OLDaily, by Stephen Downes

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May 9, 2011

If Supermarkets Were Like Public Schools
Donald J. Boudreaux, Wall Street Journal, May 9, 2011.

"Suppose that groceries were supplied in the same way as K-12 education," begins this post. It would be awful, suggests the author. "No family would be permitted to get groceries from a public supermarket outside of its district.... almost all public supermarkets would be worse than private ones. In poor counties the quality of public supermarkets would be downright abysmal." And there would be unsurprising efforts at reform. "The handful of radicals who call for total separation of supermarket and state-well, they would be criticized by almost everyone as antisocial devils." Via Greg Makinaw, who should know better. Call me a cynic, but my observation, given the need for food banks in even wealthy countries, and rampant malnourished and outright starvation in others, is that the free-market system of food distribution is not working.

So, suppose supermarkets were like public schools. No family would go hungry; indeed, even careless parents would be required to ensure that their children ate properly. Their health would improve, they would learn efficiently and well, and over time children would, as men and women, be tall, strong and self-sufficient. In addition to this basic offering, every town would have a restaurant where citizens old and young could sample foods from around the world - this would be called a 'library'. Nothing would prevent parents from taking their children out to dinner in the evening, and many would. In addition, children would use their own cooking facilities, called 'books' and 'games' and 'computers', to prepare their own food. There would be some people griping about the cost, and making the ridiculous assertion that ensuring that everyone is properly fed makes them somehow 'less free', but they would be dismissed as cranks, or at worst, as selfish and inconsiderate.

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CAUT Guidelines for the Use of Copyrighted Material
Unattributed, Canadian Association of University Teachers, May 9, 2011.

Michael Geist reports: "The Canadian Association of University Teachers has released a new comprehensive guide to the use of copyrighted materials in schools. The guidelines assess the current state of fair dealing in Canada and provide assistance for those with questions on their copyright rights." I would add that the guide is outstanding for its clear writing and focus. I really like the way it describes what you can do, rather than what you can't. And I like the way it describes fair dealing (what Americans would call "fair use") as a matter of interpretation rather than statute. "Fair dealing is undermined by over simplification and the declaration of abstract, bright line rules. Unduly constrained approaches must be rejected as they do not reflect traditional academic practices, court decisions or the language of the
Copyright Act. The first test for fairness is individual judgment."

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Improv Everywhere Interrupts Conference To Sing About Social Sharing
Brenna Ehrlich, Mashable, May 9, 2011.

Improve Everywhere disrupts the GEL Conference in New York to sing about one's urgent need to share via social media. Fun. Video.

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The OER Debate, In Full
Stephen Downes, David Wiley, Wayne Mackintosh, and others, Half an Hour, May 9, 2011.

Over the last couple of weeks I participated in a debate on whether OER projects should favour commercial use. The debate, hosted on the WSIS Community Platform, was quite an interesting debate, but there were numerous complaints from people who wanted to read and comment that the debate platform was inaccessible, that it was not possible to simply read a post and comment without going through a laborious vetting process by UNESCO staff. So I've decided to post the entire debate, from beginning to end, including postings, comments and everything, on this blog. Enjoy, and feel free to comment as you wish at the conclusion of the post.

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Raspberry Pi Foundation
David Braben, Website, May 9, 2011.

Raspberry Pi is a computer the size of a USB stick. It costs about $25. It connects to a TV screen via an HDMI cable, and you can plug in a keyboard via USB. The intent of the computer is to put access to basic computing into the hands of students, as explained in this video. It's a great idea, but I would say that it really really needs internet access in order to be viable.

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Youth not that environmentally engaged, study shows
Bev Betkowski , University fo Alberta ExpressNews, May 9, 2011.

Just a note on surveys. You cannot poll 350 students on the U of A campus and draw a conclusion about "young people". It may well be true that University of Alberta students are not environmentally engaged. But this would not be surprising or unexpected. With respect to environmental issues, Alberta is known to be an outlier, due to its oil industry and tar sands projects. University students also represent the richest segment of society, which also correlates with a lower concern for environmental issues. If you want to know what "young people" think and do, sample young people - not just university students, and certainly not just those from one university. Via Academica, May 9 issue.

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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