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by Stephen Downes
June 15, 2008

The Big Contest
How would you like to write OLDaily? Stephen Downes, June 13, 2008 [Link] [Comment]

The Canadian DMCA: A Betrayal
The proposed copyright legislation has been tabled by Industry Minister Jim Prentice, and while its getting a pretty easy ride in Canada's news media (big surprise) it has been greeted with dismay by the rest of us. Michael Geist sums it up: "in a country whose Supreme Court of Canada has emphasized the importance of balance between creators rights and user rights, the Canadian DMCA eviscerates user rights in the digital environment by virtually eliminating fair dealing. Under this bill, the right to copy for the purposes of research, private study, criticism, and news reporting virtually disappears if the underlying content is digitally locked." There's a lot more - and a lot more coverage that I just don't have the will to cover just now (read the spin in your local paper). Sigh. Michael Geist, Weblog, June 13, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , , , ] [Comment]

D2L Resolves Current Patent Burdens
Blackboard is moving from the offensive to the defensive. First of all, Desire2Learn managed the lawsuit nicely. "D2L has paid the court judgment plus post-judgment interest in full and has also migrated all customers to version 8.3 of their software, which they claim does not infringe on the patent. There's been some FUD flying around about whether D2L could handle the financial impact of the judgment. Well, they just did handle it. End of discussion." And now Blackboard is facing a lawsuit of its own while, at the same time, its patent is under challenge. Michael Feldstein, e-Literate, June 13, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , , , , ] [Comment]

Dear Middle School...
Every time I meet students I ask them whether school is still like this. Because, you know, things change. Except, in schools, they don't. This A student writes, "After punishing me for being a good dancer, a good student, locking me in the school one time while I was trying to do make up one of YOUR tests, and not even trusting me to get a book out of my backpack at lunch time - their exact words were, 'I'm watching you.' I have some of these teachers for years and you still call me Abby, or Nicole. Jeez, is it really so hard for my PE teacher to remember my name when it's written on my shirt???" It's the same experience Alex Couros had (of a type, anyways, that made him an edupunk) some years ago. Via Karoli. Irishdancr, Weblog, June 13, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , , , , ] [Comment]

Technology Support Providers for Adult Basic Education
The final report on the concept and feasibility of the Canadian Consortium of Technology Support Providers for Adult Basic Education has been released. I participated in a meeting with the group in Toronto a few months ago. Basically they recommend forming a network (as described by a few of us during the meeting - nice work by those involved) and would include a staff to support and facilitate the distributed network. David Sheridan, Canadian Consortium of Technology Support Providers for Adult Basic Education, June 13, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Building a Collaborative Workplace
This white paper on collaborative workplaces perhaps covers familiar ground but may still be work circulating around the office email, especially for the quiz part way through and the selection of techniques to improve collaboration. The authors identify three types of collaborative environment: team, community and network. George Siemens criticizes this by saying "all forms of interaction are network based. Groups, collectives, teams, communities, etc. The underpinning structure is a network." I would take exactly the same tack, though I'm also a little uncomfortable with the way they divide up the world (not that the taxonomy matters - what is important are the mechanisms and the structures). Shawn Callahan, Mark Schenk and Nancy White, Anecdote, June 13, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

Connectivism Course
I may as well let George Siemens say it: "Stephen Downes and I will be offering an online course starting September through University of Manitoba on Connectivism and Connective Knowledge. The course is available for credit (enrollment is required) or for personal interest (no fee). All discussions and learning resources will be freely available. More information on how the course is run, weekly topics, etc., is available on the course wiki. If you are interested, you can sign up here in order to receive more information on participating or enrolling." George Siemens, Connectivism Blog, June 13, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Reading the Future
I'm not really sure what to make of the CCL's report on literacy, the one released this week with the catchy assertion that Canada's literacy rate will not improve in the years ahead. Some bits are just odd. For example: literacy in old people is lower than literacy in young people. OK, that makes sense. But (p.4) these rates haven't changed in a decade. Well, how does that happen - do we knock off literate people as they turn 66? Or is there something about the testing that represents older people as more illiterate than they used to be? And what about the testing (pp. 24-25) that requires people to read random letters, read pseudo-words, repeat words and repeat digits, all as quickly as possible? The presumption seems to be that testing the putative components of reading constitutes testing reading - a questionable assumption at best. Are we as Canadians really as bad as the report suggests? Unattributed, Canadian Council on Learning, June 13, 2008 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

