By Stephen Downes
April 11, 2005

Reusable Media, Social Software and Openness in Education
I am back in the office after taking a couple weeks' vacation. When I take time off like that I usually putter on various projects. Today I have a few to show you. This first item is the transcript from the talk I gave in Logan, Utah, last year, on the topic of open eeducational content. It's in my wiki, so if you are logged into my site you can change the content, add links, whatever. I will be giving the item a permanent home later. By Stephen Downes, Stephen's Web, April, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Responding to a post on the Online News mailing list I found myself researching WYSIWYG HTML editors for discussion boards. I had been meaning to work on my discussion area (especially since my current discussion board has taken to eating posts). So I rewrote my discussion list software from scratch, attaching it properly to a database and incorporating the new rich text editor. You can try it now by following this link. Please let me know (by email, I guess) if it doesn't work for you. Please note that this is an alpha version, which means all comments will be erased over next few days. Yes, I will make all scripts available once I'm comfortable with it. By Stephen Downes, Stephen's Web, April, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Half an Hour
You may recall just before my break I created a script that dynamically rotated my website themes. The purpose here was to create a system that allowed the same themes to be used by multiple websites. So I created this version, running on Blogger. But it also occurred to me as I was doing this that I needed a space to write randomly, on topics that interest me, for myself. So I created this blog and added a few posts. I will continue to add to this blog - but please note, it is not about online learning or anything in particular, it will have a hard edge politically, and I am not writing it for an audience, I am writing it for me. I won't link to it very often from this site, if at all. Actually, you probably shouldn't read it at all. By Stephen Downes, Stephen's Web, April, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Random Images
This little script accesses the random images page on stock.xchng, codifies it into a Javascript and delivers it for display on any web page. Eventually I'll adapt it to Creative Commons or OurMedia images (what these sites don't have is a nice randomizer). My intent here is not to provide random images for the world (so if it overloads my server I will take it down) but to make the script available for others to use. OK, that's the end of my vacation projects - here are some regular links, and I'll catch up with a full newsletter tomorrow. By Stephen Downes, Stephen's Web, April, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

View Source Added to Flash
Nice innovation that opens the doors on Flash ever so slightly as developers may now, at their discretion, provide viewers a means of viewing the source of the Flash animation. By Matt Haughey, Creative Commons, April 8, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Teachers Leave Grading up to the Computer
This item has caught the eye of a few commentators. I guess what worries me is that it rules out the experimentation every student should at least try - like the science fiction story I once handed in as an English essay, or the philosophy essay on linguistic analysis written in the style of James Joyce (both papers received an 'A' from their respective professors). By Alorie Gilbert, CNet News.com, April 7, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Flickr without the Flash
Description and link to Lickr, a Flash-free alternative to the online photo sharing site, Flickr. Lickr is a site that speaks to me - I complained to Flickr about their Flash interface shortly after their launch. They stayed with Flash, their site was a hit, and they became rich and famous. I'm happy for them, but I still want a Flash-free interface. But as the authors of Lickr take pains to point out, "This is a hack that works in just one browser, Firefox. Developing cross-platform DHTML is much harder and more painful." Quite right. So what's important about this site? Readers should note the use of Ajax, a Javascript technology that manages web-based applications (note the next item). By Simon Willison, Simon Willison's Weblog, April 10, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Trey Martindale digs up this link to server.com, a site that rpovides hosted applications - such as an RSS aggregator, email service, or discussion board. In the wake of such popular services as GMail, Yahoo Groups and Bloglines there ha emerged a school of thought that such online services represent the 'operating system' of the future. Maybe - it's certainly a point of view I take seriously - but this week's Blogger outage shows the downside of hosted applications: the lack of control, the lack of back-up. If the service goes down, if the company goes under, if the terms and conditions change, you, the user, are out of luck. By Various Authors, April, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Teaching as Performance in the Electronic Classroom
Interesting argument looking at the rights associated with online courses through the lens of a contrast between two models of the course, one depicting the course as object, as a static body of text and image and organization, and the other depicting the course as performance. The battle over rights in the educational context is in this light less a battle over money(except in the eyes of the administration) but rather a battle over meaning. In the former (and this is my interpretation of the argument) the meaning of a course is determined through intention: it is what the author wrote about. In the latter, the meaning of the course is acquired through use; it is what the course becomes through a process of mediation between and among instructors and students. By Doug Brent, First Monday, April 4, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2005 Stephen Downes
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