By Stephen Downes
June 25, 2005

Saint John
If you were vacationing in New Brunswick today you would probably be lounging at the beach as we enjoy 35 degree (celsius) temperatures. Or maybe you'd be touring old Saint John, an industrial city with an industrial edge, but with enough history that with restoration and attention to detail it could be as well regarded as Old Quebec. This set of photos from my visit there this week gives you the flavour. By Stephen Downes, Stephen's Web, June, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

So anyhow, today's special issue of OLDaily / OLWeekly is a catch-up issue. There has been so much of note happening in the field recently, too much to cover in the regular issues and too good to let pass by. So here is a good Sunday afternoon's reading for you, beginning with this set of photos from my visit to Edmonton a couple of weeks ago. By Stephen Downes, Stephen's Web, June, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Trend: Podcasting in Academic and Corporate Learning
Good survey article on podcasting in education, including an introduction, commentary on the Duke experiment, and links to related resources. By Eva Kaplan-Leiserson, Learning Circuits, June 25, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Microsoft and RSS
The big news today is Microsoft's announcement that it will embrace RSS and its release, under a Creative Commons license, of an extension to the protocol to allow for ordered lists. There has been some scepticism in the blogosphere, justified scepticism based on the way Microsoft has trashed standards in the past. But in its bare essence this announcement is a welcome one and one that follows well-established protocols for joining the community. Many people, myself included, have extended RSS and shared our extensions. And so long as it's all kept open and non-proprietary, there's nothing wrong with that, no matter what the source. So while it really doesn't deserve it, I will give Microsoft the benefit of the doubt here, and welcome their involvement in our community. By Dan Gillmor, Bayosphere, June 26, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Should You Finish?
An item that hits close to home for me, questioning whether it is in the best interests of some students to finish their PhD. "To consider leaving graduate school without your Ph.D. in hand does not inherently make you a failure. In fact, it could be the best decision you've made in a long while." For me that was pretty much the case; it was a choice between either spending a year writing something that would be read by three people, or teaching and working, making some money, and making my way. I don't regret my choice. From time to time I wish I had the degree, because not having one arbitrarily limits my options, but I don't have the time, and who is going to give me one just for the asking? Ah, but I know I'm as good as any PhD, and in the end, that's all that matters. By Megan Puncus Kajitani, Chronicle of Higher Education, June 10, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Blogs We Need in Australia
I have noticed a slowdown of news from Australia, caused partly by a greater centralization and partly by recent changes in projects like the Flexible Learning Framework (does it even publish RSS feeds any more?). Leigh Blackall agitates for more Australian e-learning blogs, and offers some suggestions for topics. By Leigh Blackall, Teach and Learn Online, June 25, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Weblog Communities - AMTEC 2005 presentation
Nice presentation by Rob Rall at AMTEC 2005 about how weblogs form learning communities. Even if you don't have time for the podcast, do take a look at the slides, which with useful animation show clearly how you can build a community even though you are not depending on a portal or community site - this is what I mean when i talk about a 'distributed community'. Also from AMTEC 2005, a summary of John Seely Brown's keynote. I so wish I could have gone to that conference - I used to live in that building, back when it was called MacEwan Hall and home to the student newspaper, the Gauntlet. By Rob Wall, StigmergicWeb, May 31, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Findings from NSF Study
Description of an NSF study (but with no link, which is really annoying) on informal learning in the workplace. Some surprise results: while informal learning is found to have a positive impact, not surprisingly, "Formal learning methods demonstrated a statistically significant negative correlation with job competence." Great find - but next time, link to the study so we can all see it and know that the report is accurate. By Ted Cocheu, Rapid eLearning News, June 21, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Interview with Etienne Wenger on Communities of Practice
It crashed my computer when I tried to watch and listen to it, but it might not crash yours, and even though I can't access the content, this interview with Etienne Wenger sounds too good to just let pass by. By Mark Berthelemy, Mark Berthelemy's Connections, June 14, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Wheaties? Not so Much…
Talk about missing the point. Someone in this group blog notes the recent report noting the strong correlation between eating breakfast and doing well academically. But Slate's Amanda Schaffer responds by saying you shouldn't wake children up to eat breakfast because they suffer from shortages of sleep. Well maybe, but to make the point she must ignore the results of the study, which say there is a benefit. More to the point, how can causing one problem be the solution to another problem? If they can't get up (dubious, but let's go with it), then have them eat later and start school later. That's how I addressed the problem through university - my classes started at eleven, went through to six, and so I was always ready with a coffee and a muffin bright and early at ten. By Unknown, J-blawg, June 23, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Losing Your Job For Promoting Open Source???
Some discussion about the plight of Leigh Blackwell, who lost his job, he reports, because of his "opinions expressed in this blog, in that wiki, and in day to day communications with staff, contradicted the directions of the unit I was working within." James Farmer chides, "Pretty awful reflection on that unit, wherever it is, wouldn’t you say?" By James Farmer, incorporated subversion, June 23, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Why RSS and Folksonomies Are Becoming So Big
George Siemens writes, "It's unusual to encounter an article that knocks Google as out of synch with the nature of information online. The author of this post, however, does exactly that, stating that the web is changing too rapidly (Google's page rank system was created when blogs really didn't exist, and the web was mainly about static content)...and that by tracking the nature of the dialogue through tags and RSS, tools like technorati are effective and giving end users what they want, when they want it." Right. And let me be clear: my criticism of tagging is not a criticism of what it does, it's a criticism that it does not do what it does well enough. By George Siemens, elearnspace, June 21, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Learner Managed Learning
George Siemens points to the website of the International Centre for Learner Managed Learning. None of the 'recently posted papers' really caught my interest. Norman Jackson's Exploring the Concept of Metalearning was OK, but Dave Pollard has been doing the same thing better for some time. I think the Centre ahs some catching up to do. Getting an RSS feed would be a start, so people can read and comment on their material as it comes out. And they should read the blogosphere. By George Siemens, elearnspace, June 21, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The creator of BitTorrent, Bram Cohen, responds to the Microsoft Avalanche proposal and on academic papers in general: "I think that paper is complete garbage. Unfortunately it's actually one of the better academic papers on BitTorrent, because it makes some attempt, however feeble, to do an apples to apples comparison. I'd comment on academic papers more, but generally they're so bad that evaluating them does little more than go over epistemological problems with their methodology, and is honestly a waste of time." The comments, after Technorati's self-serving and worthless plug, are worth reading. Via Kyle Johnson. By Bram Cohen, LiveJournal, June 20, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Has CC Lost the Plot?
I too was left scratching my head at the recent "birthday present" offered by Creative Commons: the right to download and play (but not share) a recording of 'Happy Birthday' sung (badly) by some CC luminaries at a cost (to donors) of 8.5 cents a download. Creative Comnmons is losing its way; how long before we see Creative Commons Corporate and advocacy of a closed, restrictive, commercial licensing regime? By Stuart Yeates, Open Source in Higher and Further Education, June 22, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

IMS Compliance Program
Scott Leslie welcomes and reports briefly on the new IMS compliance program "which outlines methods for developers of content, services and applications to provide evidence to support conformance claims based on self testing, and in so doing rate the claim of 'IMS Conformant.'" By Scott Leslie, EdTechPost, June 24, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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