By Stephen Downes
October 1, 2003

Distributing Learning Objects
Survey of three major approaches to distributing learning objects: harvesting, federated search, and peer-to-peer. To nobody's surprise, I recommend the harvesting approach. By Stephen Downes, Australian Flexible Learning Community, October 1, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Building Quality Assurance into Metadata Creation
Interesting discussion that argues against four assumptions that underlie the absence of inquiry into how metadata should be created: the assumption that mediation by controlling authorities is undesirable, that rigorous metadata creation is too time consuming, that only authors and users of resources have the necessary knowledge to create meaningful metadata, and that metadata can be generated or resolved by machine. Their argument is based on what can only be called a series of failures of attempts to generate metadata: spelling errors, variant spellings for people's names, varying resource titles, classification errors and inconsistencies, and even variant date formats. This summary of the OAI Arc (federated search) project is typical (if wordy): "Even extensive interventions during the metadata conversion phase could not prevent the negative impact that poor metadata quality has on the search and linking facilities..." By Jane Barton, Sarah Currier, and Jessie M.N. Hay, DC2003, September, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

e-Learning: Emerging Issues and Key Trends
Good summary report on trends in e-learning, including the greater emphasis on quality, wider adoption and influence of standards and learning objects, and the growing acceptance of blended learning. Makes recommendations regarding Australia's Flexible Learning Framework, suggesting it should begin to focus more on process rather than product. The trends surveyed won't be any surprise to those immersed in the field but are an excellent survey for those less directly connected. PDF document. By John Eklund, Margaret Kay and Helen M. Lunch, Australian National Training Authority, September 25, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

ISO Reaffirms Free-of-Charge Use Of Its Country, Currency and Language Codes
Following objections registered by the W3C, ISO has backed off on its plan to require royalties for the use of country and currency codes, though it continues to plan to sell the documents "as a contribution to supporting the standards development process." By Press Release, ISO, September 30, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The "info" URI Scheme
This Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) draft outlines an interesting froposal for an 'info' namespace that will greatly ease the use of identifiers in public. What 'info' would do is give authors of XML files a standardized way to use, for example, Dewey Decimal or Library of Congress classifications in their documents. These vocabularies are received and managed by the central 'info' registry, which provides a stability currently lacking in RDF. By Herbert van de Sompel, et.al., IEEE-IETF, September, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

ECC: Learning Objects Competition
I do not typically cover contests and awards, but this one constitutes an exception because, if nothing else, it allows the reader to view 65 learning objects in one place. Or, I should say, attempt to view. We may have learning object standards, and Firebird may be a standards-compliant browser, yet I still get screens full of gibberish, objects that are wider than the pop-up box they launch in, missing and unknown plug-ins, and more. But hey, that's my experience. You will probably do better. By Various Authors, E-learning Competency Center, September, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Groove Educational Case Study: CAL State University
Groove has been criticized in the past in these pages, but it's worth taking a look at this case study, written about a professor who has used it for a number of years in his classes with great success. Rick Lillie employs what he calls a "simple design formula" for using Groove: "content appropriate for all class members (course content and content-related links) is archived on his course-specific Web sites, while Groove is used for administration, communication, and collaboration, with "everything hyperlinking back and forth" between the Web sites and his Groove desktop classrooms." Via e-Learning Centre News. By Unknown, Groove Networks, September 30, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

500 Courses Now Available
MIT's Open Courseware project has now reached the 500 course plateau, including a nifty logic course that's guaranteed to pickle your brain. By Various Authors, MIT, September 30, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2003 Stephen Downes
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