By Stephen Downes
September 12, 2003

A Revolution in Knowledge Sharing
This may be the most important article you read this year. The authors document the fundamental shift in the learning landscape taking place right now: the sharing of knowledge. And they nail it: what makes knowledge sharing inevitable and important is the nature of knowledge: "There is no simple, linear hierarchy and progression from data to information to knowledge. In reality there is a complex intermeshing, such as a continuous churning of insight, the meaning of which changes in different contexts and through conversations with different participants." Because of this, to work with knowledge, what you need are not some sort of linear "delivery systems" but rather "knowledge networks". The authors outline four major types: description, discovery and exchange of content; interaction with and tracking of content; applications systems interoperability; and infrastructure interoperability. If we look at knowledge today and tomorrow, what we see in general is a progression from static,independent, stand-alone, contextless knowledge objects to a network of dynamic, related, context-embedded flows of knowledge within a network. This produces what the authors call a "revolution in knowledge sharing" where "leading-edge individuals and institutions are on the threshold of major advances in their capacity to acquire, assimilate, utilize, reflect on and share knowledge." Read this paper, or better, share it! By Donald N. Norris, Jon Mason, Robby Robson, Paul Lefrere and Geoff Collier, EDUCAUSE Review, September, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Changing Landscape and the New Academy
Like it or now (and to judge by some of the stuff out there, a lot of people don't like it), we are moving toward learner centered learning. This artice documents some of the major facets of that trend. Today's students "are polite, but also bewildered at first, later disappointed, and often finally disillusioned and dispirited by passive learning experiences." They would rather explore than hear, make choices than be directed. The "course' is no longer a fixed container; "today's students perceive their learning environments as boundless." By Carole A. Barone, EDUCAUSE Review, September, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Improving Learning and Reducing Costs: New Models for Online Learning
Nice article that summarizes five emerging models in learning design. As the author notes, "All five models treat the course not as a 'one-off' but rather as a set of products and services that can be continuously worked on and improved." I think this is a good trend, not merely because it supports more sustainable development but also because it allows for the evolution of learning beyond that static, paced entity called a "course". The 'emporium model', for example, "eliminates all class meetings and replaces them with a learning resource center featuring online materials and on-demand personalized assistance." But we can go further than that. "Students need to be treated like individuals, rather than homogenous groups, and should be offered many more learning options within each course." This trend leads us to much of what Jay Cross has been talking about, the gradual migration from formal to informal learning. By Carol A. Twigg, EDUCAUSE Review, September, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

OASIS Advances Web Services Portal Standard
From the never empty bowl of alphabet soup, a new entry: WSRP (Web Services for Remote Portlets), released Thursday by OASIS. "WSRP defines how Web services plug into portals," said Thomas Koulopoulos, president of Boston-based Delphi Group, a consulting firm which specializes in commerce, portals, content and knowledge management, enterprise wireless, and e-Learning. "Once a WSRP service is published to a public directory, portal administrators are able to locate and dynamically integrate it with just a few mouse clicks. WSRP is a critical standard enabling distributed portals to share portlets as visual, user-facing Web services for integration with other portals." By Thor Olavsrud, InternetNews.Com, September 11, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

U of Saskatchewan Chooses Not To Use Internet Plagiarism Service
How things have changed in the short time since I was a university student. many universities today require that students submit their papers via a service called Turnitin, which scans the web for similar words and phrases and presents the paper to the professor along with an originality report. I went to the site to see whether my work is original, but I guess you have to pay them money first. Anyhow, not everybody likes the idea. And some institutions, such as the University of Saskatchewan, are bucking the trend, preferring to rely on information and suasion rather than enforcement. "The university has avoided the turnitin.com approach to cheating for the fear it leaves the impression no one is trusted," said University secretary Gordon Barnhart. It's nice to see some institutions following, and not merely enforcing, such fundamental moral principles. By Canadian Press, Globe and Mail, September 12, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

SOSE Subject Terms Project
As described in the EdNA schools newsletter, the "Curriculum Corporation is seeking your response to this Request for Tender for the supply of subject terms relating to the Key Learning Area of Studies of Society and Environment (SOSE) to be used in the Schools Online Thesaurus. The Schools Online Thesaurus (ScOT) Project is a collaborative venture between Curriculum Corporation, The Le@rning Federation and education.au limited to develop a thesaurus to describe subjects of online curriculum resources in the Australian and New Zealand P-12 education sector. ScOT is used by The Le@rning Federation to provide subject terms for online learning content and education.au limited to provide a controlled vocabulary for use in EdNA Online. ScOT is also available for use in the education and commercial sectors." I don't typically cover tenders, and I especially don't cover resources you have to register to view, but I made an exception in this case because this project is of wider interest. Be sure to register as a "supplier" (even if you aren't), login, then click 'Tenders' to find the document (the direct link unfortunately produces a page error, but this will get you to a large set of documents). By Various Authors, Curriculum Corporation, September, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Global Virtual Classroom is Back!
According to the press release, "AT&T has transferred ownership of the AT&T Virtual Classroom project to the Give Something Back International Foundation (GSBI)." Readers may recall from a few years ago that the Global Virtual Classroom project was "a free online educational program to promote communication, collaboration and understanding among students around the world." AT&T provided some seed money for the relaunch but will not be a continuing sponsor. By Various Authors, September, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

IE Patent Endgame Detailed
If you use plug-ins on your website, prepare for some changes as Microsoft continues to lose appeals to a verdict declaring that a small holding company actually "invented" plug-ins, and that Microsoft and presumably other browsers, are in violation. The patent covers the ability of a web page to seamlessly launch resources from external sites. Placing a an intervening dialogue box, while ridiculous, may be the only way around the patent (since, you see, it's the idea, not some actual invention, that's protected). "When you think about this, having to go around the patent highlights the stupidity of the patent system," he [Michael Wallent] said. "Everyone in the field is very saddened by the whole thing, that we have to go through this exercise. The W3C has worked very hard to make the Web remain patent free and this might be the one thing that screws it all up. It's really very frustrating." By Paul Festa, CNet News.com, September 11, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Proposal: LOM Technical Location Implementation
This is a good idea that has legs: allow multiple instances of the 'technical' element in learning object metadata so that multiple formats of the same resource can be listed. For example, an image may be available in different sizes, a movie may be available in RealMedia or Windows format, an article may be available in plain text or PDF. Having multiple 'technical' elements allows these different formats to be listed in the same metadata file. By D'Arcy Norman, September 11, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Models of Collaboration
Overvew of five major models of collaboration: library, solicitation, process support, community and team. What I like about this outline is that it extends beyond the idea of collaboration as merely involving person to person communication and looks also at the important intermediating role of content resources. This is what allows, for example, a network of blogs to be viewed as a collaborative network. By Timothy Butler and David Coleman, Collaborative Strategies, September, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Digital Files in Libraries
Good commentary on the potential future relationship between publishers of digital materials and libraries. Beginning with the question of whether "anyone really doubted that publishers would love to lock libraries out of circulating digital files," the article looks at the current limitations in effect and suggests that publishers would love to close the fair use loopholes that allow libraries to lend materials. By Jenny Levine, The Shifted Librarian, September 11, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2003 Stephen Downes
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