By Stephen Downes
May 16, 2003

World Education Market
I'm off to Portugal this weekend to speak at the World Education Market (WEM) exposition in Lisbon. Because of time zones and the usual complexitities of internet access, OLDaily may publish at odd hours. Watch for photos and stories from the conference, and maybe a little more, if all my technology works. By Stephen Downes, May 16, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Tutoring GenX
No slides or text from Diana Oblinger, another of Microsoft's high profile Ed Tech recruits, but the Australian covered her talk, which means we have at least some idea of what she said. Interactivity is important in learning, she said, and new technologies make much more interactivity possible. "Historically, there's been no way to represent the opinions of the other students in an organised fashion without being terribly disruptive. So the applicability of this is huge. It can make the students feel like their needs are being heard." Of course, in order to be interactive, you have to actually use the technology to make your opinions known. By Jim Buckell, The Australian, May 14, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Making Online Communities Work
An online community takes ongoing care and feeding in order to flourish. This PowerPoint presentation looks at the steps taken by EdNA's online community to accomplish that. Critical factors include a focus on topics important to the community, the recruitment of a respected facilitator, the recruitment of thought leaders as participants, and making sure people have enough time to get involved. "An effective online community will nurture newcomers with patience and tolerance and make it comfortable for all to contribute at their own level. At the same time it is important for participants to realise that learning occurs at the edge of our comfort zone." By Kate Dibben, EDUCAUSE 2003, May 9, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Power of a Central Database: The Government Education Portal Experience
Overview of the Australian government's education portal, including a comparison with the EdNA portal and a description of how the two services work together. By Pat Pledger, EDUCAUSE 2003, May 9, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

ISO Project
I mentioned this ages ago, when they were first getting started. The purpose of the ISO project is "to assemble as many useful applications as we can find and package them as an ISO CD-ROM image. Users or their technical advisors can then download the ISO, burn CDs from it, and easily install the programs they need for scholastic use." Think of it as a freeware Linux distribution intended specifically for schools. Anyhow: they are now in phase two, the evaluation phase. But they've run into problems getting the applications reviewed (you won't see that on the website, but I've been following the mailing list). So here's the drill: go to the ISO site, click on 'phase 2', select an application to evaluate, download it from the convenient list provided, give it a test on your Linux syste, and report back. Your help here will make or break this project. Spread the word. By Doug Loss, Simple End User Linux, May, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

A President Tries to Settle the Controversy Over File Sharing
Penn State's Graham Spanier asks the music industry, "Why not pay a record-industry-approved music service a yearly, blanket fee, Mr. Spanier wonders, and let students download songs as they please?" Here's why: the music industry gets unfairly high prices for its music. Independents and unsigned artists don't get a dime. The file sharing issue isn't just about money. It's about control. Even if they get money, if they lose their monopoly over the distribution of music, the music publishers have lost. And they know it. (p.s. the same argument applies in academic publishing.) By Scorr Carlson, Chronicle of Higher Education, May 23, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Portal for learning resources. I received the following email today: "Building interoperability among educational systems is an issue relevant to many of us. Allow us to inform you that a group of people, which started in the context of the Universal consortium has expanded to a much wider initiative in the meantime and is now partly funded by the Elena project. This group has recently reached a first milestone of its work agenda. As you can see from our web site, throughout the last months a peer-to-peer (P2P) network based on Edutella, which connects two instances of the Universal Brokerage Platform (the EducaNext.org portal, and UBP Experimental) as well as ULI, a learning environment for IS education, has been established." By Various Authors, May 16, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Lessons From Afar
The Economist takes a look at distance learning and concludes that it didn't take. "The market for online-only programmes," argues the author, "is shaky at best." The article then lists a series of failed or failing ventures, most familiar to readers of this newsletter - Cardean, Fathom, NYU Online - and talks about the shift toward blended learning. The article does acknowledge the success of the University of Phoenix and also suggests that wider broadband adoption (such as in Korea) may spur growth. Like many analyses of online learning, this author doesn't really take into account corporate e-learning and completely overlooks informal learning. By Unknown, Economist, May 8, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

