Stephen's Web

By Stephen Downes
July 2, 2002

How to Design Recyclable Learning Objects Some good points in this cynical look at learning objects. Promoters of the concept need to worry when it is observed, with some justification, that "content is harder to recycle than design." That said, I noted with interest the author's observation that "while learning content didn't get re-used very often, instructional techniques did," which led the author to conclude that recycling design brought greater gains than recycling content. This unorthodox look at reusable learning objects is definitely worth a look, and it was nice of eLearnMag to put this article on a page of its own so the link won't expire. By Michael Feldstein, eLearnMag, June, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Getting Administrators up to Speed The last people to innovate, they say, are the administrators. To judge by the number of administrators I have met over the years who still struggle with email, there is truth to this adage. So I am betting that it's not too late for this item to be useful. It describes three model programs developed to bring administrators up to speed. By Susan Brooks-Young, tech Learning, June 15, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Don't Tell Julia Child: Integrating Functional Skills Into Web Courses A nice paper describing how it is possible to teach skills based courses - like cooking - with web based learning. This paper should firmly refute those who claim things like, "You can't teach cooking long distance; you have to be face-to-face with the learner." Yes, there was still a face to face component, but: "For the first time in six years, I had a group of first-year students who actually knew the vernacular of the industry. I had more time to train and correct student behaviors because I was not bogged down delivering lectures." By Lance Crocker, The Technology Source, July, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Seul/Edu Educational Application Index The latest from the Simple End User Linux (SEUL) Education group, this page lists Linux based applications for educational uses and now includes a function allowing users to rate them. This evaluation is important in the creation of Linux based educational installations for schols loking for non-Microsoft solutions, so if you use any of these, get your evaluations in. By Les Richardson, Seul / Edu, July 1, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Call for Input on Digital Rights Management A high powered group attempting to "define the industry standard for a rights language" that would govern many application domains including digital libraries and archives. This group, formed by the OASIS rights language group, is made up mostly of representatives from Microsoft and ContentGuard. This post encourages academic groups to submit despite the short timelines in order to produce a more robust and nuanced standard. Submissions are due by August 7. By Charles E. Jones, Digital Copyright, July 1, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Top 10 Best Practices for Voice User Interface Design I absolutely hate those telephone menu systems that take you through three menus, then hang up. And while voice recognition is not mature technology, it holds the best promise of allowing customers more immediate access to information or services. And we may be closer than we think: the technology is sufficiently mature to allow for the development of some best practices for voice recognition interfaces. The main lesson from these best practices, documented in this article, is that "the goal here is not to fool the caller into thinking that the application is actually a human being. In fact, that would cause many more problems that it solves. The purpose is to use language that is more naturally contusive to a verbal conversation." By Jonathan Eisenzopf, VoiceXMLPlanet, June, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Superarchives Could Hold All Scholarly Output Useful article looking at alternatives to scholarly publication in journals. The bulk of the article is devoted to what are called superarchives. These are essentially collections of materials hosted by a single university and intended to contain that institution's professors' research output. Of interest in the article is the suggestion that online infrastructure allows for the unbundling of functions typically bundled by journals: refereeing, editorial standards, dissemination and marketing. The publishers, naturally, are sceptical. "If I was a researcher, I would be scared to death to make myself dependent on that solution," says one. But I wonder. Scared of what? As the article mentions, citations of online materials are about triple those available only in print form. Perhaps that's the one thing academic publishers want to avoid at all costs: readers. By Jeffrey R. Young, Chronicle of Higher Education, Juny 5, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Know a friend who might enjoy this newsletter?

Feel free to forward OLDaily to your colleagues. If you received this issue from a friend and would like a free subscription of your own, you can join our mailing list at

[ About This NewsLetter] [ OLDaily Archives] [ Send me your comments]

Copyright 2002 Stephen Downes