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April 18, 2011

Feature Article
Should OER favour commercial use?
Stephen Downes, April 18, 2011.

I have begun engagement in an 11-day long pseudo-Oxford style debate at the WSIS-UNESCO online community. The question at hand is "Should OER favour commercial use?" and I - not surprisingly - have weighed in on the contrary. The protagonist is David Wiley, who has been well known for his support of commercial licensing of OERs over the years. Wayne Mackintosh of WikiEducator is moderating. The debate site is here.

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The Evolution of Classroom Technology
Unattributed, Edudemic, April 18, 2011.

Fun timeline looking at different educational technologies used over the years, from the incredibly useful (the blackboard, the pencil) to the useless (the reading accelerator). Don't miss the video featuring the Skinner teaching machine!

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RIP Google Video: Download Your Videos by May 13 or They're Gone Forever
Charlie White, Mashable, April 18, 2011.

So I'm pretty annoyed with Google right now as it took me about four hours to migrate 29 videos from the Google Video service over to my account at Blip.tv. It remains a mystery to my why Google was unable to migrate its videos from one of its own services - Google Video - to another - YouTube. And also why the only download Google could provide was of a low-quality .flv copy of the video. So I turned my back on both services and sent everything to Blip.tv, which has been very good to me over the years.

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Various Authors, Weblog, April 18, 2011.

This link is for Daniel Lemire, who might enjoy this new blog on the philosophy of mathematics. Oh, well, and for me too, as it reminds me of my graduate course in the philosophy of mathematics with Verena Huber-Dyson.

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Is the OER movement flawed? Join the debate!
Sir John Daniel, eLearning Africa, April 18, 2011.

files/images/eLA_Newsportal_debate_teaser-300x199.jpg, size: 32133 bytes, type:  image/jpeg I'm not sure what it is that has prompted the recent spate of 'Oxford-style' debates, but here's another. I wouldn't want to be on the other side of this softball question lobbed at John Daniel, "This house believes that the OER movement is fundamentally flawed because it is based on the false assumption that educational institutions are willing to share resources freely and openly." His response, given here, consists of the assertion, "OERs are used" (and about 500 filler words).

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Sugar Labs project: Replacing textbooks with OERs
Mokurai, WSIS Project, April 17, 2011.

files/images/wsis_logo_bottom.gif, size: 3602 bytes, type:  image/gif Sugar Labs - the software side of of the OLPC project - has launched a new project called Replacing Textbooks. According to the website, "UNESCO takes this idea very seriously, and has asked Mokurai to open a discussion on it on their WSIS Web site. He has also created a CrowdRise fundraiser for this project." The project is ambitious. "The basic mission is to create OERs to replace textbooks in every school subject for every age or grade level for every country in every language needed." But there are some serious flaws. "We mean to integrate our OERs with Sugar education software at every point. Some of them will consist entirely of software." What's the point of that? Who is going to have Sugar available to run them on?

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Distance education and eLearning practices: In Turkey and Eastern countries
Ugur Demiray, eLearning Papers, April 17, 2011.

Interesting review of online and distance learning that traces a progression in the field from the original correspondence courses through to artificial intelligence and web operating systems, set against the development of e-learning in eastern European, Middle Eastern and Central Asian education systems. "The shift is from instructor controlled classroom learning and instructor controlled e-learning to a mix of approaches that includes instructor control when appropriate... The 'e' in e-learning will gradually disappear, as electronic support for learning by any means becomes invisible and taken-for-granted." See more from the current issue of eLearning Papers on redefining the university.

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Degrees for Open Learning?
Bernd Remmele, eLearning Papers, April 17, 2011.

Good article arguing that the success of open educational resources requires a commercial foundation ("the success of Free-and-OpenSource-Software (FOSS)... was however the participation of profit-seeking companies and thus the development of customer-oriented products") and thus exploring "the possibility of finding marketable services in relation to the selection function, arguing that degree-providing institutions can offer learners credits for the competences acquired during open learning, in other words, re-formalizing the process." I don't agree with the premise, and would have welcomed more development of the "descriptions of learning results based on complex competence models" as compared to the "grand narrative" outlined at the start of the paper. That said, the paper is a cogent and well-argued defense of the position.

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Massively Open Online Courses – the Death of Universities?
Saucy Sailoress, Cloudworks, April 16, 2011.

This 'flash debate' was created by a group of #H800 students on the MA ODE Course. A sample from the discussion (which is already fairly meaty): "The internet now allows you access to lectures from top professors in places like Stanford, Berkley and MIT. Okay so we have access to knowledge on our laptop so why go to university - I think Ove is on the ball - its all about accreditation at the moment. We need a respected third party to validate our competencies but why does that have to be a university - well it doesnt and I can see more and more corporates coming into the quailification sphere e.g. Google Degrees in Web Development."

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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