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AOL’s move to open content spurs profits


Posted on 25th September 2005 by Judy Breck in Open Content

It has been years since I visited because its content was closed: subscribers only. Today’s New York Times article here was the first I knew that AOL had opened its content to all. You can, for example, link the page here to your webpage on fractions.
The NYT story is hardly in a positive vein, and almost grudgingly reports: “Richard D. Parsons, the chairman of its parent, Time Warner, has noticed. Last week, he singled out AOL as the division that offered the primary growth opportunity for the entire company.” The crux of the article is that the real change and AOL is the switch it made to making its content open.
Only open content offers opportunity for participation in the virtual learning ecology that is, like the blogosphere, an open network within the Internet. The principle is simple: If a user goes to the Internet to learn something about equivalent fractions, the AOL page cited above is now be findable by a search engine and is a link you can add to your bookmarks. When the AOL content was closed, you could neither find nor link to their resources.
More people will come because the content is open and they can find and use it than will ever come if AOL tries to be the top experts on thousands of subjects like equivalent fractions — and expects folks to pay them for that. In the virtual learning ecology it’s the linking that underlies both knowledge richness and potential profits.

Galveston Storm of 1900


Posted on 22nd September 2005 by Judy Breck in Subject Sampler

galveston hurricane 1900
The Galveston Country Daily News has an online special section here remembering the Great Hurricane of 1900. This is a local source reporting a powerful local memory rippling across the Internet to anyone interested in learning about this awful tragedy. History

Hurricane Rita


Posted on 21st September 2005 by Judy Breck in Subject Sampler

hurricane cone
As Hurricane Rita threatens the coast of the United States, the information here is a striking example of how focused what we need to know can be with the Internet. If the people of Galveston had 1% of what can be learned from this webpage in the days before the 1900 disaster, thousands of lives would have been saved.

Red Studio


Posted on 18th September 2005 by Judy Breck in Subject Sampler

MOMA for high school
The website here from the Modern Museum of Art in New York City is modern art for high school students. It responds to questions like these: “What is—or isn’t—considered ‘art’? What does it take for someone to become an architect, artist, or filmmaker? Who decides how a museum collects and displays art?” Arts

Bad news or good news?


Posted on 17th September 2005 by Judy Breck in Mobile & Ubiquitous

If the education establishment is true to its form of the past ten years it is likely to view this morning’s New York Times story here about the migration of pornography into cell phones as bad news. But here are a couple of things to think about:
First, the story includes the fact that the cell phone industry is developing ratings like movies have. That will surely lead to being able to give little kids phones with the hard core stuff blocked.
Second, and more important is WHY the cell phone industry is making its move: the cell phone screens are bigger, have better color and more easily access the Internet. One expert in the article says: “[The cell phone] has every component that has proven conducive to the consumption of adult entertainment – privacy, easy access, and, on top of it, mobility. . .” The good news is that these same improvements are making Internet learning assets more accessible and easier to use. The knowledge consumption industry followed the porn guys into the Internet back in the 1990s. This time let’s get the reading, writing, arithmetic, algebra, chemistry and history on the phones ahead of the dirty pictures. Doing that would be very good news.
(And don’t tell me “privacy” of the phones is a problem. Until we trust the kids they will never learn.)

Portable High School Prowess


Posted on 17th September 2005 by Judy Breck in Schools We Have Now

The New Orleans public school system — washed away by Katrina — was admittedly by most any standard not very good. It has to be certain that some of its former students are going to get a better education this year than they would have in New Orleans because they are enrolled in other school systems. Clearly the portable talent of being a football star or other top athlete has placed those New Orleans students quickly where they can return to action.
The clean slate for schools New Orleans now offers must not be rewritten with the same old problems. The Golden Swamp that is the Internet is the home of the new virtual knowledge economy that is flood-proof. Academic stars and strivers alike could have logged in on any computer and resumed their studies anywhere if New Orleans had been a virtual ecology based school system. What kids know — like how well they play ball — is portable and goes with them wherever they go. What they are learning can/should be that way too in the 21st century.
New Orleans has an awesome opportunity to replace its old mucked-up school slates with ubiquitous computing for its kids. Do that in the Big Easy and it will be more than football stars coming up in your new generations.

