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Is Blackboard dying? The latest instalment in LMS wars.
Tony Bates, Online learning and distance education resources, 2018/07/18

There's been a fair bit of discussion in the e-learning trade press about e-Literate's recent article noting that Canvas has overtaken Blackboard in the LMS space. The tipping point here is meaningless, but Tony Bates notes "Much more significantly, Feldstein claims that Blackboard is in serious financial trouble, needing to make increasingly large interest payments to its private equity owner, Providence Equity, arising from the time that Providence Equity bought Blackboard. To quote Feldstein: 'So because of its financing, Blackboard’s continuing loss of market share is at the tipping point of changing from a serious problem to an existential threat.'" Maybe, but so what? As Bates says, "fighting over LMSs systems is like fighting over dying star systems. Move to another world, dude."

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The Best Digital Audio Workstations for Windows
Cameron Summerson, Review Geek, 2018/07/18

Music isn't the only use for a digital audio workstation (DAW), of course, as educators producing audio recordings and podcast products know well. My own tool of choice (listed in the 'cheap' section of this article) is Audacity. But if I were doing serious podcasting and wanted to integrate things like background music, sound effects, spots, and other audio effects, then I might be looking at the other applications. Anyhow, this article is a quick survey of DAW tools from cheap to really expensive, and gives you a five-minute lay of the land.

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Google Launches New Feedback Tool ‘Course Kit’ to Eliminate Assignment Uploads
Tina Nazerian, EdSurge, 2018/07/18

The story cites Phil Hill as saying “Positioning collaborative Google Docs and Drive to be easily integrated with the pervasive LMS is a clever judo move—stop fighting the LMS and instead use its momentum to their advantage.” I agree that it's a clever move. But I'm not exactly sure I would say that the LMS has "momentum". And in combination with Google's other educational applications, this looks like it helps ease the transition from the LMS and into the Google ecosystem.

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Looking Ahead at IT and Higher Ed: An Interview with Vernon Smith
Susan Grajek, Vernon Smith, EDUCAUSE Review, 2018/07/18

In this interview Vernon Smith sees some significant challenges for higher education. " The funds for higher education are not going to be the same. They're literally in competition..." and moreover, "the profession itself — the underlying culture of higher education — is going to be held up and questioned." Technology won't solve these issues. "Digital information, literacy, and digital creation and content — these are critical things." On the other hand, "Technology's just a hammer. You have to have someone that knows what they're doing with it." But I'm not really on the side of "Let's not do this." If, for example, you passed on MOOCs, you missed some really important lessons about open education and massive services architecture. Even if you don't think it's for your institution, you need to have somebody looking at it and learning the lessons that need to be learned.

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Storytelling And The Technological Nothing
Kin Lane, Kin, 2018/07/18

Kin Lane writes, " 90% of what you are being told about AI, Blockchain, and automation right now isn’t truthful. It is only meant allocate space in your imagination, so that at the right time you can be sold something, and distracted while your data, privacy, and security can be exploited, or straight up swindled out from under you." This is sort of true, but it's also sort of misleading. The other 10 percent - the truthful part - is pretty important, and it isn't just about exploiting you. And it's actually a lot more than 10 percent, once you get past the hype and the popular press. The bad actors get all the press (which is what they want) but the good actors haven't gone away. See also: Using your lack of trust to take advantage of you.

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How to choose and deploy a service mesh
Nikki McDonald, O'Reilly, 2018/07/18

This is a short article and podcast discussing a new report outlining the service mesh. You might not need to deploy a service mesh yourself, but it's a good idea to be familiar with this trend.  "A service mesh is a dedicated infrastructure layer for handling service-to-servicecommunication in order to make  it  visible,  manageable, and  controlled....  every service mesh is implemented as a series (or a "mesh”) of inter‐connected network proxies designed to better manage service traffic." The article and podcast give a high level overview; the report itself is hidden behind a form demanding spammy details (but my copy was here - 36 page PDF). There's some good background provided in Phil Calçado’s history of the service mesh pattern and, Redmonk’s "hot take" on the topic.


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Bad Romance
Sarah Jeong, The Verge, 2018/07/18

This is a long and occasionally racy read about collusion and competition in the Amazon Kindle romance novel self-publishing industry. It's an important read because the patterns of behaviour are not unique to romance novels - they are characteristic of our information landscape in general. Things like review teams, newsletter swaps, cross-purchasing, chart gaming, newsletter placement selling, content stuffing, ghostwriting, clickbaiting and reader baiting - are common in all domains of online publishing. T

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Copyright 2018 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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