Open Learning and the Metauniversity  
November 15, 2005 My talk at the Open Source for Education in Europe, organized by the SIGOSSEE and JOIN projects, in conjunction with the Open University of the Netherlands. Here are the PowerPoint Slides. Here is the MP3 Audio. Coverage of the conference by Josie Fraser (one, two), Graham Attwell, Tom Hoffman, Vermario, Brent Simpson, and Stuart Yeates (who found the talk "disappointing" because of "his utopia predicated first and foremost on a radically different method of distributing resources in education" - what else did he expect me to do, disregard the whole theory I've been developing?). [Comment]


Robert A. Hanneman and Mark Riddle: Introduction to Social Network Methods November 15, 2005
I haven't read this but it looks great. "This on-line textbook introduces many of the basics of formal approaches to the analysis of social networks. The text relies heavily on the work of Freeman, Borgatti, and Everett (the authors of the UCINET software package)." Via George Siemens. [Tags: Books and eBooks, Web Logs, Networks] [Comment]

Various authors: UNESCO Virtual Conference--Session Two Summary November 15, 2005
Summary of the second session of the UNESCO conference on open education. David Wiley: "When educational materials can be electronically copied and transferred around the world at almost no cost, we have a greater ethical obligation than ever before to increase the reach of opportunity." [Tags: UNESCO] [Comment]

Stuart Yeates: OSS Watch Releases Guide to the GPL November 15, 2005
Stuart Yeates reports, "OSS Watch have just released their latest IPR document, an overview and guide to the GPL. This is their sixth licence-specific document and sits beside their documents on ownership and licensing issues , software patents and dual licensing." I really like what OSS Watch is up to and I saw a presentation today where they described their process. Interesting. [Tags: Copyright and Patent Issues] [Comment]

Various authors: Radio Diaries November 15, 2005
People who are podcasting - or who are thinking about podcasting - will find this link highlighted by Albert Delgado to be of use. The advice looks solid, and even if you don't do everything, keeping the points in mind will help your recordings. I especially like this: "Show, don't tell Good tour guides do more than just talk, they show. There are tricks for 'showing' things on the radio. You can actually point to objects, for example: 'over there on the sidewalk is a big blue dog.' Even though the listener can't see the dog, a space is created in our imagination for where the blue dog should be." [Tags: Podcasting] [Comment]

Corey Murray: Project Inkwell Drafts Specs for School Tech, ESchool News November 15, 2005
I really don't like the way this item is written, sounding more like press copy than a news article. But the topic it covers is significfant: Project Inkwell will define 'one-to-one' technology specifications for schools. What that means wasn't really defined (instead, we got quotes like: "There is just something wrong with taking a business-built device and putting it in the hands of a seventh-grader"). Still, there's enough here to get the gist. [Tags: Schools] [Comment]

Scott Leslie: Connexions 'Rhaptos' Software Released, EdTechPost November 15, 2005
This is good news and something people have been waiting for. "The folks at Connexions have released the software that powers that site as open source code, so presumably you can now run your own instance if you wanted." [Tags: Connexions, Open Source] [Comment]

Paula E Williams: Tools of the Trade: Learning Technologies for Distance Learners, Open and Distance Learning Association November 15, 2005
"No society has ever had to deal with tools as massively powerful as those that are emerging now," writes Williams. "The convergence of new learning technologies promises to realign our Nation’s economic future." And she asks, "As educators, how might we guide the emerging future?" This question is asked in the context of an 'Age of Transitions', "a new and as yet unappreciated wave of change that will combine with the already remarkable pattern of change brought on by computers, communication, and the internet." The observations are interesting, though not new. This and many more papers are available from the Open and Distance Learning Association of Australia 2005 Conference, just concluded in Adelaide. James Farmer also has highlights. [Tags: Web Logs] [Comment]

Kaye Schofield: The Magic Umu? Open and Distance Learning in Three Pacific, Open and Distance Learning Association of Australia November 15, 2005
The three nations are Samoa, Papua New Guinea and Kiribati. But it is the lesson learned that should be remembered: "The ability of ODL to contribute to better results depends on a deep understanding that: 1. context is everything; 2. diagnosing the problem is the essential starting point; 3. education and training specialists need to focus their practice on capacitydevelopment; and 4. donors can be part of the problem as well as part of the solution." [Tags: None] [Comment]

Terry Anderson: Distance Learning – Social Software’s Killer Ap?, Open and Distance Learning Association of Australia November 15, 2005
It's funny. Terry Anderson describes distance learning as social software's killer app, while I describe social software as distance learning's killer app. Difference in perspective, I guess. Anyhow, this article begins with a short outline of Anderson's social presence theory (good reading if it's new to you) and an overview of social software. The bulk of the article then describes applications of social software in learning, wrapping up with Me2U, an application developed at Athabasca University. [Tags: Online Learning] [Comment]

Dennis Macnamara: Licensing for Learning, Open and Distance Learning Association of Australia November 15, 2005
"The proposition here, however, is that licensing of learning materials can add fantastic value to the whole education industry. In fact, it will be vital for its health and viability." By 'licensing' Dennis Macnamara does not mean restricting learning materials to some sort of 'approved' materials, but rather, 'licensing' in the sense that Creative Commons offers licenses. This is a good step forward for AEShareNet, which I have criticized in the past, and while I may quibble about some of the details the proposed AEShareNet open licenses should be welcomed and widely used (now we need some RSS and microformat implementations). "'Open content' will have a similar impact on education as open source has had on IT, with flow-on benefits for students." [Tags: Online Learning, Open Source] [Comment]

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Stephen Downes

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Stephen Downes

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