Stephen's Web

By Stephen Downes
October 24, 2002

ACERRA Workshop on E-Learning So anyhow, I'm in Ottawa today to see the seminar on e-learning offered by Brandon Hall. It was a fairly light, wide-ranging seminar covering (mostly) corporate e-learning. Specific topics included the state of the industry, best practices, pitfalls, case studies, measurement and evaluation, and standards vs quality of design. This is a summary of the day-long event in the form of a text file. By Stephen Downes, Stephen's Web, October 24, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Who Owns Ideas? The War Over Global Intellectual Property Good discussion of the arguments over copyright that I link to even though I disagree with it (I'm so noble). This is in general a very well written discussion. But the opinion expressed in the article turns on the same old tired argument: "Preventing the distribution of copycat drugs because of adherence to patent laws invariably means that some desperately ill patients will not have access to medicines they need. Yet the act of ignoring patents in the name of helping sick people curbs the incentive to develop new, lifesaving drugs in the future." That's so not true. Some people would work for the good of humanity. Others would work for government reserach labs, set up for the good of humanity (at least a part of my work is of the former variety, part of the latter variety). The assumption is that people won't conduct research unless they can hold the rest of society at ransom for it. It's just not true, we know it's not true, and yet this argument continues to circulate. By David S. Evans, Foreign Affairs, November/December 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Learning Object Economy Powerpoint slides are now available on my website from my talk at NAWeb on Sunday. By Stephen Downes, Stephen's Web, October 20, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

District Will use Eye Scanning E-learning of a different sort: using iris scans for school security (maybe they should call it eye-learning). The problem? "Iris scans wouldn't solve the problem of a deranged solider with a gun." By Jake Wagman, Philadelphia Enquirer, October 24, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Palladium Presentation The inside scoop on Palladium, Microsoft's proposed "trusted computing" platform. This item is a summary of a talk given by Microsoft's Brian LaMacchia. It gets a bit technical at times, but outlines the basic plan (to create a virtual machine, called Nexus, running inside the operating system, that displays trusted content - all other 'untrusted' applications would be prohibited from accessing Nexus memory). Issues remain: could you create an airtight virtual machine, for example? By Arnold G. Reinhold, Cypherpunks / Cryptome, October 20, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Tablet PC Rivalry Sets In The excitement (and the hype) continues to build as at least six companies line up to release tablet computers in November. Did I say hype? I really think tablets will be huge. Not perfect, but huge (perfection will come later). By Michael Kanellos, CNet, October 24, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Your Mentor in Cyberspace Is Standing By Now During my presentation at NA*Web I referred to Dinah Ceplis as a learning object. Of course, this would make purists blanche, because Dinah is not a digital object. I didn't explain what I meant any further but this article helps. "Dozens of Web sites link students to tutors who can help with the complicated and the mundane via e-mail, chat rooms or bulletin boards." Now the model described here cannot be sustained, for a variety of reasons. "About 60 percent of AOL volunteers are teachers or professors, with the remainder evenly split among retired teachers, college students, working professionals and stay-at-home parents." If, however, these online mentors are as easy to contact (and to pay for) as learning content, then you have extended your system in an important way - and without depending on AOL volunteers. Final note: chances are these mentors will not be described using SCORM metadata. By Jennifer Medina, New York Times, October 23, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

E-Learning: The Second Wave According to the author, a second wave of e-learning is about to sweep across the industry. "The second wave signals the arrival of greater standardization and the emergence of replicable processes." Three major areas are identified: content, services and technology. For content, "Show me multiple-path active simulations, complex branching with high levels of constructivist activities, and methods for individual feedback." In technology, look for the integration of e-learning in all business processes. And look for "smoothie" learning, a smooth combination of e-learning with other forms of learning. This is generally a good article with a fairly clear view of what's coming. By Craig R. Taylor, Learning Circuits, October, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2002 Stephen Downes