By Stephen Downes
June 6, 2003

Using O2 to Overcome Learning Objects Limitations
David Wiley and a host of other writers collectively known as the "Resusability, Collaboration and Learning Troupe" (a reference to IMS learning design?) discuss the use of 'context-free' learning objects through their situation in educational environments (my phrasing, not theirs). The central thesis is sound: to make objects more widely usable, you have to remove specific pedagogical properties from them. Whence, then, the pedagogy? This consists in the placement or use of a learning object in a learning environment. The pedagogy comes from how the object is used, not how the object is designed (the authors may also want to read Albert Ip on the same topic). By Matthew Barclay, Deonne Dawson, Andrew Gibbons, Brent Lambert, Laurie Nelson, Sandie Padron, David Wade and David Wiley, June 3, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Mandated Online RAE CVs Linked to University Eprint Archives: Enhancing UK Research Impact and Assessment
Researchers in the U.K. are currently assessed through a complex mechanism involving dossiers of various performance indicators. This paper proposes that, which university eprint archives made available online, the same research resoults could be obtained much more cheaply and quickly by counting links and hits. By Stevan Harnad, Les Carr, Tim Brody and Charles Oppenheim, Ariadne, April 30, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

A primer in SF Xenolinguistics
Just for fun - but practical if you are planning something like, say, a universal ontology - this Guide instructs you on the variations you are likely to encounter when translating - or creating - an alien language. After the first, humerous, bit, in which it is demonstrated that all known aliens speak some variant of English (at least, linguistically), the document explores the many ways in which alien concepts and expressions could vary from our own. By Justin B Rye, March 5, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

A Guide to Digital Rights Management
This Guide, provided by the Australian government, offers resources and information aimed mostly at content producers. Digital Rights Management (DRM), writes the Guide, "can be a valuable tool for multimedia creators and developers and has the potential to reduce much of the time and effort currently spent in negotiation between copyright owners and users in ensuring digital copyright material is properly managed." The Guide provides an overview, summary of DRM and the law, case studies, and a survey of tools and templates. By Various Authors, Department of Communications, Information technology and the Arts, June, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Do Online Schools Provide A Quality Education?
Experiences like this can only dampen student enthusiasm for online learning: "I am attending an online college for the first time and I am starting to get a bad taste in my mouth about the amount of effort that some of my professors are putting forward in my courses. I feel like some of them are 'skating' and all I am paying for is a book, a posted syllabus, and a final exam." The anonymous author describes his or her experiences in greater detail; the article is followed by the usual Slashdot discussion reporting a wide range of experiences with different providers, including many less than flattering comments about the University of Phoenix. By Anonymous, Slashdot, June 4, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

OEBPS: The Universal Consumer eBook Format?
The author points out that the eBook market is becoming increasingly fragmented. "I am troubled," he writes, "by the large and growing number of essentially incompatible, proprietary consumer ebook formats and associated ebook reading applications and hardware." In response, he proposes that publishers adopt The Open eBook Publication Structure (OEBPS) as a universal eBook language. In support of this position, the author outlines seven requirements for a universal consumer eBook format and argues that OEBPS satisfies these criteria. By Jon Noring, Electronic Book Web, May 20, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Judge backs labels' MP3 search
An Australian judge thinks it might be a good idea for music companies to begin examining the contents of files on university computers to ensure that they do not contain copyright music. The universities, to their credit, objected, arguing that "the method proposed by Mr Thackray would reveal a great deal of extraneous information , some of which may be privileged or subject to confidentiality obligations." I think they should respond tit-for-tat and see how the labels respond: to give students the right to sift through record company computer files looking for any evidence of collusion, price fixing, or other illegal behaviour. By Chris Jenkins, The Australian, May 30, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2003 Stephen Downes
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