By Stephen Downes
October 8, 2003

The Aeffability of Knowledge Management
My article has been published by Ubiquity. An excerpt: "The challenge of knowledge management, and hence of online learning, is to make it work with the complexity and richness of actual human communication." By Stephen Downes, Ubiquity, October 7, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Knowledge and Tragedy: Or Why We Shouldn't Share Knowledge
I wouldn't be citing this paper at all under ordinary circumstances, but it is just so wrong-headed it merits a mention, if only as a representative of a line of thinking that runs deeply against my core beliefs. In a competitive world, argues the author, asymmetries of knowledge are important, for such asymmetries are what allow one side to triumph over the other. And "the triumph is what we all seek... triumphs drive the plot of our lives forward... we want to succeed, and we want to succeed in competition with others." My goodness. How could anybody, anybody, lead such a small, narrow and petty life? If, at the end, I look back, and all I see is triumph, as defined by this author, I would realize that I have not lived my life; I would have, in fact, wasted it. Oh, how many people have said this? The value of a life does not lie in what we take, but in what we give. The same applies more generally in day to day affairs as well, but of course it takes a certain courage to be generous in a world of thieves. By Patrick Lambe, Straits Knowledge, October, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Whither Education: Human Rights Versus Trade Law
This can get complex in a hurry, but essentially, the argument here is that under the WTO, "Liberalization increasingly converts education into a tradable commodity, which directly undermines rights-based education, namely as a 'public good' with governments assuming the primary regulatory role. It threatens to undermine progressive realization of the right to education, which requires the enforcement of governmental obligations, as required by international human rights law." Now of course the WTO specifically excludes services provided "in the exercise of governmental authority," which one would assume covers education, but this exclusion is very narrow: once fees are charged, the government is deemed to be 'in competition' with private providers. Moreover, "a conceptual shift towards characterizing education as a 'property right' may be a precursor to the subjecting of all education – including compulsory education - to liberalization pressures." I haven't addressed the WTO much in these pages - there are many people who can do that with more authority than I can - but my observation is that, under the WTO, human rights can and often do take a back seat to commerce, a trend that should concern us all. By Unknown, The Learning Channel, October, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Software Offers TiVo-like Recording At Lower Price
The price - and especially the subscription fees - have slowed the adoption of personal video recorders (PVRs), devices you can use to record and play back your favorite TV program on your computer. But along comes some software that lets you do this essentially for free (after paying a combined $140 to get set up). There will be a significant hue and cry as the bottom falls out of the televised video market. By Powell Fraser, CNN.com, October 8, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Reuse: Patterns and Antipatterns
We used to call it the "bad idea" but now we have the "anti-pattern" - an idea that looks good on the surface but turns out to be a bad idea when looked at from a broader perspective. Applying this thinking to what would promote or hinder the reuse of software components (and, presumably, learning objects?) the author suggests that "reuse thrives best on the forest floor, not up in the canopy" and asks, "Is the democratization of reuse perhaps an antipattern?" By Jon udell, InfoWorld, October 7, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Potential of Personal Publishing in Education II: How’s It Going & What’s Working?
This look at the use of weblogs in learning takes a close, critical look and the results aren't all peaches and cream. The most telling link is to the list of updated schoolblogs, showing (as of my reading) that out of the 2,400 or so listed, the most recent update was back in July. Farmer writes, "most of the people in my blogosphere are pretty committed individuals, understanding the medium, exploring what they can do and doing so after consideration. Most people aren’t going to personal publish like this." Quite right, and we need to understand this. Weblogging is not something we should make everybody do. And the impact of weblogs on education will not be that everybody has a personal weblog. So what will it be? I continue to view weblogs as a filtering system, a means by which individuals gather, assess, comment upon, and pass on items of value to a reader. The best weblogs are niche-oriented, and these weblogs benefit specific communities. By James Farmer, Xplana, October 7, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Future of SCORM 1.x Guide Published, Services Top of The Menu
Two interesting things pop out of this article. First is that there is no 'official' plan for SCORM beyond 1.3 (quite the opposite of what I had heard previously, in which we were told that the longer term development of SCORM is well mapped out). Second, that insofar as SCORM has a future, it will likely be in the area of web services, in order to support (the previously overlooked) distributed training environments. This article is a description of Dan Rehak's proposed future directions for SCORM. By Wilbert Kraan, CETIS, October 8, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Stupid Research Tricks
Well worth noting: "we will conclude that it is not training games but specific features of games (such as active participation, score points, interaction among team members, and competition across teams) that make a difference. It is not videotapes in general, but the critical features (such as realism, motion, and audiovisual capabilities) that make a difference." By Sivasailam (Thiagi) Thiagarajan, Play For Performance, October 8, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Know a friend who might enjoy this newsletter?

Feel free to forward OLDaily to your colleagues. If you received this issue from a friend and would like a free subscription of your own, you can join our mailing list at http://www.downes.ca/cgi-bin/website/subscribe.cgi

[ About This NewsLetter] [ OLDaily Archives] [ Send me your comments]

Copyright © 2003 Stephen Downes
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.