The Dirt on Dirt


Posted on 16th September 2005 by Judy Breck in Subject Sampler

Part of a new comprehensive tutorial on Exploratorium, the dirt topic here gives the basics on dirt for growing things. The dirt materials are part of an information-rich gardening resource called the Science of Gardening. Its organization is a fine example of the increasing break from top-down, tree-structured learning websites to online ecologies of stuff to learn centered in topics. Thanks Scout Report. Botany

Raid on Deerfield Massachusetts 1704


Posted on 15th September 2005 by Judy Breck in Subject Sampler

Deerfield Massachusetts Raid 1704
The history of this famed American colonial period raid is presented here from the viewpoints of a variety of participants. This superbly executed web exhibit is the work of historians and museum experts on the event. The presentation is authoritative yet allows students of this well-known piece of history to look at it thoroughly through the virtual eyes of people who were there. History

Amplifying practices


Posted on 15th September 2005 by Judy Breck in Networks

This is a sentence from an article here on John Seely Brown’s website about how to read The Only Sustainable Edge, his new book that he wrote with John Hagel III:

In contrast to previous generations of technology that focused primarily on automating business processes within the enterprise, largely to reduce cost, this new generation of technology will shift to amplifying the practices of people, especially as they seek to collaborate across enterprises.

The observation about business processes is, I would argue, exactly true for IT and the Internet as they are destined to work for education (when we give them a chance). Let’s refocus on an education future in which the practices of people – teachers and learners in the case of education – are being amplified by technology, not threatened by it. The Larry Cubans of the world need to get over their fear of IT, because that fear is badly out-of-date.

Chris Whittle’s Suggestion


Posted on 15th September 2005 by Judy Breck in Schools We Have Now

Today’s Washington Post here has a column by Chris Whittle who — to great fanfare — founded the Edison Schools in the early 1990s. I love his comparison of a school to an archeaological dig. It’s interesting, though, that he does not think really outside of the school box. I don’t think we need to redesign schools. We should instead think of how to engage children in the new virtual knowledge ecology and then excavate add-ons of what still seems useful out of the archeaological digs we now call schools.

89% of Ohioans say their high schoolers not challenged


Posted on 15th September 2005 by Judy Breck in Schools We Have Now

The here comments on new poll results from ETS. Once again, the discussion reported is which to do of more of the same: pay teachers more, tougher curriculum, tests, and so forth. Why not do something different? Most high school students have restricted internet access and reliance on the the sort of textbooks their grandparents had. Why not get them freely online, get laptops to them and let them engage the sort of knowledge they will be expected to deal with if they get to college? There’s a challenge for the kids — and for Ohio educators and policy folk.

Famous Polish Men And Women


Posted on 14th September 2005 by Judy Breck in Subject Sampler

Chopin famous Polish men and women
The page here is part of a large website hosted by the government of Poland describing the nation — presented in six languages. The selected biographies of famous Polish men and women are only a small slice of the vast amount of information offered in this extensive official resource. Biography

The Backpack Generation


Posted on 13th September 2005 by Judy Breck in Schools We Have Now

backpacks and kids
My guess is that the little guy perfecting his backpack lugging skills above will be among the last of the BPack-Gen whose lumbar regions were strained by weighty textbooks. Maybe this little one mainly has his lunch and homework papers in his pack. By the time he is old enough to have to transport the heavier books the junior high set is wheeling around, he will likely have a slim laptop or big screen cell phone in which to tote what he is learning. His lunch will then still be the biggest item he is carrying to school.



Posted on 13th September 2005 by Judy Breck in Subject Sampler

Just about anything you might want to know about penguins — and probably considerably more — can be learned here from SeaWorld. This is an extensive resource of information covering the science and way of life of these appealing birds made popular this summer by the documentary of the march the emperor penquins. Animal sciences

William Faulkner On The Web


Posted on 12th September 2005 by Judy Breck in Subject Sampler

William Faulkner
Begun in 1995, the web of Faulkner knowledge here is a terrific place to study two different things. The first is the great American writer William Faulkner. The second is how the Internet has come to serve as a radically new matrix for embedding the authoritative knowledge of a subject in better ways than could ever be done previously. Ideas and sources are richly interconnected to weave what is wonderful and important into an elegant cognitive fabric. It is possible to learn something new and understand the author more with every click. Literature