Stephen's Web

By Stephen Downes
March 5, 2003

Divide & Conquer? AOL Time Warner Book Group Falls To Pieces Another full newsletter today as developments fold into each other one after another during an incredibly busy week. Adding to that is a backlog of must-view material from the last few weeks, missed while I was travelling. This article is a case in point. Don't just dismiss it if you are not interested in online publishing: if you substitute the references to "digital assets" with "learning objects" you get the story of our industry in a nutshell. This really is an outstanding report; it doesn't look like much at first, but if you keep clicking the "Next" link at the bottom of the page it draws you in deeper and deeper. Everything about learning objects is here: the broken promises of ebooks, the weight of coding metadata, difficulties in accounting for use and ROI, standards conflicts, and more. What's interesting is that the article (a series of articles, really) concludes with a light shining at the end of the tunnel. Spend the time it takes to read this article; your perceptions will be shifted. By David Cone, Baseline Briefing, February 1, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Laptops Win Over the Skeptics, Even in Maine The lead says it in a nutshell: "Attendance is up. Detentions are down. Just six months after Maine began a controversial program to provide laptop computers to every seventh grader in the state, educators are impressed by how quickly students and teachers have adapted to laptop technology." The biggest problem the state now faces is what will happen when the students graduate from grade 8 a year from now and are forced to turn in their laptops. By Sarah Mahoney, New York Times, March 5, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Blackboard Blog-style coverage of the recent Blackboard conference in Balitmore. Coverage from days 1 and 2 include a good overview of recently added features to the LMS software, including SOAP interfaces, Shibboleth and even RSS. Day 3 is an overview of vendors catering to the Blackboardsphere. This page is actually a newly created category on Carter-Tod's site, so Blackboard enthusiasts will find much more than just the report of this conference. Allow the page a few seconds to load as it's conducting a dynamic search of the blog archives. By David Carter-Tod, Serious Instructional Technology, March 3, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Dublin Core Metadata Initiative The Dublin Core Metadata Initiative (DCMI) has just updated its web page. The key change is a simplified (and integrated) documentation of metadata terms. The site also has posted the "Guidelines for implementing Dublin Core in XML," available for public comment until March 31, 2003. By Various Authors, Dublin Core Metadata Initiative, March 3, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

eLera From the website: "eLera provides collaboration tools supporting the evaluation of learning objects. It enables communities of media developers, students, teachers, professors, instructional designers and others to select objects for use, and improve the quality of published objects. The higher goals of eLera are to build and strengthen the communities that work with learning objects, and to foster links across those communities." eLera is the project behind LORI - the Learning Object Review Instrument. By Various Authors, Simon Fraser University, Undated [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Institutional OAI Archive Growth Open access e-print archives are growing steadily, but they need to grow even more quickly, according to this author. The secret lies in the crucial role of reciprocity in open access: "Self-archive unto others as ye would have them self-archive unto you." PowerPoint presentation. By Tim Brody, Southampton University, March, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Governor Wants a Land Where Robots Roam The use of robots on city streets is regulated in Japan, and probably wisely so. But developers would like a regulation-free zone to allow robots to mingle with a human population. "You can build a robot that can do wonderful things in the lab but is useless on the street," said Shin Furukawa, director of corporate planning at Tmsuk. "Once you know their limits, you can find ways to overcome them." What sort of lessons would developers learn? Well, this: "Kids kick robots," he said. "We have to make the bottom part of their structure a lot stronger." By Martyn Williams, IDG News Service, February 27, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The EDNA Metadata Standard This is a non-technical introduction to EDNA - EDucation Network Australia. Described as a set of guidelines for using metadata elements situated within the Dublin Core, EDNA forms the foundation for a learning library containing more than 16,000 evaluated reources. The article concludes with an authoritative statement of the issues facing not only EDNA but any similar initiative in educational metadata. A 38K PDF file. By Jenny Millea, DC-ANZ Metadata Conference, February 27, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

2002 RTO Case Study Project: Against the Odds! This case study describes how two small companies in Australia were able to deliver flexible learning without making a large investment. What is significant about the case is the description of how the companies interacted with prodcusts and services offered by Australia's Flexible Learning Framework, thus getting around many of the significant investments the companies would have to make were they launching such a program on their own. This model has a lot to recommend it, where tools and services are available from a centralized resource function, while project initiation, project management and content are controlled by the companies or learning organizations themselves. MS-Word document. By Pelion Consulting Pty Ltd., Flexible Learning Framework, March, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Streaming Technology Improves Student Achievement The headline, of course, is the story here, and while the article cites this conclusion from the study it provides almost no substantiating information and no link to the study itself. Here is what it says: "The control-group study of more than 1,400 elementary and middle school students in three Virginia school districts showed an average increase of 12.6% by students exposed to unitedstreaming compared to students who received traditional instruction alone." The rest of the article is background on the introduction of broadband and video streaming into schools. By Ron Reed, T.H.E. Journal, March, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

U. of California International-Studies Program Offers Free Peer-Reviewed Articles Online "We believe that once we have established a reputation, we will make this competitive with print journals." So says David K. Leonard, dean of International and Area Studies at the University of California. The interface (a link is provided in the article) is clean and intuitive. What is needed now (though I didn't see it) is some means of syndicating these articles (through RSS, say) so they can be accessed in combination with articles from other repositories. But, one step at a time. By Scott Carlson, Chronicle of Higher Education, March 4, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

When It Goes Wrong at a Charter School Not all charter schools are like the one described in this article, of course, but after enrollment shortfalls, a string of firings, talk of closure, and even a principal (who was later fired) mopping the floor, the situation at the ironically named Benchmark School is close to chaos. In Arizona, where charter schools have proliferated, academic achievement is down, with about twice as many "labeled underperforming by the state." By Michael Winerip, New York Times, March 5, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Know a friend who might enjoy this newsletter?

Feel free to forward OLDaily to your colleagues. If you received this issue from a friend and would like a free subscription of your own, you can join our mailing list at

[ About This NewsLetter] [ OLDaily Archives] [ Send me your comments]

Copyright 2003 Stephen Downes
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.