January 2008

From Open Access News by Peter Suber:

Sely Costa, The Open Access Movement in Brazil, EPT, November 12, 2007. (Thanks to Barbara Kirsop.) Excerpt:

The open access movement in Brazil, as everywhere else, has constituted a challenging cause to embrace. Both IBICT [Instituto Brasileiro de Informação em Ciência e Tecnologia] and SciELO [Scientific Electronic Library Online] have been involved with the movement, taking the lead in most of the initiatives in the country.

Declarations to support OA

From 2005, a number of declarations have been issued in Brazil, undersigned by either individuals or civil society entities, by means of their representatives. There are, so far, at least four major declarations issued in Brazil, following the Berlin Declaration. One has been issued by IBICT at the 57th Annual Meeting of SBPC. The other three have been issued by a Psychology Learned Society, the participants of an international conference in health sciences and a group of researchers from the state of São Paulo.

Events to promote OA

A number of events that have taken place in Brazil include OA in their programmes. The last three annual meetings of the Brazilian Society for the Progress of Science (SBPC) had a special session on OA (see [this] and [this]). Proceedings of the 59th meeting, when Stevan Harnad and Brazilians leaders of the movement participated in a special session, will be available soon. OA has also featured in annual meetings of learned societies (eg in information science, health sciences, communication science and psychology.

In April 2006, the First Cipecc – Ibero American Conference in Electronic Publishing in the context of Scholarly Communication, Brasilia, was very successful, with participants from 6 countries (Mexico, Chile, Portugal, Spain, Brazil and Canada), and 13 Brazilian states. It offered a unique opportunity to make open access, institutional repositories and other topics known and discussed by people from Ibero-America as a whole and Brazil in particular. The conference website contains all papers and presentations. In November 2006, a group of researchers from Brazil, along with researchers and librarians from Portugal, as well as a librarian from Mozambique held a meeting at the University of Minho, in Portugal, to discuss the open access movement in Portuguese speaking countries. From this meeting, the Minho Commitment resulted as an important document to this community. As a follow-up to this, on November 13th 2007, a seminar, Open Access Seminar to the Scientific Knowledge in Portuguese Speaking Countries, is taking place in Rio de Janeiro, as part of a Brazil/United Nations meeting. Representatives of 8 Portuguese speaking countries are expected to sign up the Rio de Janeiro Protocol, which establishes the aims of the commitment. Notices of this event will be delivered soon after the meeting at Dr. Kuramoto’s blog and at the Open Access in Portuguese Speaking Countries web page, a site dedicated to the topic for this community.

Steps to implement OA initiatives

One of the most promising recent Brazilian initiatives was the meeting held at the University of Brasilia (UnB), as a joint event by IBICT and the university. The purpose of the meeting was to establish the foundations of a Brazilian movement for Open Access to scientific and scholarly publications: the Brazilian Open Access Task Force (BOAT Force). This initiative aims to establish, at the universities and research institutions in Brazil, institutional repositories, mandate policies and the OASIS.Br, a central service to both repositories and e-journals published in the country. The University of Brasilia is positioning itself as a pioneer, with the unprecedented support of its rector, Professor Timothy Martin Mulholland. Clearly, much of this movement is now considered the way of the future for scientific publication and the ambition is to spread this message across Brazil.

Publications to disseminate OA

A growing number of articles have been published on open access and the open archives initiatives in Brazilian scholarly journals. Early articles mostly describe open archives initiatives. A special issue of Ciência da Informação, published by IBICT in 2006, is entirely dedicated to the subject, with articles from Kuramoto, Southwick, Sinay; Michelson, and Rosales, Bauste, Guzmán and Bianco reporting ongoing projects in Latin America countries. A new ‘open philosophy’ and a new model for scholarly publishing was the subject of Costa. Mueller discusses the degree of acceptance related to the level of legitimacy in which open access publications are held. Finally, Schirmbacher, from the Humboldt University at Berlin, describes some actual changes that are taking place in communication processes, in services department held by research institutions, libraries and computer centers. Another recent article from Baptista, Costa, Kuramoto and Rodrigues was published in a special issue of Encontros Bibli, published by the Post-Graduate Programme in Information Science at the University of Santa Catarina and also dedicated to OA.

Courses to teach OA

In a very recent activity, OA is being taught in a special seminar, as part of the Post-Graduate Programme in Information Science at the University of Brasilia. The seminar is part of the activities of the research group in electronic publications, named moitarah and lead by professor Sely Costa. The seminar includes collaboration of specialists like Stevan Harnad, Peter Suber, Leslie Chan and John Willinsky, who have provided suggestions on both the content of the seminar and readings for the students. Besides studying the topic, students are working on a book to be published. The specialists are also expected to contribute with a chapter to the book, and some of them should participate in the next event on OA, to be held at the University of Brasilia, in April 9-11, 2008. The OA Brazilian book will be launched during the event, and openly distributed on the Internet. News about April’s meeting will be available soon at moitarah blog and, later on its own web page.

