August 28, 2006


Norm Friesen[Edit][Delete]: E-Learning Myth #2: Technology Drives Educational Change, Ipseity [Edit][Delete] August 28, 2006
[link: 16 Hits] Norm Friesen has posted the second installment of his series, arguing that the assumptions that "technology drives educational change, and that there is generally a direct and one-way relationship between technical innovation and educational transition" are myths. Again, I have offered my own view, based on an earlier argument. Friesen replies in the comments. [Tags: ] [Comment] [Edit] [Delete] [Spam]

: Google Offerings, heyjude [Edit][Delete] August 28, 2006
[link: Hits] This has been covered all over the place. "Google this week will launch Google Apps for Your Domain, a software bundle aimed at small and midsize companies." In the process it has completely messed up my login for Blogger. Nerts! [Tags: ] [Comment] [Edit] [Delete] [Spam]

Charles Nelson[Edit][Delete]: Code of Ethics, Explorations in Learning [Edit][Delete] August 28, 2006
[link: Hits] More discussion on the question of whether there should be codes of ethics for internet use. This longish post from Charles Nelson continues the defense of codes of ethics, in opposition to my own position. I think a lot of the disagreement is based on (what I would call) a misunderstanding as to what constitutes a 'code' - a code isn't merely a set of suggestions, guidelines or instructions. It is a definition of what is right and what is wrong. Nelson writes, "Without laws, there would be no need for judges to interpret their application." This is false. While the legal code creates some broad parameters, the bulk of law is based on precedent, which is what judges decide when the law does not state explicitly. Arguably (and I would argue) the body of law could be built up without any laws whatsoever (and might work rather better). Indeed, that's why I would agree with Nelson that "stories work better". P.S. I would never ever take a lesson in morality and ethics from Shell - this company's conduct is exactly what I find wrong about the legal positivism that seems to permeate our society today. [Tags: ] [Comment] [Edit] [Delete] [Spam]

Jeff Howe[Edit][Delete]: No Suit Required, Wired News [Edit][Delete]Wired news [Edit][Delete] August 28, 2006
[link: Hits] One of the reasons I have supported open source and open content is that it favours small producers. When content, copyrights and intellectual property in general are owned, this favour large producers. Nowhere is this clearer than in the music industry, where (somehow!) people king William Hung and Paris Hilton are made 'stars' via marketing hype. If you're not part of the program, you can forget it. Now I happen to be a fan of artists like the Barenaked Ladies and Sarah McLaughlin. And I have seen these quality acts get little, if any, promotion through traditional means. So I am not surprised to see them working with Nettwerk Music Group - a company that doesn't want to 'own' them, it just wants to sell CDs with their music. And to let the fans do the marketing through the sharing and remixing of the content. Will this make me more likely to buy a $14 CD? Well, no. But I'm much more likely now to shell out $50 for contert tix. Via elearnspace. [Tags: , , , , ] [Comment] [Edit] [Delete] [Spam]

Paul N. Courant and Rebecca J. Griffiths[Edit][Delete]: OOSS (Organization for Open Source Software) Study, OOSS [Edit][Delete] August 28, 2006
[link: Hits] According to this study of open source software in education, "there has been increasing interest in the potential of open source to address longstanding concerns in the higher education community regarding the cost and performance of commercial software products." The authors suggest that "the problem lies in the distance between the software producers and users developers working in the commercial world do not have a nuanced appreciation of the ways in which software is used in higher education." Via EDUCAUSE. [Tags: , ] [Comment] [Edit] [Delete] [Spam]

Weslet Fryer[Edit][Delete]: The Children's Machine, Moving at the Speed of Creativity [Edit][Delete] August 28, 2006
[link: Hits] In what is an astonishing bit of rebranding, the $100 computer is now being called "The Children's Machine". I do like what I'm seeing of the development - wireless mesh, possible VOIP support, digital images and video support, and more. I wonder, though, whether this rebranding reflects a change in the mission of the project - is it still geared toward the developing world (which, the last time I checked, contained millions of people who are not children)? More from Tim Stahmer [Tags: , , , , ] [Comment] [Edit] [Delete] [Spam]

Justin Pope[Edit][Delete]: Patent Fight Over Online Schooling, Business Week [Edit][Delete] August 28, 2006
[link: Hits] Business Week has discovered the Blackboard patent fight and in a typically one-sided article attempts to depict the fight as being between Blackboard and "the academic computing community, which is fighting back in techie fashion -- through online petitions and in a sprawling Wikipedia entry that helps make its case." Blackboard is given credit for an invention (though it is characterized as "obvious" and "incremental") although it should not be (even Blackboard's "obvious" and "incremental" developments were discovered prior to its claim). The 'market' is described as entirely occupied by commercial products, which is simply false ("Blackboard has about 60 percent of the market for those systems, followed by eCollege and Desire2Learn with about 20 percent each, according to Eduventures"). And universities are said to be "borrowing from" Moodle and the Sakai project, rather than, as is actually the case, developing them and using them.

As Michael Feldstein notes, ABC News, the Washington Post and USA Today have also run the Business Week article. The article was also reprinted in Wired News, which is disappointing, because they can do better than that.

Alfred Essa also comments on the Business Week article, and is worth quoting at length (because the article is a very good example of bias and propaganda in the commercial media):

"Blackboard continues to repeat its spin that 'We're not trying to put anyone out of business. We're not trying to hinder innovation. We're seeking a reasonable royalty.' If Blackboard is after reasonable royalties, why did the company file a lawsuit against Desire2Learn as its first course of action? If Blackboard is after reasonable royalties, why is the company asking for treble damages against Desire2Learn for wilfull patent infrigement?

"The most laughable quote in the article is Blackboard general counsel Matthew Small's claim that the company supports open source. 'He says the company supports open source, and notes a Blackboard product called Building Blocks allows users to create their own systems off Blackboard's basic platform.' We have some crummy APIs, therefore, we support open source. Gimme a break, dude."

Afred Essa also passes on information about Desire2Learn's request for specific materials: "At this time we are seeking specific user manuals and documentation dated June 1999 or earlier from any of the following vendors: Blackboard, Prometheus, Web Course In A Box, WebCT, VirtualU, Lotus and MadDuck."

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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