Stephen's Web

By Stephen Downes
July 26, 2002

Maish Nichani - July Expert Spruik Well worth reading is this interview with elearningpost's Maish Nichani and the subsequent discussion (you will have to register (free) to participate in the discussion. Nichani talks about the state of blogging in online learning. I love this observation, "So what happens that every month is that we see a pattern. One month we saw a pattern on learning objects. Almost in all publications everyone was talking about learning objects and how advantageous they are. Then a couple of months later, people started bashing learning objects and saying that these are not learning objects, but these are disposable learning objects." If you have a slower connection you want to be aware that the site automatically launches a sound file when you enter (most annoying) - you can find the media player to the right - click on the black square to shut it off. Large files like sound - even streaming sound - should always be an option on web pages. By Marie Jasinski, LearnScope, July 1, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Enriching Education Weird logic. This article cites the disparity of achievement between schools with low income students and schools with high income students. It argues that there needs to be integration in schools of people from different income brackets. But instead of forced integration, the idea is to entice students from rich neighbourhods to attend schools in low income neighbourhoods by, as they did in Raleigh, making inner city schools so attractive higher income students would clamour to get in. And, according to the article, "it worked." Well sure. But not because the savoir faire of the rich magically rubbed off on the poor, but because they finally spent some money on schools for low income neighbourhoods. Anyhow, the concept is called "economic integration" and is, if you ask me, just one more attempt to rationalize severe income disparity without actually doing anything about it. By Alan Gottlieb, Denver Post, July 14, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

New Technologies Can't Displace Essential Work of Book Editing In a cynical moment I might propose an alternative title to this article: "Cars can't train horses to drive in city." The more interesting question, of course, is not whether technology will replicate the function of the editor (a specialist position desined for a different publishing paradigm) but rather that of how the role of editor will change in new media. For example: the article says, "Distinguished websites, like good bookstores, will attract readers accordingly. The filter that distinguishes value is a function of human nature, not of particular technologies." True. But the essence of editorship is that this filter is exercised by a single person. What happens when the filter is the result of thousands of people acting simultaneously? The need for human interpretation doesn't change, but the role of editor changes dramatically - or is erased. By Jason Epstein, Authorlink, December 31, 200-31 8:33 p.m. [Refer][Research][Reflect]

An Assessment of the Effectiveness of e-learning in Corporate Training Programs In today's nod to elearningpost, this link is a good article that looks of evaluating corporate e-learning using Kirkpatrick's levels (plus one). For those versed in the field the article will seem a little superficial, but for those looking at e-learning evaluation for the first time the article provides an ideal structure for future work. Some throwaway remarks near the end of the paper about Moore's relation of learning objectives to learning objectives and assessment leads me to ponder what a system of assessment and evaulation would look like if it supported different learning objectives for different students, a concept I toyed with in my most recent articles. By Judith B. Strother, IRRODL, July 26, 2002 6:06 p.m. [Refer][Research][Reflect]

UNESCO Guidelines for Electronic Dissertations Published According to the website, "The Guide that promotes the sharing of knowledge locked up in universities, and the collaboration of universities worldwide is designed specifically for academic researchers and their mentors." The Guide "supports the needs of students wishing to apply multimedia methods to enhance their ability to communicate complex results, as well as the requirements of staff building a local support infrastructure to help such students." By Press Release, UNESCO, July 22, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Internet2 Releases Open Source Web Access Control BuildingBlock Some good news from Internet 2 as it releases an open source system for standards-based federated network identity solutions, such as single Internet sign-on for consumer and business users, and secure Web service transactions. By Press Release, Internet 2, July 24, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Yale says Princeton Officials Hacked its Site This item is actually kind of funny. Yale officials accuse the Registrar's office at Princeton of hacking into their student database. The quote into this article attributed to Princeton staff makes it appear as though the charge is legitimate: "It was really an innocent way for us to check out the security," Stephen LeMenager, Princeton's dean of admissions, told the Yale Daily News. Unbelievable. By Diane Scarponi, Nando Times, July 25, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2002 Stephen Downes