Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Open Content Alliance Expands Rapidly; Reveals Operational Details

Open Content Alliance Expands Rapidly; Reveals Operational Details: "October 31, 2005 — Just a few weeks after its launch, the Open Content Alliance ( has already added dozens of new members to its Open Library project ( (For background on OCA, see the NewsBreak “Open Content Alliance Rises to the Challenge of Google Print” at Twenty-four new participants have joined the initial 10 founding members. All contributors have committed to donating services, facilities, tools, and/or funding. Microsoft Corp. has joined the effort with the announcement of MSN Book Search, a new mass book digitization project. (For coverage, see the companion NewsBreak, “Microsoft Launches Book Digitization Project—MSN Book Search” at The Research Libraries Group (RLG;, a major library bibliographic utility, has also joined OCA, contributing its bibliographic metadata. In contrast with Google Print’s close-mouthed policy toward its proprietary digitization equipment, the Open Content Alliance has released extensive details on its Scribe system, as well as other options for participants and users. "

To see an example of a scanned book, the interface and process and explanation of the aliiance see this link.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Save the Internet: New Activist Movie

Save the Internet Blog:

From blog -
"How do you take an issue that can seem geeky, remote, and impossible to explain and translate it into a compelling story that gets the attention it deserves?
That was the challenge we faced in directing the latest video, Independence Day — which premiered Dec 18 on YouTube and

But from the moment we first doodled this flying saucer image onto a napkin, we thought we might be onto something. More than just a visual gimmick, the UFO frame fits the battle for Net Neutrality surprisingly well. First, because the phone and cable companies really are aliens to our democracy. They’re the ones who want to overrun our Congress to change the way the Internet works — replacing the “level playing field” we know today their “gatekeeper” system.And secondly because they’re phony “Astroturf” groups have been disguising themselves as Internet-friendly activists (”Invasion of the Body Snatchers”-style) that are actually paid front groups. Hands off the Internet may look and talk like us – but watch for the telltale green pods hidden in their back yards…

And lastly, the whole “Mars Attacks” theme helps to communicate something fundamental: that there’s a battle going on for the future of the Internet, and that citizens need to inform themselves and take action. " Now It's Your Turn -- Dec. 25, 2006 -- Page 1 Now It's Your Turn -- Dec. 25, 2006 -- Page 1

Time's person of the year is You - those who toil bloging, mashing, posting, sharing, and ushering in the possibilities of social software and web 2.0. There is no image on the cover - there is a mylar insert that reflects the image of those who hold it up.

From TIME Managing Editor Rick Stengel:
Posted Saturday, Dec. 16, 2006
"The other day I listened to a reader named Tom, age 59, make a pitch for the American Voter as TIME's Person of the Year. Tom wasn't sitting in my office but was home in Stamford, Conn., where he recorded his video and uploaded it to YouTube. In fact, Tom was answering my own video, which I'd posted on YouTube a couple of weeks earlier, asking for people to submit nominations for Person of the Year. Within a few days, it had tens of thousands of page views and dozens of video submissions and comments. The people who sent in nominations were from Australia and Paris and Duluth, and their suggestions included Sacha Baron Cohen, Donald Rumsfeld, Al Gore and many, many votes for the YouTube guys.

This response was the living example of the idea of our 2006 Person of the Year: that individuals are changing the nature of the information age, that the creators and consumers of user-generated content are transforming art and politics and commerce, that they are the engaged citizens of a new digital democracy. From user-generated images of Baghdad strife and the London Underground bombing to the macaca moment that might have altered the midterm elections to the hundreds of thousands of individual outpourings of hope and poetry and self-absorption, this new global nervous system is changing the way we perceive the world. And the consequences of it all are both hard to know and impossible to overestimate..."

