By Stephen Downes
August 27, 2003

Weblogs: Applications for Artists
Artsy slides (using the Microsoft 'Artsy' theme, which isn't really very artsy) from my presentation (in Moncton and videoconferenced to Fredericton and Prince Edward island) yesterday to Arts-Netlantic, "a network of artists, information technologists, and scholars from the public and private sectors of Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick, interested in understanding the role of culture in the appreciation and creation of new media." The presentation describes weblogs in broad detail and then suggested a number of applications particular to the arts community. The videoconference included, from the Island, what may have been the first ever live videoconferenced rendition of Blogistan Pie. By Stephen Downes, Stephen's Web, August 26, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Forced Education: Schools of the Future
The title of this slide presentation, prepared for a videoconference I did last week for the eLearning Conference in Tasmania (still one of my favorite places). Asked to do a 'future of learning' presentation, outlining the drivers of change in the school system, I tried to show that while schools will certainly change, for every driver there is a "back-seat driver" which removes the inevitability of change, placing a series of choices into the hands of teachers. The connection at this end, unfortuately, gave me many problems and the sound, especially, was awful. By Stephen Downes, eLearning Conference, August 21, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Fighting for the Freedom to Tinker
I will let Princeton professor Ed Felten, interviewed in this article, say it for me, via Corante: " This is the copyright wars. We're now in a situation where policy isn't just about copyright, it's about cultural and industrial policy as well. That's the point of the trend to try to defend the interests of copyright owners, which are legitimately threatened, by trying to slow down or control the development of some general-purpose technologies... In making policy designed with copyright in mind, you end up making decisions about whether other important technologies, such as privacy-enhancing or file-search technologies, should be encouraged or discouraged. A collision is happening between creativity and protecting IP." And: "We will go to a model where people pay a flat fee for unlimited access, because it costs the same to provide ubiquitous access to all material as it does having restricted access to some stuff." By Unlknown, Business Week, August 25, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

DSpace Federation
MIT has lanched a new DSpace and DSpace Federation website at http://www.dspace.org. DSpace is a "digital library system to capture, store, index, preserve, and redistribute the intellectual output of a university’s research faculty in digital formats." Three mailing lists are available, as are tech notes and news items. Resources include 'getting started with DSpace' and more. By Various Authors, DSpace, August 26, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Yahoo! News RSS Feeds
Yahoo! News has launched a set of RSS feeds, a list no, unfortunately, including a separate category for education. By Various Authors, Yahoo!, August 27, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

An Initial Experiment For Attaining Education For All
In this ambitious paper Alfred Bork takes on the question of educating everybody. This daunting task, he writes, will not be accomplished with current approaches. Instead, we must look at a system using computer-based, adaptive learning. He proposes an initial three year "experiment" to launch the system and an additional seventeen years to implement it across all grades and subjects. The paper, this month's IFETS discussion primer, has already drawn the usual objections. It will cost too much. People need teachers. The cultural differences are too great. People will object to women learning. Yeah, maybe. But look: the numbers don't add up any other way. The cost of not providing an education to the majority of people in our new, tightly integrated planet is too high to contemplate. Education is what leads people toward peace, prosperity and democracy. But we simply cannot afford to provide nice teachers and classes for everybody: look at the problems surrounding education funding even in the United States, the world's richest country. All the objections in the world won't change these two realities. We can debate the details, but Bork's plan has legs. It is something we must look at sooner or later. Preferably sooner. By Alfred Bork, IFETS, August 24, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Far Away, So Close
Events in Europe or Australia (say) have an impact on me because I have so many ties to people in those regions. But is that affecting my relationship with the guy across the hall? Maybe. Hector Jose Huyke argues, "When you access this, you do not access that. The newer technological forms of access obscure and subtract from other forms of access, generally devaluing what is near." But perhaps it's not so bad. "If this devaluation can bring about new levels of abstraction that can help us see what is near in a new light, and re-engage with it, and transform it, then it becomes a useful step in the process." Good enough for me. By Ulises Ali Mejias, Ideant, August 26, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Patent battle to culminate in Brussels
Today (Wednesday) is protest day in Europe as thousands of website owners and other interested parties express their objection to proposals to impose new US-style patent laws in the community. The laws would extend the range of patents, allowing, for example, the widely detested (and abused) patent on business methods. "Leaders of the scientific communities and software business world took the directive proposal apart and condemned it in every respect. Yet in June, the European Parliament's Legal Affairs Commission endorsed this proposal with further amendments that make it even worse." By Matthew Broersma , CNet News.com, August 26, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Essential Principles of Quality
This short (three page) document identifies, in point form, the essential principles of quality (according to the Southern Regional Education Board, Georgia) for online courses. The approach is fairly traditional, as would be expected. For some reason, copyright issues made it into the list, despite the fact that the payment of royalties (or not) in no way impacts the quality of a course. But the copyright lawyers are like an ubiquitous, destructive virus, infecting everything, it seems. By Southern Regional Education Board, ERIC, August, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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