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August 20, 2012

The World Beyond the Word
Stephen Downes, August 19, 2012, Destination: Innovation, Banff, Alberta

In order to manage the deluge of data produced by modern technology, a rapidly changing society, and challenging environmental and economic systems, we need to relearn what we understand as social and scientific literacy. The students of today and the innovators of tomorrow will speak languages we barely recognize today. What are the fundamentals of these new literacies, how do we learn them and teach them, and how do they redefine innovation in the future? In this talk Stephen Downes describes a future in which learning is a creative act and the environments and technologies that will be needed to support this learning.


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Blackboard Inc.: The Rise of the New “Online Learning” and the Race for Profits
Jim Farmer, e-Literate, August 20, 2012.

Good analysis of the new Blackboard from Jim Farmer, wrapped around the changes to online learning brought about by companies like Coursera. "Adapting current systems to meet the extensive requirements for courses planned for Coursera, Udacity and edX may be feasible [but] A new system may be preferred... Blackboard reduced its software development expenses electing not to integrate their three current learning-management systems into a single system. Speculation suggests alternatively a strategy based on the platforms of Ascend Learning and its acquisitions."

Michael Feldstein explands on the platform strategy. On the surface, he says, it looks like yet another learning object repository. But "something has changed... One clear driving factor is the shift of educational publishers to digital." There has been, he notes, a lot of talk about integrating with publisher offerings. "Of course, the publishers are very aware of the iTunes model as well and may be leery of letting an LMS vendor control their sales channel." Blackboard is also banking on improvements in tagging and metadata, as well as the "amturity" on IMS learning object standards. And finally, "they’re taking advantage of the cloud to build something that encourages cross-institutional sharing... to peel off pieces of what have traditionally been considered core LMS functions and offer them as separate SaaS offerings."

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Books, Blackboard Inc., IMS Project, Learning Objects, Learning Object Repositories, Metadata, Online Learning]

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My Response to an Ill-informed Attack on Distance Learning
Heather M. Ross, McToonish, August 20, 2012.

I read this post in the Globe and Mail and just rolled my eyes. There goes the traditiomnal press again, I thought, completely mirepresenting the domain for cheap jorunalistic points. was good enough to actually analyze the article. "Orwin manages to slag those not taking “real university”  or  distance education courses, and fails to realize the demographics of most non-MOOC distance education students."

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Online Learning]

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files/images/oauthdead.jpg, size: 90208 bytes, type:  image/jpeg
What Twitter's API Announcement Could Have Said
Anil Dash, A Blog About Making Culture, August 20, 2012.

I haven't been able to get to the core of this, but it's important enough to be worth flagging. At the centre of it all is an API upgrade by Twitter. Anil Dash takes a Twitter-centric perspective on this: "The big new API call limits come with only a minor change in what's required from you: You'll have to use OAuth for all of your API requests." Now as I recall Google did something like this with the Blogger API a few years ago, and that for me was when it became unusable, because there's a lot of overhead involved in authentication, especially when it's for a simple data request.

Luis Suarez taps into this concern. "Twitter is where conversations go to die...  Ever look again into Trending Topics? When was the last time that you didn’t find anything related to watching something on TV, or a movie, or a sports event or a celebrity passing away (According to Twitter, at least!) or, you name it. You do know what I am getting at. In a way, Twitter has gone mainstream, but of the worst kind. Twitter has become industrialised." To do this you must control the experience, and the platform, and that's what Twitter is doing with ther API. As did Google, and others before it.

Ben Werdmuller looks at the same issues from another perspective. "Somewhere in the mix, we’ve lost the control and interactivity that allowed people to use software on their own terms." Dave Winer, meanhile, points to Evan Williams' Medium. "Medium is designed to allow people to choose the level of contribution they prefer." But there still isn't (as Winer says) the easy content-in content-out solution. "Please let Medium be something more than another high-walled silo for capturing people's writing." And then there's Eric Hammer who has quit the OAuth 2.0 specification initiative. "The web does not need yet another security framework. It needs simple, well-defined, and narrowly suited protocols that will lead to improved security and increased interoperability." (Tim Bray responds.)

As always, with API upgrades, the security frameworks, and the attendant overhead are used to lock out competitors. We've been down this road before. OAuth 2.0 implementation is like that. When the overhead becomes too much, a new wave sweeps them aside and starts over with something simple and usable. As Winer writes, "Let's forget about OAuth 2.0. Let the IETF have it. Pop the stack and let's move on." We may be at that moment again.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Twitter, Interaction, Video, Interoperability, Google, Experience, Blogger, Security Issues]

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.