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by Stephen Downes
February 7, 2007

Students Freeze to Ice Tuition Hike
Congratulations to the Canadian Federation of Students for their Day of Action today. My interest in education today has its genesis in this sort of activism, and my argument of two decades ago is the same as the one taken up by CFS today. Said one student quoted in the story, "I'm looking at $42,000 in student debt after just four years and I was hoping to go to law school, but that could mean a debt of almost $100,000." And you know, it seems to me that any country that can afford to give billions of dollars in subsidies to corporations can afford to give students a break on tuition. Certainly, an investment in education provides a much greater return for the nation as a whole. Louise Brown, Toronto Star February 7, 2007 [Link] [Comment]

Thoughts On Music
Steve Jobs lays the cards on the table. "If the big four music companies would license Apple their music without the requirement that it be protected with a DRM, we would switch to selling only DRM-free music on our iTunes store." This is pretty much inevitable. First, no DRM system has ever succeeded, because all DRM systems rely on something being secret, and secrets can always be leaked or cracked. And second, the music industry already sells ten times more music on CDs, which are DRM-free (their efforts to convert CDs to DRM formats have ended in failure and sometimes debacle). Maybe the music industry is waiting to see whether Vista succeeds in protecting content (it won't). It is to Apple's advantage to make this move now, before the results are in. Steve Jobs, Apple February 7, 2007 [Link] [Comment]

Birthplace of Blackboard Comments On Patent Issue
The birthplace of Blackboard, Cornell University, is considering its options. "When Blackboard announced their patent it did cause us to begin an assessment of whether we wanted to move away from Blackboard ... It did cause us to rethink whether we wanted to use their product." Mark Feldstein, e-Literate February 7, 2007 [Link] [Comment]

The Changing Face of Workplace Learning
The article begins by talking about corporate podcasting but strives generally to say that the future of corporate learning is mobile. "Imagine that it's 1998 and your company doesn't have a website or an intranet... That's about where we are with mobility right now." Certainly this is a better alternative to the traditional classroom course, which "simply doesn't work for the mobile generation, which places a premium on autonomy." It's not just about the mobility, and not just about the time-shifting. "Podcasting allows employees to take responsibility for their own learning and trusts them to understand and act on what they need to know to succeed in their jobs." Anders Gronstedt, Learning Circuits February 7, 2007 [Link] [Comment]

Serious Games Discussion
Good summary of a discussion on the 'Serious Games' mailing list, and I like the way the conversation evolves. It begins with Clark Aldrich saying, "I am realizing that I don't have a good term for the 'interactive part' of a educational simulation/serious game" and continues with suggestions ranging from "gameplay" to "the Game." But then it takes a right turn with Kent Quirk observing, "This message just clarified for me what's been bothering me about this whole exercise: it's the attempt to legislate jargon... attempting to define a set of unambiguous terms for a very ambiguous environment." Right. And more - the jargon is intended to define a group, its thought leaders, and a domain of discourse. To build walls instead of bridges. Mark Oehlert, e-Clippings February 7, 2007 [Link] [Comment]

Digital Object Identifiers (Podcast) Jon Udell Talks with Tony Hammond
Mark Oehlert writes, "Welcome to the world of HANDLES and DOIs and DSpace and CORDRA. Don't know what they are? Think super-persistent URLs..also think those things which will enable those repositories of learning objects that is the goal of many to actually exist." No no no no no. This is what you'll get with DOIs (it's supposed to be Behavioral and Brain Sciences 29 (2006): 37--70). Persistence is the claim that is being made for them - but there is nothing more intrinsically persistent about a DOI than a URL. Servers already support a 'mod rewrite' function, which means that any given URL can point to an object anywhere in the world. And for those who don't have that, there is Purl and many similar services. So why DOI and the rest? To replace the http:// protocol. And why do that? To build access control into the fabric of the web. Why? Because the U.S. military wants it, that's why. DOI and CORDRA are not designed to give us repositories - we already have those. They are designed to eliminate open access. Mark Oehlert, e-Clippings February 7, 2007 [Link] [Comment]


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Copyright 2007 Stephen Downes

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