Seven black swans for education in 2012

A different top ten list
For the past 6 years i’ve done a top ten list to finish off the year. As my interests have evolved and as my writing has changed, i’ve found it more difficult each year to try and pull together the list. This year I saw HackEducations post and thought… huh… that’s pretty much what i would have said. I’m sure I would have come at it slightly differently, maybe not spelled as well, but I don’t think i have significantly more to offer to that discussion. The only thing I would have added was Learning Analytics. So… check Hack Education’s list.

Black swans
I thought i might want to do something a little different this year… I want to talk about Black Swans. A black swan is a suprise event that changes the whole nature of a conversation. They are events that, in hindsight, EVERYONE wants to say they saw coming, but no one (or few people) predicted ahead of time. They are usually dramatic events, though it’s not the level of the drama that’s important, but rather the impact that it has.

As we look into the future, speculating about black swans is useful in two ways. The first is that it is a nice way for us to discuss issues that are important to us in a new landscape. It provides a new context to talk about important ideas. In this sense, the content of the black swan is less important than the conversations that the black swan event allow us to have. Too often we are caught up in the minutiae of a discussion and can’t see what it is about our work that is important to us. The second, and maybe more obvious things about black swans is… they might happen.

edit: i should probably add that black swan’s were first described in

About this list
I’m going to propose seven black swan situations that could happen in 2012. I’m not suggesting that these things will ACTUALLY happen, but thinking about change can sometimes help us conceptualize it in our own lives… even if nothing dramatic comes around. I’m going to avoid any of the really nasty events… no wars, meteors or volcanic eruptions… sorry. There’s lots of change out there to talk about.

Note: this post was edited rather significantly after chatting with Jeff Lebow and John Schinker on Edtechtalk.

Black Swan 7 – Free WORKING LMS for learning
What happens if we have a system that actually works? One piece of software that does all the writing, all the games, all the learning and all the measuring you ever wanted. It works on all the computers, in all scenarios, and offered to us for free from Google. Not far from reality… just a few more steps and we’re there. What happens to Blackboard? We’re learning… lets use google. End of story. It works on tablets, on phones. It has scholar, docs, mail. What if we added google textbooks? We’d save a fortune on training… and give more power over to one company.

Black Swan 6 – Copyright Bans Open textbooks in the US
I can’t imagine how the textbook companies could pull it off, but when a billion dollar industry is threatened, there are lobbying dollars to move around. There have been some excellent initiaties at the school level all over the united states, but in this scenario, all classroom textbooks MUST be paid for. Perhaps to ‘preserve quality.’ Maybe the argument is even less rationale than that. Does this move us more towards a different country to lead us? Can we get Finnish textbooks?

Black Swan 5 – Oil his $400/barrel
Changing directions entirely, what happens in the price of oil hits a crazy high number. It sounds unlikely, but i never thought I’d see the prices we had a few years ago either. If it costs a fortune to drive, does that change things? Does that move us towards online education?

How can we, in canada, rationalize heating a building all winter long just to put kids in it?

Black Swan 4 – US government invests in Analytics
Doesn’t sound crazy? Seems pretty normal eh? Think your way through it. A few years ago NYC invested $80 million in a student tracking system. Imagine the US government investing $80 billion in a system that tracks every student grade, up to the minute, and giving them a dashboard that told them how each school was doing… right now. Think testing is rampant in the school system now? Imagine what would happen in this scenario.

Imagine the Kahn academy for the whole education system. At any given time, you’d be able to send ‘at risk’ students to the right tutor who could put them back on track. We’d know oodles about what kinds of things helped people ‘learn’. If that’s what we wanted 🙂 Would it be worth it? Maybe we could refocus school time on projects… and art… and music. Or maybe we all stay home and press buttons on our computers.

Black Swan 3 – International students stop coming
There are any number of reasons why this could happen… Out here on the east coast of canada, most schools are over 10% in their ratio international students to Canadian students. This is important for beefing up enrolment, but its also important for the extra fees paid by those students. If governmental regulations or incentives changed in any number of countries in Asia this could have a dramatic effect on Higher Ed. Would we try and teach them online? Would schools start to close? Would we try to attract students from other countries? The ‘international student’ has become a critical part of the fabric of higher education.

