Stephen's Web

By Stephen Downes
January 6, 2003

Copyright, Ethics and Theft The relation between copyright and ethics is not nearly so clear as supposed. While it is easy to piously pronounce that people who copy online content are unethical and even evil, it is also wrong. The copyright debate is not a case of the morally right trying to maintain the defense against the morally wrong. It is a debate about what should even count as morally right or wrong. By Stephen Downes, Stephen's Web, January 5, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Renmin Voice I am a strong supporter of the semantic web and so it was with some concern that I read Mark Pilgrim - someone who's writing I admire - speak out against the concept over the holidays. There's a link to his argument in this article, and also a reply offered by the author, a reply that is not so much a point by point rebuttal but rather a "testament to the virtues of Semantic Web." What we need to be careful about when we talk about metadata, RDF, and all that stuff is to avoid the trap of believing that there will be one set of mketadata tags, one vocabulary, one ontology, for all of us to use. It doesn't work that way. The semantic web isn't about telling us how we must say what we want to say: it's about giving a set of tools that helps us be clear about what we mean, if we want. The semantic web, like the web, isn't a library. It's a conversation. By Joshua Allen, Better Living Through Software, January 6, 2003 5:04 p.m. [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Blogging Phenomenon: An Overview and Theoretical Consideration A nice paper outlining the history of blogging and clearly sketching the movement's defining features. The second part of the paper, though, is a lot more original as the author surveys several theories of mass communication as they relate to weblogs: agenda setting, multi-step flow theories, gate keeping and the spiral of silence. No doubt purists will quibble at some of the descriptions, but ignore them. By James M. Branum, Southwest Texas State University, December, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

ADL Takes First Step to Repository Profile Interesting. As Wilbert Kraan summarizes it, "With the publication of a report on 'Emerging and Enabling Technologies for the Design of Learning Object Repositories', ADL is taking the first tentative steps to designing a learning object repository application profile to complement its existing learning object reference model, SCORM." As I have discovered in my own work (and as OAI discovered in theirs), you can't just rely on learning object jetadata to make the contents of a metadata repository accessible. At the very least, you need some sort of index or list - and that entails another profile. Or, if all else fails, RSS will do the trick. By Wilbert Kraan, CETIS, January 2, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

You've Got Gym: School Offers PE Classes Online Online gym. Yes, it can be done - putting to flight yet another long-held myth about online learning. It's not all reading and filling in forms, thankfully. "Maxwell believes his students are sweating when they are supposed to. He notes that some of the exercises involve checking their heart rate after running, so it's easy to tell if a student has made up a heart rate that doesn't match a nine-minute mile." By Steve Harrison, Miami Herald, January 5, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Robotics Replaces Industrial Arts in Shop Classes of Today When I was in school the closest we came to anything industrial was the creation of abstract metal sculptures and drilling a hole through the wall with an oxy-acetylene torch. It's a bit different in classrooms today as "shop" has been replaced with a much wider - and useful - curriculum. "Working with the school's physics and art teachers, Smith is instructing students how to build a robot that will be able to move and catapult a Hacky Sack across a room.... 'In the old shop classes, we taught kids how to maintain or fix things, like machines and cars,' he said. 'Today, the focus is on real-world product design and how to take an idea from concept to finished product.'" By Marie C. Franklin, Boston Globe, January 5, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

From the Capital to the Classroom: State and Federal Efforts to Implement the No Child Left Behind Act Educators in the United States will find this assessment of the "No Child Left Behind Act" interesting in its own right - it states that while the states are generally supportive of the objectives of the act, they may balk if the provisions are enforced too rigidly and if financial support is not there. But this a draft version, so I don't really want to quote it a lot (note to authors: if your report isn't ready for widespread distribution, don't post it on the open web. Sheesh). As interesting as the content of the report is the web page design. I like the nifty page numbers in the left hand column and the format of the pages is very attractive. But there are frustrations. For example, I sat and waited for page 2 to load for a while before realizing that it was left blank. And the page numbers on the left do not match the page numbers in the table of contents (which are, in turn, not hyperlinked). Still, this is a nifty way to present a book, and so much nicer than the PDF format they could have used. Many of their documents are released this way, including last November's Preserving Principles Of Public Education In An Online World, the item mentioned in today's Distance-Educator.Com that initially attracted me to the site. This is also a good report, asserting that while virtual learning is useful and valuable, there are some key questions that should be asked. These are listed on page 2 (index page 8). By Various Authors, Center on Education Policy, January, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Interview With John Charles Callanan An interesting Canadian (to say the least), John Charles Callanan has worked in radio, produced audio-visual documentaries, worked as a film and video producer and as head of a media unit. After he retired, he really got going. This all-too-short interview looks at Callanan's fascination with educational communication and media and overviews his latest project, a project called "Healthy Relationships" consisting of a multimedia kit for educators "to affect change and model healthy relationships." By Unknown, Distance-Educator.Com, January 6, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

National Sciences Digital Library Now we're getting somewhere. The first release of the National Sciences Distributed Library (NSDL) is now available, offering a search and browse through a variety of science related research libraries. There is, promises the authors in an introductory popup, "so much more to come" as the developers continue to add features to "The comprehensive source for science, technology, engineering and mathematics education." By Various Authors, NSDL, January, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2003 Stephen Downes
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