October 19, 2005
Learning Activity Management System
Educause 2005, October 19, 2005
James Dalziel, from Macquarie ELearning Centre of Excellence(MELCOE), Macquarie University in Australia, began by noting that e-learning has thus far been too content centric. And it has looked very much like the transmission model of education.
New Field of Learning Design is emerging, and is being defined as a structured flow of tasks when can be captured, represented and shared. Learning then becomes about the activities of learners more than the content itself.
We saw a live demonstration with ten people from the audience with laptops on wireless. James showed us each of the interfaces. The International arm is a community website where learning designs can be shared. For example, Oxford University recently uploaded a whole set of learning designs for an introductory course. So their instructors developed these sequences of tasks and activities for learners and shared them, after polishing them.
You add your own context and content, but the scope and sequence of activities can be used to structure your teaching and can readily be customized.
I like this approach because it brings together visually the actual activities which will engage the learner and bring about enhanced learning and mastery of material.
I want to download and share this model of thinking about the activities that represent your learning environment.
Open Source Electronic PublishingOpen Source Electronic Publishing System from Cornell University
Center for Innovative Publishing
Summary of a conference presentation at Educause 2005, October 19, 2005
Math and Statistics Journals Online
Project Euclid was created as a Mellon Foundation-supported initiative that utilizes mutually beneficial strategies to support both academic libraries and independent publishers of mathematics and statistics journals.
Problem: folks weren’t submitting to the repository. Why not? Speaker noted that part of the problem was the term “repository” which suggests by connotation that this is the “end” for this document, a resting place. Instead, the repository needs to be seen as a dynamic searchable database eager for more contributions. How to accomplish that?
DPubS: an open source electronic publishing system which now contains 35,000 articles. A small subscription-based service draws in the revenue that allows much of the material, 2/3, to be available free of charge.
They recently re-designed the User Interface (UI) so that you can house/host one of your own collections. You use the same engine but can give the repository the look and feel of your library or your organization. For example, Pennsylvania History
Positioning the tool
David Ruddy spoke about DPubS being viewed as an application layer on top of your own Institutional Repository. For example, the DPubS repository service functions as an API on top of Fedora or DSpace.
Merging question: what to do with the content available from conference proceedings.
Note: the group is eager for partners and beta testers.
January 11, 2005
NetWare Rewritten, Merged With Linux, and Released Under Cherokee Open Source LicenseJeff Merkey, a former chief scientist of Novell, has rewritten Netware and merged it with Linux. The new operating system will be known as GaDuGi, a Cherokee word for the work crews that used to engage in what we might call community service for the good of the whole tribe. Merkey plans to release the new software under the Cherokee Nation Open Source License, which is still being written, but which will reportedly recognize trade secret rights in the underlying code.
Any Open Source License that incorporates Linux and recognizes trade secret rights is likely to be challenged on three fronts: first, it would violate the definition of Open Source, which is trademarked by the Open Source Initiative; second, it would violate Linux's own GPL and probably be illegal under US law; and third, under the Uniform Trade Secrets Act, once a trade secret is published in public with good faith, it ceases to be a trade secret. [More]
January 05, 2005
Security: Windows vs. LinuxKoetzle, L. (2004). Is Linux More Secure Than Windows? Forrester Research, Cambridge, Mass.
Petreley, N. (2004). Security Report: Windows vs. Linux. The Register. (Published October 22, 2004 and retrieved January 5, 2005.)
Koetzle's paper was published in March 2004 and compares Debian, MandrakeSoft, Microsoft, Red Hat and SuSE. Each platform was evaluated based on data gathered between June 1, 2002 and May 31, 2003, according to four metrics "all days of risk," quantifying the platform's actual vulnerability to attack; "distirbution days of risk," comparing the Linux distributors' responsvieness to a vulnerability; "flaws fixed," measuring the platform maintainers' thoroughness, and the percentage of high-severity vulnerabilities. Among the study's findings: Microsoft demonstrated the lowest average "all days of risk," and Red Hat and Microsoft tied in terms of relative severity and thoroughness.
