By Stephen Downes
May 26, 2004

Scholarly Communication in the Digital Environment: What Do Authors Want?
This paper reports on the results of a large world-wide survey on authors' opinions regarding commercial publishing and open access. Overall, the authors report scepticism and sometimes hostility toward commercial publishers. As the report authors write, "There is no longer any doubt that the journals crisis is real." On the other hand, there is little support for the concept of author payment to support open access. One respondent wrote, "I would expect open access journals to be very inexpensive to produce. Thus, I thought your question about the range of prices charged to authors to be rather odd. I would expect prices to be on the order of $100-$300, not $500-$5,000!" But on the whole, authors showed little interest in copyright and a favorable disposition to open access. Another respondent: "I strongly support a global ban on privately owned and run journals, including national organisations. All journals should be owned by the whole human race." By Ian Rowlands, Dave Nicholas and Paul Huntingdon, Centre for Information Behaviour and the Evaluation of Research, March 18, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

e-Learning Dashboard
Kevin Kruse of e-LearningGuru has come up with this nifty e-learning 'Dashboard' containing e-learning headlines, current stock prices of major e-learning companies, one click access to 9 different e-learning blogs, and a calendar of e-learning events for the month ahead. I wrote him, but still no sign of the Edu_RSS ticker. ;) By Kevin Kruse, e-LearningGuru, May 24, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Online Storytelling
Delivered in the context of the EU-funded project ACTeN, this report provides an overview and analysis of the educational use of storytelling. I like the wide variety of examples used to illustrate the core themes, including corporate storytelling in the consumer oriented industry, public services and pedagogic institutions, such as museums, and political movements and organizations. The paper also provides a useful workflow of online storytelling and looks at technological developments impacting the outlook for storytelling. By Katarina Björk, ACTeN, May, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Teach to Learn - The Next Big Thing
One of the more interesting things I learned from John Stuart Mill's biography: homeschooled by his father, James Mill, John was required in turn to teach his younger siblings. While he gained a great deal from the experience, he reports in the Autobiography, his younger siblings fared less well. This is reflected in an item from Van B. Weigel that Tze thought (correctly) would interest me. Weigel writes, "For those taking notes, lectures may be poorly suited to the task of learning, but not for the person giving the lecture. A tremendous amount of learning takes place in preparing for and giving a lecture." The same, I might add, is true of writing a daily newsletter. Weigel has a lot to say about deep learning, communities of practice and simulations, drawing on people like Wegner and Aldrich. Do take the time to read this and look at his slides, if you haven't already. A review of his book Deep Learning for a Digital Age is also available. By Van B. Weigel, some time in 2003. [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Ensemble Collaboration Brings Online Learning Back to Life
Press release for Ensemble's launch at ASTD, covered here yesterday. In particular, follow the three links in the middle of the release. By Press Release, Ensemble Collaboration, May 26, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Copyright Turned on its Head
Short article describing the flood of email received after the author wrote an article in favour of open content. Good one-liner in the middle: "Most people concerned about what life would be like in a world without copyright are worried that copyright is all they have. But, funny thing, the artists say it's not enough and that they're struggling. I think this proves my point that it is an outmoded concept that does not deliver the benefits its proponents claim." By Graeme Philipson, Sydney Morning Herald, May 25, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Developing and Creatively Leveraging Hierarchical Metadata and Taxonomy
I agree that taxonomies are useful, and this article provides a nice description with examples. But developers of taxonomies need to be clear about what they are doing, because there is never a single best taxonomy for any given domain. In the example in the article, for example, toys are divided between 'educational' and 'plush'. We need to ask: is a plush toy never educational? Is 'educational' an appropriate classification for toys at all (and how would we respond to someone who says all toys are educational)? To create a taxonomy is to impose a point of view on the world. Sometimes this is useful, even necessary. Sometimes it is misleading and even dangerous. By Christian Ricci, Boxes and Arrows, May 23, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Politicians Must Push Local e-learning Industry
Interesting item from an Australian newspaper arguing that, while that country has done a lot to establish a leadership position in e-learning, the industry needs more support from politicians and administrators. I'm not sure the example makes the case, however. The author argues that an internet startup, myInternet, is not being adopted by state education departments even though it is well-regarded overseas, serving (it claims) 1.5 million users. Perhaps. But as I have argued elsewhere, a federated search is a slow and exclusionary system for content distribution. And it appears (based on what I could see from the site) to offer commercial services exclusively, not the sort of free content exchange typical of the educational community. In a similar light, the author mentions The Le@rning Federation, which aims to "stimulate a marketplace for high quality public and private online curriculum content," a laudable goal but weighted down by pricing, the need to negotiate contracts, and digital rights. The failure of educational departments to embrace these is not necessarily a rejection of e-learning, but rather, only a rejection of a certain model of e-learning. The objectives of most e-learning practitioners - and many politicians - isn't to promote an industry, it is to provide an education for all citizens, by whatever means - a much more laudable, and in the long run lucrative, goal. By Eric Wilson, The Age, May 25, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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