31 Out of 95 E-Learning Ideas Ain'T Bad
Personally I'd rather see the 64 ideas he rejected (and to know why) rather than 16 of the 35 accepted (a part two to the article is promised). Still, this review of Patti Shank's The Online Learning Idea Book: 95 Ways to Enhance Technology-Based and Blended Learning is worth a look. Jared Stein, flexknowlogy, June 13, 2008 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

I have a meetup coming up in an unusual location, and even though most people won't be able to join me on Gran Canaria I'm still looking very much forward to it. Related to this, I will be announcing tomorrow the most awesome contest in the history of OLDaily. Well, also, the first. But still, you won't want to miss this unique opportunity (no, it's not a trip to Gran Canaria, sorry). In the meantime, if you want to know what a meetup is, you might want to look at this CommonCraft video. Jane Hart, Jane's E-Learning Pick of the Day, June 12, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Council of Europe Endorses Open Education Resources
Well worth noting, even if we have no further details at this point. More here. Graham Attwell, Pontydysgu, June 12, 2008 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Living and Learning at the Beginning of the Cognitive Age?
I find it interesting that people do not recognize, generally, that the term 'cognitive' signifies the forms of language and reason that characterize the previous, not the present, era. That's why their attention to categorization, definition, meaning and message seem so irrelevant. For example, according to the NY Times article by David Brooks, "the cognitive age paradigm emphasizes psychology, culture and pedagogy-the specific processes that foster learning. It emphasizes that different societies are being stressed in similar ways by increased demands on human capital." Well there is certainly a 'cognitive age' that fits that description. But we are not living at the beginning of it; rather, it characterizes industrial-age training (hence, also, the abhorrent reference to 'human capital'). If we are at the beginning of an age, I would say we are at the beginning of the 'connective age'. An age when we realize that we are not all atoms in a dog-eat-fog world to be bought, sold, massed and manipulated, but are, rather, independent agents in a shared ecosystem of conversations and connections. Wayne Hodgins, Off Course - On Target, June 12, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

In Search of Motives More Pure
Interestingly, I have commented on a few occasions that the reason why we see more liberal and progressive teachers and professors is that they are not in it for fame or fortune, but rather, to serve something like the common good. The same, it seems, may not be true of the blogosphere. Which creates an interesting disconnect. Darren Draper, Drape's Takes, June 12, 2008 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Blogging Mad
The European Distance Education network (EDEN) conference is taking place in Lisbon around now and there ought to be some good blog coverage happening - at least, according to this post by Steve Wheeler. Of course, now that he has the award (congrats) he has to blog the conference. ;) Steve Wheeler, Learning with 'e's, June 12, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

Learning Organizations, eLearning 2.0 and Edupunk : eLearning Technology
I've been hearing bits and pieces about 'work literacy' recently - and this (not edupunk) is the subject of this post. Just so you don't think I'm rickrolling you with another edupunk link. Tony Karrer, eLearning Technology, June 12, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Web 2.0 How-to Design Guide
As usual, I compare any guide to my own practice. This gives me a basis for criticizing the guide. Just kidding. Still, what I read here has a lot in common with what I see and do in my own development. Simplicity. The two-column look. Separate top sections. Bigger text. Bold layout. But there are differences. The central layout, for example. To me, a website that is fixed width is deficient, whether or not it is aligned centrally. And cute icons. Please. Don't. Nobody knows what your icon means but you. Via elearningpost. Ben Hunt, Web Design From Scratch, June 12, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Standards and Synapses Are Very Different
What caught my eye was the image juxtaposing a typical learning standards document and a network diagram. Judy Breck comments, "we require students to learn subjects inside of little boxes, while students think about them in highly connected networks." Judy Breck, Golden Swamp, June 12, 2008 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Celtx a Free and Open Source Software for Developing eLearning Storyboards
Ignatia reviews this product, saying "Celtx is a great storyboard software." The free software is available for download in a bunch of languages and for Windows, OSX, and Linux. You can also upload and share your projects using their server. This is just another example of the way tools are becoming easily available to help people do pretty much everything. Inge de Waard, Ignatia Webs, June 12, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Multiple Metaphors for Learning
Blog post linking to an article , Learning and organizations: towards cross-metaphor conversations, (apparently freely available for now) by Jacob Vakkayil in the academic journal Learning Inquiry. Vakkayil sketches a set of metaphors used to describe learning. The value of the article, I think, is that it clearly identifies these descriptions as metaphors. It's a good list, and the metaphors will certainly be familiar to readers of this newsletter. Vakkayil then looks at "the idea of disruptive devices... as aids to the effort of shattering the comfort zones of our preferred metaphors." These are, specifically: action orientation, sensitivity to discordance, and purposeful provocation (the 'edupunk' flutter comes to mind here). I think the idea of these metaphors is worth exploring more fully - and I think it's worth asking how much of the metaphorical language is literally descriptive (and not merely metaphor) of learning. Gary Woodill, Brandon Hall, June 11, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , , , , , ] [Comment]

