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February 8, 2002

Cashing In on Smarts There's not a lot new in this item - number crunchers will appreciate some of the ROI (Retern on Investment) information provided - but the article as a whole provides a major attitude check for people wondering how e-learning is progressing in the corporate sector. Most of the first part of the article is devoted to the use of a learning management system (LMS) to track students. The article does get around to talking about learning, though, as follows: ""We saw our instructors were doing a lot of pontificating," Abernathy said. "They'd spend a great deal of time conveying basic geology and reservoirs knowledge, just basic physics. We saw an opportunity where we felt e-learning could provide base-line knowledge before they came to classrooms..." By Lisa Vaas, eWeek, February 4, 2002.[Refer]

The Asia Pacific e-Learning Alliance Urges the Private Sector to Partner With Governments and Academia in the APEC Region This item isn't news, it's just another fluffy press release. But if you are interested in exporting e-learning content and solutions into Asia, you should be aware that these guys exist (if you aren't already): the Asia Pacific e-Learning Alliance is a coalition of companies formed to promote the benefits of Internet-based learning among members of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum. Oh yeah, the, ahem, news release: APeA memebrs said they would like other companies to join them. Whoa, I can't stand the excitement... By Press Release, Sun Microsystems, February 5, 2002.[Refer]

World Bank's Global Development Learning Network An important backgrounder. This short article describes the development and purpose of the World Bank's Global Development Learning Network. It describes a number of GDLN initiatives, including a project I am involved with to set up a distance learning centre in Bosnia in partnership with the University of Sarajevo. 3 page PDF file. By George Lorenzo, Educational Pathways, February, 2002.[Refer]

3 Administrators Debate How Technology Is Changing the Faculty's Role More stuff from last week's NLII in San Diego, this time from the Chronicle. Three administrators - Vicki Suter, Sidney A. McPhee, and Carl F. Berger - deate the impact of technology on traditional institutions. Asks the article, "Are the days of the lecture coming to an end? Once students have massive digital libraries at their fingertips, will the role of professors become guiding students rather than reciting facts?" Sound familiar? The debate is available as a Real Media broadcast (no transcripts, unfortunately, so you'll be the full thirty minutes with this item). By Jeffrey R. Young, Chronicle of Higher Education, February 7, 2002.[Refer]

How Object-Oriented Programming Started It came up in a discussion yesterday so I did a quick search. For your enjoyment and edification. Hey, you never know what to expect in OLDaily. By Ole-Johan Dahl and Kristen Nygaard, Institutt for informatikk, Undated.[Refer]

The Jack Principles This item dates from 1997 and is directed toward teachers using interactive television, a technology on the wane. It is illustrative, though, because it lists a set of principles for "drawing the user into the pacing of the program." In my mind, these principles describe exactly the opposite of what teachers in an online learning environent should be doing. "Give the user only one task," suggests the document. Limit the number of choices they have. Make sure the user knows what to do at every moment. "Less is more: Give the user fewer choices. Give them less control. Keep the graphics sparse. Do one thing at a time." Now at first I thought this was a parody, but the next two sets of principles, creating and maintaining a sense of intimacy, contain good advice. So. Do people really think that giving the users less control is the way to go? Probably. But this completely misunderstands today's digital learner. Internet users today multitask. They are more self directed than passive TV watchers. They prefer more choices, or open ended choices. They want control. You may say, "But students are not capable of giving themselves direction." Watch any student learn and play Quake, though, and you will see instantly that the contrary is true. By Unknown, ACM, 1997.[Refer]

High-Stakes Testing for Dentists?? Intended to be funny, this item goes overboard a bit ("His face had turned red, and from the way he was clenching and unclenching his jaws...") but the message is sound and the analogy useful: just as we would not evaluate dentists based on the number of cavities their patients have, so also should we not evaluate teachers based on their students' test results. In each case, too many factors are beyond their control: some parents don't send kids to the dentists until it's too late, for example, some eat candy and sweets, and some live in areas without flouridated water. In a similar fashion, children of professional parents come to school with better background knowledge, better resources and better attitudes toward education, and so teachers of these students will be ranked as more proficient than teachers who work with students from lower income households. The article sets up a false dilemma, though, suggesting that the only alternative is to observe the teacher teaching: there ought to be a middle ground, a method of evaluation that will yield reliable results and also won't drain the school board's budget. By John S. Taylor, The Learning Network, 2002.[Refer]


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