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by Stephen Downes
July 7, 2010

Blackboard To Buy Elluminate, Wimba For $116 Mln
Blackboard is buying Elluminate and Wimba, two popular online conferencing systems, for a total of $116 million in cash. The purchase was reported in the Wall Street Journal (from press releases) as well as in press releases on the Blackboard site as well as Elluminate and Wimba. In his blog Blackboard Learn president Ray Henderson writes, "For much of the past decade we've seen synchronous education platforms emerging in education. They've always represented the needs of an important niche in education delivery, and are a strong compliment to the asynchronous platforms like Blackboard." Kathy Schwiff, Wall Street Journal, July 7, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

SWORD v2.0: Deposit Lifecycle
You'll want to read this SWORD version 2 white paper not just for the content but also the presentation. It features text on one side with paragraph by paragraph commenting on the other (there's also a PDF download for the interactively-challenged). "SWORD is a hugely successful JISC project which has kindled repository interoperability and built a community around the software and the problem space. It explicitly deals only with creating new repository resources by package deposit ­ a
simple case which is at the root of its success but also its key limitation. For more on WriteToReply see this post from Tony Hirst. Richard Jones, UKOLN, JISC, July 7, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

World eBook Fair Free Public Access
I'm intrigued by this announcement of a 3-million ebook library that is far from perfect but has distracted me most of the day. Following an email from Gerry McKiernan I followed this blog post to the world ebook fair, a site collecting works from various open archives (such as Gutenberg and Internet Archive) and elsewhere. It's free (and apparently all-you-can-eat) for a month, $8.95 for the rest of the year. As I said, far from perfect. But, you know, these rates approach what it would cost me to store what I would want to read from the library on my own hard drive at home. If the site were better designed (and literate - come on people, look up how to use it's if you're going to use it on your home page) I might be more inclined to part with a few dollars for easy access to an endless library. Maybe. Until we brought in a proper free version (because at these rates it would cost $300 million to make this available to all Canadians, which is beyond the pale, really). Gerry McKiernan, Spectrum, July 7, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Culture Dish Doesn't Live Here Anymore
Scandal has broken at ScienceBlogs as parent company Seed launched a nutrition blog authored by Pepsi. Until now, ScienceBlogs has distinguished itself with authoritative research-based content. Now the bloggers who labour under the ScienceBlogs banner are quitting, slowing down, or otherwise protesting the new blog. And Seed chair Adam Bly's response does nothing to mollify. This post is a good wrap with many links to member reaction. See also this summary from the Guardian. But probably the most scathing remark is from Knight: ScienceBlogs Trashes Its Bloggers Credibility. Ouch. Rebecca Skloot, Culture Dish, July 7, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

There is no free lemonade
The business ethos thing is getting out of hand when little kids are berated for giving away lemonade. But - apparently in all seriousness - that is exactly what Chicago Sun-Times columnist Terry Savage did this week. "If we can't teach our kids the basics of running a lemonade stand," he complains, "how can we ever teach Congress the basics of economics?" we could begin, I guess, by allowing that there are other values in life than making money - and that giving strangers cold lemonade on a hot day is one of the higher purposes in life, not the sign of social decay. Via Techdirt. Terry Savage, Chicago Sun-Times, July 7, 2010 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment] [Tweet]

Making the case for digital literacy
The Media Awareness Network has released a major report calling for a national digital literacy strategy. It also wants a survey of digital literacy programs and a conference bringing together stakeholders. This is needed, says the Network, because Canada is lagging behind in digital literacy skills. What are digital literacies. According to the report, the break down into three major types of abilities:
- to use the associated technology
- to critically understand digital media content
- to create with digital technology
(pp. 4-5 - see also Media Literacy-Concepts, Research and Regulatory Issues (note that the link in the report is broken)). Matthew Johnson , Media Awareness Network, July 7, 2010 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment] [Tweet]

An introduction to social media - for learning and performance enhancement
Pretty nice table-of-contents style post that is in effect a handbook on social media. Jane Hart writes, "I am frequently asked for a link to an introductory guide to social media and its use for leaning and performance improvement, so here is my guide. The contents list is shown in the screenshot below. This is a social resource as it also provides the opportunity for you to provide your own experiences of using social tools for learning. You can access the contents page here." Jane Hart, Jane' Pick of the Day, July 7, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Ravitch Blasts So-Called Reforms
"Public education is the backbone of this democracy, and we cannot turn it over to privateers." This, indeed, is one of the challenges that faces us in the digital age - how to promote online learning and public education at the same time. Because I quite agree with Diane Ravitch that the campaign against public education will cause widespread damage in society. But so far the clear connection between public education and online learning has largely been missing in action, and many see the new technology as a way of undermining public education. This, I think, needs to be addressed. Anyhow, don't miss this short video of her remarks; it's worth passing along. Via Education Notes Online, which has commentary. Alain Jehlen, National Education Association, July 7, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

The last ebook
About a year and a half ago I finished science fiction. I mean that literally - there were no longer any books available that I hadn't read. And the production of new science fiction (as opposed to fantasy, which is a very different genre) had slowed to a crawl. So I returned to the classics, beginning with Hemingway and Tolstoy and some others I hadn't read as a child. Now I have a full row on my bookshelf of recently read classics. Having the books there isn't just the having of some text on file; it's a form of iconography. They are reminders of an accomplishment. It's not that I want to take notes in them or dog-ear them, I just want to see them and remember having read them. D'Arcy Norman, Weblog, July 7, 2010 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment] [Tweet]

Avatars to Teach the Teachers
This is an interesting description of a semi-automated simulation used to teacher teachers. The trainee enters the room as an avatar and attempts to teach, while behind the scenes a facilitator operates five student avatars, generating responses and orchestrating body language. It's an interesting idea, and part of the idea of course is that the technology is pushing the cost down while creating an experience that would previously have been possible only with real students or actors. Steve Kolowich, Inside Higher Ed, July 7, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

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Copyright 2008 Stephen Downes

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