Stephen's Web

[Chat] [Discuss] [Search] [About] [Options]


by Stephen Downes
December 19, 2006

Another startup: "Open-Of-Course is a multilingual portal for free online courses and tutorials. By 'free' we not only mean free as in 'free beer' but also published as open content." The right idea - but when will these form a network, rather than merely focusing on individual sites? But hey, I'm cheering for the open educational content. Various Authors, December 19, 2006 [Link] [Comment]

Definitions: ABCD Objectives
I didn't want to link to this, but I did want to comment. However, is once again down for the count (I converted my Blogger account to a Google account, which runs on - but the sad and sorry way the company is treating customers should be a matter for company-wide embarrassment). What I was going to comment was that this short guide reads like it could come out of B.F. Skinner, and to question whether this was an appropriate foundation for the design of learning materials. I haven't harped on this, because it should be obvious, but it remains puzzling that so much of the instructional design community remains rooted in behaviorism - this more than 30 years after the theory was abandoned everywhere else. Karl Kapp, Kapp Notes December 19, 2006 [Link] [Comment]

Free Software Foundation Launches BadVista
Here's a site that doesn't look like it will ever run out of material. ", a Web site run by the Free Software Foundation, is devoted to the mission of exposing the harms inflicted on computer users by Microsoft's Windows Vista operating system and promoting free software alternatives that respect users' security and privacy rights." Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, Linux Watch December 19, 2006 [Link] [Comment]

The Quest to Know Knowledge
Another review of George Siemens's Connectivism, a book published online that, we learn, has been downloaded 40,000 times now (and hopefully read nearly as often). I have thought of the dashboard analogy, mentioned by Clive Shepherd, but have my doubts about it, as a dashboard is about consuming information, not producing it. I'm not sure we have good analogies for what George is describing. Because the analogies are simple, but network phenomena are complex. Clive Shepherd, Clive on Learning December 19, 2006 [Link] [Comment]

Re: How to Create an RSS Feed With Notepad, a Web Server, and a Beer
Thank you ever so much for clearly giving an example of RSS and clarifying that it is only a file sitting on the web server. This whole idea of "feeds" had me thinkging that there must be more involved. I will be generating my RSS on the fly with PHP, but I needed this level of simplcity to understand what to do. Thank you again for the clarity and simplicity of your article. Ben Anymouse, December 19, 2006 [Link] [Comment]

Creativity Costs Money in Second Life
Pretty much my experience in Second Life (and yes, I've put in the hours): "the main education areas are pretty peaceful - no-one but me ever appears to be there. And pretty dull - a few notices and advertising for on-line courses -what is innovative in that. OK - I see some of the universities are developing on-line classrooms. But why?" And also: "The whole model of SL is a capitalist model and doing anything costs. This is not a tool for free public education." Graham Attwell, The Wales Wide Web December 19, 2006 [Link] [Comment]

Ten Web 2.0 APIs You Can Really Use
Some good stuff here if you're technically inclined, including things I've talked about before, such as OpenID and Geonames. If you're not technically inclined, still take a look at this, so you'll have a sense of the sorts of capacities that will be available through the next year. Good article, though spreading it out over six pages is really an annoyance. Via Scott Wilson. Evan Prodromou, LinuxWorld December 19, 2006 [Link] [Comment]

Gentle Reader, Stay Awhile; I Will Be Faithful
Hm, yes, I like this: the idea of writing for a reader, not an audience. "Audiences are impersonal and distant. When I think of writing for an audience, I feel obligated to put on a show and be properly entertaining. But although I do hope my readers enjoy what I write, my primary goal isn't to appear larger-than-life." Amber Simmons, A List Apart December 19, 2006 [Link] [Comment]

Free and Free and CC
Alan Levine abandons the non-commercial and share-alike conditions on his licenses after some lobbying. My experience is that most of the lobbying is by companies just waiting to get their hands on the free stuff, convert it to commercial stuff, and then close down the market. I could be wrong. But without free markets we can't have free content, and we don't have free markets yet, not with DRM still on the ascendent. Levine misrepresents my concern as "the fear that Some Big Evil Moneygrubbing Corporate Entity will get Fabulously Wealthy By Using My Stuff." I don't care if people get wealthy; I do care if they get wealthy by denying access to other people. Meanwhile, a newspaper chain in the U.S. has rolled out a Creative Commons non-commercial license over 96 newspaper websites. Alan Levine, CogDogBlog December 19, 2006 [Link] [Comment]

Re: Publishers Disagree Text Prices are Too High
Stephen, we have to wait sometime before we will see textbook publishers get it. If there were a petition to advocate for the e-publishing of textbooks, I would sign it. Randy Decker, December 19, 2006 [Link] [Comment]

Re: Wrong Problem, Wrong Solution
A part of being able to think well is to be able to make simple mathematical models of reality in your head. Unfortunately, even many of my fellow engineers are unable to do this. A good mathematical education allows you to understand issues in many areas and is even useful in the social sciences. So not only is a mathematical education necessary, and also needs to be taught better (concentrating on modelling rather than rote learning - eg. what would you use a quadratic for),even worse it should probably be included in many fields of study that people have pursued in order to avoid learning any more math. Brian Mulligan Anymouse, December 19, 2006 [Link] [Comment]

Re: The Basics: Your Office on the Web
Thanks for taking note of Ian's post, Stephen! As you say, Zoho can be used for many of the things above - Zoho Planner for your to-dos, Zoho Show for your presentations, Zoho Writer for your documents and Zoho Sheet for your spreadsheets. There are more apps at as well. Anymouse, December 19, 2006 [Link] [Comment]

Re: Wrong Problem, Wrong Solution
I know that in BC it is quite possible to graduate from high school without knowing the quadratic formula. So, unless this jurisdiction is more unusual than I think it is, Shank doesn't seem to know his head from a hole in the ground. Of course it will always be true that "We need more people who can think. We need to teach job skills, people skills, and reasoning skills. And we need to make education exciting and interesting." But Shank surrounds these observations with so much incoherent and contradictory posturing that I would consider his polemic virtually useless for persuading anyone who actually does know how to think. For example, his "Here are reasons why" (teaching math and science "better") "is simply the wrong answer"(to the question of "why American kids aren't interested" in science and engineering) is followed not by reasons but by a series of rhetorical questions directed not at that issue but rather at the motives of foreign students - which he does not relate at all to the lack of motives for domestic ones. Then later he says "The right answer would be to make math and science actually interesting" - but isn't that exactly what teaching them "better" would consist of??? But then again, why *is* this the right answer if, as he asserts a bit further on, "What also makes no sense is the idea that math and science are important subjects."? Of course they aren't *essential* to everyone, but someone who can't say what he means correctly shouldn't be pontificating about how to teach people to think. Anymouse, December 19, 2006 [Link] [Comment]


This newsletter is sent only at the request of subscribers. If you would like to unsubscribe, Click here.

Know a friend who might enjoy this newsletter? Feel free to forward OLDaily to your colleagues. If you received this issue from a friend and would like a free subscription of your own, you can join our mailing list. Click here to subscribe.

Copyright 2007 Stephen Downes

This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons License.