By Stephen Downes
July 9, 2004

Springer Open Choice
Peter West sent me this link last night and so I've had all day to think opf it. Essentially, the deal is this: when your paper is accepted by a journal published by Springer, you as an author have the option to make it open access by paying $3,000. This link fills in the details of the program. More coverage is available at Information World Review, including some naysaying from Oxford University Press.

Now, on reflection, this is probably as good as we're going to get from the publishers. Indeed, it's as much as we can ask without forcing them out of business. Sure, it's more than PLoS's $1500, but that's just price points, not principle. And we need to talk about how the material is presented and how easy it is to access. But that's just details.

Now for the cincher - and I throw this out as a proposal for both Springer and the rest of the academic community. It doesn't matter to Springer (does it?) who pays the three thousand, just so long as it gets paid. So this raises the possibility that a site could be set up whereby collections are taken for papers as they are accepted by Springer such that, if someone thinks a paper should be open access, they would donate some money toward that cause. The money would be collected until it hit the $3000 figure. Nothing would prevent authors and institutions from paying the full pop. But this adds to the way it could be done. And it provides an open market validation of the paper - a type of peer reviewing that allows the community to speak as well. By Various Authors, July, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Using Macromedia Flash MX 2004 as an E-Learning Authoring Environment
Quick overview of how to use Flash animations in e-learning. I'm not completely sold on Flash - it's not searchable, it messes up scrolling and you can't cut and paste text properly. And it has been a pain to install on Linux for Firefox. But you can do a lot of things with Flash that you can't with ofther software and it's especially good for presenting audio and video content without worrying about installed players. This article won't give you all the details (and you couldn't do it in a single article) but it's a good survey, By Garin Hess and Steven Hancock, Learning Circuits, July 9, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Down with Boring E-Learning!
Interview with Michael Allen, CEO of Allen Interactions. According to Allen, "although it’s sometimes denied, an effective and practical approach for e-learning must differ greatly from traditional ISD." Specifically, e-learning must be meaningful, memorable and motivational. And "it’s the essential aspects of dynamic interactivity that are often given far too little attention and development." It's like Zemsky and Massey said in a recent Chonicle article (behind a subscription wall, sadly). Students "want to be connected, principally to one another. They want to be entertained by games, music, and movies. And they want to present themselves and their work." get that right, and you get e-learning right. By Ryann Ellis, Learning Circuits, July 9, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

CARL Institutional Repository Project: Online Resource Portal
Launched about a month ago (sometimes the news just trickles in), the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) Online Resource Portal will "enhance public access to scholarly journal articles through the use of 'pre-print' servers." The service harvests e-prints from six Canadian university libraries. According to the launch press release, "The Harvester was developed by the University of British Columbia s Public Knowledge Project and is hosted by Simon Fraser University Libraries. It works by aggregating the material from each participating institution and enables users to search all Canadian repositories at once, seamlessly,using one common point of access." Via Open Access News. By Various Authors, June 14, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

There's a bit of a story here. Part 1. Let's begin by introducing Konfabulator, "a JavaScript runtime engine for Mac OS X that lets you run little files called Widgets that can do pretty much whatever you want them to. Widgets can be alarm clocks, calculators, can tell you your AirPort signal strength, will fetch the latest stock quotes for your preferred symbols, and even give your current local weather." Have a look at this site before moving on to Part 2. By Arlo Rose and Perry Clarke, July, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Part 2. Dashboard is the name of a feature being release in conjunction with Apple's new OS X Tiger. Like Konfabulator, Dashboard "home to a new kind of application called Widgets. Widgets are mini-applications written in JavaScript that are designed for fun as well as function." Now there have been complaints that Apple stole the idea from Konfabulator. But, basically, the cat is out of the bag (though I would expect money will change hands). By Various Authors, Apple, July, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

On Extending HTML
Part 3. Now here's where it really gets interesting. As Dave Green in NTK writes, "Apple made a deal with Opera and Mozilla the same week to add enough to the browser plugin API to provide the same javascript objects on other platforms and browsers." What this means is that HTML will be extended, a move defended in this article, to include slider controls, search fields, a composite attribute on the img tag, and a canvas tag. Normally these would go to the W3C, but the W3C is more interested in XML and SVG and other stuff for which it takes years to develop. So the Apple, Mozilla and Opera people formed something called the Web Hypertext Application Technology (WHAT) group to formalize these extensions; the idea is to punt them to W3C when they're ready.

So why was this so important I took three parts to describe it all? Well, first, it's the first major advance in HTML for years (assuming it all comes together, and it probably will). Second, it creates a new form of web browsing: essentially, it's browsing without the browser through specialized applciations that can just sit on your desktop. Third, though it will be available on all platforms (Windows, Apple, Linux), it leaves Microsoft (which has 'frozen' Internet Explorer, remember) out of the loop. And finally, because they are written in Javascript and HTML, anyone can author these useful widgets. By Stéphane Curzi, Surfin' Safari, July 7, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Via elearningpost we take note of this new e-learning blog, e-Literate, created by Michael Feldstein. By Michael Feldstein, June, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Open Learning Initiative
There is a lot to like about this site, and even if it falls short of "creating a new paradigm for online education" it nonetheless provides a valuable service. The site offers five courses for now (logic, causal reasoning, chemistry, statistics and economics). There is an open version of each course (and I mean a truly open one, without registration or other special conditions) and 'academic versions' containing proper exams. The creators also intend to build a community of interest around each course, but the only evidence I saw of that so far is a sign-up sheet (on which you can indicate your interest in teaching a course). Via WWWEDU. By Carious Authors, Carnegie Mellon University, Fall, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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