Stephen's Web

By Stephen Downes
May 21, 2002

Journal Boycott Over Online Access Is a Bust More than 30,000 academics signed on, but a much publicized boycott of expensive academic journals seems to have produced little in the way of changed behaviours, according to this article. So the promoters of the project, the Public Library of Science, are launching a series of new journals to take the place of the established journals. Now this article makes it look like the new journals are a response to the lack of participation, but they have been planned all along. You can verify this for yourself using the [Research] link in the HTML version of OLDaily - follow the 'Academic Publications' category and read the related article 'Returning Scientific Publishing to Scientists' (I should probably include a link here but I'm trying to show readers how the associative [Research] tool works). By Jeffrey R. Young, Chronicle of Higher Education, May 16, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

New Site to Help Students, Educators Find Royalty-Free Works Coverage of Lawrence Lessig's Creative Commons project from an educator's point of view. The purpose of the Creative Commons is to allow authors and artists to distribute royalty free works. This could be a boon for students looking for materials for students projects, according to the authors. But the Creative Commons will have to become more useful before the concept catches on, they warn. By eSchool News staff, eSchool News, May 21, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Business Driven Action Learning Catches On All Over The World I wish this article told us more about what business driven action learning actually is - the five essential elements listed give us a flavour, no more. But I agree with this: "Real progress in business is only achieved by corporations and individuals trying out creative ideas and making them work, running into problems and solving them, by pooling talent and scoring with it, and most of having fun and learning while doing. Business driven action learning is a superb vehicle for achieving this." I might add while I'm writing that this piece of corporate writing - it is, ultimately, a press release - is the right way to communicate your message. Good content, no useless adjectives - ah, if only more commercial communications were as useful. If you want more on this - or any other - resource, click on the [Research] button (HTML version only) and follow up, in this case, by clicking on the Action Learning link. By Alison Gregg-Logan, Distance-Educator.Com, May 21, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Zero Cost E-Learning The most important part of this article - which convincingly touts and describes email as a learning tool - is the commentary in the teaser. The author writes, "I see our leaders rapidly losing the hearts and minds of learners, trainers, and designers. Strategists are converging toward learning objects, metatags, and comprehensive and costly platforms." I think the author is exactly right in this observation - that is why I have been (to the chagrin of some vendors) railing against "big ugly LCMSs" in recent presentations. Learning objects are full of promise, but will price themselves out of existence if we have to purchase a $300,000 LCMS to make any use of them. OK, end of rant. Think simple. Read this article and think about how the author's strategies - which are really very good - compare to what the "leaders" are doing. By Sivasailam Thiagarajan, Learning Circuits, May, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Mixing and Matching Distance-Education Software The Chronicle discovers learning objects and metadata, sort of. This longish and simplistic article manages to tout the benefits of standards and to describe a few products using (or planning to use) standards, yet the author manages to complete the entire discussion without once linking to IMS, SCORM or any of the many other initiatives (they refer once to "a Shareable Content Object Reference Model," as though there were several). Disappointing, deeply disappointing. By Michael Arnone, Chronicle of Higher Education, May 24, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

SideBars I have previously mentioned the potential of weblogs (blogs) for use as an educational tool. The British Columbia Institute of Technology gives us a pretty good example with their blog, SideBars, which is being used for staff development. By Various Authors, British Columbia Institute of Technology, May 21, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Two Shakes of Action, A Dash of Context and a Pinch of Communication Two scholars attempt to define the essential ingredients of online stories. They come up with five "elements" - a lexicon for the examination, discussion and study of any kind of web content. The hope is to use the elements as a basis "for a more granular content analysis on digital storytelling, so we can get some baseline measures. This way we can see if there has been movement in the development of unique combinations of these elements in online storytelling." Interesting and useful. By Leah Gentry, NewsFuture, May 21, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2002 Stephen Downes