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Participatory Media And The Pedagogy Of Civic Participation

Participatory Media And The Pedagogy Of Civic Participation - Robin Good's Latest News: "

Howard Rheingold, The Pedagogy of Civic Participation
Education – the means by which young people learn the skills necessary to succeed in their place and time – is diverging from schooling. Media-literacy-wise, education is happening now after school and on weekends and when the teacher isn't looking, in the SMS messages, MySpace pages, blog posts, podcasts, videoblogs that technology-equipped digital natives exchange among themselves. This population is both self-guided and in need of guidance, and although a willingness to learn new media by point-and-click exploration might come naturally to today's student cohort, there's nothing innate about knowing how to apply their skills to the processes of democracy.''

Participatory media is changing the way we communicate, engage with media and each other and even our approaches to teaching and learning.
The generation of digital natives - those that have grown up immersed in digital media - take all of this for granted. There is nothing strange, new or even transformative about the interactive, participative landscape of blogging, social networking and Web 2.0 Read/Write media for them. This is the very starting point, the background canvas on which they live their lives.
The promise of participatory media is a democratic media, and a media that strengthens our democratic rights in concrete terms. Howard Rheingold has written extensively about the very real uses people have put mobile and digital media to in fighting street level battles over concrete issues. In his 2002 bestseller Smart Mobs, he writes about the ways that these technologies have been put to use in online collaboration, direct political action and the lives of young people across the planet.

But can the use of these emergent socially networked technologies transcend entertainment and personal expression, and push us forward towards an engaged, empowered democracy?

In his recent lecture The Pedagogy of Civic Participation, which took place in the 3D virtual world Second Life on the NMC Campus, Howard Rheingold asks this very question.

In Robin Good's discussion of this lecture he divides Howard Rheingold's presentation into several audio files, and brought together the key points and questions discussed. You can listen to the original verbal presentation delivered for each key point or browse through the summary notes he has posted next to each.

Dear Kids, You Don’t Have to Go to College

Will Richardson made this posting below in his blog - he is an educator who has made it his passion and work to inform us all about the need to review our approach to education. This entry deserves to be cited in it's entirety.

Dear Tess and Tucker,

For most of your young lives, you’ve heard your mom and I occasionally talk about your futures by saying that someday you’ll travel off to college and get this thing called a degree that will show everyone that you are an expert in something and that will lead you to getting a good job that will make you happy and make you able to raise a family of your own someday. At least, that’s what your mom and I have in our heads when we talk about it. But, and I haven’t told your mom this yet, I’ve changed my mind. I want you to know that you don’t have to go to college if you don’t want to, and that there are other avenues to achieving that future that may be more instructive, more meaningful, and more relevant than getting a degree.

Let me put it to you this way (and I’ll explain this more as you get older.) I promise to support you for as long as I can in your quest to learn after high school, whatever that might look like. I’ll do everything I can to help you find what your passions are and pursue them in whatever ways you decide will allow you to learn as much as you can about them. I’ll help you put together your own plan to achieve expertise in that passion, and that plan may include many different activities and environments that look nothing like (and in all likelihood will cost much less than) a traditional college experience. Some of your plan may include classrooms, some may include training or certification programs. But some may also include learning through online video games, virtual communities, and informal networks that you will build around your interests, all moving you further along toward expertise. (Remind me at some point to tell you what a guy named George Siemens says about this.)

And throughout this process, I will support you in the creation of your learning portfolio, the artifact which when the time comes, you will share to prospective employers or collaborators to begin your life’s work. (In all likelihood, in fact, you will probably find these people as a part of this process.) Instead of the piece of paper on the wall that says you are an expert, you will have an array of products and experiences, reflections and conversations that show your expertise, show what you know, make it transparent. It will be comprised of a body of work and a network of learners that you will continually turn to over time, that will evolve as you evolve, and will capture your most important learning.

I know, I know. Even now you are thinking, “but Dad, wouldn’t just going to college be easier?” It might, yes. And depending on what you end up wanting to do, college might still be the best answer. But it might not. And I want to remind you that in my own experience, all of the “learning” I did in all of the college classrooms I’ve spent time in does not come close to the learning that I’ve done on my own for the simple reason that now I am learning with people who are just as (if not more) passionate to “know” as I am. And that is what I want for you, to connect to people and environments where your passions connect, and the expectation is that you learn together, not learn on your own. Where you are free to create your own curriculum, find your own teachers, and create your own assessments as they are relevant. Where you make decisions (and your teachers guide you in those decisions) as to what is relevant to know and what isn’t instead of someone deciding that for you. Where at the end of the day, you’ll look back and find that the vast majority of your effort has been time well spent, not time wasted.

