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by Stephen Downes
February 4, 2009

New Title, Same Report
Public opinion: for sale. That's how this reads. "The Canadian Chamber of Commerce has now released its IP recommendations report... The Chamber should be an important voice on these issues. Instead, it sells its positions to member companies (virtually none of whom are Canadian-based) willing to pony up the fees to become part of its IP Council and in the process undermines its credibility as a genuine voice of Canadian business." Meanwhile (also via Michael Geist) the Government of Canada has issued a request for information (RFI) on "no charge licensed software". Michael Geist, Weblog, February 4, 2009 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Making Money with WordPress MU - the Edublogs Story (so Far)
It would take a site many times the size of edublogs to sustain itself on advertising, writes James Farmer. So how does he pay the bills? With a 'supporter' package: "Put simply, you can use this plugin to create your own Typepad, or Squarespace or a premium blogging platform that allows users to do (and receive) so much more than they would for a free blog - or from a free blogging site like blogger or" Don't miss this article. Via incsub. James Farmer, WordPress MU plugins, themes and news, February 4, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Terry Talks Videos Are All Up. Students Rock!
The thing with TED is that it's passive. You go to their site, yoiu listen to experts speak at you. The thing about TERRY is that it's active. You create your own talks, and post the videos online. They're just as good as TED talks, and there isn't the overtone of hype and marketing (someone with a flair for Flash video should contact them to make the videos more easily viewable - they really shouldn't be using MOVs). David Ng, The World's Fair, February 4, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

An Absolutely Riveting Online Course: Nine Principles for Excellence in Web-Based Teaching
This isn't a riveting course, it's an article about riveting courses. According to the abstract, "the authors compiled a list of 9 principles to provide direction in the search for online excellence. The principles include: the online world is a medium unto itself; sense of community and social presence are essential to online excellence; in the online world, content is a verb; great online courses are defined by teaching, not technology." Just a brief aside: we do not need to cite various "authorities" to know that the subject is elusive, complex and many-faceted. It's just name-dropping, and should not be necessary in order to get an article published. As for the content of the article - well, I'm thinking about it. For example, the authors write, "online instruction needs to purposefully and strategically engage learners in activities and interaction." Are all four elements of this sentence always needed? Or, "excellence in web-based courses is founded on excellence in teaching." Really? Or is it excellence in exposition? Ah - but I'm being picky. The paper summarizes a lot of what is held to be true in the online learning community, and therein lies its value. Via EDUCAUSE. Jim Henry and Jeff Meadows, Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology, February 4, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Concord Consortium Blog
Tom Hoffman recommends the newly reconfigured The Concord Consortium weblog. Not much to look at yet - the first post links to some previous newsletter articles - but, he writes, "they're one of the few groups who understand how STEM curriculum, technology, open source, teachers and public policy all intersect." Various Authors, Weblog, February 4, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

Wired Journalists
A post on the newly revived online news mailing list led me to, a web community for online journalists. The site RSS feed is useless (it just lists people who have joined recently; they're using Ning) but they've created a member feedstream using Yahoo Pipes. Here it is. It's the first actually useful use of Pipes I've seen. What a wealth of content - a list of new business models for journalism, a guy who creates custom music for your story, a list of most annoying discussions... and much more. Various Authors, Website, February 4, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , , , ] [Comment]

Darwin Information Typing Architecture
I came across this today in a conference report (thanks Bob) and find it well worth passing along. DITA - Darwin Information Typing Architecture - "divides content into small, self-contained topics that can be reused in different deliverables. The extensibility of DITA permits organizations to define specific information structures and still use standard tools to work with them." DITA has a lot in common with learning objects, except for the learning metadata. There's a DITA toolkit that allows you to author DITA content; the site also lists plug-ins for DITA extensions. Also worth a look is the DITA-XML website and the DITA Infocenter. Various Authors, Wikipedia, February 4, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , , , , ] [Comment]

Evidence of the Tuition Bubble
There are some rumblings about access to education, tuition and government funding. "The end might finally be in sight for the many years' worth of steady and often not-so-slow increases in college tuitions." Demand is increasing but ability to pay is not, which is why aid remains just about the only budget priority. But institutions - especially colleges - are desperate for support as increasing enrollments increase financial pressures. Stimulus aid will help, but only in the short term. Colleges will need to reorganize. Doug Lederman, Inside Higher Ed, February 4, 2009 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

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Copyright 2008 Stephen Downes

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