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December 7, 2001

Eeva Reeder on Projects and Assessment Project based learning is all well and good, runs the argument, but when there is a curriculum and standardized tests to prepare for, there is no time for project based learning. Not so, responds math teacher Eeva Reader. "Applied learning, or project-based learning, is the most effective way to deliver information, and it's the most effective way for students to understand concepts." By Unknown, George Lucas Educational Foundation, December 5, 2001.[Refer]

What Administrators Can Do Advice, with information and a lot of links to guides and case studies, to help teachers, administrators and others facilitate project based learning. By Unknown, George Lucas Educational Foundation, December 5, 2001.[Refer]

Survey - Continuing Professional Development This article wanders but is essentially intended to show that e-learning can be successful is close attention is paid to the content. "These days it's about ease of use, engagement and relevance it's not about technology," says Mr Nulty. What does that mean in practice? "People are looking carefully at, not so much the off-the-shelf e-learning, but more at programmes that can be adapted to the needs of the particular learner - the 10-minute chunk of learning based on the learner and how they performed on a pre-assessment test." By Sarah Murray, Financial Times, December 3, 2001.[Refer]

The Internet's Way Forward This is adviced aimed at commercial websites, but its application to online learning is clear: "So, instead of operating destination sites stacked with content, companies should be aiming to run participation sites, which engage and provoke people in debate and argument, and provide them with tools to do something for themselves, even if that is as simple as creating a presentation or sharing ideas." By Charles Leadbeater, Financial Times, December 2, 2001.[Refer]

Content Critical Discussion Forum Issue 7 Gerry McGovern's meanderings have been making the rounds in online learning mailing lists. While McGovern sometimes gets it right, though, he just as often gets it wrong. At least a part of what McGovern is trying to underline is that content is expensive - "precious," to use a word from the current forum. But is it really? Are MIT's posted courses, for example, the most valuable things MIT has to offer? My own take on this is that McGovern isn't getting new economy economics, that he is making the same mistake that cost many dot commers their jobs. Content is not expensive; it is cheap. Even good content is cheap. And we haven't even hit the day when high quality filtered content can be automatically extracted from the billions of pages on the web. Content is now and will always be a loss leader: the stuff you give away to potential customers or clients. It will establish credibility, provide information, establish background, teach... but will not be a valuable market commodity in itself (unless, of course, publishers are successful in establishing artificial shortages of content - but that may be a tough row to hoe). By Gerry McGovern, Content Critical, December 6, 2001.[Refer]

Stanford U. Begins Discussing Guidelines for Distance Efforts Stanford has been involved in a number of distance and online learning projects over the years, but only now has developed a set of principles for online learning at the university. The principles (there's a link to them in the article) emphasize - on my reading, at least - a 'Stanford First' policy. The brand brokers at UNext, one of Stanford's partners, may be surprised ot hear that. By Jeffrey R. Yound, Chronicle of Higher Education, December 6, 2001.[Refer]

Avoiding the Quality/Quantity Trade-Off in Distance Education "If distance education is undertaken with the same goal of effectively generating significant net revenues to subsidize traditional education, then its future will mirror the experience of correspondence education." I think this is a good point. And I think there's some really good thinking behind this point. Good education, the author argues, depends on quality mediation. But as institutions seek to raise revenue by increasing the number of students (i.e., increasing quantity), mediation becomes more standardized and less personalized (i.e., lower quality). True enough, and that's just what happened with correspondance courses. But: "With the information technology available today, distance education is capable of eliminating the quantity versus quality trade-off. This elimination can only be obtained if the mediation process is rethought of in terms of a design-driven, not response-driven, process." Yes, but what does this mean in practice? Well, in current learning, instructors deliver material and then wait for responses; it is on the basis of these responses that mediation occurs. But this is labour intensive, and as a consquence, expensive. Better to design mediation into the course up front, and thereby maintain quality even while quantity increases. By Unknown, T.H.E. Journal, December, 2001.[Refer]

Conference Board Launches New E-Learning Venture Business schools take note: your competition in online learning is no longer other business schools. In this little nuggest, the U.S. based Conference Board accounces that it will be delivering its own brand of online business learning. What, not the Harvard School of Business? By Press Release, Conference Board, December 6, 2001.[Refer]


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