OLDaily
By Stephen Downes
June 10, 2003

Learning Objects in a Wider Context
Slides from my presentation. I argue that the traditional approach to using learning objects - stringing them together into lessons and courses - is misguided because it is a misuse of new media. I present this argument by showing that new media should be regarded as a new language, with its own semantics and grammar, that informs how we should use the 'words' (learning objects) in that language. By Stephen Downes, CADE 2003, June 9, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

mLearning Consortium
Still with CADE: The authors presented the design and evaluation of this project involving the use of PDAs (specifically, IPAQs) to deliver accounting courses at Seneca College and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology. Interesting - though not surprising - was the result that PDAs did not really improve student learning. Shocking was the fact that Bell would have (had they not sponsored the trial) charged each student an average of $13,000 in wireless connectivity fees for the course. Click on the 'pilot project' link for more info; results should be available on the site shortly. By Judy Roberts, Elaine Soetaert, Naomi Beke, and Katherine Janzen, CADE 2003, June 10, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

LearnAlberta
CADE coverage continues... I saw a nice presentation from this LearnAlberta project today (the presentation, which was mostly a live demo, is not available). Some very good work that really shows the potential of learning objects. These are not available online yet, since they don't have a proper repository for them, but some should be available by September. Others, which involve the use of licensed material, will not be available for public viewing at all, raising the question of how the public can monitor what is being taught in schools - relevant since the one National Geographic clip we saw from the repository, about volcanos, referred to 'mankind,' an obsolete term. It is worth noting that it took 18 months of negotiations to license the National Geographic content, and that LearnAlberta staff have decided that it is much better to create - and share - their own material, according to the presenters. By Louise Bentley and Susan Schroeder, CADE 2003, June 10, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Open Service Interface Definitions Released
From the press release: "The Open Knowledge Initiative (O.K.I.) announced today the public release of its Open Service Interface Definitions (OSIDs). These interoperability specifications have been designed to support infrastructure level interoperability for a wide variety of enterprise applications, particularly educational software and learning management systems." Developers are encouraged to comment on these definitions over the next 60 days. By Press Release, Open Knowledge Initiative, June 10, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Data Calls
The IEEE Digital Rights Expression Language (DREL) Working Group "is gathering requirements that a standardized DREL must meet to support learning, education, and training." The group states that it is not seeking to create another rights expression, creating a field for yet another batle betwwen proponents of XrML (who will tell you that the language is free and open, but will omit the fact that they have patents on uses of the language) and backers of the Open Digital Rights Language (ODRL). With wide input, though, the field may shift as the group learns of more specific educational requirements. At the very least, people should write into the group to demand open and free languages and software, so that digital rights online does not become a proprietary - and monopoly - process. By Various Authors, IEEE-LTSC-DREL, June 10, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Business Blogs Provide Edge, Present Challenges
Take a perfectly good technology, apply it to the corporate arena, and watch it get ruined. I've seen this pattern before, and if this report from the ClickZ Weblog Business Strategies conference is any indication, I will see it again. Prepared and piloted content, corporate and legal approval, the public relations blog... all these are instances of the belief that bloggers are "writing as represents the company." Sheesh. Don't they get it? We have enough media representing the company - even this newsletter I'm reporting from is owned by Jupitermedia, the VP of which was the main speaker at the conference. We want to hear from the people! Leave the lawyers and the PR flacks out of it, for a change. By Colin C. Haley, InternetNews.Com, June 9, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Grammar on the way back?
When teaching logic I found I had to first teach my students how to read. Oh sure, they could pronounce the words, but it was easy to tell with slight questioning that they had not understood what they had read: they couldn't identify the points made, and they couldn't identify the author's conclusion. As this article suggests, knowledge of sentence structures is important, and that is why the teaching of grammar is making a comeback. But more, knowledge of formalism - abstract structures - is important. Students should be able to see how abstract sentence structure, mathematics and computer programming are all the same sort of thing, and that this sort of thing can be applied in other domains. By Paul Moses, Baltimore Sun, June 10, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Kids Bombarded With Spam, Porn
They will, of course, ruin it for all spammers, those mass mailers who deluge people - including children - with material which is, to say the least, inappropriate. "Four out of five children receive inappropriate spam e-mail touting get-rich-quick schemes, and almost half receive spam linking to pornographic materials, according to a study released Monday by an Internet security company." There being no real way to stop the deluge, short of cutting off their email entirely, parents and teachers can cope only through education. Eventually, like the rest of us, they will stop using email. By Reuters, Wired News, June 9, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2003 Stephen Downes
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