By Stephen Downes
May 12, 2003

Directory of Open Access Journals
From the press release: Lund University Libraries today launches the Directory of Open Access Journals, supported by the Information Program of the Open Society Institute along with SPARC (The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition). The directory contains information about 350 open access journals, i.e. quality controlled scientific and scholarly electronic journals that are freely available on the web. The service will continue to grow as new journals are identified. By Various Authors, Lund University Libraries, May 12, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Organic Aggregation of Knowledge Object in Educational Systems
One wonders how Harasim (1990) could have made a comment about web-based learning several years before the web was invented. But if you get past this and a bit more gratuitous name-dropping you get to the heart of this paper, the gist of which isn't really revealed until last section: "If learning objects are to be single-purposed, of use only in a single context, and only appropriate to a single level of granularity and abstraction, then the value of learning object repositories will be seriously impaired. The learning object is a raw material that can be used in different ways. It is the activities you do with it and their integration in meaningful scenarios or functions that count. For this, we need a very flexible educational operations system that goes beyond fixed distance education platforms and LMSs, and that can complement other platforms or LMS by providing new repurposing capabilities." (This special issue of CJLT devoted to learning objects has just come online.) By Gilbert Paquette and Ioan Rosca, Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology, Fall, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Great Idea, But How Do I Do It? A Practical Example of Learning Object Creation Using SGML/XML
Once upon a time, the idea was that learning objects would be authored in XMl and then rendered using stylesheet transforms. The idea was that it would be as easy to change the look and feel as it is to switch between looks for this Zen Garden CSS demonstration site. This idea has been lost a little, but it's time to bring it back and dust it off, much as has been nicely done in this description of how learning objects should, really, be written. By Janet Bartz, Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology, Fall, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Informal Learning Ė The Other 80%
I don't know how to emphasize more that this - rather than classroom-based learning - is where we should be focussing our efforts. As Cross writes, "Informal learning has always played a larger role than most people imagined, but itís becoming increasingly important as workers take responsibility for their own destinies. Formal learning consists of instruction and events imposed by others. When a worker chooses his path to learning independent of others, by definition, thatís informal." This is an outstanding article, clearly documenting the importance of informal learning, defining it, and showing how organizations can make the most of it. By Jay Cross, Internet Time Group, May 8, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

RDF Site Summary 1.0 Modules: Learning Object Metadata
I have drafted a proposed RDF Site Summary 1.0 Modules: Learning Object Metadata. The purpose of this module is to support the RSS syndication of IEEE-style learning object metadata. This is version 0.5 and intended for discussion purposes only. It contains errors. Please comment on this draft, either directly to me or on my website. Those who halp and contribute to the completeion of this document will be listed as co-authors. The document itself will, of course, be released under GPL. By Stephen Downes, Stephen's Web, May 10, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Scholastic Aptitude Test: Answering All Questions Incorrectly
This is a knee-slapping account of one person's attempt to achive the lowest possible score on a SAT examination. The project is fully documented, with lavish illustrations, from the original application to take the test to the white-knuckle stress of finding the wrong answer in a testing environment. Some biting commentary - and from the examples provided I see that the tests are still very culturally biased. Every person planning to take a SAT should read this article. By Colin P. Fahey, May, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Four Basic Ontologies of Semantic Interpretation
This paper will require careful reading, but it really is a very nice analysis of four very different approaches to defining meaning in language or logic. Why is this important? Glad you asked. The current project of defining learning objects with a standardized vocabulary presupposes a traditional Tarski-style approach to semantics. This approach presupposes that there is (to gloss it a bit) one, and only one, world and this world is directly reflected in the meaning and truth of our statements. But if knowledge (and learning) is constructed, or if knowledge (and learning) is a social or cultural phenomenon, then our semantics change, and so, therefore, does our approach to defining learning objects. My objection to the 'one standard' is based in my objection to Tarski semantics, and my approach to a better metadata is grounded in a desire to include both socially defined (Frege's 'sense') and personally defined (or 'constructed') knowledge in our overall picture. By Roland Hausser, Information Modeling and Knowledge Bases, December 31, 200-31 8:33 p.m. [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Chandler-Gilbert Goes Wireless!
The 'unwiring' of this college creates new opportunities, and with it, a vision for a new type of learning. "We have now moved more closely toward our vision of the 'social campus,'" write the authors, "where learning doesn't stop when students leave the physical confines of the classroom." This is an important point. As Allan Levine writes in a related post to IT Forum, "Mostly, though, I would suggest thinking it is NOT just making wireless classrooms, but a wireless campus-- that is where the beef is a [la] Clara. It is a recognition that much learning takes place outside the classroom (library, group work areas, social gathering areas, hallways, etc). Providing wireless fits well with our mission of providing increasing access to information, services, and learning. It is part of a shift in thinking, in seeing that learning is a social process, rethinking how we use/design space and technology..." See also Philip Parsons and Deepika Ross, Designing the Hybrid Campus. By Tom Foster, Mary McGlasson, Victor Navarro, and Pam Petty, Ocotillo Spotlight on Instructional Technology, April, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

RSS Profile Wiki
The development of RSS has been a chaotic process. The specification has split, or "forked," several times. The community as a whole is divided over whther RDF should form the basis. It is in this environment that Mark Nottingham has decided to stimulate discussion by setting up this RSS Profile Wiki in an effort to see whether the community can settle on a single profile. This follows some rather ominous comments from Dave Winer to the effect that if the RSS community stays divided, Microsoft will ruin it for everyone: "[They're] going to define a namespace with poorly documented stuff the rest of us don't understand. Some of us will support Microsoft's extensions, others won't.... And they'll add and subtract features unpredictably until users get the idea that it's safer just to stay with MS, and they'll own yet another market." By Mark Nottingham, May, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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