By Stephen Downes
August 1, 2003

Designing Learning Objects
Part of my ongoing series for the Australian Flexible Learning Community, this article looks at dsome of the issues facing designers of learning objects. The article is too short (I only have 1000 words) but as with some of my other work, I try to foster the idea that designing learning like a game is the only real way to address the issues raised by Friesen, Wiley, and for that matter, myself. "What makes an object - whether it be a digital image, some text, or even a butler - a learning object? That is like asking, what makes an object a part of a play? An object is part of a play if it is used in a play: there are no essential qualities otherwise. And similarly, an object is a learning object if it is used in learning. No other criteria apply. Anything absolutely anything can be used in learning. What makes it a learning object is that it has been used in learning, that there is some educational context in which the object was found to have pedagogical value." By Stephen Downes, Australian Flexible Learning Community, August 4, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

VET Learning Object Repository - Green Paper Discussion
Some background on the (Australian) VET Green Paper we linked to here yesterday, as well as a link to the forum for discussion. By Ian Kenny, Australian Flexible Learning Community, July 1, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Redefining the Role of Computers in Education, The Vendors' Curricula
The interesting bit in this story it the little chart in the middle matching specific vendor websites to subjects. The idea, writes the author, is that vendors are finally matching online learning content to curricula. If so, then what we should see as the very next development is an expansion of the chart, as vendors (and others, such as providers of free content) target specific grades in specific subjects, and then even specific topics within specific grades in specific subjects. This is not a simple thing, because of course curricula vary with district. But this - mark my words - is where we're headed. By Neil Mercurius, Techlearning, August 1, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Open Content and Value Creation
Whe I agitate for free and open content, people are always asking me about how the writer is supposed to get paid. I respond that the writer is paid by the publisher, not by the end user, and that the publisher may be paid by any number of entities: government, corporate sponsors, foundations, or technology providers. This last group is the most interesting. They want to sell technology (computers, internet access, software) to end users. But end users need some reason to buy all this stuff. So the technology provider pays for some content, which entices the user to buy the technology. Everybody gets paid. But this is only one model, and not even a prevalent model. For more models, and a good discussion of the economic models behind open source, have a look at this article. It won't really answer the question of how the author gets paid, but it will give you some models to use when you think about payment systems on the internet. And it you think about it, and work the models a bit, you can see that free and open content be a viable economic model, provided you think about the entire system, and not merelyly the relationship between the writer and the reader. By Magnus Cedergren, First Monday, August 1, 2003 4:29 p.m. [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The RoMEO Project: Protecting Metadata in an Open Access Environment
I honestly don't know why people would make their metadata available for the world to use, and then start worrying about protecting it from use. It's the same story time after time, an open dataspace is created, people flood the space with data to take advantage of the free access, and then they start thinking about how to close off the space. Anyhow. This article describes the efforts of The RoMEO Project (Rights Metadata for Open archiving). "It is investigating all the intellectual property rights (IPR) issues relating to the self-archiving of research papers via institutional repositories. One key issue is how best to protect such research papers, and the metadata describing those papers, in an open access environment." See what I mean? My one-cent solution is this: if you don't want people to use your metadata, don't publish it. And for goodness sake, don't make life miserable for the rest of us just because you can't exercise a little self restraint. I mean, what the heck do you think 'Open Access Environment' means? By Elizabeth Gadd, Charles Oppenheim and Steve Probets, Ariadne, July 31, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Open Source Portfolio Initiative
From the website: " The Open Source Portfolio Initiative (OSPI) is a collaborative, open source, software development project based on the University of Minnesota System's (U of MN) electronic portfolio (ePortfolio) software." Via SiT, the OSPI has just made it's first release avaiulable as a download. Get it while it's fresh! By Various Authors, Open Source Portfolio Initiative, July 30, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Blackboard Building Blocks Developers Workshop
Via SiT, this page lists presentations from last week's conference. By Various Authors, Blackboard, August 1, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Extending RSS
Another article on extending RSS beyond a simple descriptions of links on blogs. This article is a bit technical, but it shows in detail how the simple syndication standard can be used to distribute all kinds of information. For example, suggests the article, a company could use RSS to list its product offerings by defining two new RSS terms, 'product' and 'version'. The author shows exactly how to do this in such a way that people receiving the feed could receive a list of products the way they today receive a list of blog posts. This is something I have been advocating for some time, and why I proposed RSS_LOM and will be proposing a couple of other extensions in the near future. By Danny Ayers, XML.Com, July 23, 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 http://www.downes.ca/cgi-bin/website/subscribe.cgi

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

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