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by Stephen Downes
April 20, 2010

New copyright fee will see students pay more for learning materials
I have long argued that commercial publishers want to be able to charge people for free content. That's what's happening in Alberta with this proposal published by Access Copyright to apply a levy "that will substantially increase the fees that college and university students pay for their learning content" and "will apply to all manner of copying, even if the material is free to use." Rory McGreal, Edmonton Journal, April 20, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Framing a body of research and innovation
Research needs to begin with a question (says just about everybody) but I'm not so sure. My own research, for example, is not question-focused at all. I don't begin with a problem that needs to be solved, an unknown that needs to be analyzed. That doesn't mean my research couldn't be framed that way, it's just to say that I don't approach it that way. My research is much more like a creative act. I form a concept in my mind of information flows and systems and experiences, and then I try to replicate that in code. Typically, the results of that have been useful. So I find the methodology, described here by David T. Jones, to be less useful than most. It's not so easy to place it in an "important theoretical or conceptual setting." It's not about behaviour change or outcomes. It's not so easy to state why it's important. It's a process of instantiating my epistemology in physical form. These creative acts (for I expect to see other epistemologies in physical form; mine need not be the only correct one) form a tapestry in which we learn and create. That's all I need to motivate my research. It's an act of helping others to do better, which for me is intrinsically justifiable, and needs no external foundation. David T. Jones, The Weblog of (a) David Jones, April 20, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

LC Big Question: How Do We Keep Up?
April's Big Question was, "How do we keep up?" Most of the responses are like this one, citing a set of external sources of information. Take a look at this impressive list from MinuteBio. Some, like Kapp and Ignatia, talk about how we manage external sources. But for me, the strategy for keeping up is more basic. I do this newsletter. It has created in me the daily habit of looking for what there is to be found, wherever it is, but not just that, of analyzing it, working with it, twisting and turning it around in my mind, associating it with my other knowledge, reframing it, and finally, forwarding it. Amit Garg, Upside Learning, April 20, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

How would schools act if they were voracious corporations bent on unfettered monopolistic growth?
What I like about this post is that it details exactly how the corporate approach is harmful. It's not always about criminal behaviour; often it's just unhelpful and anti-social behaviour. If you would like me to support corporations (and some would, apparently) then I need to know how we can avoid the behaviours described in Aldrich's post. Because "thank goodness schools are not voracious corporations bent on unfettered monopolistic growth. Because that would be a huge problem." Clark Aldrich, Unschooling Rules, April 20, 2010 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Assessment + MMORPG + Real World Challenges: How The MESH will Change Education
I love this kind of visualizing, which gets to the heart of one possible future of learning. "The MESH would be structured similarly to a massively multi-player online role playing game such as World of Warcraft. But rather than killing dragons or aliens, teams would fluidly form to bid on and, if selected, attempt to solve real-world problems. Assuming they were successful, they would get a) points towards a "degree," and b) an increasingly detailed assessment of natural strengths (such as leadership or project management), industry preferences, and weaknesses to be worked on." The key elements here are 'fluidly collaborative' (or, in my terminology, 'cooperative'), online and distributed, and engaged in real-world activities. Clark Aldrich, On Simulations and Serious Games, April 20, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Preliminary book review: An Introduction to Distance Education
Excellent summary and review of a book that strikes me as an epitaph for distance education. This is very much not what the authors - a collection of mostly Canadian contributors - had in mind. But the overall theme of the book sweeps from traditional distance education through a transitional period toward a "unified approach" - the latter being, to me, code for the collapse of distance education into either traditional or online learning (for example: "a discussion of the underlying pedagogical possibilities of technologies that increasingly tie together physical worlds"). It's telling that the work is a traditional book, and hence unavailable to me online, which makes reading it problematic. I can't think authors will be writing, and publishing exclusively on paper, about distance education for very much longer into the future. Tony Bates, Weblog, April 20, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

The economic implications of alternative publishing models
More open access to findings from publicly funded research would have substantial net benefits." This is the conclusion reached by John W. Houghton and Charles Oppenheim in this research article in the latest issue of Promethius. "We estimated that open access publishing for journal articles using the 'author-pays' model might bring system savings of around 500 million pounds per annum nationally in the UK in a worldwide open access system (at 2007 prices and levels of publishing activity), of which around 430 million pounds would accrue in higher education. Open access self-archiving without subscription cancellations (Green OA) might save around 108 million pounds per annum nationally in a worldwide Green OA system, of which around 75 million pounds would accrue in higher education." The issue contains a number of responses back and forth between supporters and representatives of the publishing industry. John W. Houghton and Charles Oppenheim, Promethius, April 20, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Drawing the Wrong Conclusions
So why did the University of Texas TeleCampus shut down? Russell Poulin isn't sure, and draws no conclusion in this article, but he does eliminate several possibilities. It is not because distance education is dead, he argues, and it is not because distance learning consortia are dead. It's not because its services were redundant, nor because its mission was complete. In the end, probably, the reason was money - "They were charged last May with meeting an accelerated timetable for making their organization self-sustaining." Russell Poulin, Inside Higher Ed, April 20, 2010 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment] [Tweet]

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Copyright 2008 Stephen Downes

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