Stephen's Web

By Stephen Downes
November 1, 2002

OKI, IMS, ADL and SIF Join Up This is major news. The alphabet soup in the headline stands for Open Knowledge Initiative, Instructional Management Systems, Advanced Distributed Learning and Schools Interoperability Framework. They represent among them the bulk of the work in the United States on educational technology specifications. It's good that they are working together (though I know what an exercise in logistics that will be). But there are also dangers: if they get it wrong, they will get it wrong in a major way. This article speculates about how much this coordination will internationalize, a fair question in light of previous agreements between (especially) IMS and agencies in Canada, Europe and Australia. By Wilbert Kraan, CETIS, November 1, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Tablet PC: It Rocks Oh, sure, nobody gives me a sneak peek about great new technologies I've been touting here for months (even years). I guess I'll have to be content with the trade papers (but mark my words, someone's going to want a sneak peek at something of mine, and then the tables will be turned). This article reviews the Scribbler, a tablet PC by Electrovaya, giving it (as expected) rave reviews. Glowing reviews. As in, "Might as well pawn off the old PC now." If anyone from NRC is reading - this is what I want, instead of my clunky, fragile and inconvenient laptop. By Michelle Delio, Wired News, November 1, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Shamed Scientist's Work Fills Web It's a good issue with the potential for bad solutions. Eight of Hendrik Schon's discredited research papers on Thursday were retracted by the journal Science after it was discovered that he used fabricated data. But copies of the work linger around the web. Thus there is no way for people to know that the work was discredited. Sure, the pages could all be removed, but then there is no evidence at all (which would raise more uestions than it answered). This article appears to suggest some means of marking the pages themselves. I'm not happy with that either, mostly because of the impracticality of the solution (sure, webmasters can track the famous cases, but not the obscure). I'm not sure it's such a big issue: I'm sure nobody is going around ripping out pages of Science or annotating them with a black felt marker. Prudent research on the web as elsewhere involves checking your sources. A very quick scan (one much more easily accomplished than in a library) would reveal the truth about Schon's work. By Kristen Philipkoski, Wired News, November 1, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Objective: Re-usable Competency IMS has released version 1.0 of the Re-useable Definition of Competency or Educational Objective (RDCEO). The purpose of RDCEO is to create a means to point to competency definitions that have been defined elsewhere. As this article notes, there are many competency definitions already in place; RDCEO allows developers to refer to them rather than to start from scratch. By Wilbert Kraan, CETIS, November 1, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

New Channel Will be Interactive Learning Tool This item flags the convergence of television and the internet as educational media. "WNED has received a $2.5 million grant to establish a second local educational television channel and eventually allow viewers to use their television screens as computers to delve deeper into programs of interest." I'm hoping that this is something more than an interactive 'Pop-up video' but I'm not confident... By Peter Simon, Buffalo News, October 29, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

EduZope Initiative Seeks to Combine Standards Support With Open Source This article summarizes the launch of the EduZope initiative. This article from CETIS isn't their best work, filled as it is with alphabet soup (and failing anywhere to state just what EduZope is intended to be). But you get the idea and a link is provided to the EduZope home page where you learn that "The aim of the EduZope project is to produce an open source authoring environment for standardized learning materials a Learning Content Management System (LCMS) based on the ZOPE web application framework." By Wilbert Kraan, CETIS, October 23, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Effectiveness of Models of Flexible Provision of Higher Education Summary of a report (the full report is available in PDF at the bottom of the page) assessing the effectiveness of flexible delivery of college and university courses. After sketching what is meant by flexible delivery (a definition that focuses on accessibility options and preferences rather than technology) the summary lists some advantages and disadvantages. Worth noting: "The costliness of most of the cases studied is due in part to their innovative status involving establishment costs and small scale of operation." By Peter Ling,, Department of Education, Science and Training, October 30, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Suggestions For Motivation This column is intended for classroom teachers, but for those concerned about motivating online students many of the same principles apply. At the top of the list: the need for curiosity and the desire to learn. By Marvin Marshall, Teachers.Net Gazette, November, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2002 Stephen Downes