SCO Faces Hurdles in Linux Claims
The big weakness in SCO's case against everyone? The proprietary code it claims to own it released under a Gnu Public License. "From the moment that SCO distributed that code under the GNU General Public License, they would have given everybody in the world the right to copy, modify and distribute that code freely. From the moment SCO distributed the Linux kernel under GPL, they licensed the use. Always. That's what our license says." By Thor Olavsrud, InternetNews.Com, May 16, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Soda Constructor
I can't open this the way my desktop is currently configured (I need Java and Flash and all that working together). But this link sounds too interesting to pass by. Pete Mckay writes, "I have to thank one of my sixth-graders for telling me about this one. Farris is one of those Smarties we all love to teach - he proved the point with this gem called Soda Constructor. It's an interactive robot-building site. I'm not exactly sure how to describe it beyond that. The best thing to do is to visit and play! They have a lot of online assistance for the grown-ups..." By Unknown, Undated [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Search Results Clogged by Blogs
There is increasing concern about the influence blogs are having on search results in, say, Google. "With no deliberate effort, many dedicated weblog publishers are finding their blogs rank high on search results for topics that, oftentimes, they claim to know practically nothing about. Bloggers attribute prominent placement to the frequency with which they publish new material and the fact that other sites often link to their blogs." On the one hand, one may argue that the proper search results are being skewed. But on the other hand, the results could reflect the fact that commercial sites and those who authoritatively should be weighing in haven't been publishing anything worth linking to. "The Web is absolutely the great equalizer. Good content rises to the top on the Internet. It doesn't matter if the medium is a blog or a corporate Web page." Exactly. Want Google rank? Publish good stuff, for a change. By Joanna Glasner, Wired News, May 16, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Blog Eats Blog
Last week's O'Reilly Emerging Technologies conference demonstrated the power of a few 'elite' bloggers (thus confirmed by link counts and Google page-rank) and a mass of chaotic, confused and contradictory coverage, complains the author, "a seamless and essentially author-free porridge of commentary - lacking substance, structure or meaning." What is needed, he argues, is the controlling and mediating influence of journalists - and correspondingly, some means of holding the blogging elites to account. Of course, this is exactly the same sort of thing some people say about learning on the web: that unless it is structured and organized, it is incomprehensible and uncontrolled. All that is very fine, and I think a valid point has been made. But essentially the same argument can be made of the current system. Any discipline - whether it be philosophy, government, economics or business administration - really is that chaotic. An elite of journalists or professors does emerge to create clarity and order. But the blogging elite is at least, after a fashion, elected. Oh, and the critics do get an airing. Far more than you might think. By Bill Thompson, Spiked IT, May 15, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Weblogs and Knowledge Management
Nice list of resources describing the use of weblogs for knowledge management (just like the title says; writing a description can be a challenge sometimes). By Jim McGee, McGee's Musings, May 13, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Making Fair Use Illegal: Scholars Assail Copyright Laws as Overly Broad
In a talk at Stanford, Lawrence Lessig argues that copyright legislation and supporting technologies "threaten the health of the public domain, free speech and ultimately our cultural heritage." Joined by Berkeley's Pamela Samuelson, an expert on intellectual property, the lawyer argue that "there are plenty of ways to protect digitized intellectual property from pirates without infringing on fair-use rights." By John Sanford, Stanford Report, May 14, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Big Vendors Reaffirm Commitment to Standards
More coverage from the eLearningresults conference in Sestri Levante, Italy, as major companies outline their plans for standards compliance in e-learning. Microsoft endorses the Schools Interoperability Framework (SIF); as the author comments, "they liked that standard so much, they bought its brains." Intel touted a peer to peer system with a lot of data caching. Software AG pushed the idea of elearning technology as a web service. By Wilbert Kraan, CETIS, May 16, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2003 Stephen Downes
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