By Stephen Downes
July 24, 2003

Blackboard Building Blocks Developer Conference
David Carter-Tod is doing a fine job of blogging the Blackboard Building Blocks conference, despite his struggles with Internet Explorer. The conference is intended for developers of open source tools and utilities related to Blackboard. There is also a dedicated blog for the conference, but in the blogging game, experience shows. The best bit (in Carter-Tod's blog) is his description, with running commentary, of Blackboard founder Matt Pittinsky's talk. And a key point: "New product: Blackboard content system - mmm - do they really want to get into this area? It's very competitive. They're getting into e-portfolios via this. I'll have to think about this." By David Carter-Tod, Serious Instructional Technology, July 24, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Eldred v. Ashcroft: How Artists and Creators Finally Got Their Due
One of the drawbacks of online publication for at least some academics is that their work gets a wide reading and is thus exposed to the scrutiny of the Blogosphere. This article, published in an academic journal (at a major university yet) is a case in point. I don't need to offer a criticism; this review tears it to shreds. But I will offer one tidbit to indicate the quality of reasoning in this essay: "The fact that artists and songwriters live significantly longer than they did when Congress last substantially altered the copyright term was important to the congressional decision to adopt the extension. Life of the author plus seventy years is now necessary to provide the same level and extent of protection previously given under the former extension period, which has been rendered inadequate with the increase in life expectancy." Come again? James Grimmelmann comments, "See, it used to be that authors only lived until thirty, forty, years after their death, max. But these days, with cryogenics and the Atkins diet, some people are living their lives plus fifty, even sixty years." My goodness. By Shalisha Francis, Duke Law and Technology Review, May 19, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Groove: Ten Good Reasons Not To Buy
George (I'm redesigning) Siemens picks up this nice link containing a sharp, incisive criticism of Groove. Having just used Groove to conduct an online seminar to Australia, I am in a good position to say that the criticisms are justified. Groove demands most of your system's resources, it is a bandwidth hog, its interface is awkward and cumbersome, and it is missing some essential features, such as videos. I also agree with the author's assessment that Groove is innovative, but it really must slim down (though I don't know if it can, because it uses Java) and really rethink its usability. "We only want to collaborate. You are not the only guilty one in this, but you are a visionary so it should occur to you first that when we collaborate we never pronounce the words co-browse or conference. We just do it and we label it with everyday language: Show me what you have got; let's talk about it all together now.!" Exactly right. By Robin Good, July 23, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Learning & Technology Blogs
George Siemens has updated and moved his list of Learning & Technology Blogs (including full titles, correct spellings, URLs and everything). He has also moved his blog and (I think) his RSS feed. All I can say is, he'd better have had a very good reason. ;) By George Siemens, elearnspace, July 23, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Whole Picture of Elearning
This is a simple overview, created because "projects fail because the characteristics that need to be addressed aren't...and other characteristics are given too much emphasis." The descriptions are sketchy, but the graphic is very nice and suitable for use in in-house presentations. Clip and save. By George Siemens, elearnspace, July 22, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

In the Lecture Hall, a Geek Chorus
Interesting look at the impact of wireless instant messaging in the classroom. By now, though, we know what to expect. Some people read their email while others comment on the lecture. And, of course, some lecturers are complaining. Superficial, lightweight, and out-of-date account of the phenomenon. By Lisa Guernsey, New York Times, July 24, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Trade Winds
Much more interesting is this account of the use of wireless instant messaging in the classroom. In this case, the text chat was displayed on a large screen in front of the room. "A panel on Web services featuring Salesforce.com CEO Mark Benioff provoked the most talked-about moment of the conference – at Benioff’s expense.... We thought this (Benioff's point) was news, until Ross Mayfield, CEO of one of the Web’s leading blogging software providers, Socialtext, led an online chat charge showing that most of this was apparently untrue." The author does a nice job of tracing the phenomenon. "This parallel channel, a second superpower on a finite scale, first emerged at PC Forum 2002 when Dan Gillmor blogged a fact check on Joe Nacchio." In the quality and accuracy of reporting sweeps: same phenomenon, same day - blogs 1, New York Times, 0. By Ross Mayfield, Ross Mayfield's Weblog, July 22, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Blogging By The Numbers
When things get popular on the internet, the numbers get big. How big? Well, this census of blogs reports that there are there are roughly 2.4 million to 2.9 million active Weblogs as of June 2003. Of course that means that only two percent of the internet population has created a blog and, according to Jupiter Research, only four percent of the online community reads them. By Robyn Greenspan, CyberAtlas, July 23, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Partner Search
As part of the European Commission section of elearningeuropa, a partner search facility has been added. "The aim of this forum is to help establish contacts between organisations in different countries interested in collaborating in the development of e-learning projects and in finding partners. The forum enables users to read messages already posted in order to identify possible partners or to post their own messages describing their organisations." By Various Authors, elearningeuropa, July, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Canada's Digital Collections
Funded by the Canadian federal government's Youth Employment Strategy, Canada's Digital Collections is a growing collection of subject specific resources created by young Canadians. The site "showcases hundreds of Web sites celebrating Canada's history, geography, science, technology and culture." Sites like this are a part of the new face of online learning content. By Various Authors, July, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Re-Learning E-Learning
The author describes a report that "identifies three principles and five education consumer segments to guide e-Learning providers." Most of the article looks at the principles. Instead of creating coures, provides should create "bite-sized chunks". Instead of replacing traditional instruction, they should find gaps and niches. And instead of creating new content, they should provide "new, and better, mediums for learning built around traditional content." The first two points are reasonable, but the third is questionable. True, "E-Learning will find its largest audience outside traditional educational institutions." But will they be satisfied with electronic textbooks? By Marlene French, GlobalEd, July, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Click or Brick Colleges
Zane Berge asks the question, "Will traditional, residential education in the 21st century be found only at a few elite institutions and be only for the wealthy who can afford to attend them?" He lingers on the idea that new technologies, when they are introduced, are usually used to do old things. But this changes. "Distance education needs to be individualized, interactive and independent of time, a system that places the emphasis on learning rather than teaching, and its focus should be on outcomes rather than on input." By Zane Berge, GlobalEd, July, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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