Martin LaMonica: Ruby on Rails Chases Simplicity in Programming, ZD Net October 31, 2005
I have had my issues with Ruby on Rails, but I should say, I am in complete accord with the project's objectives. "The trick, said Hansson, is to 'slaughter the holy cows,' the well-understood ideas of computer science that dictate how programmers work... a larger trend toward scripting languages that aim to replace Java or Microsoft's C# language." [Tags: Ruby, Microsoft, Project Based Learning] [Comment]

Rob Abel: Why Won't We Pay for Learning Technology ?, Higher Education Insight October 31, 2005
Rob Abel poses the question, "Why are institutions willing to spend $300K to $500K or more on student information systems when it is like pulling teeth to invest $25K-$50K in a course management system?" He considers three three factors: "a connection to development resources put in versus product innovation out", "tenured faculty who, like many bastions of staid authority, are resistant to change", and "a tradition of passing on all instructional costs to the student in some way shape or form." None of these strikes the right chord with me. Perhaps the right way to ask the question is to ask why these institutions don't see an upside to outsourcing what they believe to be their core mission. [Tags: Push versus Pull, Student Record Systems] [Comment]

Joe Hart: Session 1 at UNESCO Virtual Conference on OER, EduResources Weblog October 31, 2005
As Joe Hart commented in the Threads community, access to the UNESCO discussion forum on Open Course Content for Higher Education was cut off at 400 participants. The dicussion is being blogged on the EduResources Weblog and you can find background readings and discussion summaries at the UNESCO virtual university and elearning website. Thus far, what I'm seeing is that while there is a recognition that open educational resources (OERs) are useful and even vital to the developing world, the usual emphasis and focus on an institution-based approach is taking hold. The question of accrediting OERs came up in the first discussion, for example, and the examples discussed in the second consist of MIT's OpenCourseWare, Rice's Connexions, and Carnegie Mellon's Open Learning Initiative. Perhaps when the discussion is opened we can learn more about what people outside the official circles are doing. [Tags: Connexions, Online Learning, Web Logs, Discussion Lists, UNESCO] [Comment]

Various Authoirs: EdTech Brainstorm #9, Ed Tech Talk October 31, 2005
James Farmer, Harold Jarche, Dave Cormier, Kathy Malsbendend, and Jeff Flynn. If that list of participants doesn't motivate you to listen to this 43 minute conversation, I'm not sure what will. Maybe this: Brainstorm number 8, a more hefty hour and a half featuring Bud the Teacher, Jeff Flynn, Todd Vanek, Antony Jackson, Fang of LearnDog, Dave Cormier, and Jeff Lebow. Or maybe The Educational Mac, featuring "a conversation with Brian Mull about life for 1 technology specialist in New Orleans after Katrina." Or maybe the Brian Lamb interview at EDUCAUSE? Or how about David Wiley and Trey Martindale at AECT (Orlando)? Or Soft Reset show number four, about participatory simulations for Palm Powered handhelds. Or this interview with CNI's Joan Lippincott. Or maybe Paul Graham, featured on IT Conversations discussing what business can learn from open source. Or even Dave Warlick's recordings from TechForum New York on games in learning. Or perhaps Diana Oblinger's wrap-up of EDUCAUSE 2005. Or an afternoon of jazz from from three of Adelaide's leading independent schools. There's enough audio online these days that I could build a full daily schedule of audio programming, if I could figure out a relatively easy way to pull it off. [Tags: Seneca, Push versus Pull, Online Learning, Web Logs, Schools, Simulations, Portable Computers, Open Source, EDUCAUSE, Podcasting, Games and Gaming] [Comment]

Michael Feldman: SUNY Proposes to Build a Learning Management Operating System, E-Literate October 31, 2005
This is interesting. Michael Feldman summarizes (with a link to the discussion paper) a proposal by SUNY to build a learningf management operating system (LMOS). Having reached the limits of its Lotus Notes/Domino platform, the university scouted around for a replacement, but found that "no single-platform LMS solution exists today to meet our needs." Consequently, the university proposes to build a single platform that will run such diverse technology as uPortal, LAMS, Sakai and others. It's an interesting idea and I would be interested to see the result if they pull it off. The resulting solution is intended to be open source. Why? "There is reason to believe that commercial vendors in higher education have economic motivation to reduce interoperability rather than increase it." No question. [Tags: Push versus Pull, Operating Systems, Interoperability, Open Source] [Comment]

James Farmer: As Promised... Learnerblogs.org - Free Blogs for Schools, Incorporated Subversion October 31, 2005
James Farmer adds to his edublogger empire by launching Learnerblogs.org, a place where instructors can send students to create their own bloggers. As Rob Wall comments, "Finally when teachers are asking me where to set up blogs for students I donít have to send them into the pit of depravity that is Blogger!" [Tags: Web Logs] [Comment]

Josie Fraser: Edubloggers, Frappr October 31, 2005
Map of edubloggers around the world created in Frappr, an add-on to Google Maps that allows participants to add their own bio and location to a Google map of the world. If you are an edublogger and haven't added your mug, why not consider visiting and adding an entry? [Tags: Web Logs, Google] [Comment]

Projects & Collaborations
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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Copyright © 2004 Stephen Downes
National Research Council Canada

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I want and visualize and aspire toward a system of society and learning where each person is able to rise to his or her fullest potential without social or financial encumberance, where they may express themselves fully and without reservation through art, writing, athletics, invention, or even through their avocations or lifestyle.

Where they are able to form networks of meaningful and rewarding relationships with their peers, with people who share the same interests or hobbies, the same political or religious affiliations - or different interests or affiliations, as the case may be.

This to me is a society where knowledge and learning are public goods, freely created and shared, not hoarded or withheld in order to extract wealth or influence.

This is what I aspire toward, this is what I work toward. - Stephen Downes