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by Stephen Downes
July 28, 2009

The Financial Impact of the Patent Loss on Blackboard
So D2L won and Blackboard lost and the web reactions are coming in thick and fast. In this item, Michael Feldstein observes "If you subtract the $3.3 million in income that [Blackboard] are going to have to return to D2L from the $2.8 million net profit, it appears that Blackboard's business actually lost $500K in 2008." Inside Higher Ed reports that Blackboard "show no signs of retreating in the wake of Monday's stinging defeat." Patently-O notes that "means-plus-function claims require disclosure in the specification even if the means are already well known in the art."

Campus Technology quotes Michael Small saying "the important fact here is that we are asking Dersire2Learn to either pay a reasonable royalty or make a valid workaround rather than using our intellectual property." No, the important fact here is that the court ruled that Blackboard didn't have any intellectual property. Michael Korcuska, from sakai blog, hopes - again - that this "marks the beginning of the end of this unfortunate and distracting chapter in the evolution of learning and collaboration software." Michael Feldstein, e-Literate, July 28, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , , , ] [Comment]

Introduction to Metadata (online book)
If you're working in educational technology standards and specifications you may want to look at this free online book, Introduction to Metadata, edited by Murtha Baca. This is version 3.0. I've had a look through it (not a close read, but a survey) and the first three chapters look comprehensive and accurate. The last two chapters are much less complete; the section on 'rights metadata', in particular, is woefully inadequate (it doesn't even mention XrML and ODRL, much less the features of the models these langauges are based on). Maish R. Nichani, elearningpost, July 28, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Free download: E-Learning Survival Guide
Janet Clarey writes, "Susan Smith Nash is offering a free pdf download of her book: E-Learning Survival Guide: Everything you need to succeed in the wild and wooly world of mobile learning, elearning, and hybrid college, K-12, and career courses. A paperback version is also available through Amazon." (Don't see how I missed this yesterday, as I do subscribe to Nash's feed... ah, well, that's why you read more than one weblog). Janet Clarey, Brandon Hall, July 28, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

CNIE championing copyright reform issues
CNIE - the successor group in Canada to CADE and AMTEC, two major educational technology and distance education organizations - will be submitting a brief on copyright reform. "Maureen Baron, CNIE President, will represent CNIE at the government sponsored copyright consultation Town Hall scheduled for Montreal on July 30, 2009. She and several CNIE Board members will then write an electronic submission for the federal consultation website... CNIE's position will reflect their members' interests, concerns and realities in the education sector. It will be important for both K-12 and post-secondary communities to present a united front to counterbalance corporate interests and priorities regarding the economics of copyright law and its enforcement." Sop, members, be sure to express your views to at or to CNIE Past President Ray Whitley at And in the meantime, transcripts from the Vancouver and Calgary consultations are available online. Richard Schwier, Rick's Cafe Canadian, July 28, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , , , ] [Comment]

A Rescue Plan for the Chronicle of Higher Education
I have covered the campaign on the part of some quarters against critical thinking in the past. The Chronicle runs another screed from that camp. I can't respond any better than Alex Reid:

"So really Prince's complaint is a political one. He holds a conservative intellectual position opposed to 'critical theory' and believes instead that writing courses 'should be about what all other college courses are about-not writing itself, but a learnable body of information: literature, art history, biology, political science, or any other substantial topic that furthers a students' real education.' Oh, and the courses should be about grammar and basic skills. This, of course, is also an conservative ideological position. The fact is that 'critical theory' is a 'learnable body of information,' whether he happens to approve of it or not. However I'm not sure that Prince even understands that, as he seems to conflate 'critical thinking' and 'critical theory' with 'rhetorical analysis.'"

What continues to elude me is why it is that this certain political faction has it in for critical thinking. What sort of political objective do they hope to achieve? What is it, really, that they find objectionable? Oh, and yes, why is the Chronicle running this stuff? Alex Reid, digital digs, July 28, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

The Return of Captain Copyright? CIPO Launches Promoting Respect for IP Rights
Michael Geist reports, "The Canadian Intellectual Property Office has quietly launched a 'Promoting Respect of Intellectual Property Rights' initiative that involves 'exploring ways it can contribute more actively to promoting the respect of intellectual property rights.'" He asks, "will CIPO be including respect for fair dealing and user rights in its efforts to build respect for IP? Does its outreach efforts include user groups who may promote respect for the balance in IP?" I think we know the answer to that. Meanwhile, the main impact of IP on me today has been to make it impossible for me to view William Shatner reciting a Sarah Palin speech as poetry. It's simply unavailable in Canada. I am not a merry man. Michael Geist, Weblog, July 28, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment]

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Copyright 2008 Stephen Downes

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