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by Stephen Downes
January 29, 2008

Threads XML
An RSS feed of all the comments submitted to the site (after I edit for inappropriate content) is now available. The RSS is here. Various Authors, Stephen's Web January 29, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

OER Blogs
OERBlogs is a new initiative from MIT's OpenCourseWare project to aggregate and stimulate discussion about open educational resources. John Dehlin writes, "Now I know what you're probably saying.....why not just have folks use an RSS reader??? Well the truth is that....1) most folks in the world still don't use RSS readers -- and I'm hoping for a bigger reach than what a client-side application can bring, and 2) you can't link from Digg or Slashdot to people's individual RSS readers." Various Authors, OCW January 29, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

Public Offering
The Columbia Business School is now blogging. It's so business-like. No RSS feed (I've written them about it). Comments limited to 450 words. A hierarchy in the two-person staff. Via Tyler Cowan. Jill Stoddard and Marianna Macri, Columbia Business School January 29, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment]

Reality of One Laptop Per Child?
This post reruns an email from Martin Lucas to the iDC mailing list. People interested in the state of education in Malawi will want to read this post. The author, quite rightly, asks what the benefit of computers like the OLPC XO computers would be in a place like Malawi, where the government cannot even afford to distribute 1 Euro chalk slates to its students and where radio is the primary medium of learning. Fair enough, and one might also how satellite dishes, SUVs and mobile phones would be useful to people in Malawi. The XOs won't help everyone, but the computers, which can form local wireless networks and contain things like Wikipedia, can help some. Especially the children. Steve Borsch, Connecting the Dots January 29, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

The EduBlogs Magazine
This is a good idea whose time has come. The EduBlogs Magazine is a compendium of what's happening in the world of Edublogs. In a sense it's a lot like OLDaily (which author Lorelle VanFossen seems to have not found in her survey of edublogs - guess I need to highlight it a bit more).I wish the authors of this new magazine the best - it's not easy to discover and organize what's happening in our field, and any contribution to that effrt helps us all. The RSS feed is here, for those of you who want to subscribe directly. More specific RSS feeds are also available. Related: also brand new is The Edublogger, a sister publication, contains hints, tips and techniques to support edublogging. It's bright and colorful with useful diagrams on useful topics (like 'how to create a link' and 'how to embed a widget'). Lorelle VanFossen, james Farmer, Sue Waters,, The EduBlogs Magazine January 29, 2008 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

The Canadian DMCA: A Summary To-Date
As the title suggests. In case you weren't reading previous issues of this newsletter and need to gt caught up. Related: Tim Denton argues that copyright is not a left-right issue. Michael Geist, Weblog January 29, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , , , ] [Comment]

23,000 Linux PCs Forge Education Revolution in Philippines
Description of a program involving the deployment of thousands of Linux computers in schools in the Philippines. Even though heavily subsidized, Microsoft products are still too expensive for the schools, which began looking at Linux in earnest after the 1997 market collapse. There's a bit of a subtext to this item which catches my eye, specifically, the need for commercial Linux companies to exist in order to capture government contracts. One wonders how much the structure of school and government procurement actually inhibits non-commercial initiatives (including open source software) and, conversely, how much such procurement processes are stimulating the Cape-Town-style commercialization of open content initiatives. The problem (as I see it) is that the commercialization of these initiatives drives up their cost, making them harder to access and less affordable to the people who really need them. Rodney Gedda, Computerworld January 29, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

Open Educational Resources Aid Florida Reading Teachers
This item points us to a useful resource, the Free Reading online early literacy program. The resource is based in a wiki and encourages contributions from volunteers; it is licensed under Creative Commons (By-SA) and so is freely available for anyone to use. As this blog post notes, eSchool News is reporting that "Florida has adopted on its short list of K-3 supplemental reading programs that schools may use." It is worth noting how open educational resources such as this will vie with commercial resources for accreditation, such as the 600 Skillsoft courses just approved in Australia. This is something to watch. How much does it cost to accredit resources? Right now, it seems that both commercial and noncommercial resources may gain accreditation, but it is not hard to imagine a gerrymandering of the process to freeze out open resources. Something to watch out for.

One more note. The article states that "Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales and Richard Baraniuk, an engineering professor at Rice University and founder of the school's Connexions program, have started the Open Education Movement," which is totally false. The Open Education Movement existed long before the Cape Town Declaration and is represented by thousands of people, not the high-profile luminaries picked out by some private foundation. Timothy Vollmer, Creative Commons Blog January 29, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , , , , , , , ] [Comment]

A Transactional Model of College Teaching
"Without learning, teaching is merely an act of self-gratification." So say David M. Dees and the rest of his co-authors in this description of the use of the Teaching/Learning Transactional (T/LT) model to conduct peer assessments of college teaching. It's a good overview of a use of the model, where "teaching and learning are seen as two facets of one entity rather than as two separate entities." More articles from the current issue of the International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (IJTLHE, volume 19, number 2) are now available. David M. Dees,, IJTLHE January 29, 2008 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Harmonization of Metadata Standards
This is a very good paper that surveys the obstacles to metadata harmonization in e-learning. Mikael Nilsson looks at five systems for identifying and describing learning resources: Learning Object Metadata (LOM), Dublin Core (DCMI), Resource Description Framework (RDF), Metadata Object Description Schema (MODS; used to encode MARC21 library records defined by the Library of Congress), and the MPEG-7 MDS used to define multimedia. The paper compares these very different specifications across a variety of dimensions, including structure, vocabulary, semantics, and value referencing. I fully endorse this paper; there's nothing I would question, and it even highlights some biases (such as "a strong recommendation for basing identification on URIs") that I share. This is a high-level paper, but fundamental and very clearly written. It is easily accessible to all readers who are willing to give it the time it deserves. PDF. Mikael Nilsson, ProLearn January 29, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , , , ] [Comment]

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Copyright 2008 Stephen Downes

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