In many ways, I envy you. I think about all of the time I spent “learning” about things that had absolutely no relevance to my life’s work simply because I was required to do so. Knowledge that became old almost as soon as it was uttered from my professor’s mouth. I think about how much more I could have gotten from those hundreds and hundreds of hours (and dollars) that now feel frittered away because I had no real choice. I want to make sure you know you have a choice.

So, when the time comes, we’ll start talking about what roads you might want to pursue and how you might want to pursue them. Your mom and I have high expectations, and we’ll do everything we can to support the decisions you make. But ultimately, my hope is that you will learn this on your own, that you will seize the opportunities that this new world of learning and knowledge offers you, and that you will find it as exciting and provocative a place as I have.

Love always, Dad

Web 3.0? Self-Organizing Content

Yet Another Meme: The Web 3.0 Label Highlights Self-Organizing Content - Shore Communications Inc. - News Analysis:

"Already tired from a year's worth of Web 2.0 buzz John Markoff of The New York Times is spinning out Yet Another Meme - a 'yam' known as Web 3.0. In Markoff's eyes the new game in content is to push out concierge-like services that analyze Web content to discern much deeper patterns of meaning and more intuitive results for answer-seekers. It's all pretty true stuff, but it's also stuff that's been under development for a long, long time - and is not likely to provide quick payoffs any time soon. In the meantime publishing-empowered users are organizing content themselves and coming up with some pretty compelling insights of their own."

Online Collaboration And SOHO Web Conferencing: Acrobat Connect

Online Collaboration And SOHO Web Conferencing: Acrobat Connect Is The New Reference - Robin Good's Latest News

Adobe has ushered in the new standard - meshing the power of Breeze and web conferencing into the Acrobat reader. If you have the reader, you can web conference - no other installation required. And at$39/month for up to 15 users this is a very, very competitive price. Flat-rate monthly or annual pricing for both web and teleconferencing.

Key traits include “always-on” personal meeting rooms, the leveraging of the ubiquitous Flash Player software available on over 97 percent of all Internet-enabled desktops, availability at one-click distance inside Adobe Acrobat 8 and on the Adobe Reader 8 toolbar, screen-sharing, 2-party video, text-chat, integrated tele-conferencing, live annotation and easy invitation management.

Integrated VoIP, videoconferencing, layout customization, full PowerPoint presentation support and many others are all available in the Connect Professional version to be released by 2007.

Online Collaboration And SOHO Web Conferencing: Acrobat Connect

Online Collaboration And SOHO Web Conferencing: Acrobat Connect Is The New Reference - Robin Good's Latest News

Adobe has ushered in the new standard - meshing the power of Breeze and web conferencing into the Acrobat reader. If you have the reader, you can web conference - no other installation required. And at$39/month for up to 15 users this is a very, very competitive price. Flat-rate monthly or annual pricing for both web and teleconferencing.

Key traits include “always-on” personal meeting rooms, the leveraging of the ubiquitous Flash Player software available on over 97 percent of all Internet-enabled desktops, availability at one-click distance inside Adobe Acrobat 8 and on the Adobe Reader 8 toolbar, screen-sharing, 2-party video, text-chat, integrated tele-conferencing, live annotation and easy invitation management.

Integrated VoIP, videoconferencing, layout customization, full PowerPoint presentation support and many others are all available in the Connect Professional version to be released by 2007.

The Dawn of the Stupid Network

The Dawn of the Stupid Network

In recent history, the basis of telephone company value has been the sharing of scarce resources -- wires, switches, etc. - to create premium-priced services; glass fibers have gotten clearer, lasers are faster and cheaper, and processors have become many orders of magnitude more capable and available. In other words, the scarcity assumption has disappeared, which poses a challenge to the telcos' "Intelligent Network" model. A new type of open, flexible communications infrastructure, the "Stupid Network," is poised to deliver increased user control, more innovation, and greater value.