Petreley's study, published in October 2004, compared Microsoft Windows Server 2003 and Red Hat Enterprise Linux AS v.3, based on the severity of the security vulnerability (determined by the damage potential, the exploitation potential, and the exposure potential), and the number of critically severe vulnerabilities. Petreley found that whereas 10% of Red Hat's patches and alerts addressed critical vulnerabilities, 38% of Microsoft's patches and alerts addressed vulnerabilities ranked by Microsoft as critical. The report also includes a detailed discussion of security and severity metrics.
January 04, 2005
The Economics of Open SourceDalle, J.-M. et al. (2004). Advancing Economic Research in the Free and Open Source Software Mode of Production. Forthcoming in Building Our Digital Future: Future Economic, Social and Cultural Scenarios Based On Open Standards, edited by Marleen Wynants and Jan Cornelis. Brussels: Vrjie Universiteit Brussels (VUB) Press.
Lerner, J. and J. Tirole. (2004). The Economics of Technology Sharing: Open Source and Beyond. Working Paper no. 10956, NBER, Cambridge, Mass.
There are a number of reasons why universities are slow to adopt open source software; one is the perception that the open source mode of production is not a viable economic model, i.e., that it is not sustainable over time. The two articles cited above are part of a growing body of literature demonstrating that open source initiatives are not only viable, but interesting.
Lerner and Tirole provide a brief history of open source software, motivations for participating in open source development, the relative quality of open source software, public policy toward open source, the role software patents play, and areas for further research. Of particular interest is their section on parallels between open source and academia, and where academia could benefit from adopting the open source model. Two examples discussed are sharing datasets or constructing large multi-institutional resources, a "strategy [that] might be especially effective for those at smaller and less centrally located institutions"; and, secondly, requiring that published works remain publicly accessible, rather than ceding copyright to publishers.
J.-M. Dalle et al. seeks to redirect research away from the study of why people participate in open source projects, which the authors describe as neither unique nor hsitorically unprecedented, and toward the modes of organization, governance and performance of open source initiatives, "in order to to assess the potentialities of the 'open source way of working' as a paradigm for a broader class of knowledge and information-goods production." The authors describe four areas for further investigation: the emerging importance of new standards, such as XML; the relationship between open source and peer-to-peer networking as a means of distribution; the development of reputation systems within open source communities; and the interface between open-source distribution and other forms of pubication and distribution.
September 29, 2004
5 Challenges for Open Source
From the September 24 Chronicle of Higher Education. And they are:
- Building a Community
- Agreeing on What Open Source Means
- Securing Budgets for 'Free' Software
- Getting Colleges to Switch
- Working With Companies, Not Against Them
The KDE Accessibility Project
"Our goal is to make the entirety of the K Desktop Environment and (by necessity) its underlying technologies usable by and as efficient as possible for disabled users of all types. We like to make a complete accessible desktop as a free alternative to the expensiveness of commercial assistive technologies. By cooperating with other free solutions, interoperability with other accessibility software programs (e.g. GNOME applications) can be ensured. Making all of KDE fully accessible is a huge task, but it also involves very small things. A missing keyboard shortcut might be just a bit annoying for most people, but it makes the programs unusable for others. This is why the KDE Accessibility Projects aims to raise the awareness of accessibility issues among all people involved in KDE."
Sphinx is a speaker-independent large vocabulary continuous speech recognizer under Berkeley's style license. It is also a collection of open source tools and resources that allows researchers and developers to build speech recognition system. Sphinx 4 (beta) was released September 24. [From slashdot.]
K12 Linux Terminal Server Project
SunSITE is now an official mirror for the K12 Linux Terminal Server (K12LTSP) software (ftp or http). K12LTSP is based on RedHat Fedora Linux also mirrored on SunSITE (ftp or http) and the LTSP terminal server packages, and is distributed under the GNU General Public License. K12LTSP is part of the K12Linux in Schools Project
August 24, 2004
Interview with Linus Torvalds
Interview in last week's Business Week with Linus Torvalds. "Traditional software is like witchcraft. In history, witchcraft just died out. The same will happen in software. When problems get serious enough, you can't have one person or one company guarding their secrets. You have to have everybody share in knowledge."
