Stephen's Web

OLDaily
By Stephen Downes
February 26, 2003

Rich Site Summary (RSS) Links and Information

I'm still on the road in Ottawa, still struggling with slow dial-up lines, and so way behind in my links. So of course it is this week - perhaps prompted by my railing at IMS last week - that one of my long-time passions is coming to fruition. For the record, I've been on about this for the last three years, first presenting on the topic at NAWeb 2000, then more recently releasing a paper about RSS for educators and last week lowered the boom on IMS, calling for an RSS style learning object network. Those who worked more closely with me (including those within eduSource who had to listen to a more than impassioned advocacy last Friday) know that I have been agitating relentlessly for this. Relentlessly. So I have few friends left.

But the day has arrived. In today's newsletter are links to two institutional RSS learning object feeds, one launched by Maricopa a couple of days ago and another set up at the University of Calgary today. These two, as I commented in an email to George Siemens (who, as usual, is right on top of this) are the tip of the iceberg.

I know many of you who read this newsletter have been involved in learning objects and RSS for some time, working and waiting for the network to emerge from the ether. Do you have learning objects? Set up an RSS feed (use Maricopa or the University of Calgary as a template) and submit your feed here (this is the bare-bones barely beginning version of DLORN - more on that in OLDaily next week - please note that it is mostly not working except for the site submission part). To view feeds already submitted, retrieve the list here (it's empty right now but I suspect it will begin to fill up shortly).

There is much more coming on this. By Stephen Downes, Stephen's Web, February 26, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

CAREO RSS Prototyle Goes Live The second institution to offer learning object syndication is the University of Calgary (Maricopa was first; see below. My feeds don't count because I'm not an educational institution). It took him an hour and a half. By D'Arcy Norman, D'Arcy Norman's Learning Commons Weblog, February 26, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

A Dialogue: Sharing, Trust, Collaboration Well, we are well and truly into it. This nifty item sees George Siemens write, "...we have selected the wrong tool for the task: we're managing when we should be fostering...which is why flexible tools like blogs, wikis, community-building software tools are better for learning...as compared to Learning Management Systems." And in response, Guy Dugas comments, "Lets not confuse centralized with standardized. The Internet as model is a good one, but one that is out of sync with your arguments. The Internet's lynchpin is standards. Without a language (HTML), protocols (HTTP, TCP/IP, FTP), and browsers (IE, Netscape, Opera), that all conform to standards, you would not be blogging today. I'm with Plato. Conforming to laws is the road to true freedom." Much more to read here: don't miss this. By George Siemens and Guy Dugas, elearnspace, February 24, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

E-payment as Advantage "Itís no surprise," argues this article, "that colleges and universities would pick up on what Amazon.com and other online businesses learned years ago: Make it easy to pay for goods or services online, and everyone wins." The article describes a number of online payment options offered by colleges and universities in the United States (of course, institutions in many other countries are also dabbling in this area). What this article is silent about is the next major stage in the trend: the unbundling of university content available online. But one step at a time. If online payment is here, can a usable university education be far behind? By Tim Goral, University Business, February, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

XML Standard Set For Secure Web Services This article is a little vague and devotees should check out the OASIS website for more information. In essence, the standards group has announced the release of XACML, a variant of Extensible Markup Language, which allows Web developers to enforce policies for information access over the Internet. Also new on the OASIS website today is a web services reliability proposal. By Michael Hardy, Federal Computer Week, February 18, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Maricopa Learning Exchange Maricopa has long been a leader in online learning (an early winner of NAWeb Awards, for example) and so it is not surprising to see it right at the cutting edge of what may be an important trend sweeping through online learning: the syndication of learning objects using technologies like RSS (I will have a lot more to say about this over the next few weeks, so stay tuned). Maricopa's Learning Exchange is starting small (333 objects as of this writing) but this should be considered a proof-of-concept at this time. It is worth having a look at their syndication page to get a deeper idea of what they're up to. By Various Authors, Maricopa College, February, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Leavitt Says Western Governors University on Brink of Accreditation For many people involved in online learning, Western Governors' University seems to have dropped off the radar screen. But unlike many similar institutions, the University continues to survive. This article suggests that it is now on the verge of attaining accrteditation. This would be a significant victory for an institution that has suffered from a lot of criticism over the years. By AP, Casper Star Tribune, February 25, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Deep in the Hearts of Learners: Insights into the Nature of Online Community Though to me it seems to take a while to get to the point, this article about online learning communities is well worth reading. Of most interest is the observation that "there were differences in quality between one-time or shortterm online existences and ongoing programmatic experiences, and those differences were reflected in the nature of the community that formed, specifically as regards levels of tolerance and etiquette; and that even one face-to-face opportunity affected the nature of community that formed." In other words, communities grow and change over time, and they grow in ways quite unexpected, and often unintended, by the participants. Via Distance-Educator.Com By Dianne Conrad, Journal of Distance Education, January, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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