By Stephen Downes
November 2, 2004

The Rising Star-MOST Workshop - Maritimes Open Source Technologies
Tomorrow I am scheduled to speak by videoconference to the Alberta Online Consortium Online Learning Symposium conference in Edmonton. And for those of us on the East Coast, I will be speaking on open source and digital rights management at the The Rising Star-MOST Workshop - Maritimes Open Source Technologies and Cybersocial along with a number of other interesting presenters. If you are in Atlantic Canada, note the date in your calendar: November 10. By Various Authors, Cybersocial.ca, November 2, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Words seldom fail me, but it's hard to find utterances to express my opinions about this. James Farmer, a well respected blogger and important contributor to the field, is told by his director (in an unnamed university - but you know who you are): "cease supporting and promoting weblogging, wikis or any other technology not officially supported by the University." One wonders what the motivation for such a demand would be. One wonders how it can be that in a university, of all places, it can be deemed appropriate to stifle enquiry, squelch dissent, and clamp down on expressed opinions freely voiced in an independent forum. I will state this very clearly, for anyone who cares to read this: James Farmer is an important part of our community. We need him. The names on the list of comments (feel free to add yours) - and the names of many more people - are testament to that. Silencing James Farmer is to silence us all - and we will not be silent. By Anonymous, November 2, 2004 10:05 p.m. [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Ubiquity in the Internet Age
It's a different way to say the same thing, but the thing bear repeating, so: the secret to online success: "1. do something useful really really well; 2. put the user in control by allowing access to your data and services in an easy and unrestricted way; 3. share the wealth." By Jeremy Zawodny, Jeremy Zawodny's blog, November 1, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Man, things move fast in this field. No content up yet, but you can see where this is going just by reading the name - online audio educational content. File this under 'stay tuned'. Via D'Arcy Norman. By Unknown, November 2, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Academic Culture and the IT Culture: Their Effect on Teaching and Scholarship
The November EDUCAUSE Review is out. I cite three articles, beginning with this item, a follow-up on last year's "Why IT Has Not Paid Off As We Hoped (Yet)." The thrust of the present offering is that there is a gulf in perception (and reality) between the academic world and the IT world, and that "we simply must find ways to get the two cultures to work together more effectively." The author expresses optimism that the academic culture can change; when pressed, I am less sure. By Edward L. Ayers, EDUCAUSE Review, November, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Surveying the Digital Landscape: Evolving Technologies 2004
Survey, via summaries of five white papers, of five technologies for the coming year. spam management, legal P2Ps, learning objects, nomadicity, and the convergence of libraries, digital repositories and web content management. The technologies are depicted as though they were onrushing freight trains - you can try to avoid them, but they're coming no matter what. For example, one author argues that learning objects are inescapable because they will be authored at the grass roots whether or not centrally authorized. Perhaps these technologies are inevitable - but I'd feel more comfortable seeing them depicted as opportunities rather than inevitabilities. By Charles R. Bartel, et.al., EDUCAUSE Review, November, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Reading between the Headlines
Nice article that sees the patterns in the links and observes, "higher education and scholarly inquiry sit at the nexus of four important factors: (1) communications technology; (2) the communications business; (3) content development; and (4) the business (or sale) of content." What does that mean? Everybody in content-based industries - and that includes education - will have to learn to live in a new reality. "With fewer financial resources available, higher education institutions will be seeking out new and better ways to squeeze more value out of their e-content expenditures, not to raise substantially the pool of funds available." By Arnold Hirshon, EDUCAUSE Review, November 2, 2004 9:01 p.m. [Refer][Research][Reflect]

m-learning in Europe
Good article describing the deployment of, and survey evaluations from, a mobile learning project involving disadvantaged youth in Europe. "These young people are more likely to be unemployed, live in poverty, suffer ill health or become involved in crime. At particular risk are those with poor literacy and numeracy skills." It's probably too early to know the results of the pilot project, but it's interesting to note that surveys reported an increase in self confidence and better attitudes towards learning. m-learning, the article notes, is not just e-learning on a small screen; "Bandwidth, and therefore response times, are not yet good enough to make on-line mobile learning comparable with e-learning and learners can become very frustrated." By Community Admin Team, Australian Flexible Learning Community, November 1, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Interview with Tony Bates
Interview with Tony Bates which doesn't cover a lot of new ground but which represents a reasonably sound, if traditionalist, analysis of the state of play today - and an interesting glimpse into the world of e-learning in Mongolia. By Community Admin Team, Australian Flexible Learning Community, November 1, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2004 Stephen Downes
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