By Stephen Downes
April 18, 2005

BlogMatrix Sparks
I downloaded and installed this piece of podcasting technology, and while it's not yet everything it could be, it's definitely worth passing along. The idea of Sparks is that it allows users to subscribe to both blogs and podcasts - the application will list all new podcasts for easy listening. But it also allows users to create and upload their own podcasts - I created my own podcast (a review of this software) very easily this afternoon. Definitely worth a look. By Various Authors, BlogMatrix, April, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

A Dog's Breakfast: Roles and Responsibilities for Managers in the Cyber Era
This is the wiki version of the transcript from my talk last September at Sunshine Coast, Australia. In this talk I take my Nine Rules for Good Technology and apply them to managers. I especially like rule number five: good technology should be simple. By Stephen Downes, Stephen's Web, April, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Knowing When to Log Off
Well, this bit (the last line in the story) is true: "You're not being disloyal to progress," he said, "by picking and choosing the kind of technology that best fits your needs." The premise is that campus computing is contributing to information overload, and that the solution is to turn off the computer once in a while. Seasoned internet veterans know that this just makes information overload worse, because the information doesn't stop piling up just because you've logged off. The key (in my mind) is to stop treating information like a thing, stop treating it as though it were a pile of required reading, but to sample and filter and redirect, to taste and digest and manipulate as needed. Information management is a skill, like kayaking, and needs to be practiced. By Jeffrey R. Young, Chronicle of Higher Education, April 22, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Wired Campus Blog
I didn't realize this, but the Chronicle of Higher Education has quietly launched a blog. The first post dates from February but it is only in the last week or so that it has ramped up. Not all items link to Chronicle paid content (though some do, including an article about the random essay generator - a story so well covered one wonders why the Chronicle is charging for its version). Some other items of note so far include one questioning whether campus listservs are out of control (solution: use RSS), another on online ghostwriting services, and one about censorship on Thefacebook. By Various Authors, Chronicle of Higher Education, April, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Open Source Desktop Television Software
Think about the implications of this for just a moment. "The sourcecode for a ground-breaking project has just been released by the Participatory Culture Foundation (PCF). The software, currently under development and due to be released in June, will enable anyone to broadcast full-screen video to thousands or millions of people at virtually no cost." There has been a lot of buzz about this in the coding and file sharing community; it looks to me like the community has reached the point where, instead of fighting commercial content producers, it has decided to make the irrelevant. Impossible, you say? There is not much that is beyond the reach of amateurs these days, as this recently Slashdotted Star Wars movie, Revelations, shows. "Despite its humble origins, the production appears extraordinarily professional. The film is over 40 minutes long, complete with space battles and lightsaber fights -- need I say more?" How disruptive will this be? By Luigi Canali De Rossi, Robin Good, April 18, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

To Every Thing, Turn, Turn, Turn, There is a Season....
Jay Cross - with whom I will be sharing a stage at the upcoming CSTD conference in Fredericton - discusses the blend of formal and informal learning. "Novices learn best through formal learning, for it provides the structure, signposts, and scaffolding a newby lacks. Old hands learn best informally, because they already have foundation knowledge, familiarity, and a framework for understanding." Scott Wilson picks up on Cross's definition of informal learning and adds, "it provides guidance on why systems like LAMS are interesting to me, as well as my own ideas for learning in social networks, even though they seem to be completely opposite in their approach. According to the heuristic, they aim, not a different audiences as such, but at different stages of development. They are both, in their own ways, 'right'." Well, yeah - but how long do we expect people to remain a 'novice'? Through university? That seems absurd. By Jay Cross, Internet Time, April 17, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Polytechs Migrate to Moodle
Short article describing the adoption of Moodle, an open source learning management system, by eight Polytechs in New Zealand. The program is described as "the largest deployment of 'Moodle' software to date globally." Certainly it shows that the open source software is becoming mainstream. "Using Moodle instead of proprietary software will save the Open Polytechnic about $50,000 every year in licence fees alone." By Reuben Schwarz, Stuff: Technology, April 18, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

FAQ: Wi-Fi Alphabet Soup
If the changing jargon in the fast-moving world of wireless internet access has gotten the better of you, this article will bring you back to speed with definitions of such terms as MIMO and WiMax. By Richard Shim , CNet News.com, April 14, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Hubble Public Talks
I can't think of a better use of an hour or so (and this includes class time) than to spend it watching Frank Summers display his incredible pictures from the Hubble Space Telescope. This sort of presentation would have been unimaginable when I was in school (though I did get to watch grainy live coverage of the moon landing) and it seems to me that content like this is more likely to connect children with science than almost anything else. By Various Authors, HubbleSite, April, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Adobe Systems to buy Macromedia
Animations inside PDF files? DRM inside Flash animations? It's hard to predict just how the very different products offered by these two companies can be aligned, but that's the project now as Adobe is set for fork over $3.4 billion to buy Macromedia. By Emily Church, MarketWatch, April 18, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Disney Offers Web Education
Talk about your Mickey Mouse courses. The service is directed toward preschoolers and offers a range of interactive activities featuring Disney characters. "Puzzles, games and other learning activities will be updated each week and can be personalized to guide children on a structured path to kindergarten readiness." Pricing for the service is expected to be about $49 per year, which may make it almost irresistable to parents. It sounds great, and it is: but my question is, can we trust Disney to keep the content free of marketing, free of political bias, free of cultural and religious messages? By Chris Marlowe, Inside Bay Area, April 17, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2005 Stephen Downes
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