Note: a number of the URL’s in this piece are from sites or blogs still under construction, and many in Portuguese.


A new book by Stephen J. Ball about current education policy trends in British education. The book explores the flood of government initiatives and policies that have been introduced over the past 20 years, including Beacon Schools, the Academies programme, parental choice, Foundation Schools, faith schools and teaching standards. He looks at the politics of these policy interventions and how they have changed the face of education, ‘joining-up’ policy within a broader framework of initiatives, turning children into ‘learners’ and parents into ‘consumers’. In the following article at the Guardian it also indicates that none of those initiatives have made any difference to the social segregation of schools in Britain.

“Education is a servant to the economy,” Ball says. “Education is now thoroughly subordinated to the supposed inevitabilities of globalisation and international economic competition.”

From The Guardian, January 29, 2008:

The English education system is sliding back into Victorian times with today’s schools almost as segregated by social class as they were in the 19th century, a controversial new book argues. The Education Debate, published tomorrow, draws a parallel between today’s academies, faith and comprehensive schools, and the elementary, grammar and public schools of more than a century ago.

Its author, leading educationalist Professor Stephen Ball of London University’s Institute of Education,

claims that despite government rhetoric over the past 20 years, class inequalities are now almost as stark as they were in the Victorian era.

The debate follows an attack on the independent sector by Dr Anthony Seldon, master of Wellington Col

lege, who said earlier this month that private schools perpetuated an “apartheid” system of schooling, creaming off the most able students and leaving state schools to flounder.

In the Victorian era, Britain had a rigid class structure. The working class went to elementary schools, th

e middle class to grammar schools and the upper class to public schools. The Church and charitable individuals had considerable influence over the system. And all this is happening again at an ever-increasing pace, to the detriment of our society, says Ball, who is also an editor of the Journal of Education Policy.

He argues that faith schools are now primarily for the middle class, community schools increasingly for the working class, and private and public schools have been kept the preserve of the upper class.

“Since the 1970s, education policy has been about ‘radical’ change, but the education system remains split along class lines,” Ball says.

“The class gap in participation rates in higher education is larger than ever before, despite the overall increases in participation; the poorest children, those with special educational needs, recent arrivals and those for whom English is not their mother tongue are clustered in certain schools. We are seeing the recreation of almost all the elements of the Victorian class-divided education system.” This, Ball says in his “forensic analysis” of education policies over the past 20 years, is despite “unprecedented government activity” in education.

(read full article here)

Science in the School Journal is offering a list of online teaching materials. These materials include pictures and videos as well as ideas for scientific experiments in the classroom. Some institutes even develop computer games for an interactive learning process.

Science in School is published by EIROforum (a collaboration between seven European inter-governmental scientific research organisations) and is based at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg, Germany. Science in School is a non-profit activity, part of the NUCLEUS project supported by the European Union.

From Science in School:

Resources in English

The Association for Science Education


The UK’s Association for Science Education provides many online teaching resources and links covering all science subjects and all student age groups. The interactive resources provide information and brief online tests on topics as diverse as Viagra®, the Periodic Table, and the Big Bang.

Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council


These teaching materials for primary and secondary schools may be viewed online, downloaded or ordered. They include interactive presentations, information sheets, online exhibitions and materials for running workshops. Topics covered include the structure of DNA, biodiversity, physiology, animal welfare, plants, agriculture, food biotechnology, spiders and genetics.

Cancer Research UK


These online lesson plans address the biology of cancer, ethical issues surrounding the use of human tissues in research, how to lead a healthy life, and the role of viruses in cancer and the possible impacts of a vaccine for cervical cancer. The lesson plans are tailored to the English key stage 4 (ages 14-16) curriculum, but elements could be adapted by teachers in other European countries.

CERN (English, French, German and Italian)


CERN, the world’s largest particle physics laboratory, provides online lectures, games, demonstrations of experiments to do in the classroom, movies, pictures, posters, and presentations about high-energy physics. Topics include particle physics, antimatter and special relativity as well as the functioning of bubble chambers and technological applications of CERN’s research. The games about CERN’s Large Hadron Collider and the microcosm are available in English, French, German and Italian.


From The Chronicle_ Daily News Blog:

Two books published in France last week have focused attention on the phenomenon of young women moonlighting as sex workers to finance their university education, The Guardian, a British newspaper, reported today.

