Stephen's Web

By Stephen Downes
September 18, 2002

FIGARO From the press release: "A collective of European universities and publishers today announced the establishment of FIGARO, an academic publishing project that will create a European network of institutions providing e-publishing support to the European academic community." The name FIGARO is taken from the names of two previous projects: Federated Initiative of GAP and Roquade. The purpose of the site is to increase the speed with which scientific publishing occurs and to address the fact that universities pay for the same article several times over. I might add that I really like the design of this page: the background is spectacular. By Various Authors, September, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Virtual Reality Researchers Target Special Ed. Classes Interesting and fairly detailed article about the use of virtual reality to study and provide for the special education classes. With buzzing sounds and flashing lights, for example, researchers study what does - and does not - distract students. The VR classroom is also useful for teaching such basic skills as traffic safety. But it has to be done right: "We didn't want to make getting run over and killed entertaining in any way," he said. "We decided to have the [sound go silent], then the system crashes and must be rebooted while the student sits there and waits. So it is a frustrating experience, rather than exciting." By Lisa Fine Goldstein, Education Week, September 18, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The ILUs Are Here! This is interesting. They're not learning objects (thus avoiding the interminable debate), they're ILUs - Interactive Learning Units. An ILU is an interactive Flash application that illustrates a particular concept. The one ILU displayed - a colour calculator - is interesting and relatively easy to use. Now while they may not be learning objects, properly so called, ILUs illustrate at least some of the potential of learning objects - so much more so than a set of ten pages and a quiz. By Sessions.Edu, September, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The State of e-Learning: Looking at History with the Technology Hype Cycle The author adapts Gartner's Technology Hype Cycle to show that e-learning hype peaked in 2000 with high stock prices and John Chambers' "e-learning is the next killer app" comment. He speculates that e-learning has now hit a trough and that we can expect an upturn. "Despite the current climate," he writes, "the e-learning hype cycle tells us that just as the highest highs were unsustainable, so too are the lowest lows." Be sure to click on the next page for the comments. By Kevin Kruse, E-learning Guru, September 18, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

AlltheWeb Includes Macromedia Flash Files in Search Engine Index The AllTheWeb search engine now scans and indexes the content of Flash files, overcoming a big weakness on the web (and making Macromedia executives jump for joy in the boardroom). I have been playing with AllTheWeb over the last few days, and while it is very good, picking up many links Google misses (gasp!), its search results order is just loopy. By Unknown, Pandia, September, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Blood Vain Tracking Biometric Mouse Relief for educators looking to verify student identity? This biometric mouse might be just the thing. The mouse works by using an infrared sensor to record the user's vein pattern in their hand. "The use of this technology would enable convenient biometric authentication for a wide range of applications, such as safeguarding important information through log-in verification for access to sales, technical or personal data." By Dave Conabree, TwoMobile, September 11, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

VCampus Revolutionizes E-Learning Delivery Through New Web Services Platform The era of web services based e-learning has arrived. As usual, any claims to be 'first' in this fiewld should be taken with a grain of salt. By Press Release, Business Wire, September 17, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Trade Group: P2P Not Illegal or Immoral Some of the strongest words yet from the software community against the copyright community's continual efforts to litigate against change. "The entire theme of the copyright community is that downloading off the Web is both illegal and immoral," Consumer Electronics Association CEO Gary Shapiro said, according to the text of his speech. "It is neither." By John Borland, CNet, September 17, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

TranSCORM Corrected link from yesterday (I never knew I made so many errors before I began broadcasting them worldwide). By Various Authors, September, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Knowledge Management in Instructional Design This crisply written article starts out with a lot of promise, but just when I thought it was going to make an interesting point, it missed. So I'll make it. The authors, thrfough a careful definition of both, suggest that knowledge management can influence instructional design. "Specifically, a KMS enhances the communication, coordination, and collaboration among such [an instructional design] team while improving long-term productivity by facilitating access, archiving, retrieval and reuse of a variety of learning objects and instructional resources." Well, yeah. But what would be really interesting is a look at how the application of knowledge management, as defined by the authors, can bear on the final product. How could knowledge management make for better online courses? I can think of so many ways. By J. Michael Spector and Gerald S. Edmonds, ERIC, September, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2002 Stephen Downes