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Various authors: SearchFox September 22, 2005
This application is still in beta (write to esteban@searchfox.com for access, indicating your preferred username). What it does is aggregate your RSS feeds (you can import your list of feeds using OPML (it's a bit hard to find - click on “Manage My World” in the “Resources” menu or click on the pencil next to “My World”). What SearchFox will then do is watch what you're reading and arrange the items in the order of most interest to you (at least, as perceived by the algorithm). The ordering seemed to be pretty good even after only a few reads (of course, this is the sort of thing that it takes a while to like or dislike). [Comment]

Mitch Weisburgh: How International High School Students do in the US, PILOTed September 22, 2005
More commentary on the state of learning in the U.S. (it seems to be a theme these days). Mitch Weisburgh observes, "When my sisters and I were in high school, our family hosted kids from Sweden, France, and Chile. The students from these countries were not able to keep up with the honors classes at our high school and enrolled in easier classes. Today, it’s a completely different story. Virtually every AFS high school student comes to the US ahead of our kids in math, statistics, chemistry, physics, and biology; even ahead of our elite kids." On the other hand, he observes, American kids get more exposure to sports and culture, and are able to respond better to poorly defined problems and ambiguity. [Comment]

Susan Walsh Veronikas and Michael F. Shaughnessy: The Quiet Crisis, University Business September 22, 2005
Interview with author Peter Smith, who offers his own analysis of the crisis in American education: it's the universities' fault. "The problem, he says, is not that millions of lower-income and minority students lack the capacity to learn, but that colleges and universities lack the capacity to educate." I think there's a point to what he says, but I think that the deeper point is that there is a social divide, not just in the U.S. (though we have certainly witnessed that) but around the world, and that the current structure of learning results in a disinclination on the part of the enabled to provide genuine access to the disenfranchised. [Comment]

Julien Pain, et.al.: Handbook for Bloggers and Cyberdissidents, September 22, 2005
An outstanding work for activists, the Handbook for Bloggers and Cyberdissidents not only tells you what tools to use and how to blog well, it also tells you how to blog anonymously, route around censorship and to keep your email private. Indispensible. PDF. Via Dan Gillmor. [Comment]

Andy Carvin: Online Communities: From BBSes to Blogs and Beyond, Andy Carvin's Waste of Bandwidth September 22, 2005
Andy Carvin is offering a mix of blog posts and podcasts from the Scottish Learning festival, including talks by Marc Prensky and Robin Blake. I have thought of podcasting others' talks, in addition to my own, but issues of permission, quality and hosting have deterred me. How long before the conference podcast becomes standard and before people routinely start posting the audio of their talks on their own websites? How long after this before transcripts become standard as well? [Comment]

Scott Jaschik: Outsourced Grading, Inside Higher Ed September 22, 2005
You can be sure academics will respond, as one commenter already has, that grading is an integral part of teaching. But there comes a point, as it did for me when I taught, when grading comes to be measured in vertical feet, and represents a burden, not an opportunity. Anyhow, this pilot, launched by Kentucky’s community colleges this fall, may represent the thin edge of the wedge. If teaching is indeed separated from evaluation, as I have been projecting for some time, then credentialing will, naturally, follow the evaluators. What will universities do then, when they no longer have a monopoly on credentials? [Comment]

Announcement: Opera September 22, 2005
The Opera web browser - for a long time a viable alternative to Netscape and Internet Explorer - is now free. Moreover, the advertising that used to plague Opera users has been removed. [Comment]

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Browse through the thousands of links in my knowledge base sorted according to topic category, author and publication.

Browse through the thousands of links in my knowledge base sorted according to topic category, author and publication.

Stephen Downes

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National Research Council Canada

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