Black Swan 2 – Free books for everyone!
There is a battleground, right now, for content in higher education. We have billion dollar companies selling what amount to pretty average textbooks, and schools and different communities trying to create their own. What if the Thailand Government decided it was willing to put 10 billion dollars on the table to create free textbooks for everyone. One country (pick whichever one you like, could be Luxembourg or Saudi Arabia) offering free books, edited by renowned experts to the world. Would we take them? Is the content so transferable that we wouldn’t care who created them?

Black Swan 1 – MIT accredits MOOCs
MIT seeing Stanford pulling ahead in the free openness sweepstakes, decides that it will work to provide accreditation for open online courses. They themselves are safe in the knowledge that people will still come to MIT to work with the people/resources they have there, but they’ve decided that they are going to hire 10K tutors to evaluate people in the new MOOCs they plan to launch this year. 1 million students, 10000 tutors. What would that do?

All the first year classes taught by 10 central institutions… what then?

Top 10 Edu News events of 2010

This is year SIX of the fantastic awesomeness of random end of yearishness that is the Top Ten Edu News events of the year. First… a Quick review of the five years that have passed…

# Top 10 of 2009. I like the winner. the Zephoria incident. “will you knock down the tower”?

# Best of 2008… the end of ‘the killer app’. and the ‘end’ of blogging.

# best of 2007? well… tough to ignore twitter going crazy. But i love the Tom Wood story.

# Top ten of 2006? oh Ted Stevens. We’ll always wonder if that dumptruck of internets arrived to your office.

# My top ten edublog news events of 2005. Winner? browser based app. fav? 100 laptop doesn’t exist.

And now, what I’ve been waiting for, the top 10 of two thousand 10

Number 10
Free is dead
We rang in the early part of the year to news that Ning was going to force people to pay for the fine work they were doing and then the year was going out with delicious maybe going into a ‘sunset’. We’re all coming to terms with the fact that people need to be payed for the work that they do.

Number 9
Leaks that were a flood to a website that wasn’t really a wiki. An international manhunt and
a new flag to fly up the ‘internet is dangerous’ flagpole. If there was a story this year that threatens open access to education, this is the one. All that and not for many surprises, rich people in the Caucasus throw big parties and some people in government are kind of annoying. Open still good… but probably going to get harder.

Number 8
Ipads, blackpads and android oh my! (android understanding table) I know i’m a convert, and any of the rest of you caught with any so retro as a ‘laptop’, had better be making a fashion statement.

Number 7
Angry birds bringing the tetris
Angry birds got the mobile devices into the hands of the people this year. All those people claiming to be working when they flipped their iphones over in the meeting room you were in? They were smashing blocks and trying to get their eggs back. But it brought the mobile device, and the obsessive use of it needed to get it into the mainstream out to people. Like tetris and the home computer, angry birds may be the secret weapon that made the mobile computer mainstream.

Number 6
switching to google
The university of Alberta wants you to know that lots of people love the switch to googledocs. (i do too)
As we all move inexorably towards our google overlords its our email that is now moving under its inevitable sway.

Number 5
Old Spice
A marketing campaign that targets the guy who runs the moodle installation in your university. (yup, they responded to a tweet from @kvillard who work at my uni) How does this change the way that kids need to be prepared…? Now there’s a 21st century skill. (How it was done)

Number 4
Pearson to get accreditation and private online schools
So, it seems that all kinds of people are talking about giving out degrees nowdays. I wonder if they’ll get a cut on their book prices?

Number 3
The end of research
It seems that we have lost interest in the word ‘fly’ since we starting being able to do it. It also seems that the words ‘love’ and ‘art’ dip in their use during the first and second world wars. In their ongoing attempt to take EVERYONE’s job, the job of the fearless data researcher is quickly going out the door… slackers like me can now wax philosophical over ideas that we came up with over a pint and ‘researched’ in 10 seconds. Haha.

Number 2
Cable Green, director of elearning and open education for the State Board of Community and Technical Colleges rocks.
A real, honest to goodness, open textbook model

Number 1
Netflix. Yes. Netflix.
We’ve seen piles of amazing video this year, and the Ted talks have taken over many a discussion table, and not just those deemed cool enough to be able to attend. In netflix we have a potentially sustainable model for learning video, that could easily replace all those rabid intellectuals who believe that CONTENT is what they’re selling. If learning is about content, then video is the way to put it together, and netflix is the way to sell it. It’s not the education system i want. But at least it would work.

