By Stephen Downes
February 13, 2004

People Lie More on the Phone Than by Email
I've been doing a lot of coding this week, which makes me look unproductive (because my software is never commercial grade) but makes me happy. And when I'm happy, I put more stuff into OLDaily. So today's issue is pretty full, and if you're reading the Weekly, reserve an afternoon. I'm also more expressive when I'm happy, so it's an opinion a minute today. So I'll start off with something a bit light, this item. But there's some heavy going below. Trust me; I wouldn't lie to you. By Celeste Biever, New Scientist, February 12, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Learning Object Reuse Acknowledgment
I think that Alan Levine is definitely on the right track with Learning Object Reuse Acknowledgment (LORA), which tracks the use of learning objects, but I think this is the wrongway to do it: "the system automatically sends a short electronic 'acknowledgment' to the object's home in the 'repository.' In MovableType, this is a 'ping' message that sends a weblog a title, URL, date, and brief blurb of this external mention of a blog post." Why? Well, first, pings are a 'push' medium, and therefor liable (and thus, likely) to be spammed. Second, things like 'ping' and 'trackback' are undemocratic - they require that you select certain elite privileged systems (such as, say, Technorati) to send content to, rather than posting it and making it available to anyone to harvest. We need to add usage information to the Semantic Social Network - more about that next week. By Alan Levine, CogDogBlog, February 13, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

What's Wrong With This Picture?
I don't know that I've flattered Jay Cross, mostly because I can't draw, but if I could draw, I would be the first to flatter him. That said, this point is well taken: "In part because we mistake the role of training with the role of schools, schematics like this focus on the individual rather than the work group. We've figured out lots of things about how a single person learns, but we haven't come very far since The Fifth Discipline in helping groups learn." And all of that said, the attached article, Changing Perspectives: From Individual to Organizational Learning, by David C. Forman, is a worthwhile read. I really like the use of layers distinguishing between the 'contribution level' and the 'multiplier level' in organizational learning - go back and read about connectionism or (dare I say it) emergence to see why this gets me so excited. But I must say, if I hear people referred to as 'human capital' one more time, I am going to utter some very non-capital oaths. By Jay Cross, Internet Time, February 13, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Life Hacks: Tech Secrets of Overprolific Alpha Geeks
People sometimes wonder why I don't use Moveable Type to get things like trackback. Others wonder why my site is idiosyncratic - wouldn't 'Comment on this Item' be clearer than 'Reflect'? Others gripe about being "dissed" in these pages and think that maybe I should hold back a little. Well, here's a secret: this website, and with it, this newsletter, is a 'life hack'. Like this: "Geeks write scripts to take apart dull, repetitive tasks. They'll spend 10h writing a script that will save 11h -- because writing scripts is interesting and doing dull stuff isn't." OLDaily is my notebook, my store of interesting stuff I want to remember. That's why it comes with a searchable database (that I now have to spend another 10h improving) where, say, Blogger has nothing. That's why it includes completely useless applications, like Edu_RSS Chat. So why is it public? "Ideas rot if you don't do something with them. Don't hoard them. I blog them or otherwise tell people. This is a way to look organized, "That guy has lots of ideas, what a genius." So now you know. It's all a hack. It will get better when it gets better and it will never be anything other than a direct pipeline from my brain to my computer, without editing for politeness, and with thousands of people looking in, because maybe, just maybe, what interests me will interest you, and what occurs to me may not have occurred to you. Thanks to Roland, who also cites Secret Software, for the link. By Danny O'Brien, February, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

