By Stephen Downes
August 10, 2005

Colorado Rocky Mountain High

By Stephen Downes, August 10, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Collaboration Tools: What's Out There
Blog coverage (and some notes by Alan Levine) and MP3 audio from our collaboration tools session at the Seminars on Academic Computing conference here in Snowmass, Colorado. The audio quality is, um, variable. The discussion focussed mostly on wikis and tagging tools, but we digressed a lot. Also in SAC coverage, Alan Levine has posted a summary of my talk yesterday; Cyprian Lomas has another summary on his site as well. By Stephen Downes, Alan Levine, Phillip D. Long and Cyprian Lomas, August 10, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Disruptive Technology Wiki
Albert Delgado announces that the wiki is now open. It's pretty empty right now, but you should feel free to register and add your content. By Various Authors, EdBlogger Praxis, August 10, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Podcast Theory Gap
Interesting reflections on how students actually use podcasts, and what educators should do when their use is different from the intended use. Best line in the paper: "Fight audio with audio: Podcasts and Audio as a Way to Combat Intrusive Thoughts." This is the norm for me - I always have an audio track running, whether music or television or whatever. Sometimes I even have ed-tech podcasts running. Still. Your podcasts compete for mindspace with Seinfeld. Mine too. Sobering. By Susan Smith Nash, E-Learning Queen, August 9, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

University of Phoenix Becomes Ecumenical, Spurns Non-Christian Faculty
Well the other shoe has dropped in the University of Phoenix's excursion into faith-based education. As Dave Taylor reports, in order to qualify for a teaching position in this new in itiative, you must agree to a statement of faith (and get a letter from your Pastor attesting this). As Taylor writes, "when a non-denominational institution like the University of Phoenix starts sending this out as a screening tool for teachers interested in an authorized University opportunity, alarm bells start ringing in my head." With the rise of private institutions in general we will see more of this. The manyh strides we have made in society to end discrimination on a wide variety of grounds become threatened when discrimination on the basis of religion (and gender, race, political affiliation, more...?) become conditions of employment. By Dave Taylor, The Intuitive Life Business Blog, August 9, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Manifesto for a Free Curriculum
More commentary on the free curriculum idea. James Farmer weighs in: "in 95% of cases curriculum is artificial, unhelpful and obstructive. Learning has in many contexts become what it is not about, content." A K M Adam offers the suggestion that organizations "such as the AMA, the ABA, AARP, ACLU" should spend their money creating learning content rather than expensive television ads. "If a professional association really wants its members to gain mindshare, to raise the level of public discourse over the topics it addresses, that organization ought to commission educational materials from its leading exponents and distribute them online." I would add that the George Lucas Educational Foundation is a good example of this. Rob Reynolds meanwhile offers this manifesto for a free curriculum. The manifesto says more than it needs to, I think - do we need to declare that learning is social and that learning is needed to address "problems such as world hunger, violence, injustice , and racial prejudice"? Back in 2003 I made my own contribution to the declaration of such principles with my essay The Regina Declaration. What we need now, though, is something more concrete. By Rob Reynolds, Xplanazine, August 10, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Wisconsin Center for Education Research
Paul Baker sent me a note to advise me of this RSS feed, "A news digest from the Wisconsin Center for Education Research, School of Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison" which, of course, goes immediately into the aggregator. By Various Authors, August 10, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Princeton to Launch DRM'd Textbook Program
A bit of a tempest has been launched with an announcement that Princeton University will now be selling DRM-enabled textbooks. "So let’s see — your laptop gets fried? Gotta buy a new book. Going home for break and the book is on your dormroom desktop machine? Tough luck — no printing, neither, y’hear? No returns or buybacks, either. Wow, what a deal!" Here is more coverage. It's not clear that this initiative is an official Princeton initiative, and several commentators wrote in to note many professors' anti-DRM stance. Bottom line? As one commentator reports, "Wow! I'm glad I'm not going to Princeton." Instructions on how to crack the DRM may be found in comment number 41. Princeton's response, meanwhile, was to have someone from the office of communications tell engadget to remove the image of the Princeton shield from the website. Yeah, atta make friends in the community. By Barb Dybwad, engadget, August 6, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Bill Brandon summarizes: "WigiWigi is the first public release of a video over IP application that is built on a completely new and unique protocol. Unlike other desktop videoconferencing applications, WigiWigi one does not require any specific DLLs, drivers, codecs, DirectX or dedicated third-party libraries. It doesn't even require an installation. WigiWigi has just entered its beta-testing phase and the GUI (user interface) is still crude and semi-functional - but the results on your screen may indeed surprise you very positively. Download WigiWigi" By Various Authors, August, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Another View of Podcasting
ill Brandon points to this article on podcasting and summarizes the shortcomings: "You can't 'skim' or speed-read a podcast. You can't add marginalia. You can't link out of one. If the only thing in the podcast is information, people are going to be bored to tears, they are going to hate being chained to that iPod, they are going to want to take notes (which they can't do if they listen while they drive, jog, wait in the bank line) and then they are back to a piece of paper again. What was the point?" His (correct) take: "Don't make podcasting a solution in search of a problem." By Bill Brandon, eLearning Entrepreneur, August 9, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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