Writers Take Note: Lessig’s ‘Code’ Revised With the Help of Wiki

Lawrence Lessig has announced that his book, Code, is to be revised through an innovative collaborative process. Lessig will be posting the book chapters through a wiki, and each chapter will be managed and edited by “chapter captains”. Therefore, the book chapters can be collaboratively edited, but there is still a significant measure of editorial control. Sounds like a great idea.

Hmmmmm … I wonder if what my University would say if I attempted to do my dissertation this way.

An Open Letter to a Digital World: Time to Switch to Linux

Chris Spencer posted an interesting open letter to LinuxWorld a couple of days ago, and it’s worth circulating to those a bit outside of the Linux world.

“Spencer had become so fed up with spyware, trojans, viruses, and spam, that he decided it was time to write a letter to the world. It’s a simple message: it’s time to switch from Windows to Linux. The letter serves as a guide … taking you through some of the history of Microsoft right up to this present day.”

If you are interested at all in understanding the benefits of the Linux environment, and don’t mind a bit of the technical, be sure to check out Spencer’s message.

iTeacherED Final Report: Integrating ICT into a Faculty of Education

The Final Report of the iTeacherEd study (an Industry Canada sponsored research project) is now available online. You can find the study here (click on the top link ‘Final Report.) You will find other related reports and presentations there as well.

The research is based on, and reports, our Faculty’s approach to the integration of ICT into our preservice education program. I hope there are those that will find this information useful.

Shameless FLOSS Advocacy

As I continue my research into the open (source) movement in education, I am amazed and delighted by the number of leads and the research that is sent to me by other advocates in the area. There seems to be a real desire to get the message out that there ARE (often better) free alternatives to the proprietary software and systems we find in most schools.

Michael Francis of Canopener.ca is one of the individuals who has been of great help. He recently sent me this article from Linux Journal which, in part, describes the stranglehold that certain companies (like, but not limited to Microsoft) have over our educational institutions. And through this influence, such corporations do greatly effect and to an extent, control certain technical curricula. In the case of this article (and of Florida State University), it seems that there is some refuge from this corporate dominance, however, it is often not without a struggle.

A couple of weeks ago, I was encouraged to announce the “ground-break agreement” between the province of Alberta and Microsoft that has made M$ Office available to all K-12 and post-secondary institutions in the province. The deal is worth 6.3 million dollars to M$, and purportedly saves Alberta over 10 million (so there, I’ve now announced it).

Now the critique. I suppose Alberta, with it’s lack of debt and surplus budget is doing a great job financially. But I wonder, was Open Office ever even considered … for even one second. Open Office, if you don’t know it, is a M$ Office equivalent (and greater in some respects). And the zinger … it’s absolutely free. It’s a consideration that could have saved the province an additional … let me do that math … 6.3 million dollars. Sure, yes, there would have had to be some PD (although, if you know M$ Office, you know OO)… and there are the installation costs and support. But really, these costs are there in any case of technological adoption.

I guess when I can get my own personal budget balanced, I would have a greater right to criticize. However, I am worried that these types of mega-deals will catch on in other provinces and states without the consideration of Free/Libre and Open Source Software (FLOSS) alternatives. And I am certainly wondering, where was M$ with such ‘cost saving’ deals before the looming threat of FLOSS?


I’ve been looking for a relevant article as a starting place for an online, senior undergraduate course (ICT in Education) that I am teaching in the Winter of 2K5. I think I’ve found it, via George Siemens at elearnspace.

In Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age, Siemens presents the reader with alternative theory of learning (connectivism) which is formed through the integration of chaos, network, complexity and self-organization theories.

The principles of connectivism include:

  • Learning and knowledge rests in diversity of opinions.
  • Learning is a process of connecting specialized nodes or information sources.
  • Learning may reside in non-human appliances.
  • Capacity to know more is more critical than what is currently known
  • Nurturing and maintaining connections is needed to facilitate continual learning.
  • Ability to see connections between fields, ideas, and concepts is a core skill.
  • Currency (accurate, up-to-date knowledge) is the intent of all connectivist learning activities.
  • Decision-making is itself a learning process. Choosing what to learn and the meaning of incoming information is seen through the lens of a shifting reality. While there is a right answer now, it may be wrong tomorrow due to alterations in the information climate affecting the decision.

In a nutshell, “Connectivism presents a model of learning that acknowledges the tectonic shifts in society where learning is no longer an internal, individualistic activity. How people work and function is altered when new tools are utilized.” Obviously, tools such as weblogs and RSS are implicated. It’s an interesting, relevant article, and a great lens to use to understand the larger phenomenon of networked learning in the digital era.

The Great Playlist Meme ’04: Yet Another Playlist

I’m taking my cue from D’Arcy Norman who just introduced me to The Great Playlist Meme ’04. You can check out the details at D’Arcy’s blog, At the time of this of this writing, here are the next 10 songs on my digital music player as selected by my random shuffler … no embarrassing tunes excluded. This could be scary!

1) Slow Burning Fire: The Skydiggers (not a bad place to start)

2) Don’t Walk on Past: Blue Peter (ahhh the 80’s)

3) Gansta Gangsta: NWA (WOW, is that really on my list?)

4) Arm Yourself – Filmmaker (good Saskatchewan band … unfortunately now dismantled)

5) Tennessee Flat Top Box – Johnny Cash (R.I.P Johnny)

6) Cool It Now – New Edition (uhhhh … my brother must have downloaded that one … yikes)

7) Say It Ain’t So – Weezer (much cooler than the last one)

8) Scared – The Tragically Hip (now we’re getting somewhere)

9) Just Can’t Get Enough – Depeche Mode (80’s classic turned Gap marketing ploy)

10) 323 – Chixdiggit (Calgary punk band, which coincidentally brings this post back to D’Arcy)

Well I guess that wasn’t too bad.

If you are interested in another similar playlist type game, check out the A-Z Song Game … another interesting one I saw a short while ago.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged

The ‘Go Canadian’ Package

OK, it’s not really related to ed. tech., but I found this amusing.

An Albuquerque company is selling a ‘Go Canadian’ package to Americans who are looking to travel to Europe, but don’t want to be hassled with having to defend U.S. global politics.

An ad from t-shirtking.com reads:

“For $24.95 you get a complete disguise. A t-shirt with the Canadian flag and the saying “O Canada! (National Anthem), a patch for your luggage or backpack, a window sticker and a lapel pin. Plus – Free Report – How to Speak Canadian, Eh?! Now when someone asks you about American politics, you can say, “I’m on vacation, I don’t want to talk aboot it.”

While it’s a bit tongue-in-cheek, people seem to be buying the package.

Article: “Computers Are a Drag on Learning”

The Christian Science Monitor reports a German study which sampled 175,000 15-year-old students in 31 countries. The result? It seems that students that used computers several times per week at school suffered a significant decline in academic performance.

Excerpt: “It seems if you overuse computers and trade them for other [types of] teaching, it actually harms the student,” says lead researcher Ludger Woessmann in a telephone interview from Munich. “At least we should be cautious in stating that increasing [access to] computers in the home and school will improve students’ math and reading performance.”

If anything, the study is another reminder that connectivity alone will not help student achievement, in fact, it may actually harm it. But we are reminded that we need to look at more innovative and pedagogically appropriate uses of technology in the classroom.

Article Link: