By Stephen Downes
April 5, 2004

Chalkface RSS
The Chalkface Project (home of the free balloon rides) now has RSS feeds linking to its online content offerings. In addition to the main feed, a link to the RSS feed for each category is available on the category page. This is the first example of commercial educational content being marketed by RSS feed that I am aware of. By Various Authors, April, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Moving From Theory to Practice in the Design of Web-Based Learning Using a Learning Object Approach
This paper is mostly useful as an overview of the major concepts of learning objects as they may be applied in a practical setting. However, there are some serious weaknesses. First, it seems to me that the module, at twelve hours, is of excessive length. Second, the author does not include any examples of reuse, instead only describing what modifications would be necessary for reuse. But most critically, readers never get to see the learning object being described! PDF also available. By Elizabeth Murphy, E-Journal of Instructional Science and Technology, April, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The K12 Virtual Primary School History Curriculum: A Participantís-eye View
Released this week, this criticism (and another one here) of a home schooling class by K12 Inc., a company headed by former US Education Secretary William J. Bennett, was circulated on DEOS this week as an example of the criticism online learning proponents should expect to face. From the opening paragraph readers know what to expect: the author criticizes a lesson on Egyptian culture on the ground that it may be occult. Aside from some criticism of the use of images in a lesson on the Roman Empire and the use of an inflatable plastic globe, the author is preoccupied with content and seems concerned only with the fact that history is filled with sex and violence. It may be true, as the author argues, that history must be taught from a moral perspective (though I have my doubts), but no formal, methodological or even informal and offhand argument is provided to underline the pedagogy behind this criticism. Online learning may be vulnerable to criticism - of that I have no doubt - but it has nothing to fear from such carping as expressed in this report. By Susan Ohanian, Education Policy Studies Laboratory, April, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Ed Tech Conference List
Clayton Wright sent me this list of Ed Tech conferences. I'd like to make conference listings an additional service of OLDaily, and am considering mechanisms that would make this an easy and useful service. But Clayton's list is an excellent start, and that's what I will be using for now. By Clayton Wright, April 4, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Microsoft's iPod killer?
Here's a question for you: when was the last time you rented music? That would be never, right? So why do you suppose a company behind a new Microsoft online music initiative says this? "We believe this is it. This is what consumers are going to want. We want to be big participant in changing consumers' attitude towards what music really is." What "this" is is a new tamper-proof digital music player that will allow users to 'rent' music on a subscription basis. Is this, indeed, really what you want? Or does it sound like a money grab? By John Borland, CNet News.Com, April 2, 3004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Nine Rules for Good Technology
Robin Good has republished one of my most popular articles, Nine Rules for Good Technology. His newsletter describes the article thus: "Stephen Downes clarifies general weaknesses and limitations of many popular technologies while extracting with precision nine key traits that set apart great technology tools from popular time and money wasters." By Stephen Downes, Robin Good's Sharewood Tidings, April 4, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

RSS and Education
Again I have to enter my email address to see the piece, a needless annoyance, but I could not resist viwing the WWWTools take on one of my favororite subjects, RSS and education. And I was not disappointed, with a wealth of links and information, logically presented, stepping the reader through what is a complex subject with some ease and comfort. By Graeme Daniel, WWWTools, April 4, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Digital Saskatchewan
This is the kind of project I love, the kind of thing I think makes the web insanely great. Digital Saskatechewan is an image library of some 7,000 photos created by and for the students and teachers of Saskatchewan. Most photos are offered under a Creative Commons license; the rest are public domain. They are, of course, not professional photographs - but then, professional photos of beekeeping in Saskatchewan, or the village of Bjorkville, are increasingly difficult to find. If you ask me, it is the students and teachers of Saskatchewan, and people like them, that represent the future of education on the internet, not the closed and proprietary content libraries publishers are trying to sell us. By Various Authors, April, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Navigating the Children's Media Landscape: A Parent's and Caregiver's Guide
Children today live in a media rich world. This guide helps parents navigate that world. Especially useful are the links to resources and the media awareness development charts. The report is balanced, with a focus on parental awareness of the child's media space and on the importance of media literacy for children. It is easy to say that we should simply block harmful elements, but as Nancy Willard points out in this important post on WWWEDU, children sometimes seek out harmful elements. "'There's definitely a profile emerging here. We're dealing with a group of children with a particular understanding and set of behaviours.' She is talking about young girls and risk-taking behavior." By Douglas Levin, Sousan Arafeh, Carla Baker Deniz and Julie Gottesman, Cable in the Classroom and National PTA, April, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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