UPDATE Number 1a
Student fees
Two years ago i first heard someone tell me higher ed student fees would triple on a fifteen year horizon. Two years later, the kids are in the streets in the UK. Is it a right? Is it a privilege? Even Churchill thought it was crazy to shut down the liberal arts schools during WWII. If anything is going to break the stranglehold of the ‘degree’ over society, it’s making it impossible to pay for (if it isn’t already). (via doug belshaw snarking me about US centrism in the comments)

Top 10 Edtech stories of 2009

10 – YAWN
Our “haven’t you heard abouts” got rusty this year. We woke up with a cat stretch after new years hangovers, looking forward to the next great thing that would force us to remember just one new password. Just one more “is this the new twitter”? And what did we get? Nothing. No super tool shared. No chance to smile knowingly over other people who found out about it 2 weeks later. It seems we are expected to be able to do something useful with our technology now… no sir. I don’t like it.

And please… don’t give me the ‘what about googlewave. It has teh awesome.’ It doesn’t qualify for this list because it doesn’t do anything. “it’s the new email” “people just don’t understand how cool it is yet”. It’s a platform… I get it. There’s one thing it can’t do for me… and that’s make my day any longer. It can’t carve out an extra hour to live collaborate on the next great american novel with fifty of my bestest chums and 20 people who walked in barely invited. Do that for me. Then i’ll be impressed.

Google hates your job. If it’s not near perfect translations, it’s automatic captioning, and I’ve heard rumour that ‘they’ the actual ‘omnipotent they’ have just stopped hosting their own email and have said that “google docs is just a nice bonus”. If you are in the business of doing anything, ever, forget it. Google is just about to do it better. Barak Obama, they say, is already switching over his blog to googlesites… the UN can’t be far behind.

It wouldn’t be a top ten list if i didn’t make some reference to the OLPC project. Here is the tablet of the future… 2012. It’s only going to cost $100 and will save the world… oh wait, sorry. Flashback. All this year, we’ve been droided, and iphoned and i can’t stop saying it itableted to death. The future of learning is MOBILE… or so I’m told. Um… my brain is mobile. I’ve been moving around with it for years. Someday, someday we’re going to get post-digital and stop thinking about the technology as the locus for learning. Just not today. I’m the future!

The internet is growing up, it helped win an election… and reality is seeping in. This year we started to notice that things like people dying is going to create a few issues for our favourite social networking sites. If the population of facebook is 8 cagillion, and the fastest growing segment is middle aged… well… what are we going to do about people’s identity when they aren’t able to sustain it themselves? One more thing to worry about. Come on google… solve our problem.

Don’t leave enough comments on my blog? Don’t RT me enough? Don’t return my tweets? No more friend for you. The venerated oxford university press has chosen ‘unfriend’ as it’s word of the year. It’s hard to imagine a more depressing commentary on our times. Maybe we’re just looking at this wrong… maybe we should be seeing unfriend like unconference. Kind of a post-friendship worldview. Yeah… that’s it.

“There are really just too many live events.” This is my favourite complaint of 2009. The poor educationalist forced to not be able to claim to have shown up to every single presentation. But but what if i missed the CDAFGDSAG conference? Or the social media in learning in future in what about the children seminar. Oh the huge manatee.
Imagine, the pain of too much choice.

3 – OK. MAYBE ONE NEW TOOL Here’s my shot in the dark for this year. A an open source webconferencing system… 15 min install. Asterix. Red5. Flex/flash. I’ve been hoping for it for years, and these dudes might just have the moxie to do it. I really, really, like the look of this project. They claim they are working on recording… which is kinda necessary, and are looking for feedback. Follow along, get involved. Open source matters.

Alan Levine, who both killed and unkilled blogs last year, curmudgeon of awards , requester of snark, barker, and storyteller extraordinaire gives us a reason to believe in the ‘open’. And, as a result, wins the award. One biscuit to you. “What do you mean by open?” has become the theme of the open movement, sign of maturity or impending senility. Or, as my son would say, maybe both. Cast all thoughts of definition from your mind, openness is a state of mind… a state of YOUR mind. Be open. ’nuff said.

