By Stephen Downes
December 11, 2003

A Net of Control
"Picture, if you will, an information infrastructure that encourages censorship, surveillance and suppression of the creative impulse. Where anonymity is outlawed and every penny spent is accounted for. Where the powers that be can smother subversive (or economically competitive) ideas in the cradle, and no one can publish even a laundry list without the imprimatur of Big Brother. Some prognosticators are saying that such a construct is nearly inevitable. And this infrastructure is none other than the former paradise of rebels and free-speechers: the Internet." Short article, but a good summary of many of the issues that occupy my thoughts. By Steven Levy, Newsweek, December, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Workflow Learning
Workflow Learning is a mix of task-specific, contextual content and simulation embedded in the workflow and real-time multi-user collaboration in virtual workspaces. This new website and set of resources (including some for sale) is offered by Jay Cross's Internet Time Group. The diagram of workflow learning is well worth viewing. Cross also offers an email subscription, but as far as I can tell, no RSS feed. Via Serious Instructional Technology. By Sam S. Adkins and Jay Cross, December, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Copyright Litigation Threatens Innovation
"As unlikely as it sounds," writes the author, "the most important issue in new technology has become copyright law." No kidding. This overview article looks at the impact of a number of recent events, including the ban on screeners, a levy on streaming media, and the SCO group attack on Linux. The author observes, and I agree, that "the suits are really saying that it has become more profitable to sue the competition than to produce a better widget." I hope that policy makers take note. "With this kind of legal chill settling in on technology, it's no wonder the U.S. tech sector is mired in sluggishness and that broadband has been stalled. And in Canada, the federal government is being urged to adopt a law similar to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, with the same corporate interests behind it as there were in the United States. If we want to protect Canada's high-tech industries, we had better be very careful of the copyright laws we draft." By Jack Kapica, Globe and Mail, December 11, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Recommendations for Teaching in a Distributed Learning Environment: The Students' Perspective
"It was an inhuman amount of work," said one student. "I'm unhappy, I don't have a life. I don't go for a walk any more, I don't speak to my children," said another. These were just some of the responses from an otherwise satisfied group of students evaluating a new program offered by the University of Wollongong. Though evaluation reports like this are a dime a dozen, I enjoyed the writing style, the presentation, and the student focus of this report. The article dates from 2002 but was just now added to ERIC. By Geraldine Lefoe, Cathy Gunn and John Hedberg, Australian Journal of Educational Technology, December 31, 200-31 8:33 p.m. [Refer][Research][Reflect]

How Educating America's Students Can Be Based on Science
The U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences (IES) yesterday released this report, Identifying and Implementing Educational Practices Supported by Rigorous Evidence: A User Friendly Guide. The report documents a research process that narrowly defines what is meant by 'science': "randomized controlled trials are studies that randomly assign individuals to an intervention group or to a control group, in order to measure the effects of the intervention." Readers will recognize this as the methodology proposed by an organization called the Campbell Collaboration (though you would be hard-pressed to find the reference in the report). It is worth taking note of my criticism of this methodology as applied to education. By Various Authors, Institute of Education Sciences, December 10, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2003 Stephen Downes
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