December 16, 2005


Kevin Spreekmeester: Photos December 16, 2005
It has been a busy week, an exciting week, with much more to come, I'm sure. It's hard to keep your balance with so much going on. So I'll lead today's newsletter with this site, via Randy Decker, to remind myself to live in harmony with the world and with myself. Peace and happiness to all of you; you give me more than you can know. [Tags: Web Logs, Newsletters] [Comment]

Luigi Canali De Rossi: New Media Predictions 2006: What Will The Web Future Bring?, Robin Good December 16, 2005
Robin Good makes some predictions on media for 2006, most of which seem to be on the mark to me. The most interesting is his speculation (probably accurate) that 2006 will be the year of video. I also like his suggestion that presentation - long the domain of PowerPoint - is due for a shake-up (think about what would happen if someone really souped up S5). He also sees advances in search technology which, for my money, will be less visible than the other changes, but could be equally or more important. Changes especially in filtering technology are on the horizon, still distant, but visible. Via Joseph Hart. [Tags: Web Logs] [Comment]

Marjorie Heins and Tricia Beckles: Will Fair Use Survive?, Brennan Center for Justice December 16, 2005
Detailed report on the future of fail use under recent copyright law. The authors are explicit in their recognition that reliance on the 'four factors' commonly used to measure whether something is fair use is a "fairy tale" - fair use claims are much more complex than usually depicted. Moreover, they not that many 'take-down' orders are based on superficial and dubious claims (I've received a few of those), and yet, many people take the content down rather than get involved in a court battle. So does that mean fair use is dead? Not necessarily. But help is needed - penalties for copyright infringement should be reduced, pro bono legal aid should be available to help people who are not independently wealthy, and an alternative dispute resolution mechanism would go a long way to reduce the risk of "guessing wrong." A must-read if you're interested in this issue, but allocate some time. Via Barbara Fister. [Tags: Web Logs, Copyright and Patent Issues] [Comment]

Jeremy Price: Moving Forward with Open Eyes and an Open Mind, Smelly Knowledge December 16, 2005
Good discussion of some of the questions associated with social software and learning. Questions like, "What new challenges and barriers does the use of social software create?" And, "Does the use of social software the encourage the development of depth of thinking?" The best take-away is this citation from Ulises Mejias: "Ensuring that the benefits of social software reach all circles of society will require that we focus not on the virtuality of social interactions, but on their reality... the desire for connection and understanding, the nomad's learning as becoming." Chris Lott meanwhile links to a series of items on social software and learning written by Tony Hirst, worth a look if you are interested in tthe tools or in how social software can be used in the classroom. Also: Chris Lehmann, Something Powerful is Going On. And still more, from Terry Anderson, Collaborative Learning Activities Using Social Software Tools. [Tags: Online Learning, Web Logs, Interaction] [Comment]

James Farmer: Structured Blogging - Magic or Just Another Wizard?, Blogsavvy December 16, 2005
james Farmer raises some good questions about structured blogging (aka microformats): "I'm not sure if it's that simple and something bugs me about form filling and the impact that might have on content & creativity. Naturally this is going to help all of you SEO [Search Engine Optimization] folks no end but does it work for your everyday blogger? I'm tempted to say 'no'." What he says next is more interesting: "where we ought to be heading... towards 'styled blogging' where we can semantically create our documents on the fly..." In other words, just write what you would write, and have your system recognize, say, that it's a movie review, and format the output accordingly. Like this, maybe. [Tags: Web Logs, Project Based Learning, Semantics] [Comment]

Deepa A: A Few Chapters Short, India Together December 16, 2005
Discussion of India's new proposed National Curriculum Framework, which while it lauds the fact that it "has put the child firmly at the centre of its proposals," points to problems in providing infrastructure and support to back such a program. "Historian Irfan Habib points out that "almost every proposal it (the NCF 2005) makes is only practical - if at all! - for elite schools." Good read, and some of the observations apply beyond India's borders. Via education-india. [Tags: Online Learning, Schools, Children and Child Learning] [Comment]

Suzanne Robert: Millennial Learning: On Demand Strategies for Generation X and Beyond, LTi Newsline December 16, 2005
The proposition in a nutshell: "The good news is the technology and strategies are already in place to effectively train Generation X and Millennial workers; the secret to success lies in tailoring and blending these approaches to convince your workers that you understand their needs and are committed to their growth and success." Of course, it helps if you actually are committed to their growth and success, but I quibble, right? Via elearnspace. [Tags: Web Logs] [Comment]

