By Stephen Downes
November 7, 2003

The Future of E-Learning Models and the Language We Use to Describe Them
On Wednesday I released the text of my interview with Mark Oehlert, which he asked me for a week or two before posting a more general request on his website. My declaration of impatience was rewarded as on Thursday he released the slides and draft from his study. Although Oehlert uses a great deal of material from my submission (attributed throughout to 'one contributor') I still prefer my version, which doesn't pull the punches. By Mark Oehlert, e-Clippings (a division of blogoehlert), November 6, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Mentor Initiative
Interesting item from India's The Apex Academy, offering online mentoring services to students throughout that country. "This provides you with an opportunity to create, add, and supplement your own knowledge delivery. In case you are preparing to enter the domain of providing personalized and expert support to students, here is an opportunity for you to create unique offerings with virtually NO investments from your end." By Press Release, The Apex Academy, November, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

LMS Selection Site from Simon Fraser University
If you have any interest in the future of WebCT you might want to look at this site, which compares it against Desire2Learn. If Simon Fraser University selects anything other than WebCT (almost the default in British Columbia), it's all over. This brief blog entry contains a number of useful links to primary documents (great digging). By Scott Leslie, EdTech Post, November 7, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

RSS in Government
Good overview website about the use of RSS in governments. I sent them information about the Government of Canada's comprehensive RSS site which will be posted when they've had a chance to digest it all. Yes folks, Canada is leading the way in governmental use of RSS, even if this knowledge hasn't spread beyond our own borders. By Ray Matthews, November, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Note on the Proposed WIPO Treaty for Broadcasters, Cablecasters and Webcasters
When I wrote last January, people thought I was overstating the case. But, if anything, to judge from this item, I was letting them off easy. The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights is considering a proposal that "expands or gives new rights to transmitters of information, even if they are not the creators of that information. Rights that are normally reserved to creators and performers would be afforded to organizations that merely transmit creations and performances -- even if those works are in the public domain, or if those works' authors wish to have the works distributed without restriction." This is out and out theft, no matter how 'legal' you make it. More ongoing coverage... Summary article. By James Love, October 29, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

College Pact a Fresh Start For Napster
Students feel betrayed by Penn State administration, and with good reason. The university will begin offering the students free access to music through the revamped (and now commercial) Napster service. There won't be an extra cost (for now) - it will be paid for from the existing technology fee (begging the question: what was it being used for before?). Students are outraged. "The money I pay could go to much better things such as rebuilding the network or better lab equipment," wrote Penn State senior Joe Jarzab in an e-mail to CNET News.com. Some people suggest the students should be grateful. But suppose you were a journalist and you discovered one day that your money was being spent to support censorship of the press. This is much how the students feel. After treating their customers like criminals, the music companies are actually being rewarded. With the students' money. Oh, for a transcript of the deal that must have been reached. "Penn State President Graham Spanier and Recording Industry Association of America President Cary Sherman are co-chairs of a joint industry and university committee that is scrutinizing the possibility of putting legal music services on campus." Yeah. The Register comes up with a good name. Pigopolists. By Dawn Chmielewski, San Jose Mercury News, November 7, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Semantic Web, Syllogism, and Worldview
Clay Shirkey makes two important points in this article. First, deduction is not nearly so useful as proponents of the semantic web imagine. And second, people will always have differing views. Both appear to seriously undercut the potential value of the semantic web, even when it is realized. I have argued for the second point on numerous occasions (the first I have always considered self-evident), to little avail thus far. The Resource Profiles paper I released on Wednesday is designed to address these issues (again, right-click, download, and read it in a text editor). Because, deduction isn't the only game in town. Now I still have some writing to do at the end of the paper, but let me presage it now by saying: the killer application for the semantic web will be inductive inference, induction to evaluative results, for example. Of course, first you need a way to express this, which is what the bulk of the paper is about. By Clay Shirkey, Clay Shirky's Writings About the Internet, November 7, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Albuquerque Journal as a Bad Paid Content Model
Though this article covers paid content for news access, providers of online learning content should read carefully. I have commented frequently that the market for online content is two-time order of magnitude smaller than traditional - that is, if it cost $100 originally, it should cost $1 online. The lemma, mentioned in passing, is that if the price remains the same, then the audience declines by that same margin - an audience of 100 people reduces to an audience of 1. By Vin Crosbie, Digital Deliverance, November 6, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2003 Stephen Downes
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