July 21, 2004
ELDK 3.0 Now Available From SunSITE
- Linux kernel version 2.4.24
- New tools: GCC 3.2.2, GDB 5.2.1, binutils 18.104.22.168.18, glibc 2.3.1
- Support for all recent Linux distributions like RedHat-9, Fedora Core 1, SuSE 9.0
- Improved GDB, with bug fixes and built-in support for popular BDM/JTAG debuggers
- Microwindows with DENX extensions (variable linewidth, scalable bitmaps)
- More tools for cross-building of file system imagesnew versions of many tools (gcc-2.95.4, binutils-22.214.171.124.2, glibc-2.2.5) and many new packages, including embedded web servers, PCMCIA Card Services, and support for Wireless LAN cards.
The Embedded Linux Development Kit (ELDK) includes the GNU cross development tools, such as the compilers, binutils, gdb, etc., and a number of pre-built target tools and libraries necessary to provide some functionality on the target system. It is provided for free with full source code, including all patches, extensions, programs, and scripts used to build the tools. Packaging and installation is based on the RPM package manager.
July 06, 2004
Fedora, Mandrake and Suse Compared
Flexbeta has a comparison of Fedora, Mandrake and Suse installation, system configuration, available software, desktop environments, multimedia, and support. ".....if you like a system that has a good base and aren't afraid to use the command line to administer or build packages, Fedora is a good choice. If you like to have all the applications you use readily available, nice utilities to administer the system and a single website that you can go to for help, Mandrake is a good choice. If you like a polished, easy to configure system with additional corporate support, Suse is a good choice."
May 20, 2004
Why Open Source Works
Worth reading: Steven Weber, whose new book, The Success of Open Source, was just published by Harvard University Press, gives an interview to ACM's magazine Ubiquity.
May 06, 2004
Renowned Linux/Open Source Evangelist Complains About Poor UI
In this tremendous post, John Gruber comments on an article Eric S. Raymond wrote regarding his trouble connecting to a network printer through Linux. The writing is entertaining, but the underlying implications for Open Source UI development, as well as for the feasibility of Linux as a mainstream consumer operating system, are very serious. Bottom line - there's a long way to go:
"It’s common for the Linux hacker set to poke fun at Windows’s wizard-style configuration tools, but the entire desktop Linux user interface is a pale imitation of Windows — much, much more of a rip-off of Windows than Windows ever was of the Mac. But the resemblance is merely cosmetic; functionally, desktop Linux is nowhere near as usable as Windows."
May 05, 2004
Introduction to Linux / Introduction to Open Source
Okay, so the jury's still out on whether the use of Linux and tendencies toward open source in general are genetically inherited or simply a lifestyle choice. In the meantime, however, there is probably not enough being done in the way of proselytizing and conversion. Two pamphlets that may help remedy that are The Difference Between GNU/Linux Distributions, from Jem Report, and Surveying the Open Source Landscape from eBCVG.
It's the Appropriate Technology, Stupid!
David Kirkpatrick's recent Fortune Magazine article on Bridges.org has been hitting the blogs the last few days (e.g., Smart Mobs and ICTlogy). Bridges.org is an international non-profit organisation that promotes the effective use of Information and communications technology (ICT) in the developing world to reduce poverty and improve people's lives. Teresa Peters is Bridges' Executive Director. Three quotes jump out immediately:
"Many IT-related projects in Africa are failing. That's because, Peters says, too many ignore the basic criteria for success: 'Small, cheap, local, and relevant are the key things for IT here, with a suite of applications around the device.' Often, for instance, what's appropriate is not a PC but a handheld, or even just a cellphone."
"Peters says the most effective use of technology she's ever seen was in a pilot project that gave doctors and medical students in Kenya Palm handhelds that contained a regularly updated set of medical reference materials. Drugs change frequently, as do treatment regimens. But, she explains, 'Doctors are out all day seeing patients two to a bed and on the floor—so many it's unbelievable. They make notes on each patient but without a handheld they have to wait until the end of the day to check reference books for drug interactions and other information.' The program resulted in clear improvements in patient care."
