By Stephen Downes
August 21, 2003

Public Policy, Research and Online Learning
Ubiquity has published my article about the evaluation of online learning outcomes. In a nutshell, my argument is that e-learning is more than a new way of doing the old thing and its outcomes can't be measured by the traditional process. By Stephen Downes, Ubiquity, August 19, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

'McEducation' an Inevitable Outcome of Air Travel, Internet
Could you survive - that is, not die of malnutrition - on a diet consisting of food served by McDonalds? I'll leave you to answer that question. Let me pose another: what would be the reaction were McDonalds the only source of nutrition in the developing world? People are pondering seriously these sorts of questions when it comes to global education. As one commentator observes, "The trend towards McEducation, through franchising or establishment of off-campus sites, is a natural outcome of the use of English as the medium of instruction. Every computer in the world runs on codes written in English, even if the user interface is in another script or language." That may be, but it seems to me critical that we ensure that we ensure that people not die of cognitive malnutrition. Yes, something is better than nothing. But as a world, we must ensure that all people get enough - and it is far from clear that McEducation will provide that. By Jay B. Hilotin, Gulf News, August 21, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Blackboard to Launch Learning Content Management and e-Portfolio System for Academic Market
Blackboard will be launching a set of content management applications later this fall, according to a press release. You have to read several paragraphs of absolute fluff (are people paid to write these press releases?) to get to it, but the core of the announcement is this: "four key areas: Learning Content Management – share and reuse individual content assets across courses, organizations and institutions... e-Portfolio Management – assemble, present and share information within online portfolios for student and/or faculty to use... Virtual Hard Drive Management – virtual storage needs... Library Digital Asset Management – create an interactive environment for faculty to search, access and incorporate digital library resources." Of course the cynics out there (including me) will say that this amounts to no more than giving Blackboard LCMS functionality. Where is the network capability? Where is the RSS. Ah, yes... different business model (that would be the one with low const content and simple management). By Press Release, Blackboard, August 20, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Quiet War Over Open-Source
In a quiet behind-the-scenes battle, U.S. government officials - prodded by Microsoft - squelched a proposed World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) meeting on open source. There is already a wide perception that these international bodies respond like puppies to the corporate sector, and WIPO's acquiescence on this issue doesn't improve that image. WIPO should reconsider: the issues surrounding open source are central to any discussion of copyright, and center around the right of individuals to determine the fate of their own creations. If some people - such as myself - wish the right to not subject their work to the crassness of the commercial market, doesn't the principle of copyright say that such wishes should prevail? If some consumer prefers to obtain works from this domain of royalty-free creations, should they not have the opportunity? If not, then the entire concept of copyright is a sham, and should be exposed as such. But if my rights as a producer of (what I would like to be) open and royalty-free content are to be protected, them WIPO must consider the question of open source. By Jonathan Krim, Washington Post, August 21, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

ACE outcomes
The gist of this report is to encourage and suggest methods for the measurement of outcomes of ACE (Advanced and Continuing Education) in Australia. Based on interviews with 40 ACE providers, the report "provides a description of the full range of adult and community education (ACE) services and clients; an analysis of ACE outcomes and contributions to lifelong learning for its range of clients; and a discussion of issues that might be considered." I like the forward-looking view of ACE adopted by the authors: ACE has the potential to be "pegged back to encompass individual outcomes alone; or stretched to encompass individual, community and economic outcomes; or stretched in a different direction to focus on, or incorporate, education outcomes (such as Delor’s four pillars or Bradshaw’s six elements)." By Allie Clemans, Robyn Hartley and Helen Macrae, NVCER, August, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Special Coverage: Information Society & WSIS
The Digital Opportunity Channel has launched a page to cover the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) to be held in Geneva this December. By Various Authors, Digital Opportunity Channel, August, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

A Subset of Tools for Collaboration
This short page contains a number (thirteen, to be precise) of tips for librarians on how to use the web to address specific educational needs. Each tip is linked to an example giving readers a model to work from. The tips are good, too. Examples include sharing technology expertise peer-to-peer database, developing ideas quickly or providing current information with blogs, and creating a critical thinking structure. By Debbie Abilock, Noodle Tools, August 22, 2000 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

From the website: "IDEAS provides Wisconsin educators access to high-quality, highly usable, teacher-reviewed web-based resources for curricula, content, lesson plans, professional development and other selected resources. These resources help Wisconsin educators use technology to meet the Wisconsin Model Academic Standards and create the foundation for a statewide knowledge management system." This is the sort of site that is becoming increasingly popular and which would benefit immensely from the use of RSS support. By Various Authors, August, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Real Time, Real Young, Real Smart
Nice article describing the use of NetMeeting to provide 'direct instruction' (the methodology is described) to a group of distance education students aged 5 to 8 years who were unable to attend regular schools for various reasons. The methodology involves a tightly-controlled interactive session between the teacher and student using NetMeeting, and the author reports success. At the end of the article, take note of the 'Requirements for a Successful Netmeeting' section. As bandwidth increases, I think one-on-one videoconferences will increase in number, so this article is useful for teachers thinking about how to use the technology. By Megan Hastie, Australian Flexible Learning Community, August 19, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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