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by Stephen Downes
May 30, 2008

The Obligatory Edupunk Post
We've had a lot of fun this week with the Edupunk concept, with reactions ranging from "oh please" to "don't be s sarcastic". It doesn't really matter whether the term 'edupunk' has any staying power, what matters - to me - is the awareness of the idea that it at least, for the moment, signifies. Today, we have Brian lamb with a lot of punk (seriously, a lot of punk), Clarence Fisher asking are we a virtual organization (not strictly edupunk, but I'm counting it), more on the yippie, from Doug Noon, edupunk heroes from D'Arcy Norman, bowling alone from Mike Caulfield. Rob Wall, Open Monologue, May 30, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

Blackboard's Reversal of Position; Desire2Learn Moves for Stay in the Court of Appeals
Blackboard, which last month said it welcomed re-examination of its patent (and which extended the number of claims it wants to make to 57), today filed a request that the Patent Office suspend the re-examination. Also, D2L has filed an emergency motion to stay proceedings pending the re-examination with the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Unattributed, Desire2Learn, May 30, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , , , , ] [Comment]

A Computer Lab That Students Use but Never See
Good article describing the trend in academic computing to allow (or even require) students to use their own computers while making academic computing facilities available through a virtual computing lab. "I got tired of telling users what they couldn't do," says Samuel F. Averitt, vice provost for information technology at North Carolina State. "The central-IT guy is about control and ownership. We're trying to get out of that business, and say, Do it however you want to do it." Jeffrey R. Young, Chronicle of Higher Education, May 30, 2008 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

An Update On Blackboard Calling Desire2Learn Customers
Some good hardnosed analysis in this post, which is a summary of the conversations Blackboard counsel Matthew Small has been having with universities. The object of Small's phone calls has been to discuss the legal risks universities using Desire2Learn technology might be facing. This is a questionable sales tactic, and an escalation of Blackboard's campaign against teh Canadian software company. And it's one that might backfire - "an Eleventh Amendment challenge would certainly be a dramatic and fascinating turn of events. Blackboard has worked hard to avoid any direct legal confrontations with universities so far. A Constitutional challenge by a university could open up a substantial new front in their public relations battle." Michael Feldstein, E-Literate, May 30, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

On Leadership in the Edublogosphere
This is exactly right: "Leadership is earned, not taken. You're not a leader just because you say so. People shouldn't be compelled to follow you just because you make a bunch of noise. If you are a leader, people will follow you. If you're not a leader, they won't. Get over it. That, and one of the beautiful things about the "edublogosphere" is that there aren't any leaders. There doesn't need to be a leader. It's a community of peers, and every individual's perception of the community is different, according to their connections, needs, and contributions." D'Arcy Norman, Weblog, May 30, 2008 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

Launching Me
EdNA's launches today. There is a Flickr stream of the launch. KerryJ,, May 30, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Reading to Your Children Makes No Difference
When you say that a behaviour "makes no difference" you are always mapping that difference against some prior set of expectations. Because every behaviour makes some difference; the question is whether the difference it makes is (a) relevant, and (b) desired. So when I read that "reading to your children makes no difference" I look for the completion of that sentence, which is, "... to educational attainment." Leaving aside what an unpacking of 'educational attainment' would reveal, I look to the possibility of other benefits - the easy association, for example, of text and phonetics, something that would never show up on a written test, but would reward the child with a rich inner life of many voices and nuances. The moral of the story? To Assume that 'educational attainment' is the purpose of learning is to miss most of the value of learning. Donald Clark, Donald Clark Plan B, May 30, 2008 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

CIPPIC Files Privacy Complaint Against Facebook
As the release says, "CIPPIC today filed a 35-page complaint under the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act against Facebook, alleging 22 separate violations of the Act." I read through the complaint and, if their interpretation of the act is accurate, Facebook is liable (indeed, one would argue that Facebook didn't even try to comply with the act). Press Release, CIPPIC, May 30, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

UK University Opens in Australia
Another face of on line learning: "University College London is to open a department in Australia. It is thought this will be the first UK university campus in the country." Unattributed, BBC News, May 30, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

Frankenstein in the University
I agree with the main proposition, that the way we use technology changes the way we think, and in particular, this: "Ong's phrase, 'secondary orality' is still used by current critics to delineate a shift away from the deliberative and quiescent thinking that people engage in when reading and writing...." The simple transfer from reading to viewing is in itself dangerous. It's not simply that the new media is a type of orality, it's that it is unidirectional, with no participation - or critical evaluation - on the part of the viewer. But is communication by 'reading and writing' inherently better than what we might call a post-modern orality, with many voices, many perspectives, many media (including text)?

No - I believe that what masquerades as 'deep and reflective' thought by the merely text-literate is in fact a dangerous succession of increasingly abstract representations, to the point that the connectivity, the mutual dependency, the society are utterly absent - all we have is the 'text' - and the cold hard calculation of word and number utterly remove the humanity necessary for thought with any degree of texture, any degree of meaning. Luke Fernandez, Campous Technology, May 30, 2008 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Another Kick at the 'Free Content' Cat
In which I explain again, with a compelling example, why I believe content distributed with the 'non-commercial' clause (eg., CC-BY-NC-SA) is 'free content'. Stephen Downes, Half an Hour, May 30, 2008 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

Linguist Gives Students Lesson in Free Thinking
This is the sort of thing that online learning, properly practiced, would enable. A properly constituted school would expose students to free thinking on a regular basis, and not once a year. But I can only imagine the caterwauling is schools exposed students to people like Chomsky on a regular basis. Emily Krone, Chicago Daily Herald, May 30, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

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Copyright 2008 Stephen Downes

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