By Stephen Downes
August 29, 2005

End of an Era
In the winter of 1997-98, sheltering from Brandon's cold norther storms, I wrote the basis of a database system that would become the foundation for my website, the NewsTrolls blog, and with the addition of an email system in 2001, OLDaily. Now, unless something weird happens to the code (always a possibility), today's newsletter will be the last issue published and mailed using the old system. Yes, just a new coat of paint (actually, the subscription script and some security features) and the new EduRSS02 will be ready to roll into production, at least on the blogging and newsletter side (the integrated harvesting will come in October). This is a major step for me, the result of a lot of work, and the new system will be a strong platform on which to implement a lot of what I've talked about over the last year or so: the semantic social network, single self-identification, RSS referencing, and more. For now, here's the code, such as it is (please note that it is still very much under construction and that this does not constitute a release, just good open source practice).

Anyhow. Tomorrow's newsletter should arrive as usual. You'll see some format changes, but nothing shocking. Should your newsletter not arrive, or somehow be gibbled, please send me an email and I'll get it fixed. This should be a smooth transition, but I've been in this business long enough to expect anything. Thanks in advance for your patience. By Stephen Downes, Stephen's Web, August 29, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

I have updated my Calendar page, linking to the various conferences I will be visiting this fall, including talks in Manchester, Ottawa, Toronto, Gander, and Heerlen. Shoudl be a busy fall, which is why I've been sweating the mignight oil to get this coding done. By Stephen Downes, Stephen's Web, August 29, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Open Letter to Research Councils UK: Rebuttal of ALPSP Critique
Signed by Tim Berners-Lee, among other luminaries, this letter responds to the public letter by Sally Morris, theExecutive Director of ALPSP, the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers, concerning the RCUK's proposed research self-archiving policy. The authors call "unsubstantiated" Morris's claims that open archiving would cause "disasterous consequences." They write, "all the evidence to date shows the reverse to be true: not only do journals thrive and co-exist alongside author self-archiving, but they can actually benefit from it -- both in terms of more citations and more subscriptions." By Tim Berners-Lee, et.al., Eprints.org, August 22, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Encourage Google to Stop Undermining Education
A group of instructors has started a petition to convince Google to stop advertising essay services, asking the search engine to "stop undermining education through their policy of displaying ads that encourage plagiarism and academic fraud through the sale of pre-written and made to order term papers and essays especially when these ads are displayed on web sites that promote education." 171 signatures to date, up from the 22 I saw when I looked yesterday. By Various Authors, August 28, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

I was reading through the Perl.com Newsletter yesterday and followed this link on the information that "Brainbench has updated its certification exam to cover Perl 5.8." The link took me to this test, but more interestingly, to Brainbench in general. Now fair warning: to take most of the tests you have to pay a fee. But still, the model was worth a look. In addition to the test, you can access learning resources, online classes, and discussion groups. The tests themselves are online multiple choice tests and surprisingly tough. Though I managed to pass the two Perl beta tests (which would mean I'd be certified in Perl, woo hoo!) I failed the CSS2 test. And though the tests are online, it would be simple for a prospective employer to proctor a test. By Various Authors, Brainbench, August, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

A Distance Education Reader: Insights for Teachers and Students
"The e-book reflects a portion of the author s work in distance education during the past five years. It is a book of readings that is designed to provide relevant assistance to online teachers and students who are striving to do their best in this exciting new educational arena." By Brent Muirhead, IJIDTL, August, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Beyond Busy
Here is a question worth asking: "Is it possible to organize a studentís four years in a more developmental manner, gradually cultivating a way of life that uses time effectively for lifelong learning ó rather than just lifelong busyness?" By Bruce G. Murphy, Inside Higher Ed, August 29, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Volume 2, Issue 2 of the Association For Information Systems SIG on Semantic Web and IS is now available as a 60 page PDF (which, given its topic, seems ironic). By Miltiadis Lytras ed., AIS SIGSEMIS, August 29, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

A Global Imperative: Report of the 21st Century Literacy A Global Imperative
Unintentionally, I think, the authors present a stark contrast: a two-columned PDF that is almost unreadable on a computer screen, interspaced with nifty little graphics that capture meaning much more effectively than the dense text. The main point is that "21st century literacy is the set of abilities and skills where aural, visual and digital literacy overlap. These include the ability to understand the power of images and sounds, to recognize and use that power, to manipulate and transform digital media, to distribute them pervasively, and to easily adapt them to new forms." As Kathleen Bennett writes, "A new language is being born: 'rich in ways that extend traditional forms of communication with visual imagery and sound' and it is a global imperative that we understand this far-reaching phenomenon." By Various Authors, The New Media Consortium, August, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Coming Battle Over Education and Copyright
Nothing we haven't seen here before, but it's nice to have a clear statement of the issue. "Today Canadian universities spend millions in copyright licenses that are arguably unnecessary. This expenditure effectively represents a subsidy to Canadian publishers from taxpayers as well as from students who are facing escalating tuition fees at a time that they can scarcely cover their monthly rent." Hear, hear. By Michael Geist, August 29, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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