"Bridges is now conducting a study comparing open-source software like Linux with proprietary software for community-access computer labs and Internet cafes. It is assessing the total cost of ownership—doing what Peters calls a 'reality check.' While the report is not complete and she says they aim not to take sides in a commercial competition, 'today's realities indicate that proprietary software is more suitable for most of these labs. Technical support is the absolute deal killer. The tech support is just not there for open source.' While she says most African governments are feeling pressure to move to the 'free' open source, most projects will fail because, for now, there is simply no technical support in Africa for desktop Linux. (People aren't having as much trouble with Linux for server installations, she says.) Microsoft, on the other hand, which is the de facto supplier of proprietary alternatives, has a well-developed support infrastructure in many places."
May 04, 2004
Delivering Classics Resources with TEI-XML, Open Source, and Creative Commons Licenses
The name says it all. This page describes the new initiative:
The Center for Hellenic Studies of Harvard University has adopted an innovative technological program for free online publication of books, articles, and databases designed to make resources in the classics more visible and accessible.I must say, this is tremendously exciting news for the Humanities, Classics, e-learning, and anyone interested in innovative initiatives to share data.
May 03, 2004
Dirac in Alpha Release from Sourceforge
"In January 2003, BBC R&D produced a prototype video coding algorithm, based on wavelet technology, which is different from that used in the main proprietary or standard video compression systems. Our algorithm seems to give a two-fold reduction in bit rate over MPEG-2 for high definition video (e.g. 1920x1080 pixels), its original target application. It has been further developed to optimise it for internet streaming resolutions and seems broadly competitive with state of the art video codecs."
"At the moment the codec, called Dirac, is in the early stages of development. It has been developed as a research tool, not a product, as a basis for further developments. An experimental version of the code, written in C++, was released under an Open Source licence agreement on 11th March at http://sourceforge.net/."
Sun considers GPL license for Solaris
"Sun Microsystems Inc. may be selling servers running Linux, but that doesn't mean it is cutting back on the evolution of Solaris. Among its plans, the company is considering offering a free, open source version of its flagship operating system, said Jonathan Schwartz, the company's recently appointed president and chief operating officer."
"'Maybe we'll GPL it,' Schwartz said of Solaris, referring to the GNU General Public License under which the Linux operating system is distributed. 'We're still looking at that.'" [InfoWorld, 30 Apr 04]
April 27, 2004
Open Source Software for Non-Profits
We're trying to do a better job tracking discussions about the costs and benefits of open source software. This week we stumbled on Choosing and Using Open Source Software: A primer for nonprofits, by Michelle Murrain, which seems overall to take a fairly positive view of open source software for non-profits in the near-term. Also cited in the Primer is Realizing the Promise of Open Source in the Non-Profit Sector by Jonathan Peizer, CTO of the Open Society Institute, published in September 2003.
April 15, 2004
Has Open Source Reached Its Limits?
The conservative Institute for Policy Innovation released an issue brief on 4 Mar 04 by Tony Healy, entitled Has Open Source Reached Its Limits?. "Pushing the open source concept too far into areas where it's not applicable will lead to universities and taxpayers shouldering the cost of software development for business, and doing it less capably than specialist software development firms." A rebuttal was published by Leon Brooks on 6 Apr 04 (How independent is independent?). IPI's reaction follows.
April 08, 2004
Openess and Security on Campus
A Balancing Act? Openess and Security on Campus, an interview with Jeff Schiller, MIT's network manager and security strategist, appears in the April issue of Syllabus Magazine. "With open source, if there�s a problem I can fix it as the consumer. Obviously I have to have the skills to do that, but I do have the ability the access to do it. With closed source I don�t. I�m literally at the mercy of the vendor to fix it."
Visual Text Mining
Blog-Fu highlighted this visual text mining tool on 7 Apr 04. "txtkit is an Open Source visual text mining tool for exploring large amounts of multilingual texts. It's a multiuser-application which mainly focuses on the process of reading and reasoning as a series of decisions and events. To expand this single perspective activity txtkit collects all of the users mining data and uses them to create content recommendations through collaborative filtering..... txtkit has an open and variable architecture which allows you to add multiple sources in different languages on different servers."
April 06, 2004
Sun Weighs Open-Source Options
"Sun Microsystems Inc. is pondering the possibility of open-sourcing more of its software this time with its next-generation 3-D windowing system, called Project Looking Glass, which is under development." [eWeek, 2 Apr 04]