by Stephen Downes
Oct 03, 2014
Ed Radio Reimagined
I find it interesting to note that audio podcasting has almost dropped off the internet map. For someone like me, audio is a lot more useful than video, and almost any time of the day, unless I'm actually in a meeting, I'll be listening to something online (in my car I still listen to radio, but my mobile phone connects to it by Bluetooth and gives me a lot more content). Bryan Alexander has listed a number of podcasts he listens to, so I'm not alone.
So. I've been puttering away off and on for the last few months to convert Ed Radio into something that's fresh and valuable, and not just playing canned content. So I've set up my aggregator to harvest a number of ed tech podcasts; these in turn are used to create a single podcast feed you can subscribe to, an M3U and PLS file you can download as a playlist, and a live Shoutcast stream you can listen to over your computer or mobile phone. I've also set up an AudioBoo account as one of the sources. There's new content every day, and I have the capacity to broadcast live events. I love radio, and even if nobody ever listens, I love being able to create something like this.
Academy of Art University student's CS6 licenses canceled
You used to buy software on a disk and it would always run. But software companies are convcerting to an annual license model, where there's no disk, and like content streaming, you get to use the software only so long as you keep paying for it. I've bought movies this way, but to this day I can't even watch the movies I've paid Microsoft for (which to me means that they've simply stolen several hundred dollars from me). No appeals, no refunds. That's just entertainment. When you have a similar dispute over software worth thousands of dollars, and on which your career depends, you can find yourself in a difficult position if the purchase goes south.
That's what's happened to students at Academy of Art University in San Francisco. They were told that their tuition would purchase Adobe Creative Suite licenses. "We were told," they write, "that these licenses would never expire and all forms of professional and student work were permitted." But Adobe doesn't work that way any more, and so has started cancelling the students' licenses. The students (quite rightly, in my view) are crying foul. But they have no rights, and no appeal. They're upset, and I don't blame them. More here, and some press coverage here.
Hack This Book: Announcing Open Music Theory
While I still have my criticisms of this textbook (music notation is not my thing) I think it represents a useful innovation and, I hope, further undermines the traditional publisher paradigm of university textbooks. It's not just that the published books cost money (though there is that) but also that they convey a single authoritative voice. These open textbooks disrupt that. "OMT is open-source and not simply open-access. We have made it legally and (as much as we can) technically possible for instructors, and even students, to contribute to the text, translate it, publish it in other formats, copy it—in a word, to hack it."
LinkedIn University Rankings
This has to be better than the made-up rankings provided by entities like U.S. News & World Report, or Macleans in Canada, but even so the purpose remains the same: the rankings reflect the values held by the ranker, and are intended to push the rankees into pursuing those metrics (hence, the U.S. News rankings, for example, push universities away from opening access to lower income students). Just so, the LinkedIn rankings are "based on career outcomes". The LinkedIn blog defines outcomes based on "desirable jobs," for examples, where "we define a desirable job to be a job at a desirable company for the relevant profession. For example, we define desirable finance jobs as finance jobs at companies desirable for finance professionals." So my university, the University of Calgary, which educated me very well indeed, would fail, because I did not get my (not so desirable) desirable job as a philosopher. More from PS Web. Via Academica.
New York Times Plans to Eliminate 100 Jobs in the Newsroom
New York Times,
The New York Times was one of the earliest and most prominent news sources to set up a paywall and opt for subscription-based online services. Though the newspaper has consistently claimed that the move was a success, it's not clear that it has been. This latest item suggests that the digital option is not paying its way. The economic model has peaked - the newspaper isn't getting any more new subscribers, and it's niche mobile products aren't expanding its reach. As Matthew Ingram tweets, "The NYT's apps are like untargeted mini paywalls -- they were built to serve the paper's needs, not users' needs." It's the software driving the journalism, argues Financial Times editor Lionel Barber. Links via American Press Institute.
Google unveils Drive for Education
Google continues its push to commoditize learning management. It "said Tuesday that the academic version of its online storage solution can be used with Google Apps for Education and boasts unlimited storage with transfer support for files up to 5TB in size. In addition, the cloud storage system includes reporting and auditing tools, as well as encryption both from the device and between Google data centers to keep files safe." People will probably want to use this; the question is whether any applications other than Google tools will be able to make use of the service.
Salon Culture: Network of Ideas
The first three quarters of this article offer an interesting outline of the history of salon culture, that is, the fomenting of ideas through the social gatherings of thinkers and intellectuals. The last quarter devolves into dreck promoting things like TED. Leaving aside the (paid?) placement, however, the article is worth a look. And leave aside the idea that salons are reserved for intellectuals. One of the great things the coffee-house culture did was to (to a degree) democratize the salon. In Canada, every city has dozens of Tim Hortons Coffee outlets where, arguably, our real society is forged. The internet democratizes the salon even more. TED and similar congresses are attempts to countervail that, returning to the idea of salon culture as reserved for the elites. For that reason, they should be resisted.
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