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January 16, 2002

The eLearning Forum I am scheduled to appear live in an online forum tomorrow (January 17) at 12:00 noon eastern (9:00 a.m. Pacific, 1:00 p.m. Atlantic) at Horizon Live's eLearning Forum. As part of the Technology Source's 'Office hours' series, I will be discussing my most recent Spotlight Site column and, in that context, talking about the factors I consider when selecting Spotlight Sites and items for this newsletter. Give yourself a little time to log in and set up your access (it didn't like my Netscape 6 browser, so use Internet Explorer). Registration is free. By Stephen Downes, The Technology Source, January 17, 2002.[Refer]

RDF Declarative Description (RDD): A Language for Metadata Technical paper proposing an extension to the Resource Description Framework (RDF) representation of information in XML. The purpose of RDD is to provide an extended set of logical relations between entities, such as transitivity, symmetry of relations and inverse relations. It also supports domain specific axioms. A light PDF download (with the text copy feature apparently disabled). By Chutiporn Anutariya, et.al., Journal of Digital Information, January, 2002.[Refer]

Transforming the Way We Learn: A Vision for the Future of ICT in Schools Well meaning but bland government report pesented by British Secretary of State for Education and Skills Estelle Morris. Clearly labled as NOT government policy, the report outlines a vision of the use of technology in British schools, including a 'day in the life' of a typical student which looks a lot like traditional schooling but incorporates elements of technology assisted instruction, independent learning (in standard one hour blocks) and access to online resources. The report paints a rosy picture of access to technology in the U.K., touts the development of a variety of high quality learning resources, and looks forward to widely available broadband. Teacher training, improved facilities and access to infrastructure are also covered. There's nothing really new here, though it does paint a good picture of how the British government sees online learning. And critics will find the vagueness frustrating (one graph depicting technology adoption, for example, contained two bars labled only 'Before' and 'Now'). The link is to an introductory page; the full report at better than 1.2 megabytes is a hefty download (but the pictures are beautiful). By Estelle Morris, Department for Education and Skills, 2002.[Refer]

New High-Tech Report Notes K-12 Improvements Despite Challenges Facing Education Outline of the recent CyberEducation report on education in the United States showing improvements (but still poor results) in math and science. The report also notes that student access to computers has increased significantly in the last three year, implying (but not stating) a connection between these two trends. The report also points out that students in six northern states led the nation in achievement, leading one wag in Toronto to suggest that the only salient factor related to student improvement is proximity to the Canadian border. Yeah. By Press Release, AeANet, January 15, 2002.[Refer]

Globalization of Information: Intellectual Property Law Implications Survey article reflecting the trends toward more stringent and global harmonization of copyright legislation. An odd conclusion, though: in response to the growing body of literature critical of these trends, the author theorizes that "the prevalence of such writings in the literature is a response to the movement toward harmonization and stronger intellectual property protections - an attempt to ensure some of the less heard voices are expressed." The former, certainly, but the latter? No, I think that the opposition runs deeper than some sort of charitable inclination to hear less heard voices. By Kim Nayyer, First Monday, January 7, 2002.[Refer]

Object Lessons: Towards an Educational Theory of Technology This article starts out sounding like a restatement of the standard David Noble refrain: that there is a great push toward integrating technology into education, and that the purpose of this is to turn education into a commodity. As I have observed elsewhere, there is a point to this claim, but we should not confuse the use of technology with the drive to create a for-profit commercial education system. Before I could even formulate a response, though, the paper takes an abrupt turn. It first observes that these large online learning management systems are used to produce "traditional" education, seeking above all to make instructors "comfortable." The result is a process that makes as much sense as "using a jackhammer to insert a picture hanger into drywall." The authors suggest that the point of existing learning management systems is to realize an economist's vision, not an educator's vision, and suggest that current educational technology might be an appropriate target for technological culture jamming. The authors call for a new approach to technology in education, one in which we examine our tools more closely and learn how they might be used for educational purposes (as opposed to mere economic gain), to "serve the aims of developing and supporting a critical, informed and responsible global citizenry." So while I found myself at first critical of this article, I find myself, at its conclusion, applauding. By Suzanne de Castell, Mary Bryson and Jennifer Jenson, First Monday, January 7, 2002.[Refer]


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