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Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The land of the free?

You've got to hand it to America. I subscribe to a number of blogs from across the pond, and read with interest developments in education in America. Of late, two issues have caught my attention:

1. DOPA - in the US Senate they have been debating an act to 'Delete online predators' - the basic result being that any social networking site in which users have a personal profile will be deemed illegal.
2. Blackboards Patent - recently, the US Patent office granted a patent to Blackboard giving them the 'right' to patent the LMS (Learning Management System).

Both of these really have quite huge ramifications. On the one hand, you have forward thinking social sites that will be off limits to those in the USA, and on the other hand you have any LMS that isn't 'Blackboard' potentially being sued for breach of patent.

Fortunately in the UK or patent laws don't operate in the same way, and neither do our elected representatives. But it does make you stop and wonder - we follow America in so many ways (dont get me started on this one), so what will this eventually mean for us in the UK? The biggest benefit of using technology is the breaking down of international barriers, so both of these issues I find deeply worrying. What is the logical conclusion to this? - the rest of the world moves on whilst the USA sits out? Other countries follow the USA's lead and adopt similar strategies?

Will Richardson posted that he is convinced that we in education need to speak outside of our comfort zone, and need to start using methods of communciation that we may have given up on. For what it's worth, I think he is right. There is no point in preaching about web-literacy online, when those that need to get your message aren't reading it. What we really need is those at the highest level of decision making understanding why we should not simply 'ban' something, but rather start educating how to use things safely.

So much has been written about DOPA, I'll not bother linking here (except this one, just because it's funny).

If you want to find out more about Blackboard's patent, from the horses mouth:


Or to read some discussion on this topic:



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