OLDaily, by Stephen Downes

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December 1, 2010

E-book piracy different from music, movies
Keir Thomas, IT Business, December 1, 2010.

Where I agree with this post is the observation that eBook file sharing has arrived. But where the author thinks that putting locks on books is a good thing, I find the thought troubling. I am also uncomfortable with the idea of multiple incompatible eBook file formats and closed-market onlione book stores.

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Comparison of Chinese Top Level Courses with MIT OpenCourseWare
Stian Håklev, Random Stuff That Matters, November 30, 2010.

I am not even remotely qualified to compare MIT's OpenCourseWare with China's Top Level Courses Project, so this in-depth analysis is welcome indeed. The objectives of the two projects are very different; while there is no selection process for OpenCourseWare, "the Top Level Courses Project grows out of a long tradition of course evaluations and competitions to select excellent units, which would receive extra funding and act as examples for others." The focus is on transformative production, with the process of publishing online intended to support both improvements in the learning material and also skills development in the professors. Both projects promote sharing, but while OCW courses might not be suitable for distance learning 'out of the box', the Chinese courses are a much more complete package (and in this way, I guess, are more similar to the Open University's course offerings). See also: The Future of Chinese Top Level Courses.

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Hard Times Require Better Planning and More Online Offerings, Speakers Tell Public-University Leaders
Paul Fain, Chronicle of Higher Education, November 30, 2010.

It's really easy to tout online learning as the solution to the mounting financial crisis facing the education system. I've done it; indeed, I've been singing that song since the mid-1990s. But it's a lot more difficult to describe just how that works. Simply converting to online courses won't save a whole lot of money. Converting your pedagogy to 'guide on the side' brings in a number of new expenses, such as instructional design. Meanwhile, the same labour budget educates fewer and fewer students, and the potential of the internet to support education remains unrealized inside the classroom.

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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