Telephone companies (telcos) have always pushed technology improvements that promote the smooth continuation of their basic business. They invented the stored program control switch in the 1970s, as a move toward cost reduction and reliability. Programmability also made possible certain call routing and billing services. In the 1980s, phone companies began marketing these services as the "Intelligent Network." Technology continued its trajectory of improvement, but because technology began to change the value proposition in ways that the old business could not assimilate, the telcos seemed to "fall asleep at the switch" at the core of their network. Meanwhile, the Stupid Network – based on abundant, high-performance elements that emphasized transmission over switching, as well as user control of the vast processing power at the network’s edges – was taking shape.

See link for more.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Internet lampposts to be trialled

BBC NEWS | Scotland | Internet lampposts to be trialled: "Smart lampposts that could provide high-speed internet access are set to go on trial in Scotland.

The idea will be piloted later this month in Dundee but could spread further afield.
Backers of the project plan to install six of the solar-powered, internet-capable lights on a rooftop at the University of Abertay.
Later in the year they plan to install up to 4,000 more in a student village to be built for the university.

The idea will combine lampposts with solar energy and wi-fi wireless internet access. "

Pixelpurchase: Support FREE WIND and SOLAR Powered WiFi - Wireless in NYC Parks and Green Spaces

Support FREE WIND and SOLAR Powered WiFi - Wireless in NYC Parks and Green Spaces
The GREENlined for WiFi!* project seeks to raise $250,000 (US) by selling 1,000,000 pixels for $0.25 each. The funds raised will be applied toward operating expenses and the next phase of upgrading, building and operating a growing Wireless Metropolitain Area Network across the rooftops of NYC, Brooklyn, and Queens, to add SOLAR and WIND systems to power the network, and to provide FREE WiFi to parks and open spaces.

WiFi-NY started the GREENLINED for WiFi!* project to upgrade service and extend its reach to underserved areas such as Williamsburg, Bushwick, Bedford Stuyvesant, and to support extended FREE WiFi services across the entire network. Your contributions will enable us to purchase the energy and network technology and the high-speed internet connectivity required to achieve the goals set forth by this project.

Presently, WiFI-NY provides affordable wireless broadband service to homes and businesses in Manhattan's East Village, Lower East Side, and Williamsburg, Brooklyn. WiFi-NY and its subscribers also sponsor limited free public access across its entire network including Tompkins Square Park, La Plaza Cultural Garden, The Earth People Garden, Open Road Park, De Colores Yard Garden, 9 CD Garden, ABC Playground. Help us meet our goal to install a permanent link to McCarren Park in Williamsburg, and to install SOLAR and WIND power and purchase more bandwidth and Internet connectivity using high-speed Free Space Laser Optics and Gigabit RF.
read more about WiFi-NY here

Green WiFi To Launch Solar WiFi In India

Solar wi fi just seems so right - for developed and developing world needs - as shown below in India, in Colorado and in Minnesota. Yes - even if the sun doesn't shine all the time, solar power works fine. Now isn't Edmonton one of the sunniest cities in Canada? YES! If you have the power - make use of it!

GigaOM » Green WiFi To Launch Solar WiFi In India
Green Wi-Fi, a non-profit organization that aims to bring Internet access to schools in developing countries via cheap, solar-powered Wi-Fi networks, is developing a pilot project in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh at the end of the summer. A Canadian aid organization that has asked for Wi-Fi in three schools in the northern Indian state where electricity is unreliable. One of these schools has a cable connection.

Green Wi Fi has received seed money from Nicholas Negroponte’s One Laptop Per Child Initiative (OLPC).

Other solar wi fi news:
St. Louis Park is poised to become the first city in North America to provide city-wide, solar-powered, WiFi.
“It’s a cost-saving alternative to traditional powering resources,” Pires said. “We’re expecting to save $40,000 to $50,000 a year by using solar and avoiding standard electricity.”

