By Stephen Downes
September 9, 2003

Is Instructional Design Becoming a Commodity?
The trend in the industry, writes the author, is to produce instructional design "fast and cheap", which seems to rule out the third part of the equation, "good". He opines, "Some LCMS vendors suggest that with automated instructional design methods, we can drag and drop our way to excellence by using a few simple tools." Heck, name me one vendor who isn't (at least implicitly) suggesting that this can be done. But the author sees a brighter future for instructional designers - keep in mind, he argues, how the positions of graphic designers were enhanced, not eliminated, by the introduction of new tools. By Jerry Murphy, eLearn Magazine, September 8, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The RIAA Sees The Face of Evil, and It's a 12-year-old Girl
Do I need to say more? "The RIAA has nailed one of the most prolific file-traders in the U.S., filing a lawsuit against 12-year-old Brianna LaHara." The Register comments, "Brianna could face charges of up to $150,000 per infringed song, but we have a feeling this might be a tad unrealistic. We suggest the RIAA take all of her toys instead." By Ashlee Vance, The Register, September 9, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Vocabulary Definition Exchange
From D'Arcy Norman and CETIS comes this link to the IMS Vocabulary Definition Exchange. The purpose of VDEX, in a nutshell, is to allow people to define and exchange vocabularies for learning object and related metadata. Wilbert Kraan summarizes, "Outside of fun exercises for linguistics undergraduates, the main application of vocabularies in learning technology is to facilitate the tailoring of existing, global standards to the needs of a particular community, i.e. application profiling." By Various Authors, IMS, September 8, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

More Grad Students Want Unions
When I was president of the Graduate Students' Association at the University of Alberta I tried to organize graduate students into a union. I felt that paying gradute students (who are in no position to say no) between $350 and $800 per month (Canadian) to teach university classes and tutor university students was exploitation. I still do, which is why an article like this make me happy and warm inside. University officials may say they enjoy a collegial relation with graduate students, but when they actively oppose those students' desire to make a living wage, it shows me that it's a relation based on power and sometimes abuse, not collegiality. From a wider point of view, the university model of education has been unsustainable for some time, this fact being masked, not mitigated, by rising tuitions and an increasing reliance on academic serf labour. By Catherine Donaldson-Evans, Fox News, September 9, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Web Teaching at Dartmouth College
The Web Teaching at Dartmouth College website has been redesigned. It's a bit of a retrenchment: forums and link postings were removed ("unfortunately," they write, "these features were being abused") and, sadly, they "will no longer offer the notification service." I've cited material from this site on numerous occasions, always prompted by the notification service. Perhaps they could consider RSS. By Various Authors, Dartmouth College, September 8, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

From "Paperless Classroom" to "Deep Reading": Five Stages in Internet Pedagogy
The first four stages of the author's progression into the use of technology in learning are familiar to most: class management, online discussion, online texts and multimedia. But the fifth stage, deep reading, takes more explaining. "Deep reading" is "reading beyond the text into the sources on which the text is based." This becomes possible only when a vast range of material is easily accessible. And gosh, doesn't this make sense? "Having them explore primary and secondary sources on their own—rather than listen to me explain it all for them—proved fruitful. I tried only to point out connections among the sources in order to encourage a dialogue among the readers. Students should not be taught to rely upon 'authorities.' I much prefer being a mentor or guide." By Grover C. Furr III, The Technology Source, September, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Simulations and the Learning Revolution: An Interview with Clark Aldrich
This is pretty simple: "Educational simulations will be in widespread use by leading instructors within 5 years and will eventually change education as much as textbooks and motion pictures." But more interesting to me is that "simulation design requires the ability to step outside of a traditional, linear approach to content creation—a process that is counter-intuitive to many teachers." Aldrich recommends that teachers and designers begin playing computer games in order to become familiar with the concept. Absolutely. By James L. Morrison and Clark Aldrich, The Technology Source, September, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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