By Stephen Downes
July 16, 2004

Making RSS Pretty
For various reasons I have been playing with XML, XSL and CSS, prompted partly because of a couple of small projects I'm working on, and prompted partly because Sean Burke released this nice guide to how the three work together. In so doing, I created an RSS 2.0 feed of OLDaily (mainly because my browser requires a .xml extension on the XML file to make any of this work). This feed will replace my existing RSS 0.91 feed - I will keep producing the 0.91 feed, so nobody's headline reader will break, but will direct my efforts toward the 2.0 feed. Why am I doing this? Because you should be thinking of this sort of model when you think about reusable learning resources. More on this soon. For those of you who are curious to see how I did it, see my XSL and CSS files, both of which borrow heavily from Sean Burke's files. By Sean M. Burke, July 10, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Creation of a Learning Landscape: Weblogging and Social Networking in the Context of E-Portfolios
The authors are responding to what appears to be an irresistable trend in learning, the tendency to want to apply "standards, controls and criteria" to new learning technology and to fix it firmly to that bastion of traditional learning, the course. "The e-portfolio is used as a skills checklist. Once the course is over, discontinued use; what a waste." Exactly. Much of this draft covers ground familiar to OLDaily readers - blogs and blogging, FOAF and social networking. But the authors' proposal is visionary. "Creation of a learning landscape where learners engage in the whole process both academically and socially should increase the opportunity to build one's learning instead of just being the recipients of information." If your view of portfolios is just something akin to a content management system, don't bother. But if it's the student's personal and continuing presence in an online community of discourse, then you are on to something. Thanks, Jeremy, for the link. By David Tosh and Ben Werdmuller, July 16, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

After IE Is Dead Is The Google Browser Next?
Robin Good waxes poetic about Google's desktop search - a little toolbar that sits in your taskbar and gives you instant access to search without having to launch your browser. Instead, it launches a Google Browser; because of this capacity Good notes "the Google browser appears to me as a significant and insofar unnoticed competitive weapon in Google's hands." Never one to leave things alone, I quickly added Edu_RSS and OLDaily to the custom searches. You can too: once you have the toolbar installed, click 'Options', then select the 'Customized Searches' tab. Click 'Add...' Now, here are the URLs for OLDaily and Edu_RSS - right-click on these and paste them into the 'URL' box in the Custom Search Description screen. To use, type your search term, then select OLDaily or Edu_RSS from the list of custom searches. By Luigi Canali De Rossi, Robin Good, July 3, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Eduforge Wiki
George Siemens links to a number of useful guides to the use of open source technology available at this website (and, since it's a wiki, you can add your own knowledge or information to this page as well). In particular, see the following tutorials on open source tools in education:

By Various and sundry authors, Eduforge, July 15, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Public Release of Sakai Collaboration and Learning Environment
From the announcement: "The Sakai Project today releases its open source Collaboration and Learning Environment (CLE) software to the public. Members of the Sakai Educational Partners Program (SEPP) have been reviewing the beta version of the software since their highly successful conference with 170 attendees in June. This release to the public is Sakai Release Candidate 1 (RC1), and it puts the full code in the hands of any institution that wishes to begin using or understanding the Sakai software." The website asserts in nummerous locations that the software is open source, but appears nowhere to specify whether this means GPL or something else. Moreover, the front page notice that it is something called "Community Source' adds confusion. It would be nice to see a simple declaration somewhere so people could know. Via Jarche. By Various Authors, July 15, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

SOUPA (Standard Ontology for Ubiquitous and Pervasive Applications)
If you wondered what the universe looks like, check out this page. OK, well, not exactly, but this is that kind of high level stuff. Befining basic representations for such things as events, persons, policies and space (among others), SOUPA "defines generic vocabularies that are universal for different pervasive computing applications. SOUPA Extension defines additional vocabularies for supporting specific types of applications and provides examples for the future ontology extensions." Links to a couple of papers are included, along with the OWL documents for each entity. By Harry Chen, July 15, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Developing a University Course For On-line Delivery Based on Learning Objects: From Ideals to Compromises
Scott Leslie finally located this item after a search, and we're glad he took the time. The essay contains interesting documentation of an instructor and his assistant's attempt to create an online business course using learning objects. After a search through repositories proved fruitless, after scouring the web for free resources turned up little of value, and after copyright and delivery issues threw additional roadbloacks, the authors gave up and bought a prepackaged course with book and online support. Which, of course, is exactly what publishers want, but it's not clear whether this is the best result for students. I suspect it isn't. As Leslie says, "We desperately need more stories like these, as well as far more serious work on what a real 'learning object design approach' to create new curriculum out of existing materials might look like." More papers from the Learning Objects in a Box project. By Pierre Wilhelme and Russ Wilde, Athabasca University, July 16, 2004 8:03 a.m. [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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