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by Stephen Downes
February 11, 2008

In Defence of OpenLearn
Martin Weller offers a line-by-line defense of OpenLearn against Donald Clark's criticisms, summarizing, "I think overall openlearn has been guilty of veering into a traditional, university type model (top down, quality assured, proper processes, etc) rather than a more radical 2.0 approach, but in both content and intent it represents a huge step forward for both the OU and UK Higher education. After all, I don't see Epic releasing all their courses for free." On balance, give this match to Weller.

Tony Hirst also weighs in with a long account describing the hopes and aspirations of OpenLearn. It's a great read in its own right. Responding to the question, "is OpenLearn making right content available?," and "is it just another document dump?" Hirst responds in true form: "Who cares? The take home points for me about OpenLearn is that it makes available authentic distance educational material, some of it designed for online delivery, in an open format and under an open license." Martin Weller, The Ed Techie February 11, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

The Future of Metadata
The future of metadata is... resource profiles. Really, with a distributed web, there is no viable alternative way of looking at it. Martin Memmel and Eric Ras, E-Learning in a Nutshell February 11, 2008 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Kitchener Newspaper Interview
The Blackboard Patent trial began today - here's the joint pretrial order (via Seb Schmoller) outlining the issues in 16 crisp pages - and the Kitchener Record, D2L's hometown newspaper, covered the opening by interviewing Bary Dahl. The article states that "Blackboard... wants sales of Desire2Learn's education software banned in the U.S.," which he says was "news" to him. To me, too, frankly, but I can't say I'm surprised. Barry Dahl, Desire2Blog February 11, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Informal Learning For Managers
The money quote is this: "Managers spend up to two hours a day searching for information, and more than 50 percent of the information they obtain has no value to them... IDC estimates that an enterprise employing 1,000 knowledge workers wastes at least $2.5 to $3.5 million per year searching for nonexistent information..." Of course, I wouldn't simply equate informal learning to the finding of information, and neither does this article, but you can see how the hook can capture managers' attentions. The article features a neural-like diagram with tiny (almost incomprehensible) print contrasting formal and informal learning. It's interesting to look at, but I wouldn't try putting it on a slide. Ed Konczal, EDUCAUSE Connect February 11, 2008 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

Open Educational Resources Movement Timeline
If you're doing a presentation on open educational resources (OERs) this timeline, created last August by Judy Baker, may be of use to you. Via Joseph Hart. Judy Baker, xTimeline February 11, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Technology Plays Key Role in Obama Success Story
If you are wondering why Barak Obama is doing so well in the polls, writes Michael Geist, part of the answer may be found in his (and his supporters') use of technology. Not just the Yes We Can video, which may (in my view) be one of the best political advertisements ever, but also his technological stance. "He provides evidence that net neutrality, broadband access, and digital copyright have moved beyond mere business concerns into front-line political issues that cannot be easily ignored." Contrast that to the stance taken by the Canada's Industry Minister. Michael Geist, Weblog February 11, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment]

Wanted or Not, Windows Is Coming to the OLPC Laptop
I would say "not". But the thing about OLPC that has always been unacceptable to the corporate world is its use of free and open source software. But now, according to Scott Gilbertson, "Microsoft is rushing to release an XO-compatible version of Windows XP." What, not Vista? Scott Gilbertson, Monkey Bites February 11, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Document Sharing Software
The best thing about this issuu document sharing software is the way it handles viewing large documents without scrolling. Inge de Waard, Ignatia February 11, 2008 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

A School That's Too High On Gizmos
Patrick Welsh, who has taught English at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Virginia, for the last 30 years, is not impressed with the new $98 million facility and isn't hesitant to say so, penning (no doubt!) a paean in the Washington post for overhead projectors (that are "far superior to computers for getting certain concepts across"), whiteboards (!) and good teaching. "Technology is just a tool," we are told, "not an end in itself. It will never replace good teaching." Maybe not. But for the people who cannot afford to attend $98 million schools - with or without gizmos - it already has. Via Will Richardson. Patrick Welsh, Washington Post February 11, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

Time to Break the Town-and-Gown Barrier
Richard Florida observes - correctly - that the focus on the university as the creator of commercial licensing is misplaced. "The old model of a university pumping out research results and educated students, or even commercial innovations and start-ups, [is] no longer sufficient.... the university is not a one-note samba. Its role goes beyond technology. Economic development today turns on three Ts - technology, talent and tolerance - and universities nurture all of them." Too bad about that hackneyed use of the 'town-and-gown' metaphor in the headline. Richard Florida, Globe and Mail February 11, 2008 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

The Future of Elgg: 1.0 and Beyond
News of the future of Elgg. Interestingly, the application will ship as a shell to which you add your own choice of features. As a subsequent post notes, The era of the all-encompassing, unfocused social network has come and gone; Elgg allows you to build systems that are specific to a particular market or audience, with exactly the features you need." Meanwhile, TakingITGlobal, which will be taking eduspaces (Elgg) accounts, has sent an email to all members linking to posted terms of service they will sign up for if they move. News, Elgg February 11, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

Surveys Via Google Spreadsheets
Darren Draper points us to a nifty application of Google Spreadsheets: surveys. I will be interested to see what the export capacity is like - specifically, can I use RSS or something like that to syndicate survey results into a website or web page. Maybe I'll make a survey some day (I tried today but kept getting a 'server error' message from Google). Darren Draper, Drape's Takes February 11, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

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Copyright 2008 Stephen Downes

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