National E-Portfolio Symposium
This page links to a set of resources used for an e-portfolio workshop held today by - there's a number of audio recordings and PowerPoint presentations as well as some introductory documents. All in all, it's a pretty good starter kit if you are just beginning to get interested in the idea of e-portfolios. The Background Paper is a good place to start, and also provides readers with a look at e-portfolio use in Australia specifically. Via Garry Putland. Various Authors,, June 11, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

Is Google Making Us Stupid?
Sigh. My response is very simple. I read constantly. I write constantly. I also work in images and multimedia. If Google is making me stupid, then I am forced to conclude that without Google I would have been some kind of super Einstein or something. Guy Billout, The Atlantic Monthly, June 11, 2008 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Opening Up the IMS
I have complained in the past about the lack of openness at IMS, and Michael Feldstein takes up the same cause from within the organization. "At one point," he writes, "I said, 'I know plenty of people in the ed tech community-good people, exactly the kind of people that we need to participate-who think that the IMS is some kind of secret society.' I got a fair few 'amens' from other participants, both publicly and privately." Well - yeah. And, I might add, IMS should be looking at more than simply its finances when deciding whether or not to be open. The standards it drafts and distributes would be substantially improved with wider community input (FWIW I spent a good part of my meeting yesterday afternoon with standards people in Canada making the same case for the same sort of openness on other bodies - like SCC and ISO and the like). Michael Feldstein, e-Literate, June 11, 2008 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

EduPunk? Please Tell Me This Is the Start and Not the End
Mark Oehlert doesn't want to let edupunk go. "We need something like the Watchmen, to lay bare in a graphic way, the controls and imperatives we operate under - not to rail against them per se but to begin to understand them so that we may exercise some of the levers of control ourselves - after all, we'd use the power for good, right?" Mark Oehlert, e-Clippings, June 11, 2008 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

E-Learning: an Oxymoron?
Jakob Nielsen writes, "I continue to believe in the linear, author-driven narrative for educational purposes. I just don't believe the Web is optimal for delivering this experience. Instead, let's praise old narrative forms like books and sitting around a flickering campfire - or its modern day counterpart, the PowerPoint projector - which have been around for 500 and 32,000 years, respectively... I continue to write books, and I continue to develop training seminars, because I believe these media are best for deep learning of new concepts." I think learning happens through numerous media, including web posts (which is why Nielsen writes his online column in the first place). And I think that people continue to write books and develop training seminars because that's where the money is, not because that's what produces the best learning. Clive Shepherd, Clive on Learning, June 11, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Is Web.3D Here?
Joe Clark reports, "There's a new plugin called ExitReality that turns *any* web site into a customizable 3-d social space. Pilot websites include Hardee's and Carl's Jr." I went to the plugin download site - you have to sign up (I did, so you don't have to) and only then do you discover it's Windows-only. See also Clark on open virtual spaces. Joe Clark,, June 11, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

OK, here's my final statement on edupunk (as a meme, an ideology, or whatever): "Anti-authoritarianism is, in essence, thinking for oneself, rather than thinking as one is told. No problem of authority has ever been solved by any other means." Jeremy Hiebert, headspaceJ, June 10, 2008 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Taking Back Teaching: A Forgotten History
Clay Burell writes, "This all connects to the decision I announced yesterday to 'stop working for schools so I can teach.' Some of the comments I've received suggest that people have defined schools as a necessary ingredient in the definition of 'teaching,' and I can't say loudly enough that that is an historical error of the largest proportions." It just seems to me that as people become informed about the value of online learning, they leave the traditional school system. Just saying. Clay Burell, Beyond School, June 10, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Learn the Art of Photography: The Nikon Way
My new Nikon D60 should arrive any day now. I'm getting ready by looking at Nikon's new (free) online learning. Dan Colman, Open Culture, June 10, 2008 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Web 2.0 and Commercial ePortfolios
Helen Barrett discusses a recent article in Campus Computing on commercial e-portfolio systems. She notes, "One of the ironies of this discussion is that free Web 2.0 technologies could be a threat to some of the commercial tools, since students could replicate ePortfolio/PLE functions of many of the commercial tools using these Web 2.0 tools." Helen Barrett, E-Portfolios for Learning, June 10, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

