By Stephen Downes
August 2, 2005

Mobile Blogs, Personal Reflections and Learning Environments
The latest issue of Ariadne is now available, with most articles in this issue focusing on accessibility. In this article, the author argues that "that blogs are generally very useful support for personal reflections and that this can be further enhanced by the mobility of PDAs. These and other blogs can be read into VLEs using syndicated newsfeeds, for which a new Bodington tool offers considerable flexibly." I think the idea of reading student content into an LMS is an important one, especially when that content is produced in any of dozens of services available on the net - Flickr, del.icio.us, Blogger, and so on. That said, I expect such content to be, in the main, much more than merely personal reflections (though we'll probably have to go through years of debate and angst as academics argue about the relative merits of student-generated academic content). By Paul Trafford, Ariadne, July, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Hidden Power of Who Matters
Jay Cross runs through some familiar ground, applying social network analysis to an understanding of workflow. But worth noting is the discussion of the sort of communications that occur in a workplace network - some people are 'energizers' while others are 'toxic workers'. We need more than mere network analysis, the syntax of networks - we need an understanding of network semantics, the meaning transported through, and created by, social networks. By Jay Cross, Internet Time, August 2, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Digital Pioneers?
I like Konrad Glogowski's idea that there may be 'digital pioneers' between 'digital natives' and 'digital immigrants'. And this seems to be right as well: "The 'digital natives' do indeed find the acoustic world, that world of 'oral listening,' more natural but this does not mean that they do not need to be introduced into that world, that they do not need a facilitator who will help them master their voice, online or off." Well, except for the 'accoustic' and 'listening' part - I think that's just the wrong analogy for a fundamentally immersive environment. By Konrad Glogowski, Blog of Proximal Development, August 1, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Tags vs. Trusted Sources
Will Richardson contrasts the use of tags to find useful information with the use of trusted sources. "I've never felt like what I've subscribed to tag-wise at Technorati or del.icio.us has been all that helpful," he writes. But on the other hand, he gets a lot of good information from people he reads regularly. I am inclined to agree. And I think there's an important principle at work here on the nature of communication systems. The idea of tags (and search systems, and thir ilk) is to try to create a short-cut directly from the information to the reader. But the way to improving this communication flow isn't to create shortcuts, because they're too unreliable. It is to reduce the friction as the message passes from point to point from source to receiver. And in a frictionless multi-point communications network, your best (and fastest) information will come from proximate nodes - trusted sources. By Will Richardson, Weblogg-Ed, August 2, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Internet at School
The latest Pew study is all over the internet. The main news is that "Teen use of the internet at school has grown 45% since 2000" and that they are more likely to use instant messaging than email. Though the telephone survey is of American teens only, it is usually repeated (for example here) without that qualification. One suspects it also favours broadband users (as the modem users will give the surveyers nothing but a busy signal) and therefore instant messaging users (as instant messaging works much better with always-on access). PDF. By Paul Hitlin and Lee Rainie, Pew, August, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Bill Gates Looks Ahead, Defends Software Security
The Chronicle's interview with Bill Gates is now on available on the free section of the site (it was behind the subscription barrier yesterday). For all that, it's a pretty tepid interview. Gates's view of e-learning seems to be students in class holding tablet computers. Three questions on security (oh yes, everything is fine) were followed by one on open source. According to Gates: "the technical-research things we (Microsoft) do with universities are done where the source code is open, shared collaboratively, and worked on." One wonders how true that statement is. By Andrea L. Foster, Chronicle of Higher Education, August 5, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

James Farmer's edublogs service - free weblog hosting for educational weblogs - has taken off, with (as of this writing) 92 edublogs listed... when Farmer wrote about it earlier today there were 61. By James Farmer, July, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Licenses, Features and the Open Source Community in Higher Education
Good presentation emphasizing not only the size of the e-learning market (about 30 billion USD (+/- 30%)) and the importance of open source in serving that market. The author emphasizes several times that open standards, rather than open source, will be key to accessing that market. Some good discussion near the end of the presentation describing open source business models. Via Scott Leslie, who also provides a link to the rest of the presentations from the Building Open Source Communities conferences, held recently in Edinburgh. By Jim Farmer, OSS Watch, July 4, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

RSS Feeds College Students' Diet For Research
Learning technology that was almost unthinkable just a few years ago is now everyday news in USA Today, as this story describing the use of RSS by students to keep up on their research illustrates. Links to a couple of related services that may be new to readers, Pluck and OnFolio. Via University Business. By Anh Ly, USA Today, August 1, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2005 Stephen Downes
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