Stephen's Web

By Stephen Downes
August 26, 2004

Another New Journal... Same Technical Inadequacies
James Farmer introduces us to yet another academic journal, the Journal of University Teaching & Learning Practice (JULP) with the observation that yet another such journal just doesn't get the medium. "A couple of really interesting articles from a very promising looking publication (there's also stuff there for foreign language classes and nominal group technique (?)) but NO search, NO email / NO webfeed subscription / NO html and more pdfs!" I agree, James. By James Farmer, Incorporated Subversion, August 26, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Doubts about OKI and Sakai
Michael Feldstein shares my concerns. "In our quest for technical standards of inter-operability, are we losing sight of loose coupling? Are we trying to over-engineer something that perhaps would work best through organic growth?" How many more stories like this are there out there? Send me a note. By Michael Feldstein, E-Literate, August 25, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

A Little Knowledge is A Dangerous Thing
Carol Twigg tears into Bill Massy's and Bob Zemsky's recent Thwarted Innovation: What Happened to e-learning and Why, which concluded that e-learning was, overall, a failure. She doesn't like the methodology, she doesn't like the sample, she doesn't like the definitions. These criticisms are valid, but what Twigg doesn't do, unfortunately, is address the authors' conclusion. The one study she cites to support her position, from the Campus Computing project, actually supports Massy's and Zemsky's position, citing as it does widespread cuts in academic computing budgets. Twigg should also look at the failure of several high profile initiatives, she should look at the declining market (cited here this week) for e-learning content, and the general malaise of the LMS market and custom content industry. None of this means that e-learning is dead, of course, but it should be enough to convince that e-learning is in transformation. By attacking the source instead of the issue, Twigg misses the real story. Via Seb Schmoller. By Carol A. Twigg, The Learning MarketSpace, July, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Poorer Students Sought
According to this article, colleges and universities are courting poorer students in order to be more accessible. But with statistics like these - "More than 80 percent of students from families earning more than $88,675 annually go to college, compared with less than 60 percent of those whose families earn less than $35,066, according to the College Board" - it's hard to believe. And frankly, I don't believe it. As Anthony Carnevale says, "The dumbest rich kids go to college more than the smartest poor kids do." Via University Business. By Patrick McGee,, August 24, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Change Your Mind?
Dave Pollard looks at the implications of a site called Change This. The idea of Change This is to produce glossy PDF 'manifestos' which are supposed to be passed, meme-link, but without comment (how can you comment on a PDF?), through the web. The manifesto, argues Pollard, is exactly the wrong way to go about changing minds. "On any important issue it will not change anyone's mind. People make up their own minds by reading sources they trust. They don't want to change their minds." Some good discussion follows the article, including a longish post by me. By Dave Pollard, How To Save The World, July 9, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Advertisers Reward Bloggers For Doing What They Do Best
Following on the heels of the Google announcement covered here this week is this item in Roben Good describing a program by a company called Blogversations whereby a company contracts some bloggers in their field to review and discuss their products. Presumably, the sponsorship is for the bloggers' attention, not their endorsement - if the bloggers can write negative reviews, what's the point? I think it will be important for bloggers to be upfront about the fact that they are being paid to discuss such and such a product. Even so, I think there might be some bias in the selection of bloggers. By Luigi Canali De Rossi, Robin Good, August 20, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Digital Technologies Can Be The Key Building Blocks To A New Economic Future
Robin Good's take on an interview with Howard Rheingold on MSNBC. I have always enjoyed Rheingold - he's one of those with a good finger on the pulse of the internet. "What Howard Rheingold sees, is the fact that the very governments/corporations limiting our forms of expressions and self-sustainable growth by strong regulatory action protecting vested interests, may actually significantly weaken those systems and societies where these are strongest, while allowing other nations/groups to leapfrog them in a very short time." Count on it. By Luigi Canali De Rossi, Robin Good, August 19, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Competencies for Teachers
Very nice list of links to ICT competencies for teachers, including material from various Australian education councils, National Educational Technology Standards for Teachers (U.S.), Education Network Ontario, SOEID Scotland, and more. The same site has a matching set of competencies for students. By Steve Kessell and Sue Trinidad, Trinity College Western Australia, Undated [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Copyright Crusaders Hit Schools
This email to WWWEDU by Claude Almansi on the RIAA's school campaign is worth quoting at length. "I checked the BSA material, for kids part, that is linked to in the article, and which ALA is reacting to. Couldn't play the games because I was invited to download a plug-in and my mom told me beware of unknown plug-ins. so I tried the tools, gave up on the Anti-Piracy Public Service Announcements (with boy band and [young girl] because they took ages to download, even on DSL. But I did see their Cyberethics champion code and their Cyberethics Champion Certificate and wow, thanks indeed to ALA. Not only for preventing kids from being exposed to only one side on the the copyright issue, but also from being exposed exclusively to such rampant stupidity. Their ferret mascot has grabbing hands, and in most archetypes, the ferret doesn't have an outstanding record for ethics and social-mindedness - I mean if the EFF had used it to caricature BSA, BSA could have sued their *rse off for libel. 4th grade kids might be easier to convince than teen-agers. But they already hate being taken for nitwits by condescending grown-ups. I can surmise where they will suggest the Cyberethics Champion Certificate should be shoved." Way to tell them, Claude. By Claude Almansi, WWWEDU, August 25, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

RSS Attracts Really Serious Money
With Technorati gaining venture capital and Feedster chomping at the bit, it has become clear that the investment community has taken notice of RSS and is starting to pump in the cash. Still waiting for the millions of dollars to pour into Edu_RSS. ;) By Daniel Terdiman, Wired News, August 26, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2003 Stephen Downes
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