Stephen's Web

By Stephen Downes
May 27, 2002

ICDE regional / CADE-ACED Conference Today's newsletter is coming to you live from the Canadian Association for Distance Education (CADE) conference in Calgary. The conference also acts as a regional conference for the International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICED). By Various Authors, May 27, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Distance Learning in the Daily News Power Point slides (a bit more detailed than last time) from my presentation today at CADE. The slides survey some of the influences and motivations behind the development of OLDaily and look at some of the issues considered when designing this newsletter. Some good links to early concept papers. By Stephen Downes, CADE, May 27, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Flexible Learning Initiative Australia's Flexible Learning Initiative has launchyed its own website. Flex-e-news reports, "This Project will fund up to 10 small-scale initiatives that develop innovative content, applications and services within defined categories." The site is straightforward and simple with easy navigation. Nicely done. By Various Authors, May, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Blackboard to Adopt OKI Specifications Somebody out there is listening: I guess I'm just a little surprised it's Blackboard. "Blackboard’s Building Blocks open architecture will base future releases on key OKI specifications, enabling a broader variety of 3rd party applications to work seamlessly with Blackboard." The Open Knowledge Initiative (OKI) is an effort to produce an open-source architecture for educational systems, a trend that has been, well, resisted by companies who would prefer a more proprietary approach (long a bane of the online learning community). So this decision is significant and will have ripple effects almost immediately. By Scott Wilson, CETIS, May 21, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Consolidation Before the Leap; IMS Enterprise 1.1 Discussion of IMS's recent Enterprise specification (covered a week or so ago in OLDaily) and the issue of whether users should wait until the release of version 2.0 slated for this fall. The article leans slightly toward waiting, especially in the light of Backboard's recent decision to embrace the Open Knowledge Initiative (OKI) programming interfaces. That seems right to me as well. By Wilbert Kraan, CETIS, May 24, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

A Maths Dictionary for Kids More than 400 common mathematical terms explained in simple language and compelling animations. This is a great resource, especially for younger learners. How do I know this? Because I spent about an hour playing with this site this morning. Oh yes, my inner child is still thoroughly in control of this house. By Jenny Eather, May, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Rivals Threaten BBC With Court for £150m Online Learning Push The headline basically tells the story: a number of British software companies are concerned that the BBC's move into learning will "decimate" their industry. This is not a new argument and I expect we'll see more of it over the years to come. Indeed, at last night's Cracker Barrel session with Rory McGreal at CADE a private sector participant made much the same comment, bemoaning government funding of public education as "unfair competition." Well, it's competition for sure, and it's hard to compete in an open market against a government program. But look: the role of government in education is not to ensure a viable corporate sector. Governments are involved in education because it's a matter of national interest. As HRDC's Peter Larose said at today's keynote, education isn't merely about being competitive. There's a social aspect: an educated person is able to fully participate in a democratic society. And quite frankly, this just isn't on most corporateions' radar screens. Now back to Britain: the BBC is producing this material because there is a need. Sure, Britain could wait around for the private sector to find a good business case for producing it, but at what cost to British society as a whole? And finally, one more note: those companies that are in the field of learning knew getting in that government was heavily involved in the sector. So it's a bit hypocritical to now start complaining about unfair competition. It's a bit like people who build houses near the airport because the land is so cheap and then complain that their houses are being devalued by the noise of the aircraft. Sheesh. By John Cassy, The Guardian, May 24, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

SCORM A French language version of SCORM is now available on the ADL website. Resolutely unilingual, ADL posts the following: "ADLNet is not responsible for any translation problems. Question or comments should be directed to LCdr Roger St-Pierre, Canadian Department of National Defense." It's kind of back handed, but it's nice to see Canada's contribution to SCORM acknowledged in a public way. By Various authors, ADL, May 24, 20o02 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Digital Copyright Listserv From the web site: "The Digital Copyright Listserv aims to be a space for educators, policy makers, librarians, lawyers, and all who have a vested interest in digital copyright and other intellectual property matters of importance to the higher education community." The list moved to a new server a couple of days ago. From the few messages that have been posted in the archive it looks like there is discussion of issues, news reports by Olga Francois, and occasional postings of related resources. I have signed up and will draw from this list as another source for OLDaily items. By Various Authors, May 22, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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