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Stop Saying “High Quality”
David Wiley, iterating toward openness, Mar 29, 2015

I've been at the Hewlett OER grantees conference in Sausalito the last few days and I find myself agreeing with David Wiley in this post: "The biggest surprises to me were the number of times the phrase “high quality” came up, and what a strong, negative reaction I had each time I heard the word." Same here! "'High quality' sounds like it’s dealing with a core issue, while actually dodging the core issue. The phrase is sneaky and deceptive.... when people say “high quality” they actually mean all these things (author credentials, review by faculty, copyediting, etc.) except effectiveness." Wiley won't say this, but in my view it's a way for publishers to weasel into a position of being the sole provider of open educational resources, because of course nobody else could produce "high quality" materials.

State of the Commons
Various authors, Creative Commons, Mar 29, 2015

Report from Creative Commons on, well, the state of Creative Commons. A.k.a. "the Commons". The short version: we are up to 882 million CC-licensed works (I have maybe 30K of those, counting OLDaily posts and photographs). According to the table, more works are licenses as CC-by than of non-commercial variants (which I don't believe). And they continue (erroneously) to lable licenses allowing commercial licensing as "more open" (tell that to some poor schmuck staring at a paywall). I'm frankly this close to dropping support for Creative Commons over this issue. 14 countries (they say) have made national commitments to open education (according to this, Scotland is a country). Update Cable Green writes to state that the data are here. If we don't count each of 111 million Wikipedia articles as a separate item, the statistics look very different.

What the English of Shakespeare, Beowulf, and King Arthur actually sounded like
James Harbeck, This Week, Mar 29, 2015

One of the things I used to like to do was to read Thomas Hobbes's 1651 book Leviathan (original, and easier to read) to myself out loud, and using the spelling, imagine the cadence and the accent. So this article with videos of the pronunciation of English as it gets older and older is of interest to me. P.S. if you haven't read Leviathan you owe it to yourself to do so - it is the foundation of the idea of the social contract as the basis for society. And it is also one of the founding documents of modern empiricism.

Students cheated by posting test questions on social media
Liz Bowie, Baltimore Sun, Mar 29, 2015

This article approaches the issue from a very different perspective, depicting Pearson as aggressively attacking the cheating problem, and acting to enforce its own copyright. "Pearson...  has found more than 70 instances in six states of students posting testing materials on a public social media site, according to spokesman Jesse Comart," says the article. "'We are not delving into people's profiles. We are looking for inappropriate sharing of the intellectual property,' said Steve Addicott, vice president of Caveon, the test security subcontractor." This is a softball article suggesting that Pearson is responding to criticism with a PR campaign. But there are deeper implications: first, that the spying is widespread, and second, the extension of copyright into the enforcement of testing.

San Francisco
Stephen Downes, Flickr, Mar 29, 2015

San Francisco

Foundations for OER Strategy Development
Nicole Allen, Delia Brown, Mary Lou Forward, Cable Green, Alek Tarkowski, Google Docs, Mar 29, 2015

Document circulated at the conference on Open Educational Resources I am attending (see http://halfanhour.blogspotcom for some content summaries). I haven't ready this in detail, but it appears to be an effort to create a single unified implementation strategy for the OER movement. I personally think such an effort would be misguided. Anyhow, it's on a Google Docs page and will probably change quite a bit by the time you read this. I hope people have a good look and leave their comments. More on this later.

Innovative Efforts for Universal Quality Education
Stéphan Vincent-Lancrin, OECD, Mar 29, 2015

This report summarizes "an international workshop on 'Innovative efforts for universal quality education'." It states: "If education systems are to provide disadvantaged groups with quality education, the knowledge, skills and abilities acquired by students need to be relevant to the environment, improve their employability and be aligned with their work aspirations." Short PDF, most of the useful content is in the 'Highlights' on page 3.

