New Today

Building a Google custom search engine for LRMI-tagged pages
Phil Barker, CETIS Blog, April 15, 2014

This is an interesting exercise in coding: "trying to create a search engine for finding learning resources by searching LRMI-tagged web pages." The search engine they created works pretty well. But it only returns results from BBC and Open University, so far as I can tell. Which proves (yet again) that designing the standard and creating the search engine are the easy part - getting the rest of the world to tag their materials using it is the hard part.

One World
Rodd Lucier, The Clever Sheep, April 15, 2014

In his first blog post in almost a year, Rodd Lucier reflects on his experiences at the Microsoft Global Summit (no link but probably this) focused on the the Millennium Development Goals. He describes a project pitched at the conference, "an inquiry project called 'One World'... an open and social hub was created for this project at" It's interesting to see him react to the evaluation experience: "My project team invested many hours in a project that took but minutes to be judged according to a rubric. We invested our time, talent, emotions and intellect, yet to date, we have received no feedback on our work." I guess a lot of students feel the same way.

Why successful consortia for online learning are so difficult
Tony Bates, online learning, distance edcuation resources, April 15, 2014

Numerous online learning consortia have come and gone over the years, and none has really emerged as a market leader. Why not? Tony Bates examines how this mode of organization is fraught with difficulties. These comments are made in the context of Rachel Fishman's recent report, State U Online. "What the report does not adequately address are the economics of online learning," writes Bates. When courses are shared, who provides online support? Additionally, "Another major barrier is academic distrust of other institutions: 'Our courses are always good; yours are garbage.'" P.S. Russ Poulin comments, " WCET is maintaining a list of consortia in the U.S. and Canada."

Two-Year Anniversary of Blackboard Acquisition of Moodlerooms and NetSpot
Phil Hill, e-Literate, April 15, 2014

Phil Hill reports on the extent and impact of the changes Blackboard made two years ago while acquiting open course vendors Moodlerooms and NetSports and reorienting their corporate strategy. But: "While Blackboard has kept their word and made a major change in strategy, the question arises of whether that matters. According to the Campus Computing Survey for 2011 and 2013, Blackboard’s market share (combining Learn, WebCT, and ANGEL product lines) has continue to fall in the US over the past two years, from 51% of institutions to 41%."

Where is Higher Education’s Digital Dividend?
Terry Anderson, Virtual Canuck, April 15, 2014

Terry Anderson poses the question in the title by means of an example from David Wiley: "the cost of renting 75,000 movies  ($9.00 a month  from NetFlicks) or renting  any of 20 million songs from Spotify  ($9.99/month) with the cost of renting a college text book . A single biology text book rents for $12.99 a month from BookRenter." Thus, he writes, "the time is right for a 'market correction' that exploits the affordances of the Net to create drastically lower cost of quality higher education experience." It's long past due.

Offering cMOOCs Collaboratively: The COER13 Experience from the Convenors’ Perspective
Patricia Arnold, Swapna Kumar, Anne Thillosen, Martin Ebner, eLearning Papers, April 15, 2014

This short paper reflects on the offering of a cMOOC on the topic of Open Educational Resources in 2013. I'm curious to know what platform is used, but this is not described. The experiences, though, are similar to my own. For example, "All the convenors reflected on the challenge of managing multiple virtual spaces and following the conversations that participants had in those virtual spaces." As well, "It remains an open challenge to balance collaborative planning with “playing-by-ear” facilitating in newly emergent situations."

Cultural Translation in Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)
Bernard Nkuyubwatsi, eLearning Papers, April 15, 2014

This is generally a good paper though I disagree with some aspects. Basically, the idea is that 'cultural translation`- which is roughly "flexibility to allow students from diverse cultures to adjust the courses to their specific settings" - can be enabled in MOOCs through student-selected projects or student-formed groups. Where I disagree with the paper is in how this activity is framed - the author writes of "The inclusion of tasks, activities and assessments that are relevant to various cultural and professional settings" as though it's the professor that is doing this (or minimally, allowing this). But in fact these are activities created by supporting student autonomy and diversity in the course - the more the professor lets go of control, the more inclusive and relevant the course can be. And for that reason too I think that 'translation' is a particularly poor word to use in this context. (10 page PDF).

(p.s. papers in eLearning Papers are still branded 'Open Education Europa', with no mention of 'eLearning Papers' on the web page, but don't cite them as 'Open Education Europa' or they will complain and suggest that you are at fault for getting this wrong).

2014: The Year the Media Stopped Caring About MOOCs?
Steve Kolowich, The Chronicle: Wired Campus Blog, April 15, 2014

Based on information about an unpopular UPenn seminar for media on MOOCs Steve Kolowich wrote this article about the possibility that media are losing interest in the story. I suppose a decline in interest in inevitable and I'm not surprised that the Chronicle's editors would want to pounce on that. But it may be premature; Kolowich wrote me asking if I had data, and thanks to the script I wrote for to extract news coverage of MOOCs I did have data, so I wrote up a quick script that extracted it. Here is the result. My own conclusion is that media coverage hasn't declined significantly.

Links and Resources

(presentations include slides and audio recordings)
RSS Feed:

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)

Recent Popular Articles

The Purpose of Learning, February 2, 2011.
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Agents Provocateurs, October 28, 2010.
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A World To Change, October 19, 2010.
Connectivism and Transculturality, May 16, 2010.
An Operating System for the Mind, September 19, 2009.
The Cloud and Collaboration, June 15, 2009.
Critical Thinking in the Classroom, June 5, 2009.
The Future of Online Learning: Ten Years On, November 16, 2008.
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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

My calendar

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