Stephen's Web

By Stephen Downes
May 10, 2002

Alexandria Monday is gala day in Calgary as Alexandria, a digital content repository, is launched by Netera and BELLE. In the brochure I saw (not available online), "Alexandria is a prototype for Canada's national repository of online educational material." Not exactly; it's more like one view of what it could be. This link is to the current version of Alexandria (almost impossible to Google, probably because of the similarly named and earlier Alexandria project at UCSB, the much earlier one in Egypt, and the fact that Learning Circuits is located in Alexandria, Virginia (heh). The current version serves essentially as a facade for CAREO, an Alberta based learning object repository. Perhaps something more will be unveiled at the ceremony. By Various Authors, May 10, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Creatic Speaking of learning object repositories, readers should have a lok at Creatic, a French language learning object repository still in development demonstrated at this week's APTICA conference on online learning here in Moncton. Creatic provides one of the better search functions I have seen for instructors and a bright and colorful interface for younger students. By Various Authors, May 10, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Will Watson Make Web Browsers Obsolete? Ok, you may be hearing it here first, but you're going to hear it a lot over the next six to eighteen months: the browser is dead. With the advent of such things as Real One, Macromedia MX, web services, broadband applications, RSS viewers such as Carmen's, multiple views (as mandated by the ADA and as required by wireless and portable devices), push media (such as this newsletter) and now this, Watson, a product from Apple that pulls data from a multitude of web sites, the trend is evident. Internet content will be delivered into increasingly specialized applications tailored to specific purposes. Let me repeat, so you'll think about OLDaily when you read it in the mainstream or in Masie six months from now: the browser is dead. By Erick Schonfeld, Business 2.0, May 10, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Learning Object Approach Is Making Inroads Results of an online questionnaire (147 responses) showing "substantial interest in learning object methodologies from training professionals and others in a wide range of industries." Though this survey is statistically meaningless it offers some anecdotal evidence regarding learning objects in e-learning. For example: among those in the profession who saw and responded to the survey, an astonishing 16 percent said they were not familiar with learning objects (I can only wonder where they get their professional development). More than half cited budgetary considerations as a major barrier to the adoption of learning objects. By Tom Barron, Learning Circuits, May, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

More than Digital Content: Long Live Your Course Pretty good article from Syllabus Magazine on the state of online course content and digital rights. The author correctly outlines the early arrivals of greed and paranoia onto the scene, describing some of the more spectacular failures produced by misplaced apprehensions. But even more useful is the list of four points all authors and universities should keep in mind about content:

  • The value of a university learning experience, online or traditional, is far more than the value of the content.
  • Content-based intellectual property is more valuable to the faculty than it is to the university.
  • Development of digital materials will require some sharing of ownership between faculty and the university with minimal restrictions on reuse by either and proportional compensation to each for their contributions.
  • No one can or should own courses, syllabi, pedagogies, or ideas.
By Jack Wilson, Syllabus Magazine, May, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Higher Ed, Industry, Alliance Gains Momentum Syllabus is a good newsletter (if you haven't seen it you should check it out at ' but it does some odd things sometimes. This item is a case in point. An article titled "Higher Ed, Industry, Alliance Gains Momentum" is listed in yesterday's newsletter. The article points to HEKATE, the Higher Education Knowledge and Technology Exchange. But the content of the Syllabus link is taken directly from a press release titled "CWRU Helps Start Education Technology Group" issued April 11 by the Case Western Reserve University. Nowhere in any of this is there any suggestion that HEKATE has gained any momentum - indeed, browsing through the records shows a small and static core of members. So what's up? Why dredge up copy from a month old news release, give it a misleading title, and tout it as something new? Could it be related to SCT's May 8 announcemt that it is joining HEKATE? Ah, but this too is old news; SCT's Phil Clark has been sitting on the board since November. I would be less of a cynic if there were't so much - so very much - to be cynical about. By Press Release, Syllabus, May 10, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Internet and the Liberation of Public Expression Article with which I am mostly in agreement championing the freedom of expression on the internet. The author seems primarily intent on attempting to allay fears about the concentration of corporate internet ownership, arguing that the flow of free expression has continued unrestrained. Well, mostly unrestrained. The article then shifts to a description of the benefits of this free expression, suggesting that while the bypassing of traditional filters (such as professional journalists or academics) may expose people to more bad information, the internet represents the development of a new filtering and assessment system, and moreover, gives us an unprecedented look into our own collective psyche, our own moment in history. By Pierre Lvy, WebWorld, May 7, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2002 Stephen Downes