By Stephen Downes
February 20, 2004

Beneath the Tip of the Iceberg: Technology Plumbs the Affective Learning Domain
The affective learning domain has always been, in my opinion, not only the murkiest but also the most controversial part of Bloom's taxonomy. The list presented in this article does little to quell my suspicions: what is "workforce alignment", for example? And when "national security" becomes an aspect of learning, how is that different from propaganda? And when "affective-based personality assessments are being used routinely in pre-candidate screening," it seems to me that this means something more than "the right personality for the right job." Affective learning is, in the wrong hands, little more than indoctrination - and yet, and yet, we don't want people to leave learning with no social, cultural or ethical bearing. I think that the author's point, that new technologies are making affective learning possible, is well established. This is a good thing. But as with most good things, it is very much a double edged sword, and the author should be aware that not everybody wants some of the things described in this article, and when online learning, personality testing and military intelligence gathering appear in the same article, the time has come to sound a very clear and distinct warning about the manner in which this new technology is being applied. By Sam S. Adkins, Learning Circuits, February, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Drum Sessions Protect Employees from Burnout
I don't know whether Yamaha sells drums, but it does sell musical instruments, and so I would be sceptical about the study cited in this paper. But that does not take away from the inherent value in even considering the idea of drum sessions in the workplace. People who ignore their cultural origins live without a soul. By Alison McCook, Yahoo News, February 19, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Constructivism, Education, Science, and Technology
The fall issue of the Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology is now online. This issue represents a significant advance, providing some of the better links between online learning and educational theory seen in recent years. The theme of this issue, "Constructivism and Online Learning," offers a wealth of opportunity for enquiry, and the authors do not disappoint. I include four papers from this issue in today's OLDaily, starting with this overview paper, a detailed taxonomy of different schools of constructivism - of course, in the spirit, this paper would have been better presented graphically, or even as one of those online quizzes, "What kind of a constructivist are you?" By Moses A. Boudourides, Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology, Fall, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Self-Regulated Inquiry with Networked Resources
Approaching learning from the point of view of there being "extremely accessible networked resources," the authors examine "questions about how existing designs for learning activities should be revised, extended or supported with different tools." This paper sets out a "a Resource Inquiry model consisting of five stages: (1) Set resource inquiry goals, (2) Plan for resource study, (3) Search and select resources, (4) Study and assess new knowledge, and (5) Critique and recommend resources." This approach, a self-regulated learning model, is set in the context of problem based learning, collaborative problem solving, and project based learning. The paper also lists a short set of tools for resource inquiry learning: a goal setting tool, resource repositories, study tools, resource evaluation tools, and recommendation tools. By John C. Nesbit and Philip H. Winne , Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology, Fall, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Bridging Theory and Practice: Developing Guidelines to Facilitate the Design of Computer-based Learning Environments
OK, first, nobody should ever be allowed to use the phrase 'Bridging Theory and Practice' in a title again. It has been done, done to death, and adds nothing to the title. That said, let me say that the first three words of this paper were the works; what follows is the development of a modest set of three principles of online instructional design. What they lack in number they certainly make up for in worthiness: create environments that include social negotiation and cognitive responsibility; provide authentic experiences and contexts; and allow for the development of pervasive knowledge. By Lisa D. Young, Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology, Fall, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Social Capital in Virtual Learning Communities and Distributed Communities of Practice
This is a high quality paper that takes the concept of social capital, described in lavish detail in the first part of the paper, and applies it to online learning. An immediate benefit of this is approach is the drawing of a set of distinctions between virtual learning communities and distributed communities of practice. The authors also draw on the constructivist idea of knowledge (as a relation between the knower and that which is known) to diagram a process of learning in online communities. There are many subthreads in this article: the role of trust in social capital, negative impacts of social capital, interaction, and cohesion. Don't miss this one. By Ben Daniel, Richard A. Schwier and Gordon McCalla, Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology, Fall, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Six Steps to Better Interviews and Simplified Task Analysis
Part of developing an enterprise learning solution is determining what knowledge is needed to perform each task in a specific job. Finding out just what a task entails can be tricky. The gist of this article is to suggest that cookie-cutter approaches won't work here; eschew the standard questionaire, take your time, try to understand the purpose (if any) of the task, and don't settle for vague descriptions. I think this article is better for prospective clients wondering what to expect (or to demand) than for designers, because designers should already know all this. By Indi Young, Adaptive Path, February 16, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Open Access Threat to Reed's Publishing Empire
There has been a certain amount of buzz surrounding the release of Reed Elsevier's profit figures for 2003, as the publisher of academic journals has managed to set new earnings records despite, as it says, "difficult market conditions." FOS News links to slides and a webcast and notes, "see slide 32 for the vices of open access and slide 33 for the virtues of Elsevier." The Guardian coverage is a bit light, but suggests that the halcyon days may be over for the publisher; "storm clouds are gathering on the horizon," it writes. The story has caused Reed Elsevier to respond, saying "Open access has the opposite impact. It reduces accessibility to global content, as of today, it has 1% market share." By Richard Wray, The Guardian, February 19, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Nonprofit Groups to Consider New 'Code of Ethics'
In this era when the ethics of our political and corporate leaders are, at best, questionable, it seems odd to read that non-profits ought to "be held to the same standard." Obviously the managers of non-profits, including universities, ought to behave in an ethical manner, but we should aim for a higher standard. That said, the author's proposals, including "Transparency, openness, and responsiveness to public concerns," are sound, and recommended for more than just the non-profit sector. There is an ephasis on fiscal responsibility in this article, and without discounting this, I would like to say that one's ethical behaviour does not begin and end with their treatment of money. This item and the next via ArtsJournal. By Leonard Jacobs, Backstage.Com, February 19, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Before Teaching Ethics, Stop Kidding Yourself
The point of this article is to encourage would-be teachers of ethics to be honest about including their own self interest in assessments of what we would do in various circumstances where our test of ethics is tested. It is hard not to read this item as an attempt to elevate self interest as a moral principle, but I don't think this is the author's intent (even if it is an outcome). Recognizing one's self interest is essential, of course, as self sacrifice is not in and of itself a moral virtue. But neither is self interest an over-riding moral virtue, and though in today's age it provides the ultimate justification for most people's actions, there are good reasons why this should not be the case. The author's conclusion, that the moral calculus is more complex than would-be ethics teachers imagine, is, I think, correct, though I think I would have taken a different route to get there. By Gordon Marino, Chronicle of Higher Education, February 20, 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.