By Stephen Downes
March 9, 2005

Learning Networks: Theory and Practice
So I arrived in Palermo Tuesday evening, still muttering about bureaucrats and travel agents after two days of travel. First thing Wednesday morning I was up to deliver my talk at the opening of the International Conference on Methods and Technologies for Learning at the Palazzo dei Normanni. Unfortunately rushed, my talk wasn't everything I had hoped, though people were kind enough to say nice things afterward (including one who, after seeing the slides, said it's a talk I should give in full one day). Still, here are the slides and the MP3 of Learning Networks (3.3 megabytes), and if you want, a sneak peak at some beautiful photos from the Palazzo dei Normanni and the Cattedrale nearby. By Stephen Downes, Stephen's Web, March 9, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Online Universities Weblog
This is getting annoying in a hurry. I use PubSub to find content from a wide range of blogs; I subscribe to PubSub's custom RSS feeds in Bloglines. The Online Universities Weblog publishes an RSS feed which shows up in my PubSub subscription. So far so good. Now Online Universities has recently started running advertisements in their RSS feed. OK, a little annoying. But the ads change slightly each time the feed is published - not the ad itself, but the precise URL that the ad points to. PubSub regards this as new content, with the result that the same item appears over and over in my PubSub feed. Now this is becoming really annoying. I can't filter specific sites in PubSub or Bloglines yet - but when I can, Online Universities is at the top of my list. By Various Authors, March, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Leapin' Lizards!
There's something about students correcting their science textbooks that just appeals to me. And the idea of learning integrating with real-world endeavour (in this case, farming) is also attractive. Add to this my childhood interest in toads, and it's a cinch that I'll list this item, even if it is only indirectly related to online learning. By Diane Petersen, Edotopia, March, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

325 Project
From an email sent by Conor Dowling, this very interesting item: "The 325 Project, an organization that's building a comprehensive web site about the year 325, has released a preview of its factlog. Technically, a factlog is a set of RDF statements, each backed by one or more topic-defining artifacts. There is more about factlogs in general and this use of the semantic web at this location]." The factlog is an instance of what can be done with RDF and is hence a prototypical demonstration of the semantic web. The demonstration works only in Firefox. By Various Authors, March 9, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Ian Grove-Stephensen of Chalkface sent me this link to WikiTextbook, a natural evolution of the wiki concept, this time to produce textbooks. According to the site, "we are currently working on 167 articles." Ian writes, "Steve's twist is that he encourages his pupils - and by extension all pupils - to write their own textbook. He's gambling that the peer review principle will keep it accurate and relevant even when used by the most difficult age-group possible." Chalkface is providing server space and bandwidth for WikiTextbook - kudos. By Steve Margetts, March, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

A Day in Washington Discussing Tech-ed Policy
Synopsis of a briefing, with commentary, on Education policy given by the SIIA (Software and Information Industry Association). Mostlyh a discussion of Scientifically Based Research (yes, in capitals). "The crux of the argument for Scientifically Based Research for educational products is that this same basic system works with pharmaceutical companies and new drugs." Well, sure, but the author points to a number of issues in the conduct of this research. By Mitch Weisburgh, PilotEd, March, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Reapproaching Nearness: Online Communication and its Place in Praxis
I was asked today about my theory of conversation. It honestly hadn't occurred to me, but of course there are theories of conversation, there are theories of everything. But I admit, my eyes begin to roll when I read, as in thsi paper, sentences like "The subject recognizes an Other, something that is epistemologically far" where the word 'Other' is capitalized. Things like this seem hopelessly vague to me: "Praxis = Reflection + Interaction + Action." My response was that what I had just presented was my 'theory of conversation' - which, of course, is inadequate. But I don't think there is a network theory of conversation per se and I'm not sure one is needed. I could be wrong. By Ulises A. Mejias, First Monday, March 9, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Bangor Librarians Face Internet Threat
Auricle points to this article from the Guardian a couple of weeks ago which is in itself worth noting for the record. "The support to the academic and student communities from the qualified subject librarians, whatever its contribution to the teaching and research roles of the institution, is hard to justify in value-for-money terms at a time when the process of literature searches is substantially deskilled by online bibliographical resources." By Polly Curtis, The Guardian, February 16, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Offering e-learning news in French, Thot announces two new RSS feeds: Breves [XML] with news and updates, and Curses [XML] with announcements of new online courses. Thanks Denys for the email. By Various Authors, March, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2005 Stephen Downes
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