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by Stephen Downes
December 26, 2006

Re: Skrbl
Skrbl is an interesting whiteboard tool; however, it is extremely limited. There are two pretty good whiteboard tools now available for use with Skype. One is called SketchPad. The other is called TalkAndWrite. Both SketchPad and TalkAndWrite work with Windows XP and Windows XP for the Tablet PC. Rick Lillie Anymouse, December 26, 2006 [Link] [Comment]

Re: Thunderbird
I hope this comment still reaches you... I am having trouble getting any of your feeds, for example: to load in Thunderbird. I am using Thunderbird on Ubuntu 6.06. Your site is the only blog I experience this problem in. Is it something for you to look into? Or is it a problem in Thunderbird (also very likely). Thank you for all your work online! Kind regards, Hans de Zwart Anymouse, December 26, 2006 [Link] [Comment]

Microsoft Seeks Patent Covering Web feed Readers
We have people in our organization who keep saying you can't patent things that have been previously invented, announced or publicized - and yet every day, it seems, we see evidence of the opposite. Microsoft gave us all a lump of coal over the holiday by filing patents on aspects of RSS-based content syndication. From CNet: "Microsoft has filed for two patents covering technology used to organize and read syndicated Web feeds, such as those delivered via the widely used Really Simple Syndication, or RSS, family of formats." Microsoft responds, "these patents describe specific ways to improve the RSS end-user and developer experience (which we believe are valuable and innovative contributions) -- they do not constitute a claim that Microsoft invented RSS." The problem is, as we have seen elsewhere, companies minimize the impact when speaking publicly, but maximize the impact when presenting their patent in court. My sympathies lie with the first comment: "Please go steal somebody else's ideas, thank you. RSS is not M$'s to steal or patent!" Anne Broache, CNet December 26, 2006 [Link] [Comment]

Social Influence for Perceived Usefulness and Ease-of-Use of Course Delivery Systems
The conclusion the authors draw - that "that instructors may influence students' perceived usefulness but not perceived ease-of-use on the technology they use in learning" - is simply not supported by the evidence. More of the same from the Journal of Interactive Online Learning. Demei Shen, James Laffey, Yimei Lin, and Xinxin Huang, Journal of Interactive Online Learning December 26, 2006 [Link] [Comment]

Open Educational Resources - Anonymity vs. Specificity
Hylen writes, "To establish a credible academic reward system that includes the production and use of OER might be the single most important policy issue for a large scale deployment of OER in teaching and learning." This in turn raises the question of attribution in the production of open educational resources (OERs). This in turn leads to questions of quality attributions: "On the one hand the Openness of digital information networks implies a rather anonymous relation between the involved persons, especially between the producer of the resource and its user. On the other hand educational resources are usually made to fit into specific social context of teaching and learning." More recent contributions from EURODL. Bernd Remmele, EURODL December 26, 2006 [Link] [Comment]

End of an era for Open University
Interesting. "The Open University has made its last broadcast, marking the end of an era... some 36 years after the first programme..." Unattributed, BBC News December 26, 2006 [Link] [Comment]

Informal Learning - Here at Last?
OK, I need to set the record straight here. The author writes, "Learning just happens âx" sometimes particularly around the water cooler. So let there be more water coolers âx" and then add comfy chairs, sofas, and an espresso machine so that employees, who happen to be people, can chat and exchange ideas. That's how they will learn." No, this is exactly wrong, in my view. People don't learn - informally or otherwise - when they are not doing anything. Informal learning isn't 'water cooler learning'. People learn when they are doing something. Informal learning is the learning you do while you're in the process of doing something else. Unattributed, CHECKpoint eLearning December 26, 2006 [Link] [Comment]

Flash in the pan, but I like it: "skrbl is a web whiteboard. Just start skrbl, give your skrbl URL to your friends, and instantly start sharing online. Write notes, see and edit each others notes... Everyone sees the same screen, everybody stays on the same page." Via Jane Knight. Various Authors, December 26, 2006 [Link] [Comment]

Flash in the pan, but I like it: "skrbl is a web whiteboard. Just start skrbl, give your skrbl URL to your friends, and instantly start sharing online. Write notes, see&edit each others notes... Everyone sees the same screen, everybody stays on the same page." Via Jane Knight. Various Authors, December 26, 2006 [Link] [Comment]

Six Trends for 2007 and the 21st Century
The original eSchool News article is hidden behind a registration wall, but I will happily link to this open version on ZDNet to highlight the predictions: web 2.0, cloud computing, service-oriented architecture, the gathering SCORM, telepresence, and 21st century learning. A number of these trends, like web 2.0, are from last year. Things like SOA and SCORM will impact few people they haven't already impacted; there's no growth there. Telepresence will be pushed - hard - by the telcos, but until we have 6 foot screens in our houses it won't be much of a factor (the big screens make a big difference, though, so do keep an eye on this one). 'Cloud computing' is this year's 'grid computing', which the year before was 'shared computing', which was once SETI. Yawn. And '21st century learning' is all that n on-core soft skills stuff that business has rediscovered after a decade of trying to get it removed from schools. Gregg Downey, ZDNet Education December 26, 2006 [Link] [Comment]

What Elgg Gets Right
I have mostly good things to say about ELGG, though I see the development as a bit too company-centric, a bit too site centric (though that probably can't be helped; people always prefer to use your free service rather than to download and install your free software). I wish the weblogs had more inspired names. This short article lists things ELGG gets right: a user-centric approach, tags, access groups, aggregation and theming. Via Dave Tosh - who should write about online spaces generally, and not just about ELGG (this is that company-centric thing I'm talking about; don't promote so relentlessly, participate in the conversation, read and think widely, reflect what you're learning, not merely what you're building or selling). Kevin Jardine, Radagast Solutions December 26, 2006 [Link] [Comment]


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Copyright 2007 Stephen Downes

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