OLDaily, by Stephen Downes

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March 21, 2011

The "Narrating Your Work" Experiment
Hans de Zwart, Hans de Zwart: Technology as a Solution…, March 20, 2011.

I tried to get something like this to work in my own office, but faced gradually escalating resistance from the project team. So it's not necessarily an easy sell. Still, I remain convinced that this is the way to go, over the long term. We did make the weekly updates version work on another project, but it took regular reminders from our project manager. No doubt there are some offices where regular updates are routine. Don't take this for granted; you are working at a considerable advantage over those that don't, since you know what is happening in your organization, and they don't.

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BlackBoard to Moodle Project Plan
Robin R Ethridge, EDUCAUSE, March 20, 2011.

Should you even need it (and who doesn't?) here's a Blackboard-to-Moodle migration plan. "We not only converted from BB to Moodle, but also from our homegrown Lotus Notes-based SemesterBook (SB) system to Moodle. We had conversion tools for both, which we have shared with other universities." The brief kit includes a detailed timeline and project summary.

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Educational Software Giant Celebrates 15 Years By Launching New Online Learning Site
Helge Scherlund, Helge Scherlund's eLearning News, March 20, 2011.

Helge Scherlund summarizes, "Grey Olltwit marks its 15th anniversary of offering free and discounted educational software to students around the world by launching goopla.net, a free online learning center." Goopla is an acronym for Grey Olltwit's Online Personal Learning Area. The npress release states, "The non-profit organization earns revenue from those who can afford to pay the modest membership fee, as well as from advertisers. The revenue keeps membership free for those with financial-need." Grey Olltwit makes educational software games and is "a non profit charitable organisation providing free educational software to those on low incomes, especially in but not limited to, developing countries."

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Build Your Own Games and Enter the Kodu Cup
Richard Byrne, Free Technology for Teachers, March 20, 2011.

The original idea of Scratch was that people could learn basic programming concepts in a visual and non-technical language. Wikipedia provides a history of Scratch. Microsoft has its own entry into the visual programming market called Kodu. "The drag and drop interface relies on users being able to manage "if/ then" scenarios to design a rich gaming experience. Kodu users create the setting (trees, mountains, rivers, etc), specify the roles and place characters in their games, and program what players can and cannot do in their games." These are both indications of the way greater and greater programming capacities can be placed into the hands of users.

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FAQ: What do you mean, proprietary software can be used to take away your rights?
Derek Keats, DKeats.Com, March 20, 2011.

Prett good summary statement of the ways digital rights management (DRM) and other protective technologies infringe on your rights, from allowing people to spy on you, to installing software on your devices without permission, to taking away products you have bought and paid for. These infringements on freedoms are extensive and increasingly political. For example, "In early 2010, Apple banned an app submitted by Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist, Mark Fiore, because it 'ridiculed public figures.'"

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Questions about online learning in Ontario
Tony Bates, e-learning and distance education resources, March 20, 2011.

Tony Bates was also asked to answer the five questions I responded to last week; this is his version. The responses are shorter because he has been working more closely with the organizers over the last few years. He focuses on "Lack of pedagogical training of instructors" where I focused on access. But where I saw opportunity for the system, he shows how "it offers the opportunity to help learners develop the knowledge and skills they need in the 21st century." We both agree "radical change is needed in all post-secondary education systems, and this change is unlikely to come from the institutions themselves."

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NFB: NYU, Northwestern and Other Schools Adopting Google Apps Discriminate Against the Blind
Claude Almansi , educational technology & change, March 20, 2011.

Claude Almansi raises the question of accessibility for the blind and the use of Google Apps to support online learning. "The obstacles hindering blind people when they attempt to use Google Apps are very clearly illustrated in the videos of the  mentioned demonstration of screen access technology page. As several of these obstacles  also arise  in  other Web 2.0 applications, including WordPress." I'm sympathetic; I'm half-blind myself. On the other hand, you can't wait until eventhing si accessible before releasing technology. Remember, "a public entity violates its obligations under the ADA when it only responds on an ad-hoc basis to individual requests for accommodation." Google should have a program in place - and it does.

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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