Harbinger of the end of civilization or righteous crowd demanding its due from someone who should know better… interpretations on this one span the gamut from moral to epistemic. A web 2.0 speaker trashed on a live twitter stream during her presentation. Should she? should they? Nevermind. In it is distilled the most important conversation of this year and probably the next five. What rights does the entertainer have before the crowd? Do we want to restrict knowledge in a presentation to that that can be ‘shared’ by a presenter (or teacher)? Should presenters (or teachers) be accorded any more respect than a comedian (who would have gotten the same treatment or worse in the same spot?) What are our classrooms going to look like with live twitter streams flipping through them? My friends, we have the tower of babel a million times over… We have 20 students in a classroom, 200 in a conference or 20,000 in a field all building their tower of knowledge… growing, maybe, passed the teacher, the presenter or the expert. Will you knock the tower down? The people are going to be heard… speakers corner has come to the back of the room… are we ready? I doubt it.

Top 10 Edtech News etc thingers of 2008

10. Blogging is dead
Proclaimed and recinded. Here it is ladies and gentlemen the end of the first era of blogging. Far fewer are the blogs that tell us “just how exciting it all is”… According to Alan Levine, who quoted Nick Carr who quoted Technorati “they’ve been tracking 133 million blogs since 2002, only 7.4 million have posted in the last 120 days “ its current death was facilitated by Nancy white at Northern Voice and then case closed on December 16th as injenuity proclaimed

Jen 2:07 pm on December 16, 2008 | 0 | # |
Very pleased to no longer be a blogger.

Is it really dead…? meh. But it’s different. Our blogs are now less megaphone and more like 21st century school lockers.

9. Wikipedia is old Is Wikipedia saturated? Yep! Last year.
Wikipedia came into its own this year, no more drastic increases, no more crazy growth. Gone are the debates from years gone by about whether or not it’s the same as brittanica (how that ever was thought to be a good thing is beyond me) but now its where and what for. Proven by the focused if silly schools-wikipedia project… claiming to be school safe… yes, lets take the participation away so that everyone can participate. Never mind. It’s not cool anymore… it just is. And, if you need anymore proof… Overheard from a prof on CBC radio “when i was an undergrad all we heard was “don’t use wikipedia””

8. There are alot of people who still – just. don’t. get it.
“First-year student Chris Avenir is fighting charges of academic misconduct for helping run an online chemistry study group via Facebook last term, where 146 classmates swapped tips on homework questions that counted for 10 per cent of their mark.” And now, he faces 147 Academic charges. If my math holds out, he’s also being charged for working with himself on Facebook. A group of students comes together to work on the thing they are trying to learn… ban them! Burn them! Dear Professor, your system is broken.

7. PLN vs. PLE
Oh the humanity. Whatever can be the difference? Whether it’s by twitter via @courosa or by image via doug belshaw people do love to debate the meaning of acronyms that they are currently making up the meaning of. There is someting strange about the kinds of negotiations that are being made with new phrases we’ve all just made up… Never mind. PLEPLNs are important, they’re helping people talk about what we’ve all been doing since we started scratching sticks together a few million years ago

6. Open Viewers MUVEs for the plebes
Blah blah blah. Oh yes, multiuser virtual environments… have to have that on the list. Every early adopter has to have one, but like any technology, it can be measured by when people start forgetting their passwords. They’re old. But now, for your participatory pleasure, we have the first real breakthrough in 5 years. Browser viewers. Bringing the virtual world to the peeps. No more downloads, no fuss, no mess, “ooooone world for eeeeevvvvry boooooy.” (and girl)

5. MOOCS – Massive Online Open Courses
Yeah, well, so I’m biased. But when 2400 people sign up for what is essentially an epistemic research club (sounds fun doesn’t it, the web equivalent of “pawn day at the chess club”) something is happening. Couple of really big offshoots of this one. Fame will bring fortune. Professors and instructors who can bring in 5000 students are going to be worth their weight in gold… or, say, silicon. That and we’ve got a new model to make our universities work. Let everyone in. I like it.