CMI-5 Course Structure
Various authors, GitHub, Mar 29, 2015

So as soon as I get a handle on things, there's a new thing. Today's it's this: "CMI-5, a soon-to-be standard which is also conformant to the Experience API (xAPI)." Sigh. This is a link to the GitHub version of the specification. The document basically defines "LMS Course Structure Import/Export [and] LMS course definition as it pertains to runtime data used by Learning Activities."

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Key Articles

Scholarly Articles

Cites:294 Educational Blogging (Local copy)
264 Learning objects: Resources for distance education worldwide (Local copy)
134 E-learning 2.0 (Local copy)
126 Models for sustainable open educational resources (Local copy)
88 The future of online learning (Local copy
75 Learning networks and connective knowledge (Local copy)
70 Design and reusability of learning objects in an academic context: A new economy of education (Local copy)
59 Resource profiles (Local copy)
40 Learning networks in practice (Local copy)
33 Semantic networks and social networks (Local copy)
35 An introduction to connective knowledge (Local copy)
27 Design, standards and reusability (Local copy)
23 EduSource: Canada's learning object repository network (Local copy)
22 An introduction to RSS for educational designers (Local copy)

(Cites from Google Scholar for an H-Index = 14)

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About Stephen Downes

Stephen Downes is a senior researcher for Canada's National Research Council and a leading proponent of the use of online media and services in education. As the author of the widely-read OLDaily online newsletter, Downes has earned international recognition for his leading-edge work in the field of online learning. He developed some of Canada's first online courses at Assiniboine Community College in Brandon, Manitoba. He also built a learning management system from scratch and authored the now-classic "The Future of Online Learning".

At the University of Alberta he built a learning and research portal for the municipal sector in that province, Munimall, and another for the Engineering and Geology sector, PEGGAsus. He also pioneered the development of learning objects and was one of the first adopters and developers of RSS content syndication in education. Downes introduced the concept of e-learning 2.0 and with George Siemens developed and defined the concept of Connectivism, using the social network approach to deliver open online courses to three thousand participants over two years.

Downes has been offering courses in learning, logic, philosophy both online and off since 1987, has 135 articles published in books, magazines and academic journals, and has presented his unique perspective on learning and technology more than 250 times to audiences in 17 countries on five continents. He is a habitual photographer, plays darts for money, and can be found at home with his wife Andrea and four cats in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada.


Stephen Downes travaille pour le Conseil national de recherches du Canada, où il a servi en tant que chercheur principal, basé à Moncton, au Nouveau-Brunswick, depuis 2001. Affilié au Groupe des technologies de l'apprentissage et de la collaboration, Institut de technologie de l’information, Downes est spécialisé dans les domaines de l'apprentissage en ligne, les nouveaux médias, la pédagogie et la philosophie.

Downes est peut-être mieux connu pour son bulletin quotidien, OLDaily, qui est distribué par Internet, courriel et RSS à des milliers d'abonnés à travers le monde. Il a publié de nombreux articles à la fois en ligne et sur papier incluant The Future of Online Learning (1998), Learning Objects (2000), Resource Profiles (2003), et E-Learning 2.0 (2005). Il est un conférencier populaire, apparaissant à des centaines de manifestations à travers le monde au cours des quinze dernières années.

Vision Statement

I want and visualize and aspire toward a system of society and learning where each person is able to rise to his or her fullest potential without social or financial encumberance, where they may express themselves fully and without reservation through art, writing, athletics, invention, or even through their avocations or lifestyle.

Where they are able to form networks of meaningful and rewarding relationships with their peers, with people who share the same interests or hobbies, the same political or religious affiliations - or different interests or affiliations, as the case may be.

This to me is a society where knowledge and learning are public goods, freely created and shared, not hoarded or withheld in order to extract wealth or influence. This is what I aspire toward, this is what I work toward.

Canadians who gave their lives in service in Afghanistan

Hundreds of my IAAF Track & Field Photos from Moncton 2010

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