Stephen's Web

By Stephen Downes
February 24, 2003

Learning Objects Metadata: Implementations and Open Issues There's a lot of great content in this special issue of Learning Technology. Though the articles are short, the sheer number of them - nineteen in all - makes this a longish read. Topics covered include learning object metadata, metadata repositories, and asscoiated tools and issues. It's not all peaches and cream, either. Frank Farance's article, for example, calls it like it is, arguing that "Most of LOM has been done better by Dublin Core (DC)" and "The non-Dublin Core portion of LOM is done poorly." By Kinshuk, Learning Technology, January, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Our Tender Youth Imperiled—Yet Another Corporate Menace From time to time I try to bring together the issues of branding and education in various ways. This review looks at a book that attempts the same project, though in a much more thorough fashion. The author's snippy personal attacks notwithstanding, the article is a fairly good account of many of the issues underlying the problem of creating personal identity through brand-identification. One paragraph stands out: "the most persuasive arguments in the book are the sections on corporate-sponsored schools, horrifying institutions where students spend English class coming up with ad slogans and get disciplined for selling juice instead of Coke at bake sales. If the author had limited herself to an exposition of this subject rather than trying to take in the whole landscape of brands and teens in America in 200-odd pages, she might have produced a more substantive—though perhaps less marketable—book." Of course, the whole point just is that the issue of brands in education is part of the wider picture. By Alexandra Jacobs, New York Observer, February 23, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Interview With Lew Gossage Senior Vice President And General Manager Of XanEdu If you don't know anything about XanEdu, an online service that provides copyright cleared "Course Packs" to educators, then you should read this interview to get an overview. If you are familiar with the service and want something a bit deeper, then you will be disappointed by this shallow and stale interview. Whay we need - but didn't get - is some cogent account of how Course Packs fit into the world of learning objects, an account of how individual writers or small publishers can tap into this market (if at all), and some story about the wider use of Course Packs. By Unknown, Distance-Educator.Com, February 23, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

A Passion for Metadata What does it mean to have a passion for metadata? It's hard to say, because a passion for metadata is typically a passion for something else, something that metadata can help deliver. "Metadata is not a social club and I can promise you that if every person on the team had my passion for metadata, it would be one obnoxious environment." This interview with BellSouth's metadata director Todd Stephens contains a number of such nuggets and is worth reading by anyone trying to get behind the motivations of metadata mavens. By Tony Shaw, Wilshire Conferences, February, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Compromise Copyright Bill in Works As the summary suggests, "Opponents of Hollywood's drive to strengthen copyright law are mounting a new strategy: Require anything that has antipiracy technology built in to be clearly labeled and let consumers decide at the cash register." Which sounds fine by me, with one condition: the alternative option - technology without antipiracy technology built in - must also be available at the cash register. Otherwise the purported choice being made by consumers is no choice at all. By John Borland, News.Com, February 19, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

New Technology Could Cut Down on Whistleblowing More on Microsoft's Windows Rights Management software. The tenor of this article - along with most discussions of the new technology over the weekend - is that the system will be used to protect corporate documents from being released by whistle-blowers. This is, of course, only one small part of the potential use of the technology. By AP, USA Today, February 21, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Sun Eyes Schools With $1B in Products Sun is targeting schools with free software licenses, including its Solaris operating system and Star Office suite of tools. By Tom Krazit, InfoWorld, February 24, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright © 2003 Stephen Downes
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