Stephen's Web

By Stephen Downes
February 25, 2003

E-Learning Decisions: Modes, Models and Strategies Today's newsletter - a bit late and a bit light - comes to you from the Government Online (GOL) conference in Ottawa. In addition to my own presentation, the slides for which are linked here, participants were able to hear calls for government to adopt business methodologies from Gaylen Duncan (Information Technology of Canada) and Douglas Batt (Concord Communications). Roger St-Pierre provided attendees with a stimulating description of the Defense Learning Network and in a talk that would be great for any online learning conference, Janice Francisco of Health Canada described how that department was able to provide training for 10,000 people in three months for about $100,000. If slides from these talks become available online, I'll pass them on. By Stephen Downes, Stephen's Web, February 25, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The UK and US to Collaborate on Major Digital Initiative From the press release, "The five-year programme, called ‘Digital Libraries in the Classroom’ will cost around £6m ($9.5m) and will draw on best practice in the creation and delivery of content from both the UK and the US, resulting in a range of resources in four key subject areas." By Press Release, JISC, February 25, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Microsoft Rights Management Solutions for the Enterprise: Persistent Policy Expression and Enforcement for Digital Information Microsoft white paper on the Windows Rights Management Services (WRMS) that I've been discussing for the last few days. As DRM Watch reports, "WRMS is fairly straightforward DRM technology for corporate applications; it's clearly intended to work with documents in Office formats. It includes certain features that make it useful in corporate settings, such as the use of X.509 certificates for authenticated identities. But it does not include certain other features that independent vendors of corporate-oriented DRM technology have available, such as changeable or revocable rights, which are found in solutions from Authentica, InfraWorks, and others." MS-Word document that took forever to download off the Microsoft site (this is not an isolated problem; you'd think such a large company could afford some better servers). By White Paper, Microsoft, February, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Caring for Your Introvert Maybe it links to learning styles and maybe it doesn't. I don't know. But certainly it links to learning. Like the author, I am also an introvert. What does that mean? "After an hour or two of being socially 'on,' we introverts need to turn off and recharge. My own formula is roughly two hours alone for every hour of socializing. This isn't antisocial. It isn't a sign of depression. It does not call for medication. For introverts, to be alone with our thoughts is as restorative as sleeping, as nourishing as eating." Now think about how we structure traditional learning: hours on end of very public engagement. If I could have said anything to my teachers during my education it would have been something like, "Give me some space, I'll get back to you when I'm ready." Of course responses like that usually landed me in the principal's office. By Jonathan Rauch, The Atlantic, March, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Computer Made from DNA and Enzymes Ah yes, another day, another entry into the record books as the world's smallerst computer. "In the new device, the single DNA molecule that provides the computer with the input data also provides all the necessary fuel." By Stefan Lovgren, National Geographic News, February 24, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Effect of Computers on Student Writing: A Meta-Analysis of Studies from 1992 to 2002 Some people may view this as counter-intuitive, but "on average, instructional use of computers for writing has a positive effect on the quantity and quality of writing students produce," at least according to this metaanalysis of 26 studies conducted over the last ten years. I would like to point out, as well, that this article is an almost textbook example of the proper use of research data; I cannot say enough about how important it is to isolate the variables being discussed, to consider alternative hypothesis, and to understand that while individual studies may produce contrary results (and there are some cited in this study), it is the aggregate that can give us a generalization of considerable precision. By Amie Goldberg, Michael Russell and Abiligail Cook, Journal of Technology, Learning, and Assessment, February, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright © 2003 Stephen Downes
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