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by Stephen Downes
April 16, 2008

Why I'll Never Advance
As Clarence Fisher remarks in an earlier post: once you know the matrix exists, you can't go back. Which, I suspect, is also why he says he'll "never advance." He writes, "I'm also realizing more and more the importance of living honestly with yourself no matter what the cost may be." And once you realize this, you can never go back; no victory ever seems worth having if it comes at the expense of being true to yourself. "Ideals win." Clarence Fisher, Remote Access, April 16, 2008 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

eLearning Guild Keynote: John Patrick
Clark Quinn, who's at the E-Learning Guild conference, draws a mind-map of John Patrick's keynote on the future of the internet and implications for learning. It's a good mind-map. But. Hasn't anyone noticed that mindmaps have the same logical structure as threaded lists? And, therefore, the same logical structure as a hierarchy, taxonomy, and all the rest of it? Drawing circles and arrows doesn't change the nature of what is a very basic (and simplistic) organizational structure. This is why I've long been sceptical about mind maps - they don't add anything to the mix. If I write clear notes, and indent, exactly the same organization and content is there. (By contrast, look at the diagram in this post, summarizing a talk by Marc Rosenberg. It's basically a table, but brings in an implicit third (temporal) dimension with the large arrow). Clark Quinn, Learnlets, April 16, 2008 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Coming Out of Silent Mode
Here's what David Wiley's now-outta-stealth startup is doing: "We preserve the best of the old - books by leading experts that are rigorously reviewed and developed to the highest standards. Then we flip it all on its head. Our books are free online. We offer convenient, low-cost choices for students - print, audio, by-the-chapter, and more. Our books are open for instructors to mix, mash, and make their own. Our books are the hub of a social learning network where students learn from the book and each other." I like the bit about open content. But I can't help wondering whether there's any link between Wiley's participation in this commercial venture and his advocacy regarding the commercial production and use of open educational resources. David Wiley, iterating toward openness, April 16, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment]

H1 TCC08: Transitioning From WebCT to Sakai
Christy Tucker has been doing all of us a favour by liveblogging the Technology, Colleges, and Community (TCC) conference in Hawaii. One I liked was Applying the Hedgehog Principle in higher education. And this item looks at how to transition from WebCT - the commercial LMS bought out by Blackboard - to Sakai - the open source LMS created by a consortium of universities. Christy Tucker, Experiencing E-Learning, April 16, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Virtual Worlds Management
Georghe Siemens picks up this great list of almost 100 child or teen-oriented virtual world projects. The list, though, is a bit awkward to work with - each entry links to an article in Virtual Worlds News that may or may not link to (or even name) the virtual world in question. Various Authors, Virtual Worlds News, April 16, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Configure Mail to Prevent iCal Spam
If you use Google Calendar, you will want to fix this to prevent spam from being sent into your account. Jeff Carlson, TidBits, April 16, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Haring eLearning Content: a Synthesis and Commentary
It's hard to see how I could have missed this one - maybe the announcement only came out now? - but from February at JISC is this paper summarizing attitudes and opinions regarding the sharing of eLearning content. The findings are consistent with previous reports: "75.1% of participants wanted the author of the contributed material to be attributed... Students regard email as a formal communication channel for keeping in touch with 'older people' such as tutors and parents.... only one institution is close to a strategy for sharing elearning content." Andrew Charlesworth, Nicky Ferguson, Seb Schmoller, Neil Smith and Rob Tice, JISC, April 16, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Retention of Learning Materials: A Survey of Institutional Policies and Practice
I think the most significant result of this report was its negative finding: "Most academic staff responding to the survey saw little value in developing a managed approach to the retention of learning materials." Moreover, "There is little recognition, particularly among creators and developers, of learning materials as institutional assets or as the product of an investment of institutional time and resources." I think that this is a significant finding, since so much effort is spent developing and maintaining institutional repositories. I continue to believe that support for individual repositories would be more successful. But it may be that any change from the current practice would be rejected by professors. Peter Emmerson, JISC, April 16, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

For Sale: 3 Blogs, Barely Used; Seller Highly Motivated
Gawker media, a company that hosts ad-supported commercial blogs, announced that it is selling three of its titles, including the formerly popular Wonkette. This comes just a couple of weeks after significant cuts in pay were announced for Gawker writers. And all this comes at a time when the commercial blog world in general is in turmoil. The life of the professional blogger isn't an easy one, according to an IHT article.

There are fears that content is becoming a commodity. Jonathon Handel of Huffington Post wonders whether content is worthless. Newsroom jobs are disappearing by the thousands. David Simon of the Washington Post asks whether the news has any value any more. Michael Masnick argues that content isn't worthless just because it's free. People over-estimate the value of content, he writes.

In the same way, the days of sites profiting by controlling access to content may be numbered. The pressure is on for all content sites to open up and allow syndication. Meanwhile, in the blogosphere, a discussion of virtual sharecropping erupted as people began to question operating systems and social networks that let you put data in, and not take it out. "I think it's important to own your own land," writes D'Arcy Norman, who wonders in passing wther requiring students to post into LMSs and such is not also a form of sharecropping. Think about the way TurnItIn takes student content and turns it into profits.

Paid blogging and paid content are, I think, a blip, an event that catches a small gap between the rapid decline in the cost of content and the even more rapidly declining cost of production and distribution. As both approach zero, the margin no longer exists, and those who were paid for producing content get squeezed. The same happens to sites that are based on monetizing access to content. Brad King, E-Commerce Times, April 16, 2008 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

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Copyright 2008 Stephen Downes

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