By Stephen Downes
December 30, 2004

Selling Music for a Song
Hit-and-run article that makes some good points, including this: "It seems clear that for musicians to make more money, the large music labels, which still control 85 percent of all music sales worldwide, have to be bypassed, one way or another." After all, "those who have signed with a major record label end up with only 3 to 5 cents of the 65 cents that the iTunes Music Store and others pass on." And the publishers have the audacity to call file-sharers 'pirates'. By Steven Cherry, IEEE Spectrum, December 30, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

eBay Retires MS Passport Sign-In
We may be seeing the end of Microsoft's Passport, as a commentator on Slashdot notices that Amazon has ended its relation with the program and that the Passport partners list has been taken down. Which raises the question: what comes next? Do you think Microsoft would propose a distributed, user-controlled multiplatform approach to personal identity? Nah - it'll never happen (though I'd just love to be wrong on this one). p.s. be sure to read the comments about Passport in the thread below this short item. Brutal. By samzenpus, Slashdot, December 29, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

e-learning Content
"Traditional copyright licences are far too restrictive to develop an ecology of e-learning content." Thus writes Graham Atwell in a position paper to the eLearning Consultation Workshops, one of many that can be found on the Workshop website. A summary of the workshop is also available, and while the discussion includes Creative Commons, it also asserts that "appropriate business models for the publishers are essential." To this I am inclined to respond in the same manner as Cory Doctorow: "If you believe that 'content owners still call most of the shots' then you believe that the studios will make movies and just not release them, they will amass a great pile of unreleased material in their Hollywood vaults and sit before the doors, arms folded, glaring at the world until it arranges itself into a more accomodating configuration. It is ridiculous." It's not up to education to accomodate publishers - it's up to publishers to adapt. Let's put the 'market' back into 'marketplace economy'. Thanks for this to Graham Atwell, who sends notice of this item in his useful blog, The Wales-Wide Web. By Graham Atwell, The Wales-Wide Web, December 22, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Using Weblogs in ESL/EFL Classes
Discussion group set up on Yahoo! to support an online class in weblogging in in English language teaching. My guess is that the group will outlive the class. By Aaron Campbell, Barbara Dieu and Graham Stanley, December, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Adoption of Open Sources within Higher Education In Europe and A Dissemination Case Study
The new Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education is available. I list two articles. The authors outline "the development and proliferation of open-source software within the sphere of teaching and learning [and discuss] the reasons for the acceptance and spread of open-source software in HEIs across Europe, and outlines the role of OSS within the four key domains of higher education." Note that the advantages are not merely financial: "The philosophy behind using OSS for education means is to develop a collaborative model that also serves to encourage and strength[en] collaboration." By Carlos Machado and Karen Thompson, Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education, December 30, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

E-Learning and Economic Development
The authors argue "it is possible to develop and organize e-Learning courses with modest technology and in environment with different levels of economic development" and base this conclusion in their experiences using the technology to deliver learning in Ljubljana, Slovenia, and Sarajevo, Bosnia, during the aftermath of the Bosnian war. By Kelly Carey and Stanko Blatnik, Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education, December 30, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Pupils to Get Anti-piracy Lessons
One wonders what sort of lessons will be taught to British students in the context of this program to teach them "on music piracy and copyright issues." Will they be shown Courtney Love's article showing how an artist who releases a gold record ends up in debt? Will it be explained to them why music they purchase cannot be played on their computer? Will the lesson include a primer on open source software and open content? Will explain to them why their traditional rights of fair use have been eliminated? No, probably not. But if not, then it's not learning - it's propaganda. Via TechLearning News, which really should add some commentary putting this item into context. By Caroline Briggs, BBC, November 30, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Bleary Days for Eyes on the Prize
The part of popular culture that most resembles education is the documentary. And the cost of making documentaries has been rising dramatically because of increased licensing costs. Eyes on the Prize, for example, "the landmark documentary on the civil rights movement, is no longer broadcast or sold new in the United States" because rights to news clips and other media have expired. This same scenario, writ smaller, is playing out throughout the educational community today. Via ArtsJournal. By Katie Dean, Wired News, December 22, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2004 Stephen Downes
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