4. Whisper of Green
Just the tiniest whisper of a concern for the fact that Jennifer Maddrell’s 47 computers are burning down the rainforests and for the greenness of all this technology was heard this year. I think it’s the harbinger of change to come. We’ve got greener chips in the laptops, autoshutoff extension cords and cows running computers (can’t imagine that’s good for the cows) Barring the coldfusion breakthrough we’ve been promised for thirty years I’m seeing power conservation as a key move in 2009

3. Bring on the research Technology may be altering how brains work RAND Study Is First to Link Viewing of Sexual Content on Television to Subsequent Teen Pregnancy A leading neuroscientist says processing digital information can rewire your circuits. But is it evolution?
Blah blah blah. More research telling us that thinking and doing stuff changes the way our brains are structured. Enough already. Ok. I believe you. My instrument of learning can learn. I agree. The thing that is manifestly obvious to anyone who actually has a brain, that our brains change with stimuli, is now confirmed. Now… if we can only figure out how they get that tasty caramel in there…

2. Unleashing The Tribe: small passionate communities Ewan McIntosh
People are really starting to like their communities. Much less hopping around this year, started the year in twitter, ended the year in twitter. We communitophiles are growing up and settling down in the communities that allow us to thrive and survive. Overheard in my kitchen regarding mommy blogging “people can only have so many real friends, smaller communities make sense”. We’ll see more people identifying themselves by where they learn, and less eager to ‘invite the world’ to their communities. We might be on the road to a little more isolation as the long tail solidifies.

1. Death of ‘T’ruth and the killer app
All this year and for the year to come… very little but silence about “the absolute only best way to do whatever it is you probably don’t need to do anyway… is…”. People are finding different solutions to the same problem… If twitter brownouts have taught us anything its the value of being there, enjoying the good with the bad and taking life as it comes. We’ve finally come to terms with the fact that ‘better for me’ does not mean ‘better for you’ and that we are not, as some would have us believe ‘working out our differences’ but, rather, ‘accepting our differences’. Let the truthiness reign. Kumbaya.

Top 10 educational stories of 2007 – connectivism!

yes… i know it’s still the beginning of December Mr. Downes.

10. Connectivism
Many of us have taken a huge leap this year from the dungeons of our physical existence up to the light and wonder of connectivism. Each of us has had the wonderful experience of having hundreds of people send us a message in a hundred ways to in some way interact with what they’re doing. Each of us has also had the awful experience of having hundreds of people send us a message in a hundred ways to in some way interact with what they’re doing. Connecting is the only way we can succeed in the world of edtech. This years theme for the top10 list is connecting and the forces of bad that are trying to stop us from sharing. And no… I don’t know who started connectivism.

9. Year of me realizing that I’m not a lawyer
from Bud
A variety of legal issues popped up this year that including the ‘resolution’ to the blackboard owning the internet problem. Sharing is about the only way I’m going to get my mind around copyleft, copyright and copycenter. It’s gotten so bad we don’t even know when we’ve won anymore. I’m not a lawyer… I need lawyers to share with me.

Another of our sharing tools this year was USTREAM. I’ve been in people’s classrooms, in their meetings, and streamed myself out to a variety of places around the world.4 months ago I’d never heard of it, now I’m slowly learning how to watch three videos at the same time on the same screen. How much of the daily life of people I”ve never met do I really need to watch? Don’t know yet, can’t think, too busy watching.

7. Ted Stevens Alert! Banning social networks!
Mr. Ted!
Early in January, Stevens introduced Senate bill 49, which among other things, would require that any school or library that gets federal Internet subsidies would have to block access to interactive Web sites, including social networking sites, and possibly blogs as well. It appears that the definition of those sites is so vague that it could include sites such as Wikipedia.

I love this guy. Not content with clogging my tubes with his rampant ignorance, this year he’s trying to stop read/write sites for an encore. His new babydopa bill 49 is tearing it’s way into the american educational system again… and, to preempt the US centrism critique from last year (you know who you are), as the US educational system goes, sadly many of us follow.

6. Cape Town Declaration.
Cape Town
The declaration is intended to make it easier for us to work together. It’s a series of guidelines that are intended to sow happy, connected working togetherness. It’s part of the ongoing work on many people in education to make This declaration set off a ripple of dissent and agreement across the blogosphere. Share my way! Share my way now!

5. The evils of bad timing. VISTA/Amazon – Woohoo!
Sharing can also be about timing. This year two pretty big companies have decided to share their products with us. One, maybe a little too soon, the other maybe a little late. Vista has ripped a swath of pain and misery across the new computer buying world and Amazon is now trying to charge us $400 bucks for the privilege of buying their digitized books. While, sitting at number 4 on our list

4. CHEAPO comps in 3rd world.
computer wars
So, uhh… amazon, you want me to pay how much so I can buy your books? OLPC’s windmill tilting has forced everyone else in the computer industry to drive down their own entry level offerings toward the $200 mark… a nice corporate bidding game shielded under the guise of third world revitalization. The upside, we may just get another billion people connected. That’s good. That’s very good.