CMS Matrix
Nice feature comparison tool for content management systems (see the form on the left of the page). For an eye-opener, compare Oracle Portals, at $20,000 per processor, and WebGUI 6.0, which is free. I hear a lot of talk about how quality content will never be developed for free use, but I am still waiting to see any evidence of that - all the evidence I see, such as this, argues to the contrary. Caveat (and you have to look closely to spot this): this comparison tool is provided by Plain Black, the company that makes WebGUI, so the comparisons should be approached with a critical eye and, as the disclaimer says, should be independently verified. Via elearnspace. By Various Authors, Plain Black LLC, February, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Design By or For The People?
Maish picked the right quote when he ran this item in today's elearningpost: "Too much user focus may be a barrier to innovation. Research with users is likely to tell us that they desire an improvement on something they already know and understand -- faster calculators rather than spreadsheets. Ask them if they would use a proposed innovation and they will say No -- and then adopt it when they have seen its utility demonstrated in the real world." He might have added, "We should also be wary of concerns about novelty and complexity. People are perfectly able to learn new and complex tools if they see the need... What people are not is forecasters or designers." By Nico Macdonald, Spy, October 24, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

JORUM Scoping and Technical Appraisal Study
As volume one of this eight volume report summarizes, "JORUM means a collecting bowl and can also be seen as meaning the JISC Online Repository for (learning) Materials . The project JORUM+ is seen as paving the way for, or crafting, the JORUM repository service on behalf of the JISC and the F/HE community in the UK, both in terms of providing this Report, and also in supporting real-life re-use and re-purposing of content in the provisional collecting repository." Submitted to the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC), "covers a number of areas of research in some depth, including literature reviews, requirements work with colleagues in F/HE institutions around the UK, and an appraisal of available repository database software systems." Their definition of 'learning object' just warms my heart: "A learning object is any resource that can be used to facilitate learning and teaching that has been described using metadata." Their recommendation regarding digital rights management also makes me smile: "A simple supportive mechanism (i.e. a licence) without technical enforcement is appropriate for JORUM in 2004." The report is an in-depth environmental scan and a comprehensive review of the state of the art. Required reading. Thanks, Robert, for sending me this item. By The JORUM+ Project Teams at EDINA and MIMAS, January 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Ontario School's Students Put Tablet PCs to the Test
Brief article describing a pilot probject testing the use of wireless Tablet computers (and supporting infrastructure) in a York Region District School Board school. This being an article from IT Business, much of the text is devoted to the support offered by corporations to get the initiative off teh ground. It would be worth knowing in these articles what the return on investment is of this sort of demonstration style advertising, and how much of the corporations' expenses funding the pilot may be claimed as tax deducations (and which therefore represents not corporate support, but government or taxpayer support, for the project). This is not opposition to such initiatives, far from it, just a request for clarity in accounting and credit. By Kathleen Sibley, IT Business, January 20, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Is This the Best Way to Develop, Deliver and Manage Online Training?
Mitch passed along the URL to this great article that describes one company's experience sourcing and adapting an open source LMS to deliver customized online learning supported with pre-authored DVD content. The LMS chosen for the course delivery was Moodle, and the delivery and course design were supported with two commercial products: OnStage DVD for ActiveX by Visible Light, to manage the DVD video delivery, and PresentationPro’s PowerConverter, which converts course content authored in PowerPoint to web friendly Flash files. This article is straightforward and clear, and the content an excellent description of how Moodle matched any commercial LMS for even complex course delivery. By Jack Jensen, San Antonio Training Partners, February, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Googling for XML
Kind of a neat article describing the author's attempts to find XML files of various sorts on the internet using Google searches. It's a good primer on some of Google's search functions, and an interesting though obviously incomplete survey of the state of XML development. By Bob DuCharme, XML.Com, February 11, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Is it Effective to Use Websites in Getting Parents Involved in Education?
This short paper addresses the question in the title and argues that "it is necessary to address the problems that prevent parental involvement." The major problem preventing parental involvement, according to a U.S. Department of Education survey, is time. The use of websites addresses the issue of time, and therefore "By engaging technologies in communicating with parents and supporting information about science education, teachers can overcome barriers to parent involvement in science education." By Jiyoon Yoon, IFETS, February 13, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Progos Tools
Nifty RDF browser and a brand new ontology generator. Tools for the semantic web. By Various Authors, Progos Tools, February, 2004 [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 © 2004 Stephen Downes
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.