Stephen's Web

By Stephen Downes
December 3, 2002

An Introduction to RSS for Educational Designers This is an introductory document; if you already know about RSS, you probably won't learn anything new, though you may discover why I think RSS is such a good model for learning object repository development. If you know nothing about RSS (and would like to learn, if only to understand all my references to the subject), then this is the document for you. It starts from scratch and takes you through a light surface-level view of RSS content syndication and its application to education. MS-Word document, with a (badly formatted MS-Word created) HTML version available here (honestly, why can't Word recognize its own 'align=right' direction?). By Stephen Downes, Stephen's Web, December 3, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Perception: Connections Between Art and Science Everybody is reading Michael Polanyi these days, and nobody is reading Norwood Russell Hanson. Too bad, because Hanson's 1958 Patterns of Discovery has more to say about recognition (and the famous duck-rabbit picture used in this article) than Polanyi ever did. In any event, a good introduction to the thought (if not the reference) behind Hanson's philosophy of perception may be found in this article. In a nutshell, the point is that perception is learned, and even relatively straightforward examples of empirical observation are inextricably theory-bound. Another way of saying the same thing (with a different slant) is that the language we use affects our understanding of what objects exist in the world. By R. H. Brady, NetFuture, November, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Recording Industry Plans to Accelerate Complaints About Illegal File Sharing The Recording Industry plans to increase its harassment of service providers - including universities - it suspects of harboring illegal music files. This announcement was made by way of a personal email sent to a university administrator a few days prior to a meeting scheduled to "explore areas where we have mutual interests" in copyright issues. Nice tactic. By Scott Carlson, Chronicle of Higher Education, December 2, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Digital Whiteboards Outsell Traditional Chalkboards here's a sign of the times: even though they cast many times more than traditional chalkboards (which are essentially nothing more than painted slabs of wood), digital whiteboards are now outselling their traditional alternative. Why? Well, for one thing, you could never interact with a web page on a traditional chalk board. Or save your drawings and diagrams for later use. Or display a functioning calculator. Manufactured by Calgary's Smart Technologies, SmartBoards (as they are called) are the best product out there for digital whiteboards. I've been using them for four of five years and I'm still impressed. By Rhea R. Borja, Education Week, November 27, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Egypt Aims To Enter Internet Age in One Big Step I wonder if my work is there: "The new library of Alexandria features recently unearthed antiquities, priceless Middle Eastern manuscripts and rare maps. But the highlight of Egypt's modern-day revival of the legendary center of classical learning is not an ancient artifact or even a book. Prominently displayed in a glass-encased room near the library's entrance are 200 Hewlett-Packard PCs containing copies of nearly every public Web page posted since 1996." By Elise Ackerman and Joshua L. Kwan, San Jose Mercury News, ecember 1, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

A Case Study in Metadata Harvesting: the NSDL What I would like readers to note (in addition to the actual content of this paper) is how similar what NSDL is doing is to what I have been describing over the last few months. It's all there - harvesting from content providers, metadata repositories, RDF, OAI, the works. By William Y. Arms, , October, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Students Can't Get No Privacy U.S. Army recruiters say they are not invading anyone's privacy, but a new law requiring that American schools provide the military with student names, addresses and phone numbers is being criticized by some groups as just that. In the United States, men are required to register when they turn 18, but this law allows the recruiters to target students aged 15 or 16. By Associated Press, Wired News, December 2, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

MyJewishLearning.Com This site was recommended on the eLearning Guru mailing list as an exemplar of a quality learning portal. I have to agree. First of all, it has a nice focus - Jewish learning is not for everyone, which allows a site dedicated to Jewish learning cater to a specific niche. Second, it is very well laid out with current news and resources as well as broad topic areas. It provides for journals, discussions quizzes and customization. By various Authors, November, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The State of the eLearning Industry in Canada Presentation outlining major industry trends, including growth rates and market sizes. This report comes subsequent to a recent downward adjustment of the overall e-learning market. It's good information... if we can trust the source (see the next link). PowerPoint slides. By Julie Kaufman, IDC, November, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

IDC Study Shows Windows Servers Cheaper Than Linux From where I sit, the task of maintaining, say, an Exchange server is never-ending. Certainly the pain and frustration of using one has added greatly to the cost of my performing even simple tasks. So I sit and wonder about this report that says that it's cheaper to operate Windows because of the lower cost of support. Then again, the IDC study was sponsored by Microsoft - which to me says a lot more about IDC than it says about either Windows or Linux. Too bad. I hope it was worth it. By Reuters, SimiconValley.Com, December 2, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2002 Stephen Downes