By Stephen Downes
January 6, 2005

Predictions For 2005
Predictions for the new year, with a lot of emphasis on alternatives to courses (Elliott Masie: "More learners are grazing content to select just those modules that they need RIGHT NOW!") and to course management systems (Michael Feldstein: "The three major commercial vendors of Course Management Systems (Blackboard, WebCT, and Angel) will begin to make visibly defensive moves in response to the growing threat from open-source alternatives."). My own predictions ("Consolidation and culture wars") are also included. By Lisa Neal, eLearn Magazine, January 6, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Is Podcasting the Next New Big Thing?
Discussion of podcasting and especially a list of things that will be needed: "First of all, the types of media will need to be expanded... Second, the user needs to have more choices for playback and data storage on different devices... Third, we’ll need some options for authentication so that content can be personalized... Fourth, for some types of content, there is a need for ecommerce and epayment capabilities." Note: I've covered podcasting quite a bit lately; see the full coverage here. Note that by clicking on [Research] you can always get more information - try it here! By Mitchell Weisburgh, PILOTed, January 6, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Learning Sciences and Brain Research
The site is still pretty new (I could not resist joining the 'Brain Club' despite the details not yet being available) and the forum only has thirty or so message in it, but this initiative, sponsored by the OECD, looks like it has potential. Or it might be one of those community sites that forever remains a hollow shell. No RSS; tsk. Via European Schoolnet. By Various Authors, January 6, 2005 4:48 p.m. [Refer][Research][Reflect]

About Light-Weight IDentity
This may end up being the year of personal identity, if the first week is any indication (and I think it is). Today's entrant is a strong contender, a system called Light-Weight IDentity (LID) that instantiates many of the criteria I have stated previously: it is light-weight, it is distributed, it is (somewhat) easy to install, and most importantly, it is in the control of individuals - there is no central directory service that acts as a wek link. I messed around with it this afternoon, installing the software and configuring it for my site - I ran into some issues, as it seems not to be reading my FOAF file correctly and is not properly signing me on to remote sites. But this may be a case of PEBCAK (Problem Exists Between Chair And Keyboard). Related to this is a nice discussion of Kim Cameron's Laws of Identity. Update: Johannes got back to me, we cleared up a few issues, and some stuff is working better - this is, as he says, bleeding edge, and problems like this are the norm - you can view my installation here and my lid.xml script here if you're curious. By Johannes Ernst, Johannes Ernst's Blog, January 5, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Principals' Partnership
Via Pete MacKay's Tecaher List comes another useful online learning resource: a community with news and resources specifically for school principles. People sometimes represent online learning as being nothing other than online courses, but more and more online learning means a site like this. By Various Authors, January, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Bill Gates is Coming to Your Living Room, Whether You Like It or Not
After having his presentation crash at the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show, Bill Gates gives a lengthy interview to CNet in which he discusses convergence and the new Media Centre PCs. XBox, Microsoft's gaming platform, plays a large role in this discussion. And it occurs to me that the major purpose of XBox isn't to complete with Sony and Sega but rather to establish a 'trusted platform', where the content vendor (of music, video, games, or text) has control over the hardware. Asked about ever-expanding intellectual property legislation near the end of the interview, Gates comments, "There are some new modern-day sort of communists who want to get rid of the incentive for musicians and moviemakers and software makers under various guises." Well now, perhaps we communists need a flag, then. By Michael Kanellos, CNet News.Com, January 5, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

More on the LiveJournal Acquisition
The blogosphere is awash with responses. Zephoria is concerned that Moveable Type will corrupt the Live Journal culture. Six Apart's Mena Trott tries to reassure them. LiveJournal's Brad Fitzpatrick looks forward to moving to San Francisco. Dave Winer says it's all about raising venture capital. Articles in eWeek... By Various Authors, January 6, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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