSS is very simple, I think everyone should have access to it in order to create their own content feeds from databases or whatever, and I wrote a quick EasyRSS script this morning to illustrate how simple producing RSS really is.

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The First Talk Radio Show on the Net (1993)
Dan Colman, Open Culture, February 17, 2011.

"How do you describe the internet? To say that it's a network of over 10,000 computer networks is like saying the telephone system is billions of wires." This link is to an audio recording of NPR's first live call-in show in the internet, in 1993. With all the talk about internet radio these days, it's worth a look back 18 years into what now feels like pre-history.

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OPAL OER Study Report published
António Andrade, et.al., Open Educational Quality Initiative, February 17, 2011.

Is there any surprise that the The Open Educational Quality Initiative report would conclude the following?
"1. The report shows that systematic quality assurance mechanisms for OER are lacking in higher education and adult education in Europe. There is a need to counter the argument that OER are second rate materials through quality assurance instruments, concepts and efforts in institutions.
"2. Educational professionals give voice to considerable insecurity about how they can demonstrate the value of OER and OEP when quality management approaches are largely absent for OER."
I think that instead of asking whether instructors and administrators feel OERs are of lower quality, that a survey should set out to determine whether (a) they are actually of lower quality, and (b) if this impairs their effectiveness to support learning.

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Core Networks, Social Isolation, and New Media
Keith N. Hampton, Keith's Blog, February 17, 2011.

We've heard a lot about social isolation as a result of online technologies, but this study finds "we find that social isolation has not increased since 1985." Instead, "the size of core networks has declined and the number of nonkin in core networks has diminished." As well, "Mobile phone and Internet use, especially specific uses of social media, were found to have a positive relationship to network size and diversity." That sounds about right to me.

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Feedback Invited on Briefing Paper on Holistic Approaches to Web Accessibility
Brian Kelly, UK Web Focus, February 17, 2011.

People interested in web accessibility issues will appreciate the set of papers offered in this post, and may as well want to participate in the call for comments on a briefing paper on "Holistic Approaches to Web Accessibility" intended to provide a summary to these audiences. Sorry about the Scribd version, which won't actually allow you to download a copy of the paper until you input your email address into their spam-machine. I don't know what value see in Scribd; I certainly don't see it.

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The TIMSS Video Study
Various Authors, Website, February 17, 2011.

files/images/Netherlands1937.jpg, size: 25079 bytes, type:  image/jpeg Jim Stigler writes, by email, "the 53 public use lessons collected as part of the TIMSS video studies are now available for everyone on a new website, timssvideo.com." I've written to ask why users must register to view the videos; it's a user-hostile design that in my view serves no good purpose. "In addition to the 53 full-length videos of eighth-grade mathematics and science lessons from seven countries, the site also provides full English-translation subtitles for each lesson, a searchable transcript, and a set of
resources collected with each lesson such as scanned text materials and teacher commentaries. The site also includes a discussion forum where users can share ideas for how they are using the site" The video study was conducted in 1999 and involved videotaping and analyzing teaching practices in more than one thousand classrooms.

Here's the response I got back on the registration question: "Thanks for your message. We decided to require registration to see the videos for two main reasons. First, and foremost, we don't feel comfortable allowing anonymous access to classroom videos with real teachers. Even though they have agreed to share their videos, we believe that there should be mutual accountability: they aren't anonymous, so why should the viewers be anonymous? We believe that uses of such video to improve teaching will most likely occur within communities where people are not anonymous. Second, we are able to provide access to these materials thanks to private foundation funding. We want to be able to document the nature and amount of use so that we can justify requests for future funding, which can keep it free for users." I think this an astonishingly weak justification, but there you have it. To me, it's just email farming, which they will later use for mailouts or fundraising.

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Glossary: Quality in education and training
Various Authors, Publications Office of the European Union, February 17, 2011.

This glossary presents several dozen terms in English and French around the subject of quality in education and training. PDF.

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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