By Stephen Downes
June 2, 2003

Capitalism, Caculus and Conscience
We begin today's somewhat long newsletter (after Friday's email fiasco I have a bit of catching up to do) with this scathing indictment of the U.S. system of standardized testing. The argument, in a nutshell, is that the tests are rigged to ensure that disadvantaged children fail. "In writing the New York Appellate decision, Justice Alfred Lerner explained why city children must be treated differently from children living in more affluent areas. 'Society needs workers in all levels of jobs, the majority of which may very well be low-level.' That's a direct quote. Thus does the global economy engulf the schoolhouse, and the children are discarded as so much refuse." It's one thing to have standardized tests, but it's quite another to give some children the means to pass them while withholding those means from other children. By Susan Ohanian, Phi Delta Kappan, May 22, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Creative Commons is due to release a draft educational use version of the CC license today. This link is to some preliminary discussion of the concept, which isn't really getting a smooth ride. I am inclined to agree with Wouter Vanden Hove, who writes that a CC educational license "it legitimizes the opposite, namely the *forbidding* of educational use." The sponsor of the initiative, David Wiley, responds that "In the U.S., fair use and educational use are limited to very restricted portions of a work, like" and so "the Ed CC license, I believe, would be to get more free educational content in front of more people." I don't agree, and I think that the impact of such a measure on non-formal self-education defeats any benefit such a measure could have. By Various Authors, Creative Commons, June 1, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

IE/AOL/Netscape: What Happens Next?
Some good commentary in this blog entry, plus links to the main articles in this story. In a nutshell: Microsoft has paid AOL $750 million, effectively ending the anti-trust suit filed by Netscape. This has led to widespread (and justified) speculation that AOL will drop Netscape. In the meantime, there will be no future standalone versions of Internet Explorer. If you want an improved browser, you will have to buy Microsoft's next operating system or sign up for its MSN service. With the SCO attack on Linux and the browser war essentially concluded, it seems clear that Microsoft is going after the whole ball of wax in an effort to be The Internet. It is an audacious plan, it is a bold plan, and it is a very, very dangerous plan. By Jeffrey Zeldman, The Daily Report, May 31, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Weblogs and Discourse
Interesting paper from last week's Blogtalk conference in which the author describes how blogs can help educators achieve their 'hidden agenda' - fostering reflection, critical thinking and interdisciplinary discourse. There's a lot of good thinking in this paper but the important bit is only touched on tangentally. And that's this: blogs make it a lot easier for those students who would write and to write publicly to do so. And blogging helps such students find each other. But for those students who find writing a chore, blogging is a chore. Those students who wouldn't write a journal, or a news article, or a letter, won't write a blog. If we have to convince people to blog, to in some way grade them or mark them, then in so doing we lose what is essential to blogging. By Oliver Wrede, BlogTalk, May 23, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Scholars Who Blog
The Chronicle discovers blogging - and some of the dynamics of the new medium - with a wide-eyed "gee whiz" kind of story. Among the surprises noted by the author: scholars who write about topics outside their areas of expertise and students who are able to converse as peers with professors. A lot of old blog lore - such as the power law distribution of weblog popularity - given new attribution as the scholars interviewed weigh in with their 'insights.' By David Glenn, Chronicle of Higher Education, June 6, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Giving a Virtual Voice to the Silent Language of Culture: The Cultura Project
This very interesting paper looks at the findings of a project comparing culture as expressed in the meanings of words. The proposition expressed and supported by the author is that a culture cannot be defined by a set of things known or remembered by its members. It is not a "check-list of knowledge." Rather, we see culture expressed in associations embedded in culture, semantic representations, context, connotations of words, and much more. These are the sorts of things I have tried to cast light on with respect to the metadata debate, and underlie my opposition to the idea that there could be a single standard. Cultural differences - even within societies - permeate down to the level of meanings of words, and so, to insist on a single metadata standard is to create some sort of cultural authoritarianism. By Gilberte Furstenberg, Sabine Levet, Kathryn English and Katherine Maillet, Language Learning & Technology, January, 2001 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Standards Leadership in E-learning
This page of information and resources from Click2Learn is highlighted by its free 'SCORM Resource Kit,' a set of articles and documents descripting what SCORM does and how to use it. By Various Authors, Click2Learn, May, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Broadband A Go-Go
It won't be long now before ubiquitous broadband access will be a feature of urban life. "Such a world would be an enormous boon for some huge industries that haven't had much to cheer about over the past two years—computers, consumer electronics, semiconductors, entertainment, and information services, as well as, of course, the troubled telecommunications sector. It could also heal the digital divide, especially in huge swaths of the rural and undeveloped world, where wired last-mile connections are few and far between." By Steven M. Cherry, IEEE Spectrum, May 30, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Free vs. fee: Underground Still Thrives
Despite the launch of several new subscription based music services, their success is dwarfed by the free services such as Kazaa. "You have to liken P2P to tap water," said Wayne Rosso, president of the popular Grokster peer-to-peer service. "It is always going to be there. It's free, and people are going to use it. But bottled water makers make a lot of money too." By John Borland, CNet, May 30, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Review (RVW) Module for RSS 2.0
This modeule is used to syndicate reviews of such things as movies or books using RSS. By Alf Eaton, May, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Smart Education: Blending Subject Expertise With the Concept of Career Development for Effective Classroom Management
There is a lot going on in this somewhat scattered paper centered around two major themes. First, "teachers should constantly try to empower their students to learn and develop their (reflective, critical and breakthrough) thinking skills to, in the words of Carkhuff: 'place the power of civilization¯its freedom, its productivity, its processing¯inside each individual.'" And second, "having a community of professionals research and develop 'epistemic games' seems to be holding out a lot of promise." By Nathan Balasubramanian, ITForum, June 1, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Learning Goes Global in Make or Break Move
Analysis of the launch this week of the first courses offered by Universitas 21. Some of the numbers in this article are interesting: Universitas 21 is a $50 million venture (all figures in $US), it is looking at a market estimated to be worth $111 billion, and the group claims intellectual property assets worth $55 billion. Seems like an awful lot for an enrollment of 800 - 5000 students. By Unknown, National Business Review, May 29, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Know a friend who might enjoy this newsletter?

Feel free to forward OLDaily to your colleagues. If you received this issue from a friend and would like a free subscription of your own, you can join our mailing list at http://www.downes.ca/cgi-bin/website/subscribe.cgi

[ About This NewsLetter] [ OLDaily Archives] [ Send me your comments]

Copyright © 2003 Stephen Downes
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.