Project Gutenberg’s distributed proofreaders

About 4 years ago, I signed up to a Pledgebank pledge that said I would edit 100 pages for Project Gutenberg’s Distributed Proofreaders site. Project Gutenberg’s aim is to digitize and make available electronic versions of texts, and it is a volunteer-driven organisation.

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Copyright: 2008, Florida Center for Instructional Technology

I didn’t stick to my pledge 4 years ago – I signed up and proofed a few pages and never went back. I was reminded of the project recently as I was thinking about crowdsourcing and realised that it also tied in well with my interest in OER (Open educational resources). I reactivated my account and gave it another shot. My first job out of college was as a proof-reader of academic journals, so it is bringing back some memories. I’ve contributed a few more pages – about early 20th century mechanical pumps, a victorian drama, and about riverside nature. I am one of 1395 proofreaders who have been active in the last 7 days, and so far this month 44 texts have been published.If there’s anyone else out there who has a bit of spare time and an eye for detail, have a look at www.pgdp.net and see if you can help out.

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Web 2.0 Is the Future of Education

This piece by at techLearning is getting quite a bit of attention amongst Ed bloggers. It’s a confident assessment of the importance of web2.0 in education and feels like the jigsaw pieces are fitting together. It’s great to read something that looks at both what is out there now and remains open to the wonders of what will come next.

I believe that we cannot even begin to imagine the changes that are going to take place as the two-way nature of the Internet begins to flower, and that even those of us who have spent time imagining this future will be astounded by what happens.

I love that this whole piece captures the dynamism of educational technology – it’s not about educating people about how to use what is there today. It’s about encouraging participation in whatever is there and whatever is to come. I’ve been reading up on knowledge management lately, in an attempt to finish a Masters and there seems to be a cross-over between some of that research and what has been seen in online communities and physical learning spaces. There is a common thread that access to people is key to sharing knowledge, and access to experts is the best of all. Steve Hargadon’s article has pointed me back towards John Seely Brown, whose work I have been aware of in the past but who seems to have some interesting things to say about social learning.

NASA multiplayer game plans

Sometimes an organisation comes into the education market with so much money, or prestige, or resources that it holds the promise of being able to do what everyone else has been aspiring to.The BBC came close to this with Jam – they had riches beyond the wildest dreams of any other content creator and you had to assume that something fabulous was going to result. It was all derailed, however, well before it could deliver and it is still not clear whether the planned output would really have been the step change that was promised.I’ve just seen that NASA have put out a request for information for a massively multiplayer online learning game:

“A NASA-based MMO built on a game engine that includes powerful physics capabilities could support accurate in-game experimentation and research. It should simulate real NASA engineering and science missions in a medium that is comfortable and familiar to the majority of students in the United States today.”

I’m going to choose to avoid any jokes about inches and centimetres, and instead just hope that this is one of those situations where the implementation lives up to the potential.

 Links: NASA RFI