OER Presentations
From the wiki page: "We have created this page for OER presentations to help in our effort to make resources available for local awareness-raising activities. If you make a slide presentation on Open Educational Resources and/or the activities of our international community, we invite you to share it here. Thesepresentations may be adapted and used by others in the community in conferences, workshops and other awareness-raising events. To share your presentation, first upload it to SlideShare, or a similar site, then add the link to your presentation, together with a brief description to the list." Various Authors, UNESCO, June 10, 2008 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Hidden Cost of Open Access
This article, published in the Times Higher Education Supplement, has drawn widespread condemnation from the open access community. Stevan Harnad writes, in an email, "Professor Altbach's essay in the Times Higher Education Supplement is based on a breath-takingly fundamental misunderstanding of both Open Access (OA) and OA mandates like Harvard's." According to the article, "There are several problems with it [Open Access]. Chief among them is that peer review is eliminated - all knowledge becomes equal. There is no quality control on the internet, and a Wikipedia article has the same value as an essay by a distinguished researcher." This, of course, is sheer fabrication, as is easily demonstrated by simple reference o any of the numerous open access journals online. Philip Altbach, Times Higher Education Supplement, June 10, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , , , ] [Comment]

Towards the Creation of an Educational Heritage of Standards-Based Learning Resources
I spent the day today at a meeting with the e-Learning Standards Advisory Council of Canada (eLSACC) discussing with them our activities in New Brunswick and their discussion document, Towards the Creation of an Educational Heritage of Standards-Based Learning Resources. The eLSACC is an advisory body composed of five members of the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC) in order to help inform Canada's participation in international e-learning standards activities. Readers may also be interested in the Report on ISO/IEC JTC1/SC36 Standards development, also available on the eLSACC website. Robert Thivierge, eLSACC, June 10, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Work Literacy
Tony Karrer and Michele Martin have launched a project called Work Literacy. Karrer writes, in an email, "Our goal is create a vibrant network of individuals, companies and organizations interested in participating in a variety of ways: learners, testers, experts, teachers, coaches, and I'm sure many others. The network is intentionally defined in a way that will allow it to emerge over time, but there are some very interesting people involved already." Tony Karrer and Michele Martin, Website, June 9, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Browsers can search for people willing to offer live video online lessons and receive lessons for a (per-hour) fee. Prices are pretty high now, but I can easily see them declining. Though the site has exclusivity conditions that render it unusable, its approach to offering a marketplace of learning opportunities is definitely worth a look (the conditions are: "You are free to reuse the material you present in such lectures, but the recording of the lecture itself may only be used by you on the Service..."). Related: Susan Smith Nash reviews LearnHub, a site "combines social networks and content management to allow users to create, use, and manage online learning (training, tutoring, mini-courses, reviews)." Various Authors, Website, June 9, 2008 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

I have added three new videos to my site in the last few days: How the Net Works, a 42 min recording of a videoconference I presented to viewers in Adelaide last July; Civilization Revolutiona 3 min recording of Sid Meier introducing the new Civilizations game at the conference in Fairfax; and Light, Agile and Flexible: Collaborating the Web 2.0 Way, the 45 min recording of my presentation at the Fairfax conference. Stephen Downes, Stephen's Web, June 9, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

Walter Bender Discusses Sugar Labs Foundation
Interview with Walter Bender on the reasons he left OLPC and where he expects the Sugar system to go in the future. "Bringing the concepts together, the culture that is embodied in the FOSS movement - a meritocracy that is built upon both collaboration and critique - is synergistic with some core principles of learning, so, where possible, I try to embrace that culture." Tom Hanson, Open Education, June 9, 2008 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

