By Stephen Downes
May 13, 2004

Those of you who heard my talk in Winnipeg last week (or viewed the slides online) will recall my discusion of recommender systems. InDiscover is one such site, a service designed to help bring independent music to new listeners by recommending songs based on users' tastes. The site is run using racofi technology, developed by NRC in Fredericton in conjunction with the Sifter Filter project I described in my talk, and so it gives you a pretty good idea of how such a system would work for learning resources. What I also like about this site is its focus on new and independent musicians, showing how such systems will open the marketplace. Still looking for the RSS metadata feeds from the site, but hey, one thing at a time. The site could also use more songs, so if you know of independent artists looking for exposure, forward them this item. By Various Authors, May, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Launching Corante Research
Corante, which is well known for its set of group blogs, launches Corante Research, "market focused and driven... to track, analyze and explain emerging technologies and their impact on business and society." By Stowe Boyd, Corante, May 13, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Blog Navel Gazing
This article looks at what blogs are good for (and they're good for a lot of things), and while the comparison is between blogs and newspaper articles, the same comparison could be made between blogs and academic writing (up to and including the stilted Victorian style in which they are written). With a newsletter like OLDaily I am able to offer a much wider range of commentary, and wear my point of view much more openly, that I could in an academic essay. Not that I would want to read (or write) nothing but blog posts. But they sure fill a large gap in traditional writing. By Kevin Drum, Washington Monthly, May 11, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Learning Object Metadata (LOM) Validator
Athabasca's Chris Hubick has made available a preliminary version of a Learning Object Metadata (LOM) validator. He writes, "You can use this service to validate IEEE LTSC LOM XML format metadata against the LOM-XML Schema, and the vCard data will also be run through a vCard (VCard4J) parser. The Java software behind this service is provided under the terms of the GNU LGPL Free Software License." If you want to play with it, here is a sample LOM XML file from the RDN. By Chris Hubick, Athabasca University, May 12, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Scholars Discover Weblogs Pass Test as Mode of Communication
This is a short introduction to research in blogging and education followed by an interview with four researchers in the field, including Alex Halavais and Jill Walker. Most of the focus of the discussion is on the question of whether blogs ae a form of journalism, something that has preoccupied writers in that field over the last yer. Of course, it's the wrong question: why should we expect the new media to be "a form of" the old media? Just as online learning takes us well beyond the classroom, online media takes us well beyond newsprint. By Mark Glaser, Online Journalism Review, May 11, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Flickering Mind
Review of Todd Oppenheimer's The Flickering Mind, a critique of the use of computers in schools. The review and the Slashdot discussion that follows show a scepticism about online learning that would not be expected in a forum for internet developers such as this, and while (as some commentators point out) the picture painted of online learning is exaggerated, some of the critiques are nonetheless valid. Two great observations in the comments: one observing that online learning is at its best in the marginal cases, and another describing his use of the internet to support informal learning. If there is a lesson from this discussion, it is that merely dumping computers in classrooms will not automatically improve learning. But we all knew that - right? Thanks to Michael for sending me the link. By daltonlp, Slashdot, May 12, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Wellcome says OA Will Reduce Publishing Costs
The Wellcome Trust, which distributes roughly 400m a year in research funding, has "launched an all-out attack on commercial STM." In a report saying that open access publishing would cut the costs of journals by as much as 30 percent, the Trust is questioning "having to pay to read the results of the research we fund." Via Open Access News. By Bobby Pickering, vnunet, May 12, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2003 Stephen Downes
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