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by Stephen Downes
July 16, 2009

D2L 2009 Expert Panel
The panel page was here. The UStream recording appears not to exist. Slides exist but I don't have access to them at the moment; they will be posted later. The audio recording is available; enjoy. Presentation by Stephen Downes, D2L Fusion 2009, St. Paul, Minnesota, [Link]

Open Teaching Multiplies the Benefit but Not the Effort
Another post in the Chronicle by David Wiley. "Do we professors, who live rather privileged lives relative to the vast majority of the planet's population, have a moral obligation to make our teaching efforts as broadly impactful as possible, reaching out to bless the lives of as many people as we can? Especially when participatory technologies make it so inexpensive (almost free) for us to do so? I believe the answer is yes." David Wiley, iterating toward openness, July 16, 2009 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

Getting Around Google Search's Theft of Copiable URLs
There's a lot of indirection in today's web - links that point to analytics engines (like Feedburner), links that point to Handles or DOI, links that point to minimizers (like tinyurl), links that point to subscription windows and login forms. One of the worst offenders is Google, which has, as this post observes, replaced search URL results with long ugly incomprehensible and absolutely unusable Google redirects. It does display actual links, but these are shortened, so you can't simply copy them. But there is a way around this: "Dugeen had created the Obviously Scrub Google Redirect Links which works perfectly - it adds the real link adjacent to the blue on produced by Google." Though, I think - as D'Arcy Norman says, "I always click through to the original page and copy the URL from the address bar." Alan Levine, CogDogBlog, July 16, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

Windows 7 release dates for education
Windows 7 is approaching and it looks like schools will be able to install the new operating system before September classes. But it will be tight. "Customers who have a School Agreement, or another agreement with Software Assurance, will be the first to get access, and it looks like that's in the middle of August." Ray Fleming,, July 16, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment]

Augmented Reality -- Available Now, w/o Goggles
This is pretty neat. "I had been thinking that augmented reality was a ways off, requiring funny goggles, crazy retinal projectors, holograms, or whatever. Then I saw that all you really need is an iPhone with a video camera in the back." Tom Hoffman, Tuttle SVC, July 16, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Open Educational Resources Africa: Is it built on proprietary technologies?
Derek Keats asks a good question in the course of pointing to OER Africa. It is sort of odd that the pages are all .aspx and that the resources are all .doc format. "Importantly," writes Keats, "this highlights the absurdity of the notion of 'open'. It is actually utterly and totally devoid of values, so people can do stuff like this and still call it 'open'. That is why I prefer to keep the notion of Freedom in the concept, and prefer to talk about Free Educational Resources." Derek Keats,, July 16, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

Why did Google Make this Harder
Good question, and even more importantly, parsing of the steps required (now) to access an RSS feed of a Google news search. The autofind is still there for blog search, for example, this is a blogs search feed for Downes. Dave Warlick, 2 cents Worth, July 16, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

Seven hours of Feynman lectures online
I got email enthusiastically lauding the release of some Richard Feynman videos, seven hours of his lectures. Great! However the web page informed m it was installing Silverlight first. Not so great. Jason Kottke,, July 16, 2009 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

From the "stuff I should know but didn't" department: "XAMPP is an easy to install Apache distribution containing MySQL, PHP and Perl. XAMPP is really very easy to install and to use - just download, extract and start." I installed it on the Mac this morning - after a 70 megabyte download (less than five minutes hre - your results will vary) I had it up and running in less than two minutes. Awesome. Various Authors, Apache Friends, July 16, 2009 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

Ithaka Case Studies in Sustainability
Readers who enjoyed my paper Models for Sustainable Open Educational Resources will enjoy this series of case studies looking at a number of open education resource (OER) initiatives, some of them well known (such as the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy), as they attempt different approaches to sustainability. Models discussed include 'open access, contributor pays', 'free content, rights licensing' and 'endowment with community support', among others. Nancy L. Maron, K. Kirby Smith and Matthew Loy, Ithaca, July 16, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

World Conference on Higher Education closes with an appeal for investment and cooperation
A UNESCO conference on higher education calls on governments "to increase investment in higher education, encourage diversity and strengthen regional cooperation to serve societal needs." Statement, UNESCO, July 16, 2009 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

A Gripe Session at Blackboard
You know you have issues when you run out of time in your user complaints session. "College officials expressed frustration with many of the system's fundamental characteristics... Participants' concerns were often greeted with nods of agreement and outright applause from their peers as they spoke of their frustrations with the system." No mention of the session in the conference update from Blackboard Blog. Ben Eisen, Inside Higher Ed, July 16, 2009 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

IMS Learning Tools Interoperability
Session summarized from today's IMS meetings in Montreal. Summary (with link to code) of development work in LTI. Very interesting but all-too brief. Stephen Downes, Half an Hour, July 15, 2009 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

An Overview of Common Cartridge
Session summarized from today's IMS meetings in Montreal. Pretty technical but still informative look at the Common Cartridge specification, recent updates, and implementation. Stephen Downes, Half an Hour, July 15, 2009 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

The Future IMS Learning Design
Session summarized from today's IMS meetings in Montreal. Two talks suggesting Learning Design may need to be completely rethought, and one sugesting that it's pretty much as needed. Stephen Downes, Half an Hour, July 15, 2009 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Learning Design Tools (Demonstrations)
Session summarized from today's IMS meetings in Montreal. Discussion, demonstrations and arguments around the IMS Learning Design specification. Stephen Downes, Half an Hour, July 15, 2009 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Standards for Pedagogically Relevant Learning Environments
Session summarized from today's IMS meetings in Montreal. Overview of work done in Common Cartridge, learning repositories and Learning Design. Stephen Downes, Half an Hour, July 15, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Democratic Group's Proposal: Give Each Student a Kindle
The Democratic Leadership Council, identified by the NY Times as "a left-leaning think tank" (which it isn't really) has proposed "that government should furnish each student in the country with a digital reading device, which would allow textbooks to be cheaply distributed and updated." One wonders, why not put actual netbook computers into the hands of students, something that would be cheaper and would free them from Amazon's proprietary format and restrictive APIs. Brad Stone, New York Times, July 15, 2009 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

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Copyright 2008 Stephen Downes

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