3. Choice.
I can choose. And I have to choose. I can’t be everywhere. Every educator is having to decide where they will stake ground. To twitter or not to twitter.

Holy connectivity batman. Twitter has brought new meaning to ‘connected’. I now know when people are getting out of bed, what they put in their coffee, and how good the cleaning staff is at their schools. I just read that someone missed their favourite television show. They never bothered to mention what it was. Just said they missed it. What, tell me, am I possibly supposed to get from that!?! That being said… holy wow… It’s saved my buns a bunch of time. Yay Microblogging.

1.Tom Wood.
Internet warrior. My new personal hero. Has set the best example for the rest of us this year. He’s gone out and used his skills for the cause of good, the cause of keeping us connected… and the… uh… cause of porn. He’s the kid from Australia who cracked the $80 million dollar government sponsored porn filter in 30minutes. I’d like to finish off with wisdom from Mr. Wood.

“For his part, the teenage hacker, Wood, says filters like the one he busted, don’t address larger issues. A former victim of cyber bullying, Wood says educating kids on how to protect themselves online, is where he’d like to see money spent.”


Edublog awards – Top 10 news events of the edublog year 2006


(my top 10 goes up to 11)

11. Patents trademarks and servicemarks OHMY!

On the 26th of July we all discovered that our industry had grown up when Blackboard filed suit against desire2learn for patent infringement. It seemed, suddenly, that Blackboard had invented the ‘common sign on to multiple courses where a person signing on was able to be in two courses at the same time’ or some such thing. We also heard that Web2.0 TM! and Podcast TM! are now part of the protected lexicon. By the end of 2001 it became very clear that everyone wasn’t going to be making infinite money infinitely on the interwebs… It takes about 5-7 years for patents to clear —> expect an onslaught.

10. Television

After years of being the bad boy on the block this year TV discovered that it could finally win the hearts and minds of parents all over by being the ‘safe place’ for kids to not exercise. A night has not gone by in 2006 without a crime drama relating the chilling tale of an axe murderer climbing out of someone’s monitor to slay Eunice the family Beagle.

9. A Series of Tubes

Senator Stevens discovered that he’s desperately in need to new assistants in his office. He revealed in a speech (that was supposed to lead to legislation) that my movie downloads were ‘clogging his tubes’ and that there was someone in that worked for him who seemed to think that the internet was a dumptruck. This is the only conclusion I can draw from the fact that, on June 28th, he said the following “

Ten movies streaming across that, that Internet, and what happens to your own personal Internet? I just the other day got… an Internet was sent by my staff at 10 o’clock in the morning on Friday, I got it yesterday. Why? […] They want to deliver vast amounts of information over the Internet. And again, the Internet is not something you just dump something on. It’s not a big truck. It’s a series of tubes. And if you don’t understand those tubes can be filled and if they are filled, when you put your message in, it gets in line and it’s going to be delayed by anyone that puts into that tube enormous amounts of material, enormous amounts of material.

8. Burnout

This year any number of people in the edubloggosphere discovered that reading 1302 blogs everyday in your bloglines account is not going to cut your grass, read the latest Harry Potter novel or take your husband out to dinner. The sale of replacement delete keys soared as people hacked and slashed their RSS readers down to a reasonable 200 blogs.

7. Learning communities

This year we also discovered that we could learn together. The year was full of online conferences and new communities and new wikis that popped up to ‘support people’s learning in a collaborative way’ In the words of Jennifer Maddrell… It is hard to collaborate alone.

6. MMO – Second life

This year professional educator research and funding type people seem to have discovered that children like to play games. Especially fun ones. Massive multiplayer online games have been all the rage… second life and world of warcraft are the latest victory for 10 year olds on the battlefield of education. I’m not sure they notice… but now those ten hours a night are educational.

5. Content management systems – pligg elgg drupal

This is the year that I and many other folks discovered,. for the last time, that we have no business coding webpages for our students or for anyone else for that matter. Now we’ve got pligg and elgg and drupal and moodle and any number of a kagillion other products that somehow warrants Bluehost to offer us 50Gigs of space for a hundred dollars a year.


