By Stephen Downes
April 8, 2003

Thomson Learning Moves into Coursepack Market
Two subsidiaries of Thomson Learning have announced the marketing launch of Thomson coursepacks through a "learning marketplace" at Lulu.com that they are calling "an online marketplace for digital content collaborative software and publishing." According to Lulu CEO Bob Young, "Lulu provides a buying and selling marketplace for turning digital intellectual property into revenue. The key factor is control -- Lulu provides the creators and owners of intellectual property with the solution to a problem: how to distribute your digital content and at the same time manage your rights and permissions to that content." This article depicts the Thomson initiative's major competition as being ProQuest's XanEdu. But the major competition for both content initiatives is, of course, their intended customer base. By Barbara Quint, Information Today, April 7, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Computers That Watch While You Work
This story isn't what the headline suggests. Rather, it's a good idea - a computer that is able to determine when your busy and, during those times, leaves you alone to concentrate on your work instead of bombarding you with email and instant messages. By Unknown, BBC News, April 8, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Study Finds Charter Schools Lack Experienced Teachers
A California study of charter schools in that state finds that the alternative schools lack resources and qualified teachers, raising fears that they may increase, rather than reduce, inequalities. "Unless government can equalize the resources available to charter schools, we may deepen the inequalities that advocates claim these schools would eliminate or reduce." Please note: because of a new archiving policy at the New York Times, this article from will disappear from the web in seven days; be sure to download your backup copy for your own records right away. By Sara Rimer, New York Times, April 8, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

eduSource Industry Forum
Presentations from this forum held late March - in the form of PowerPoint slides - are now available on the eduSource website. Topics include Standards Overview and Canada's Leadership Role (Rory McGreal), Standards that Support Inclusion (Jutta Treviranus), and Creating a Critical Mass of Content - The Canadian Culture Online Initiative (Lenorah Johnson). Though this is the third such forum, it is the first in which the presentations looked forward to eduSource as a single, unified project. By Various Authors, eduSource Canada, March 24, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Electronic Content Object Repositories
Canadian readers will want to take note of this request from CANARIE for proposals that "support the continued evolution and development of the Canadian Content Repositories that CANARIE has enabled under the E-learning Program and other initiatives, use and build on the standards and processes developed by these repositories, [and which] focus on research and development processes for Content objects and how these can be managed and used in different contexts and environments." The timelines are short; your proposal must be in by May 9 and the project receiving support must be concluded by March 31, 2004. By Press Release, CANARIE, April 8, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Fretting About the Future, Lost Liberty
Declan McCullough takes a "Don't worry, be happy" approach to the concerns expressed by participants in this conference about corporate media concentration and the consequent loss of privacy, but he is right to point to the equally pressing concern about intrusions by governments into the same ethical quagmire. And it is also worth noting that laws intended to curb government and corporate abuses can have a magnified effect on advocacy groups and non-profits who rely even more on personal information provided by their supporters. Be sure to click on the link to the photos; they're fabulous. By Declan McCullough, News.Com, April 7, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Jim Moore's Weblog
Jim Moore - who wrote The Second Superpower Rears its Beautiful Head, has started a weblog. In it, he responds to Andrew Orlowski contention that the term "second superpower" was hijacked and Googlewashed by some influential bloggers. He also asks about "assembly rules" for the second superpower - that is, principles that will come together to constitute the entity. In the comments John Hibbs offers a comparison between this article and Tom Paine's Common Cause. He also passes on some observations I sent along identifying some major threads linking the concept of the second superpower and the future of online learning. By Jim Moore, Jim Moore's Weblog, April 1, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Learning Webs
This is right, isn't it? "Aspects of Illich's vision start to surface in various recent projects and initiatives. Take a look , for example, at David Wiley's work on (digital) learning objects, Sebastien Paquet's match-making service and Philip Pearson's Topic Exchange." I think we are in the process of defining a new system of education, and that Seb Fieder has tapped into some of its most important components. By Sebastian Fiedler, Seblogging, April 4, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2003 Stephen Downes
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