By Stephen Downes
March 15, 2005

DrupalED - Corrections
"Definitely not by 'Boris Mann and Will Pate'. Charlie Lowe (http://www.cyberdash.com) was the genesis of all this, and everyone is invited to participate. The site is an organising website to catalyze activity and interest from the education sector in one place. The outcome will be a Drupal "distribution" -- a selection of modules and configuration optimized for use in education. Anyone that is interested in participating...come on over and create an account." Thanks for the correction Boris, and apologies to Charlie Lowe, who writes, "As far as I know, there's no distribution yet. I supplied the drupaled.org domain, and Boris and Will went ahead and setup the site so that we could begin conversations about building a distribution (Boris points out pretty much the same thing in his reply to D'Arch). There are a lot of people working with Drupal in education, so it seems time to start organizing." Note to self: double-check everything when writing a newsletter while jetlagged. By Posted in comments, March 15, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Reality of Open-Access Journal Articles
Open access is a reality now, write the authors, and so the academic articles asking what it would look like are now moot. "The strongest evidence that open access to peer-reviewed articles is here to stay, at least in the life sciences, comes from two developments: the increasing number of agencies and foundations that have begun to require or encourage free online access to publications based on research they have helped finance; and the growing number of journals that allow authors to make their papers freely available." Via EDUCAUSE. By Andy Glass and Helen Doyle, Chronicle of Higher Education, February 18, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Packaging and Publishing LOs: Best Practice Guidelines
Via Scott Leslie, who writes, "This new guide from Becta gives the grand tour through most of the relevant learning object related standards, and contains a few useful starting points, for instance the 'Packaging and publishing checklist.'" PDF. By Unknown, BECTA, January, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

According to the website, this tool "allows any researcher to share his scientific papers (as well as notes, data and designs draws, ecc...) into a P2P OAI-PMH compliant network, by mean of which your works will be instantly available to hundred of thousands researchers worldwide. You can also browse the huge OAI archive (about 1 million of documents from the best research institutes) and download the full text for free. Furthermore, the FREESCIENCE software is completely free, as is access to documents in the BdA network. Download it here and install it in your own PC." Cool. Via Jeremy Hunsinger. By Various Authors, Alexandria, March 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

KEEP Toolkit
From the website: "The KEEP Toolkit is a set of web-based tools that help teachers, students and institutions quickly create compact and engaging knowledge representations on the Web." Right now only the web-based version is available, though a software download will ltimately be available. According to EduResources Weblog, "KEEP is constructed using Plone style sheets from the Plone Open Course Management System." By Knowledge Media Lab, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, March, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Can Papers End the Free Ride Online?
Newspapers are in a bind. By posting content online, they are basically giving their content away for free. But if they charge for an online subscription, few people will sign up and their content will for all practical purposes disappear from the internet. Similar issues face online learning, where the content is something we really want to have a wider influence but which in a market where it competes with video games and online music is not likely to capture a significant consumer dollar. In both cases, the liklihood is that agencies with a political or social objective will pay for production costs, but at the cost of infusing the product with propaganda. This is why it is essential to have public broadcasting corporations, both of news and of learning. But this happens only when governments give up on the idea of creating commercial enterprises out of these, and there's no sign of this happening any time soon. By Katharine Q. Seelye, New York Times, March 14, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

CURE: The NoRagging Group
In India it's called 'ragging' and it's a problem similar to bullying and hazing in North America. It is equally a problem in both regions. Which makes the website of CURE: The NoRagging Group worth highlighting in today's issue. By Various Authors, March, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Issues in Federating Repositories: A Report on the First International CORDRA Workshop
Good summary that doesn't waver from the necessary questions facing the CORDRA initiative, "an open, standards-based model for how to design and implement software systems for the purposes of discovery, sharing and reuse of learning content through the establishment of interoperable federations of learning content repositories." Questions like: what will this infrastructure provide that Google doesn't? Why is querying better than harvesting? Who guarantees authenticity, who is responsible for tasks such as archiving and quality control? What about digital rights management? From where I sit (and note that proponents of CORDRA will disagree with this interpretation), the primary motivation for a system such as CORDRA is control and the result will be a closed system, a system that may work well for the U.S. military, but which will work against the idea of providing learning for all. By Wilbert Kraan and Jon Mason, D-Lib Magazine, March, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Five Lenses: Towards a Toolkit for Interaction Design
This is a very nice paper that cuts through some of the issues I have felt (but never really discussed) in learning theory. Two major things. The first is the recognition that interaction theory (and by extension, learning theory), can be viewed from five distinct points of view: the cognitive, the anthropological, the artifacts, the social and the ecological. "Big deal," you may be saying, but the issue that has disturbed me is assumption of the primacy of one over another (think of constructivism, Vygotsky and artifacts, for example). Second, "Affordance, a concept developed by ecological psychologist J. J. Gibson (1979), is now commonly misused in interaction design. As initially defined, it was a relational concept, denoting the possibility of an interaction between an organism with particular characteristics and an artifact with particular characteristics." Exactly right, and again a nagging feeling of unease is removed. Via Mathemagenic. By Thomas Erickson, IBM T. J. Watson Research Center, January, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Canadian MP Says Extended Licensing Proposal Delayed
Michael Geist reports that "the government has delayed plans to introduce a much-criticized copyright proposal to establish a extended license for educational institutions." Good news. Now if only the government would consult people outside the entertainment and publishing industries we could perhaps approach a copyright environment in this country that balances everyone's needs. By Michael Geist, March 15, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Blogging Beyond the Men's Club
A number of people sent me this link raising the question, "why is the blogosphere dominated by white males?" It isn't, of course, as any excursion beyond what we see reported in the media will reveal - roam through random LiveJournal blogs or random Blogger blogs for a few hours and you'll see. But the supposed "Top 100 blogs" is, as noted by a panelist, "white people linking to other white people!" The members of the big spike grant the privilege of a link to people like themselves, and "A link from a popular blog is this medium's equivalent to a Super Bowl ad." Since most of the top bloggers got a push from mainstream media (they are newspaper and magazine columnists, former MTV VJs, and the like) it is not a surprise to see the big spike represent the demographics of that origin. The solution, of course, is not to make them link more representatively - they won't, and they'll make a big fuss while not doing it. The solution is to make the network structurally more inclusive. By Steven Levy, MSNBC, March, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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