By Stephen Downes
September 8, 2003

The State of the E-Learning Market
We are well into the e-learning doldrums, writes the author, but the depressed market and consolidations (and failures) mean it's easier to pick between solutions. All true, but this article suggests to me that we are still in one of the early stages of the doldrums: denial. Consider this snippet: "The reason had nothing to do with technology. Managers just didn't motivate learners to take the e-course. Managers who took simple steps—merely tracking attendance, for example—saw higher completion rates." See? It's not the technology's fault, it's the customer's! Nope, sorry, won't fly. By Marc Hequet , Trainingmag, September 8, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Leveraging Mobile and Wireless Internet
Good overview of the trend toward the use of mobile and wireless devices in learning, along with a set of changes developers should expect as a result of this trend. The major changes involve a conversion from 'set-piece' learning to performance support and workflow. By Harvey Singh, Learning Circuits, September 8, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Fame vs Fortune: Micropayments and Free Content
In this article sure to make the rounds, Clay Shirkey has two major points to make. First, he argues that a micropayment system for online content will never work because of "mental transaction costs," the hestitation caused by considering whether it's worth half a cent to read an article. And second, he argues that while "fame and fortune" traditionally went together, in today's publishing environment artists increasingly face a choice between the two, as free publishing offers fame without the fortune. The latter point is probably correct, but the former is not. If mental transaction costs are a barrier, then a successful micropayment system will transcend that barrier by creating a system that automates such minor transactions. This, of course, requires trust in the mechanism. But who trusts vendor-controlled payment systems? Not me. By Clay Shirkey, Clay Shirky's Writings About the Internet, September 5, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Reed Elsevier Interim Results 2003
From the Open Access News, Peter Suber writes, "Elsevier has put some PowerPoint slides on the web summarizing its interim results for 2003. Slide #16 shows that there were 4.5 million full-text articles in ScienceDirect on June 30, 2003, and slide #15 shows that there were 124 million article downloads in the 12 months preceding that date. This means that its articles were downloaded an average of 28 times each during the past year. For comparison I asked Jan Velterop of BioMed Central what the download figure was for BMC articles during the same time period. He reports that the average is about 2500 per year, which doesn't count downloads of the same articles from PubMed Central. This is 89 times the Elsevier number. (PS: On another subject, note that slide #5 shows that Elsevier's revenues and profits are both up, when expressed in pounds, but both down in Euros.)" PowerPoint slides. By Unknown, Reed Elsevier, September, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Purposely Dumbing Down and Mythic Education?
Perhaps prompted by the flurry of back-to-school articles, there has been a renewed interest in the concept of the dumbing-down of education (or whatever you want to call it). This link is to a nice set of background resources, including works by Illich and Dewey. John Hibbs pointed readers to Harper's September feature article, 'Against School', by John Taylor Gatto (not online yet). Steve Giesel linked to Gatto's book, The Underground History of American Education. By Timothy Takemoto, DEOS-L, September 4, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Preview of Next Release of DSpace
Content archiving software development continues to progress as a list of new features anticipated in DSpace 1.2 is announced, including support for sub-communities, delegated administration of communities and collections, and items with METS metadata. Meanwhile, Fran�ois Schiettecatte has announced that RSS feeds have been added to the functionality of My.OAI. And a new version of Open Journal Systems was release August 23. By Richard Rodgers, Dspace-general, September 5, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

SCORM Resources
A poster on the ITForum asked for resources about SCORM and the results have flooded in. From Peter Hope came Dr. Ed's SCORM Course and Carnegie Mellon's Learning Systems Architecture Lab, which contains developer guides, workshops and numerous links. George Free offered up CETIS and Lewis Erskine weighed in with ADLnet, IMS Content Developers Guides and SCORM Best Practices Guide for Content Developers. By Various Authors, September, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Inside Baseball: The RSS Backlash
It was predictable, it was inevitable, and it has arrived: the backlash against RSS and against blogging in general. This article surveys the discussion and offers several links to backlash-type pages. Even more amusing is another link, this to a series of PowerPoint slides titled Don't Blog: Headlines from the Future. None of this really matters, of course: bloggers will continue to blog and RSS will continue to syndicate, and the world will continue in much the way it should. By Mark Jones, InfoWorld TechWatch, September 4, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Paradigma Web Harvesting Environment
Overview of an architecture for a document harvesting system. This paper is a good description of such systems and provides a good vocabulary. My favorite section is the one on 'possible problems with web pages' - from where I sit, there is no 'possible' about it; I have encountered every one of these problems with my own harvester. By Ketil Albertsen, ECDL Workshop on Web Archives, August 21, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Identification of Network Accessible Documents: Problem Areas and Suggested Solutions
Document identification may seem like a no-brainer - just give each document a unique number, right? But because documents have multiple versions, because some versions develop in parallel, because documents disappear, because documents are composed of multiple parts, and because the document presented may be only a representation of a document stored, document identification becomes tricky. This paper is a good survey of the issues and proposes that something like DOI be adopted. PDF. By Carol van Nuys and Ketil Albertsen, ECDL Workshop on Web Archives, August 21, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Academic Industrial Complex
Good article documenting the conversion of academia into a profit center, a theme familiar to readers of these pages. "Market. Consumers. Branding. That we take for granted that higher education is a business is a huge step toward the marketization of higher education." One nice thing about this article is that it draws a clear dark line between the growing commercialism of academia and its continuing retreat from the principles of public education. "It's a disincentive to create economic diversity. It tends to create a very self-reverential notion of higher education and to destroy efforts on broader social issues on which higher education should provide leadership." By Felicia R. Lee, New York Times, September 5, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Lawmakers to Weigh Database Protection Bill
Though it has long been held that data - such as lists of addresses, court proceedings, or professional directories - cannot be copyrighted, proposed new legislation will keep this information off-limits to those who wish to publish it. All part of the enormous extension of copyright protections currently turning the public domain into private property. The ALA provides more background. By Andy Sullivan, Yahoo! News, September 5, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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