Derek Morrison: The Virtual Learning Environment Takes it Personally, Auricle December 16, 2005
Podcast interview and follow-up article of an interview with Oleg Liber, Professor of e-Learning at the University of Bolton and Director of CETIS about Personal Learning Environments. Worth quoting: "Oleg Liber makes a further valid point. Despite years of development, the current generation of VLEs provide tools primarily for teachers, administrators, and system lords, not students. That doesn't fit easily with our protestations of concern with the student experience and in being student centred." Also raised is the question of whether universities should act as ISPs for their students at all - a good question. [Tags: Online Learning, Experience, Podcasting] [Comment]

Unattributed: Canada's High School Dropout Rates Are Falling, Canadian Council on Learning December 16, 2005
The Canadian Council on Learning today released statics arguing that Canadian drop-out rates are falling - only 10 percent of people aged 20-24 did not have a high school diploma and were not in school (that still seems pretty high, but I digress). I read this after just having read yesterday this scathing item from Christopher D. Sessums on rates in the United States. He writes, "The national graduation rate is 68 percent, with nearly one-third of all public high school students failing to graduate." All of a suddent, ten percent looks pretty good (though it is important to recognize that these statistics are compiled very differently). It is tempting to look at the different political systems, as Sessums does, but I'm not sure the answer lies there. The major clusters of drop-outs in both Canada and the United States are from minority groups, and life for members of these groups tends to be less stable, because they are poorer and live in poorer communities. There aren't many chances in such communities, and very few second chances; once you're out, you're out. The CCL report interestingly documents the Scandanavian experience, where drop-outs have been reduced considerably. And it seems to me the approach could be summed like this: give people non-traditional routes back into the system even if they have dropped out, to allow them to pursue their studies at a later time. For example, "Creating incentives for employers to take on high school apprentices, by reducing apprentice wages from 80% to 50% of qualified workers' wages and offering employers the approximate equivalent of the cost of one year of schooling." Now lower wages isn't something I'm thrilled about (perhaps we could subsidize them instead), but creating linkages between work and learning is something we should explore. [Tags: Canada, Web Logs, United States, Schools, Experience] [Comment]

Marco Fioretti: Linux in Italian Schools, Part 7: Teaching Free SW to Adults in Bari, Linux Journal December 16, 2005
Marco Fioretti wraps up a seven-part services on the use of Linux in Italian schools (parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7). Good, solid observations and discussion. "Those who eventually do participate in Linux training sooner or later ask some variant of "what is the real usefulness of Linux, since [for example] it doesn't support as much hardware as Windows?" Loseto's answer is that Linux won't be the solution to their employment problems. But, 'if they can affirm during an interview that they know how to use an operating system that can reduce the risks and increase the competitivity of a business, they'll have more opportunities'." Via school-discuss (Frederick Noronha). [Tags: Microsoft, Operating Systems, Linux, Schools, Open Source] [Comment]

Dahah Boyd: Wikipedia, Academia and Seigenthaler, Apophenia December 16, 2005
Another defense of Wikipedia, this one looking at the backlash from academics against the online encyclopedia. "The academic community pointed to this case and went 'See! See! Wikipedia is terrible! We must protest it and stop it! It's ruining our schools!'" I have already responded to this post that such opinions do not reflect the entire academic community, and that many support wikipedia and distributed media in general (many of who are reading this post). But I will say here as well that the sentiments identified in this article are real (just look at the slanted Chronicle coverage, from a journal that has harangued against online learning as long as I can remember (see for yourself)). The fact is, the contributions of non-experts are every bit as valuable as those by experts - and as evidence, consider that fact that while most experts have refrained from contributing to Wikipedia, the encyclopedia is still on a par with Britannica. How could that happen, if only experts are qualified to adjudge knowledge? Will Richardson, citing Boyd, writes, "We should be correcting inaccuracies that we find rather than protesting the system. We have the knowledge to be able to do this, but all too often, we're acting like elitist children." Also, from Terry Freedman: "But really, how far are these arguments relevant to the central educational issue anyway, which seems to me to be the necessity to make students question everything, and to demand proof." And Clarence Fisher: "our knowledge will never be perfect, but it is good enough for today, for here." [Tags: Wikipedia, Online Learning, Web Logs, Schools, Children and Child Learning, Academics and Academia] [Comment]

Tim Berners-Lee: So I Have a Blog, timbl's blog December 16, 2005
Tim Berners-Lee has a blog. And the blogosphere rejoiced, and rushed to welcome its founder. [Tags: Web Logs] [Comment]

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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