August 4, 2006


Stephen Downes[Edit][Delete]: Photos from Bogota, Colombia, August 4, 2006
[link: Hits]

Photos from my week in Bogota. I used Google's Picassa on the photos this time, with generally good results, except for a bug that left some things unsaved. I will be adding captions on the Flickr site over the weekend. There are some really interesting shots here - and a lot of them. I recommend simply starting up the slideshow, sitting back, and enjoying. [Tags: , ] [Comment] [Edit] [Delete] [Spam]

Mike Malloch[Edit][Delete]: 41 figures From the BlackBoard Patent, eLearning 2.0 [Edit][Delete] August 4, 2006
[link: 2 Hits] For full coverage of the Blackboard patent story, please see this Special Section of OLDaily.

Mike Malloch has performed a valuble service, extracting the 41 figures in the Blackboard patent and posting them on Flickr.

He adds, "let me just say that having spent the summer of 1998 in BlackBoard's DC offices (seconded there from the UK to do some IMS work on metadata), and having spent a lot of that time interacting with the architects of BlackBoards subsequent systems, I know that these guys did not 'invent' the VLE, and that they knew they weren't 'inventing' the VLE."

I should point out, in response to his comments, that it's not simply the learning management system that needs to be defended here. Yes, some of us don't care about the LMS - I am among them. I see the future as being some sort of PLE. But what stops a company like Blackboard from coming along and saying they have invented the PLE?

See, the problem is, learning technology has always been a collaborative endeavour by a community of researchers and practitioners, and we have invented, and we have through out practices and our conduct explicitly eeschewed the idea that this domain could ever be owned by one company.

Riina Vuorikari of the FLOSSE Posse calls the Blackboard patent a showcase demonstration on the absurdity of software patents and reminds readers of the no learning patents campaign against software patents in Europe that has been underway for some time.

Dirk Herr-Hoyman sends this nice set of Blackboard is evil photos, posted on Flickr. You should send your own anti-Blackboard art to Bertbrat on Flickr.

Joseph Hart describes his own experiences with LMSs before Blackboard and posts some of my coverage of the issue. Lanny Arvin finds the patent "weird" and describes his own experiences with products such as FirstClass (which I also used), WebNotes and Allaire Forums (which again I used as well). And Christian Long thinks about patenting learning.

Alfred Essa argues that Blackboard's FAQ is "is, at best, misleading and, at worst, disingenuous." I have other words for it. But following Essa, we can see that while Blackboard's argument may be applied to copyright code, it does not apply to the concept of the LMS. "We know that Desire2Learn didn't copy Blackboard's computer code. We come back then to our original questions, which we still haven't answered." So what does Blackboard think it's protecting that it invented?

Michael Feldstein is translating Backboard's patents into plain English and will post the results soon; "When you see what they are actually claiming to have invented, you will be well and truly gobsmacked." I'm already gobsmacked.

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Andy Carvin[Edit][Delete]: Jimmy Wales Announces $100 Laptop Partnership, Wikiversity, Wikiwyg, August 4, 2006
[link: Hits] This is a bit odd, but here's what Andy Carvin is reporting: "Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales announced that the One Laptop Per Child Project is including Wikipedia as one of the first elements in their content repository. (ac: though they've been talking about this for at least a year.) He also announced a new project called Wikiversity. It will serve as an online center for the creation and use of free learning materials and activities." Wikipedia has also been around for a while; here is my coverage dating from the beginning of last year. Mark Oehlert comments (a bit mysteriously), "Oh snap! Jimmy Wales did NOT just step into this when BB patented the delivery of anything that can teach anyone anything over the Web!" [Tags: , , , , ] [Comment] [Edit] [Delete] [Spam]

Albert Ip[Edit][Delete]: Why Most Off the Shelf Commerical Games Will Not Work in Education?, Random Walk in Learning [Edit][Delete] August 4, 2006
[link: 3 Hits] This paper is a draft, but I think it has significant issues to address. I have played both Sim City and flight simulators and would have to say that these are the most non-standard 'computer games' out there. They certainly do not resemble 'most off the shelf' commercial games, and they differ precisely in that they do not have any specific game objectives. To cit them, and to then leap directly to the other extreme, Thiagi's low-tech games, is to be misleading about the potential of games. What about games with variable objectives and mod-packs, like Civilization or even Lego Mindstorms? [Tags: ] [Comment] [Edit] [Delete] [Spam]

Darren Kuropatwa[Edit][Delete]: Won't Be Fooled Again ..., A Difference [Edit][Delete] August 4, 2006
[link: Hits] Worth noting about the South African curriculum wiki people have been citing: "After I finished explaining what a wiki is, every one of them expressed disbelief that the government of South Africa was actually behind such a thing. So, I did some digging ... The South African Curriculum is not on a wiki. Here is the wiki everyone has linked to. Looking at it a little more closely, it appears to be an initiative started by an individual or small group." More on South Africa, including my own coverage of the wiki. [Tags: ] [Comment] [Edit] [Delete] [Spam]

Elia Powers[Edit][Delete]: Hooking Up, Politically, Inside Higher Ed [Edit][Delete] August 4, 2006
[link: 2 Hits] The real reason politicians fear social networking. "Facebook is also becoming a key resource for student leaders who mine the site for users with similar interests and world views. Politicians and nonprofit groups have discovered the power of grassroots online organizing, and college leaders, who are even more used to the networking functions, are staking out their Web presence, as well." [Tags: , ] [Comment] [Edit] [Delete] [Spam]

Dave Warlick[Edit][Delete]: DOPA Conversation, 2 cents Worth [Edit][Delete]2 Cents Worth [Edit][Delete] August 4, 2006
[link: Hits] Darve Warlick links to a number of commercial news outlets discussing the DOPA legislation (which makes things like blogging illegal in schools). Dave Tosh, meanwhile, links to a post on the impact of DOPA on ELGG. And Michael Feldstein has some suggestions to offer. [Tags: , ] [Comment] [Edit] [Delete] [Spam]

Sarah Brittain, Pietrek Glowacki, Jared Van Ittersum and Lynn Johnson[Edit][Delete]: Podcasting Lectures, EDUCAUSE Quarterly [Edit][Delete] August 4, 2006
[link: Hits] OK, I appreciate the scientific research process, I really do, though I am always leery of attempts to find the 'best' method for doing something (because any empiricist will have discovered long ago that what counts as 'best' varies dramatically according to circumstances). But this article really stretches my appreciation as the authors progress through not one but three separate pilot trials before discovering (ta da!) podcasting (specifically, using MP3 and RSS to syndicate audio). The 'Acquisitions Solutions' part was the (ahem) silliest, as the authors describe wiring the room's microphone system into the iPod to produce audio of "extremely poor quality and almost useless." It does not appear to have occurred to the experimenters to try other devices, such as an iRiver or even a cheap $29.95 MP3 recorder in an instructor's pocket (which might actually have done the job). What bothers me is that what this experimentation shows most of all is that the designers, committed though they were to empirical science, did not do any background reading on the subject, but rather relied on their own intuition and instinct (and on 'focus groups' of students that eventually led them to podcasting). The authors' assertion that "formative evaluation strategies helped identify a solution to a learning dilemma" is emphatically not proven in this instance. More from the current issue of EDUCAUSE Quarterly, now available. [Tags: , , , ] [Comment] [Edit] [Delete] [Spam]

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

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Stephen Downes

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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


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