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April 11, 2002

The Technology Source with The George Lucas Educational Foundation I'm live online tomorrow (Friday, April 12) with another Technology Source author forum. This time, I will be interviewing web site administrators Milton Chen, Sara Armstrong from the George Lucas Educational Foundation. The online session starts at 1:00pm Eastern Time (5:00pm GMT (I think)) - give yourself a little lead time to sign up. By Stephen Downes, The Technology Source, April 12, 2002.[Refer]

Re: A Moral Imperative Connecting the dots. The response to John Hibb's piece on DEOS has been, well, prolific. Steve Eskow questioned the effectiveness of development education. Clint Brooks, along with several others, saw Hibbs as attacking American values. Of most interest, though, is this recent post from Brad Jensen, who writes: "Civilization has grown to the point where we cannot tolerate ignorance - not the ignorance of people who do not believe as we do, but the ignorance of people who are only connected to civilization through information that is filtered by others. This is no longer acceptable. We need to take a small part of the energy we are spending on dealing with the symptoms, and deal with the problem. Everyone in the world has the right to speak, and to know, without someone else making that decision for them." By Various Authors, DEOS-L, April 11, 2002.[Refer]

Borg Journalism Still connecting the dots: over the next few months (see my calendar - http://www.downes.ca/me/calendar.htm) I will be talking several times about syndicated learning, or as I title my presentation for CADE, distance learning in the daily news. OLDaily is an example of syndicated learning. It is my answer to Hibbs's dilemma (and Jensen's proposal). But take the idea of the learning newsletter a step further, and it becomes network learning. "It's not the individual weblog that fascinates me. It's when you tap the collective power of thousands of weblogs that you start to see all sort of interesting behavior emerge. It's a property of what scientists call complex adaptive systems and it's enabling weblogs as a collective to become more than the sum of its parts." The idea here is that the network of connected weblogs forms a system, and moreover, a system in which no individual assumes greater control over the others, except as he or she gains through personal reputation, as granted by the readers. What should be noted by online instructors is the method behind becoming part of this chorus. "True assimilation requires a journalist to learn about blogrolling, to follow referer links, to read dozens of blogs, to learn how to follow distributed conversations across scores of blogs. It's an intense level of involvement and commitment." By John Hiler, Microcontent News, April 1, 2002.[Refer]

Are Bloggers Journalists? Follow-up article to the previous one in which the standards for what I'll call serious blogging (or professional blogging) are considered. Some things to note: while weblogs are inherently biased and unedited, their usefulness to readers is based on trust. This entails that the weblogger be open about their biases, to issue caveats when their sources aren't certain, and to provide people with an opportunity to respond. What's really interesting is the shift from trust in an institution, such as the New York Times, to trust in individuals, such as Dan Gillmor. This is how a distributed information infrastructure filters poor content: through what has come to be called a web of trust. It doesn't even need to be formal to work: you trust me (right?) and pass on my recommendations to people who trust you; I, in turn, have a network of sources I trust, and I pass on what they write to you. And so it goes, as with journalism, so also with learning content. By John Hiler, Microcontent News, April 11, 2002.[Refer]

The Virtual Museum of Canada Be warned: I spent a couple of hours on this site this morning! Peter MacKay (http://www.theteacherlist.ca) writes, "The Virtual Museum of Canada celebrates the stories and treasures that have come to define Canada over the centuries. Here you will find innovative multimedia content that educates, inspires and fascinates! At the core of these magnificent narratives are hundreds of museums. While a few are internationally admired giants, many are small gems that owe their existence to the passionate dedication of volunteers. Be sure to check out the Teachers' Centre!" By Various contributors.[Refer]

Tech Firm Nailed For Internal MP3 Sharing It used to be that people just played the radio at the workplace. Today I prefer streaming media - (http://www.thegameskidsplay.com). But why consume all that bandwidth if you could just as easily set up an MP3 server on the company network? Well, the RIAA doesn't see it that way, having just forced Integrated Information Systems (IIS) into a million dollar settlement for copyright infringement. Well. In what world is the functional equivalent of the office radio now worth a million dollars? (My cynical self thinks that this is all a set-up: that the RIAA asked IIS to set up the network, get caught, and appear to pay an outrageous (but conveniently out-of-court) settlement to scare other companies into compliance. Nobody in their right mind would pay a million dollars otherwise). By Steven Bonisteel, Newsbytes, April 10, 2002.[Refer]

IBM To Unveil Antipiracy Software I've been thinking about this, as you know. Let's take another tack on it: music, video and other content vendors won't sell their wares online (they say) until mechanisms are in place to prevent unauthorized copying (I refuse to call it "piracy" - attacking a vessel with armed force is "piracy" and it is disingenuous of publishers to compare the simple act of copying with this violent act). And thinking about it, I have to ask: do we want these wares so badly? Is it worth the price? What would we get? We would pay monopolistic prices, get content we can't even use outside a strict set of restrictions, and for this we must tolerate intrusive encryption and monitoring software on our computers. Why are we even comtemplating such a regime (much less considering legislation that would force all computer manufacturers to comply with it)? Here's a better idea: make it cheaper and easier to buy online content than it is to steal it. Oh - but then I guess you wouldn't have monopolistic pricing and spyware, would you? By Hiawatha Bray, NewsFactor Network, April 9, 2002.[Refer]

Case Studies of Organisations with Established Learning Cultures The management gurus tell us that organizations should develop a learning culture. And there is a consensus that individuals in an organization need to engage in lifelong learning. But beyond these sweeping statements, the literature falls short in describing how this is to be achieved. This report goes a long way toward addressing that need. Looking at six organizations that have established a learning culture, the authors question workplace learning as it is actually performed (it is often used as a communications tool, for example) and whether it really benefits workers. They note that workplace learning is often tied to workplace culture, and that "learning in the organisational context extend[s] beyond the concept of a well-established orthodox training system, and link[s] closely to the behaviours, attitudes, values and structures operating in organisations." Indeed, "These learning practices are designed not only to improve organisational performance but also potentially to secure greater commitment by employees to the enterprise." That said, workplace learning develops when employees assume responsibility not only for their own learning but also for their own work: when they are involved in work process reviews, for example, or when they contribute collaboratively to a management information system, "These systems can be seen to form a crucible for learning," providing a space for interaction and a space where formal learning can be embedded. Other factors influencing learning include the adoption of a market and entrepreneurship orientation, the creation of continuous learning opportunities, and the encouragement of collaboration and team learning. By Robyn Johnston and Geof Hawke, National Centre for Vocational Education Research, April, 2002.[Refer]

Online Delivery in the Vocational Education and Training Sector: Improving Cost Effectiveness While the author acknowledges the difficulties inherent in generalizing from case studies, he has done a nice job of surveying strategies for increasing the cost effectiveness of different forms of online learning. Readers will appreciate the literature reviews outline the measurement of both cost and effectiveness. Showing clearly in the study's results is the dramatic impact of interaction on effectiveness. The report identifies a number of ways to reduce costs, including the redefinition of work functions and the coordination of learning support systems. Following the 50 page (PDF format) report are detailed descriptions of the case studies. By Richard Curtain, National Centre for Vocational Education Research, April, 2002.[Refer]

Maximising Confidence in Assessment Decision-making This high quality resource contains everything you need to evaluate your assessment practices. Developed by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research in Australia, this package provides detailed instruction, checklists, forms and examples to present a comprehensive overview of the assessment review process. If you are involved in assessment at all, don't miss this item. By Robyn Booth, Berwyn Clayton, Robyn House and Sue Ray, National Centre for Vocational Education Research, April, 2002.[Refer]


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