St. Louis Park (pop: 45,000), 10-sq miles, expects to enter a public-private partnership with ARINC of Maryland, which would install, run and maintain the system’s infrastructure, with an initial investment of $3.3 million from the city. St. Louis Park also is negotiating with Internet provider Unplugged Cities of Fridley.

Boulder Colorado solar wi fi installation

The network cost $10,000 to deploy, but upkeep costs will essentially be nil. The rechargeable batteries need to be swapped out every so often, but the solar panels are built to run for 25-30 years.

Because a 100 percent solar-powered network will continue to run even when electricity is out, and LightWave offers enterprise level security, it has obvious “homeland security” and emergency management uses.

“When power’s out, the first 24 hours can be crucial to saving lives,” says Lyon. “If the system is already in place, and if a disaster strikes and takes out power, our network will still be operational. They are also very portable, so if FEMA [Federal Emergency Management Agency] has a supply of them, they can move into an area that has lost power and set it up very quickly, mobilize search and rescue, do resource management. The infrastructure would already be in place, it could be functioning with VoIP all the time”

Thursday, December 07, 2006

WebCT - Pseudo Blog

Tama’s eLearning Blog This an older posting I just found but pertinent nonetheless. WebCT/Blackboard continue to "advance" their product into the social software sphere that students want and demand - but are they succceeding? Can you make an enclosed space, a walled graden into a social space?

"Mark Hallam from WebCT spoke at the Annual Teaching & Learning Forum held at the University of Western Australia. Mark previewed a number of WebCT’s next steps including ePortfolio tools and blogs. However, on close questioning, Mark admitted that WebCT’s blogs aren’t really blogs at all because…
1. They are locked behind WebCT’s password protection.
2. They cannot be made publicly visible (there is a complex workaround whereby students could copy there WebCT-blog entries to their ePortfolio and then allow anonymous access via a guest password, but WebCT cannot bypass the password stage).
3. Comments can only be made by internal WebCT users using the same installation of WebCT.
4. The “blogs” don’t have RSS feeds."

Hmmm. Doesn't sound like a blog, yet claims the name. Perhaps they should stop trying to recreate what already exists - maybe just allow a link into Elgg. That would be social, personal, amd not institutional centric and not tied to a course, a semester, or to a licensed, closed environment. Now that sounds social. Now that is also added value - but alas, not added profit. (Unless Blackboard/WebCT buys Elgg)

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

To fix education, think Web 2.0

CNET reporting on John Seely Brown speaking at MIT suggesting that web 2.0 is the fix for education - "education is going through a large scale transformation toward aore participatory form of learning." and " web 2.0 affords opportunities for information sharing and content creation with "students who are passionate about specific in groups and participate in online communities."

Yes, yes and yes again. When I find someone passionate about the same things I am passionate about, my learning increases - when I participate my learning increases. When I make my own choice about learning -space, time, association, selection - my learning increases. Web 2.0 affords me access to the passion and participation - it's a no brainer. But changing the existing structure and control of the educational establishment, the learning delivery and assessment framework - now that is difficult.

Second Life - Does it have a future?

This is going to be BIG! - 10 Reasons to Go Short on Second Life worth a read to see not only Charlie's reasoning, but also to see the comments from others that question his reasoning. It is good that some questions are being raised as Second Life continues to receive extensive news coverage - I've seen three national news items on television and heard two radio news presentations on Second Life in the last 4 weeks.

I am skeptical about Second Life - primarily for the reasons cited by Stephen Downes - it is not democratic, it is owned by a single company, and that has a lot to say about what freedoms are accorded to the online user. I'm not interested in investing a lot of time and energy into creating perosnl or educational aplications that are "owned" by someone else, and could be used for purposes I did not design them for.

As a visual medium it is attractive - but not terribly innovative. It is just creating the saem structures we have in real life - it's educational uses are great for say the behavioural sciences. I am also apprehensive about the continued impositon of corporate interests into Second Life - product placements, sponsorship, advertisements, billboards, soon enough it'll be come the virtual mall linked into paypal and catalog databases.