The End of Static Learning Objects
To my mind, the discussion of learning objects went off the rails when people started treating them as static publications rather than mutable elements of an ongoing conversation. History bears this out: "TLF (The Le@rning Federation) Learning Objects became irrelevant to today's learners about 2005 - when user-generated and filtered content began to gather more relevance than that of top-down institutions." Why? "TLF LOs were/are too hard to access and that it was mostly impossible to assess student's learning because they did not allow a venue for conversation around the content." Nothing that couldn't have been predicted. Paul Reid, Digital Chalkie, June 9, 2008 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

If You Can't Beat Them, Join Them!
The writing, as they say, is on the wall. "At Britannica, 'readers and users will also be invited into an online community where they can work and publish at Britannica's site under their own names,' the encyclopedia's blog explains." Derek Wenmoth, Derek's Blog, June 9, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

Spray Your Updates Everwhere with Ping.Fm
This is such a bad idea. The last thing the world needs is a way for people to post the same thing on 20 sites at once. I have to say, if I start getting multiple copies of the same message from people, I'm going to start blocking. It's bad enough that people twitter that they've just posted to their blog (what, nobody uses RSS any more?) but not getting this sort of spam will basically wreck the social networks ecosystem (such as it is, which isn't saying much). Alan Levine, CogDogBlog, June 9, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , , , ] [Comment]

On the Death of Ideology
What's the difference between an ideology and a meme? From where I sit (and perhaps a little overgeneralized) the former is a product of, and inducement toward, group behaviour, while the latter exemplifies network behaviour. I personally think that ideologies - like morality - are best expressed by individuals, not by groups. If edupunk has an ideology, it should be emergent - not shared by some members of some group, but created through the interactions of a loosely defined cluster of individuals. That's why trying to pin down edupunk in a wikipedia article is probably a bad idea. Jim Groom, bavatuesdays, June 9, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

Conflating Teaching and Political Activism
This criticism of edupunk shows exactly why edupunk (the meme) has been valuable: "These people conflate their teaching work with political activism. They truly are impetuous, irresponsible, and incapable of seeing their own 'will to power'. Are they so afraid of the truth that they have to instill beliefs like all good ideologues. They fear that the youth will not imbibe their own authoritarian mores (believe what we believe, but do not question leftist orthodoxy) so they have to push them on the kids." Kids are taught history, kids are taught culture, in some countries, kids are taught to hold their hands over their hearts and recite a pledge of allegiance - and the politicization of the educational system, which includes everything from rote-based standardized testing to the small schools movement to charter schools, vouchers and religious education, is evident for all to see. If edupunk is nothing more than the collective realization of people in the educational system that they are being used as political agents, then it is important. Miguel Guhlin, Around the Corner v2, June 9, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

PC Is Not a Good Educator
Teemu Leinonen reports on a study that is in turn covered by Slate to the effect that the provision of computers to lower-income Romanian families via a voucher program results in lower grades and lower likelihood of attending post-secondary education. With Leinonen, I agree that simply tossing computers into homes is more likely to produce a distraction than anything else. Also with Leinonen I wonder about the economists' naivety - why would they ask for "mothers at home" instead of, say, "teachers"? And I am suspicious of their metrics: do the figures really show lower grades, or is this simply an artifact of the data manipulation, and do lower grades in the Romanian school system really constitute a poorer education (or just a different one)? Teemu Leinonen, FLOSSE Posse, June 9, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

VLC Media Player Tutorials
Useful set of tutorials that will help you: "1. Convert FLV to MOV using VLC Media Player, 2. Save to MP4 from a DVD, 3. Save Audio to MP3/OGG from Video." Miguel Guhlin, Around the Corner, June 9, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

OpenEd 2008 Submissions and Scholarships!
If you have been thinking about attending the Open Education Conference in Logan, Utah, you will want to do it this year. And so while I have a rule about linking to calls for papers, I'll make an exception in this case (and mention as well that scholarships are available). David Wiley, iterating toward openness, June 9, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Certifying Online Research
I applaud the Chronicle's Gary A. Olsen for looking at the question of recognizing online scholarship, though I would not agree with his proposal to have scholarly societies 'recognize' sites via "a certification process in which a site owner can apply to have a site reviewed and recognized, perhaps for a nominal processing fee." I think thyat what we will find is that societies that seek out and identify worthwhile sites have more credibility than those whose opinions can be purchased. And why need it be a society? It's better to have a collection of individuals - like this newsletter - working independently. Via Barbara Fister. Gary A.Olsen, Chronicle of Higher Education, June 9, 2008 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

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Copyright 2008 Stephen Downes

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