The government discovered that legislation to ‘protect children’ (COPA) written in 1998 just might not be current enough to deal with the fastest developing technology of our time. The solution DOPA. Planners of this legislation started off solid, recognizing that D (DOPA) comes after C (COPA) clearly making DOPA more current. The thinktank funding must have run out after their first breakthrough as their next idea was to bar students access “from commercial social networking websites and chatrooms” Mmm… stop capitalism and a 13 year old from talking in one fell swoop of the pen. Ha.

3. Google.

This year we discovered that google is trying to take over my desktop. Trying to crush my desktop in fact. On last years list we predicted that the web based app was going to rule 2006, we didn’t expect them to all come from one company. Expect and ‘google university’ in 2007.

2. Emancipation

This year teachers everywhere discovered that they don’t need to look to their school for their edtech needs. The year was full of teachers taking the power back… of finding ways to move around the complications of funding and bureaucracy to use the free tools and free help to make our education a better place

1. ME!

This year… yesterday in fact, Time magazine discovered that ‘I’m’ the internet. They’ve awarded this year’s ‘person of the year’ award to ME! or you! To a random person or, as the English Language lacks a clear delineation between second person singular and second person plural – to all of us. Seems the hundreds of millions of us who’ve been making websites since Al Gore made the internet are now validated.

(don’t see something obvious… might have been on last year’s list)

Edublog awards – Top 10 news events of the edublog year 2005

December 18th, 2005 10
Obviously, the blackboard takeover of Web CT
Well… who’s to say what happens over this. It may be that the whole market gets cornered by this new giant, as they stop wasting money trying to crush each other and now go to work on the world. Blackboard’s close relationship to microsoft notwithstanding the new monolith that is the mega-LMS industry is something we’ll be watching in 2006.

Moodle at Athabasca and open university.
This year saw two massive online universities switch to an open source VLE. I is proof that the open source model can be attractive even to big companies, those of us that are fans of moodle and the open source industry are hoping that all goes well…

Something about web 2.0 which bust out this year
2005 was, if anything, the year of the read/write web. Few websites now don’t at least give you the chance to play with their themes, if not create most of the content. This year user side apps were king, and the wisdom of the masses put to the test.

Open Office 2.0 released
This application might be the biggest reason that microsoft loses its stranglehold on the desktop market. It allows for full compatability to everything that anyone uses. If the browser based app doesn’t kill all, then this will carve out a lot of market for mac and linux.

rising censorship/targeting/moral panic surrounding
myspace, facebook, teen-blogging
One of the big debates this year is ‘what do we do about our students being on the internet’. While this is not new, nor is it the kind of conversation particularly restricted to the net, it just seemed everywhere we turned someone was talking about a new server blocking edublogs, or skype. Or someone talking about how a student who did something wrong ‘also had a blog’. This conversation has now become part of the common discourse.

Wow. Podcasting’s cool huh…

The one hundred dollar laptop
While many of us are tired of hearing about this already “i want one damnit, stop talking to me about it” we are tired of it because some people were interested in talking about nothing else. How many times have each of you had someone come up to you and say “hey, there’s a hundred dollar laptop”. Well… hey, there’s hundred dollar laptop. ps. It doesn’t really exist.

Wikipedia and news reporting.
While the ‘Indian Ocean Tsunami’ actually happened on boxing day of 2004, it was harbinger of the rise of wikipedia and ‘on-the-spot’ reporting. As the cable news reporters were becoming more imbeded and centralized it stepped up and filled the need for immediate personalized news. Other events this year, like the London bombing, have only served to reinforce this. Millions of people now turn to wikipedia to both produce and consume information about what’s happening right now.

On October 19, 2005, Firefox had its 100 millionth download, just 344 days after the release of version 1.0. Many of us forget that a year ago we were still telling people… hey, you gotta try this firefox thing. Another of the new solid competitors for Microsoft, firefox has now become a household name for people outside that long standing community of netscape/mozilla lovers.

the browser based app.
The second, and perhaps more serious, competitor to the microsoft hegemony is the browser based application. With programs like ‘’ and ‘odeo’ the desktop based app. May soon become a thing of the specialist and the uncool. This year they hit the mainstreem, and they work. We may soon be looking back on 2005 and saying… ‘man, i was still using applications… what a pain in the ass.’

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