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by Stephen Downes
January 14, 2009

Drupal for Education and E-Learning
I've done quite a bit of work using Drupal over the years, and while I wouldn't say it's for everyone, this open source content management system is flexible and powerful and consequently can be adapted to a wide variety of academic environments. Harold Jarche reviews Bill Fitzgerald's comprehensive technical guide, Drupal for Education and E-Learning. This addresses one of the key weaknesses I encountered with the platform: the lack of clear documentation (it's worth noting that the Drupal website itself has undergone extensive revision recently in light of related criticisms). The book is not free, but Jarche comments, "Since Drupal has no licensing fees, institutions can afford several copies of this book." Harold Jarche, Weblog, January 14, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , , , ] [Comment]

Primary Motivations for Open Education
David Wiley's game-style course on open education has started, and students in the open course are doing the first 'quest' - to read about, and summarize, some documents on the history of open education (I confess, how this 'quest' resembles a game, and not, say, some course assignment, is something that completely escapes me). The responses make for interesting reading. Jared Stein offers this post as well as background info on open education. Dan Coleman describes learning ancient history for free (this might not be part of the course, but it's a good related post). Sara Joy Pond offers a vivid and colorful account of the history of OERs. Michael Feldstein links to the sources and offers a brief survey. Jared Stein, Flexknowlogy, January 14, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

Student Tests Face Hi-Tech Overhaul
I have long predicted that teaching and assessment would become two separate things. Now, three huge technology companies - Cisco, Intel and Microsoft - are working on a system that would automate, and liberate, testing. "The project aims to develop a computer-based assessment system that could be adopted around the world and would test students' knowledge in cross-disciplinary problems, spelling the end of closed-book exams testing students' memory." How would our schools and universities operate if they were no longer granted a monopoly in the determination of whether or not a person has learned? It's too easy to simply say such a testing system would be impossible. We have to think of the consequences of such a system. Via Albert Ip. Justine Ferrari, The Australian, January 14, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , , , , , , ] [Comment]

Internet Safer for Kids Than We'Ve Been Led to Believe
In the light of this post on the more unsavory uses of Flickr (there is a long comment thread) it is worth taking note of this study, highlighted by David Weinberger, that shows that the internet just isn't the danger to children it is often portrayed to be. Weinberger comments, "This is an important report because it is relentlessly based on data-driven research. The task force believes it has considered every piece of peer-reviewed research published and more. Its conclusions come in response to all the known data." If you want to be worried about something, be worried about child-to-child bullying (and the sort of things in our society that would lead a child to thing that this sort of behaviour is appropriate). David Weinberger, Joho the Blog, January 14, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment]

We're Not All Ready for the Cloud Yet
I think that there is a very large distinction to be drawn between using the cloud and depending on the cloud, and technologists would do well to heed the difference. As jenny Levine notes, "I've met enough folks who think putting something on the internet means it's permanent that I strongly believe we need to help teach our users this isn't true." Exactly - people may want to store and manipulate information online, but you can be sure they will want a local backup in case the online provider fails or is for some reason not available. Jenny Levine, The Shifted Librarian, January 14, 2009 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

Interview with Ann Boland, Hot Lava
This interview gives you a glimpse into what's happening in the field of mobile e-learning. "Hot Lava recently introduced a Content Converter that instantly converts standardized content, such as a PowerPoint presentation, into content that you can drag directly into the LMA (Learning Mobile Author) and publish... Hot Lava's MDTS tracks every page that is viewed, every test, poll or survey question that is asked." Susan Smith Nash, E-Learning Queen, January 14, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

iTunes Songs Don't Have DRM, But They Contain Your Email Address
iTunes made a big deal a few days ago about removing the DRM from all its song downloads. Now it emerges that what they're doing instead is embedding the downloaders' emails into the MP3 files. No doubt scripts will emerge shortly to scrub the email addresses from these files - and more interestingly, to insert spoof emails into them. Carlo Longino, Techdirt, January 14, 2009 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

jQuery 1.3 and the jQuery Foundation
I mentioned jQuery the other day. Now, on its third birthday (hard to believe!) the creators of jQuery are working with the Software Freedom Conservancy to ensure its continued maintenance and status as open source. That doesn't mean jQuery is a member yet, but it does support open source licensing. John Resig, jQuery Blog, January 14, 2009 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Nortel Files for Bankruptcy As Creditors Breathe Down Its Neck
There seems to be no bailout in sight as Canada's Nortel Networks files for bankruptcy protection. Current news reports are saying that the company, Canada's flagship technology company, will be broken up and sold to foreign interests. This is a sad day for the industry in Canada, and I would have like to have seen something done to prevent this. More from the Globe and Mail. Rob Gillies, E-Commerce Times, January 14, 2009 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

But Does It Float?
A beautiful and intelligent job of curation. This exhibit brings together many of the themes explored on this site. I link to the archive version; if you want to experience it as I did, select the browser-challenging micro link. Via Hot Links. Curated by Folkert and Atley, Website, January 14, 2009 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

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Copyright 2008 Stephen Downes

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