One book is a memoir of a 19-year-old modern-languages major named Laura who writes that, in her first year at an unnamed university, she was obliged to resort to prostitution in order to support herself. The other book is a study by Eva Clouet, a 23-year-old master’s student in sociology at the University of Toulouse II, Mirail. In La prostitution étudiante (Student Prostitution), Ms. Clouet focuses on how the advent of the Internet has facilitated certain kinds of prostitution, such as escort work, that students find more palatable than “traditional” streetwalking.

In publicity materials on its Web site, Max Milo, the publisher of both books, cites recent estimates by a student union that as many as 40,000 French students resort to prostitution to finance their studies.

The French newspaper L’Express, which published excerpts of Laura’s memoir, noted in its coverage of the two works that the police estimate the figure at 15,000 to 20,000 students.

A 2006 survey by Kingston University, an institution southwest of London, suggested that the number of British students resorting to sex-industry work to finance their studies had risen sharply in recent years, spurred by recent increases in university tuition.

Desperate students in Britain,Russia, Ukraine, and the United States have, however, long resorted to sex-related jobs to finance the cost of their studies. —Aisha Labi

HippoCampus is a project of the Monterey Institute for Technology and Education (MITE). The goal of HippoCampus is to provide high-quality, multimedia content on general education subjects to high school and college students free of charge.HippoCampus was designed as part of Open Education Resources (OER), a worldwide effort to improve access to quality education for everyone. HippoCampus content has been developed by some of the finest colleges and universities in the world and contributed to the National Repository of Online Courses (NROC), another MITE project. NROC makes editorial and engineering investment in the content to prepare it for distribution by HippoCampus. Both HippoCampus and NROC are supported by The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

A review of the site at Wide Open Education:

The site is truly aimed at teacher looking to help students reinforce classroom topics at home. And, for better or for worse, the questions are organised around the questions from the classroom textbooks. The bad part of this is there is little room for open textbooks, but I shouldn’t be such a whiny ass…really anyone could jump in and work with these questions. Math is math, right?

In the “homework-helper” vibe, teachers can even create a page where extraneous topics are eliminated and personalised announcements. Perhaps the next step will be the ability to add content…we’ll see.

Link: HippoCampus

 BigThink is a new social networking web site the brain child of Peter Hopkins with backing from Larry Summers  is a place where ‘leading public intellectuals’ answer questions asked by an unseen interviewer.

From an article by the New York Times:

In June 2006, Peter Hopkins, a civic-minded and idealistic 2004 Harvard graduate, trekked up to his alma mater from New York for a meeting with Lawrence H. Summers, the economist and former Treasury secretary. Mr. Hopkins, who finagled the appointment through his friendship with Mr. Summers’s assistant, had a business idea: a Web site that could do for intellectuals what YouTube, the popular video-sharing site, did for bulldogs on skateboards. (read full)

A critical review of this resource  by John Conroy :

BigThink.com has launched with the aim of providing a forum for discussion between ‘thought leaders’ like Richard Branson and Ted Kennedy and us lesser plebs.

The resource provides a platform for ‘the growing global conversation about where we are and where we are headed’, drawing opinions out of big cahunas in every walk of life. It combines journalist-produced interviews with said experts and user-created content.

Content from experts comes in the form of video-logs (vlogs), which can be voted up and down and commented on. So how it works is, you go watch Deepak Chopra talk about great love is, and if you think he’s talking bumkin, you hit the thumbs-down symbol. Just like a Roman emperor at the Coliseum, only without the lions. Unfortunately…

The lineup of experts who have already contributed “Big Thinking” to the site is impressive. John McCain talks about ‘Whether two parties is enough,’ while on the sidebar Mit Romney is just itching to give you his two cents on Mormonism. The combined faculties of Harvard, Yale and Columbia appear to have contributed vlogs, while industry leaders like the former head man at Viacom and the VP at Goldman Sachs talk business.

While laudable in many ways, one questionable implication of a resource such as this is that it grants yet more weight to the opinions of the existing consensus-builders, and indeed grants them the status of ‘Expert’. You may well buy into, say, Mary Robinson’s stance on Human Rights (Robinson is a former President of Ireland and former UN Commissioner). But there again, you might find it laughably cheap and trite.

Link: BigThing.com

From Wide Open Education:

Lingo is an extraordinarily handy tool for anyone learning a foreign language. Open any webpage on the web and click on any word. With the magic or AJAX, a bubble pops up with the meaning of the word in the language you’re studying (current options are Spanish, Italian, French, German and Polish).

Next Page »