Open croquet is an educational immersive environment that might be more to my liking - if I were more savvy about programming.

Formal Informal - Control!

As I advise educators on learning design and instructional approaches I am always astounded by their fear of "letting go". They seem to have an innate need to be in control of the learning situation - and that loosening their grip is somehow abdicating their responsibility as educators. I'm also struck by the lack of respect accorded to informal learning - the idea that a learner might acquire knowledge from something/someone without formal accreditation, or without commonly understood forms of structure like courses, classrooms, assessments and set hours for learning. It isn't surprising then that I find Stephen Downes' comments on formal/informal learning and the misunderstandings surrounding structure and informal learning of interest:

"What makes informal learning different from formal learning is not that it is formless, but rather, it that it is conducted outside the domain of the formal education infrastructure, with the associated and not trivial implication that it is managed by the learner, and not the professor or institution.

That's why a statement like 'too important to be left to chance' is so misleading. It implies that there is no reason why a person (whether an employee or a student) might choose this or that informal learning method. It implies that nothing can be done to support this person, to suggest some structures or mechanisms, to improve their likely outcome. It assumes that, unless we control this person, the outcome is 'by chance'"

Informal learning does not mean less structure - it means different structures, with opportunities for student involvement in the definition of the framework and conditions surrounding learning. We, as educators, have to learn that there are variants of control, and that "letting go" of some of the reins of control is a good thing for the student. We need to have students more responsible for their learning and we must also support and help them define and establish parameters and structure to their learning design.

After all we have to remind ourselves that informal learning is the primary mode of learning. Formal learning is event based, episodic; informal learning is lifelong, continuous. Learning come in many forms, as does learning structure, and control. We just have to be willing to explore all the options available to us.

Friday, December 01, 2006

From Ice Cream to Nuclear Freeze

From Ice Cream to Nuclear Freeze cofounder of ben and Jerry's ice cream is mounting a campaign to push U.S. legislators to spend more money on education and less on defense - yes, asking them to get their priorities straight - it's intriguing that business men are readily signing on to this initiative - maybe American teachers, grossly undepaid, may benefit from this - and perhaps the other high priced jobs - like stock brokers, lawyers, doctors, anyone dealing with money - can see a drop in pay - it is always sad to see that those professions who work in the "front line" with people are not well compensated for their work.



elearningeuropa, the European Commissions lifelong learning portal, has a series of eLearning Papers - includes:

mGBL - mobile Game-Based Learning: perspectives and usage in learning and career guidance topics Characteristics and Capacity of e-learning platforms for learning languages (Summer 2006) and more

Blogs or Discussion Forums? Which is better?

Comparing Weblogs to Threaded Discussion Tools in Online Educational Contexts by Terry Anderson and Donna Cameron -

This is a well reserached article (by the Chair of Distance Education in Canada and a student of the MDE program at Athabasca University) exploring the difference between discussion forums and blogs.

"Computer conferencing emerged in an era that predates the Web, thus the tendency is for use that is separated from Internet resources and focuses on discussion of readings, or activities that take place off-line or behind passwords... The current generation of blogging tools were not designed for closed class courses and thus the component of teaching presence referenced as facilitating discourse is in some ways more challenging in a blog environment."

The blog is a "freer" environment, and the control of or facilitation of the discourse is a more difficult process. It's this "chaotic" nature of blogs that explains why many academics are so immediately dismissive about it. Those academics that do embrace blogss do so with great enthusiasm; those that do not embrace it are quick to criticize it.

Ecto - educational environment

Ecto - Welcome!: "Teachers
unleash active learning

Ecto - (as in ectoplasm?) free tool to make the classroom interactive, collaborative, connected, and student-centered. Haven't tested it yet - let me know if you do.

Hacking Knowledge: 77 Ways to Learn Faster, Deeper, and Better | OEDb

Hacking Knowledge: 77 Ways to Learn Faster, Deeper, and Better | OEDb

Looking for opportunities for self improvement? Life-changing knowledge? Follow the link to 77 tips related to knowledge and learning - most for students in traditional learning institutions but many applicable to all.