By Stephen Downes
March 5, 2004

Fostering Interoperability, Japanese Style
CETIS is on a roll this week, and so I present four in a roll from the British educational standards agency. This first item looks at e-learning standards development in Japan via an interview with Kyoshi Nakabayashi from Japan's Advanced Learning Infrastructure Consortium (ALIC). The interview is quite short but informative. By Wilbert Kraan, CETIS, February 29, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Cockroach of Repository Interoperability: Simple Query Interface
CETIS never fails to amuse with its titles. It also never fails to enlighten with its crisp, clear writing. This article is no exception to either rule as it describes yet another learning object standard, the proposed Simple Query Interface being developed by CEN/ISSS. Unlike some other recent initiatives, this one is visibly drawing from the work of previous projects, including Ariadne, CELEBRATE, Edutella, Elena, EduSource, ProLearn, Universal/EducaNext and Zing (now there's some pedigree, eh?). What's interesting, from my perspective, is that the project being undertaken is almost exactly that being addressed by the eduSource Communications Layer (ECL), so in a couple of weeks the Canadian project - which is due to launch at the end of this month - may be able to hand CEN/ISSS a working prototype on a platter. All open source, of course. By Wilbert Kraan, CETIS, March 2, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Flagship UKeU E-learning Project Faces Major Restructuring
CETIS notes, "Following disappointing student numbers and serious difficulty in raising private finance, the UK e-Universities has been asked by government funders to come up with a restructuring plan before April. The emphasis should shift from commercial provision of courses to supporting e-learning development in the state universities." Predicting that the commercial courses model wasn't going to work would have been easy. Predicting that the new orientation won't work either is riskier. But I'm going to make the prediction in any case, even though it will take several years for the failure to become evident. By Wilbert Kraan, CETIS, March 3, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

JISC Programme to Foster The Pick 'n Mix MLE
Nice description of Service Oriented Architecture (SOA): "Rather than have a calendar or scheduling function in every computer system that needs it, you have just the one calendaring component that exposes its service to anything or anyone who wants it." One major advantage of this approach is that "small and simple home-spun tools that make a real difference in teaching and learning can piggy-back on the functionality of bigger systems." The trick, of course, is to make this work. This is where standards and specifications really come to the fore, but you have to get them implemented, and even more importantly, documented. By Wilbert Kraan, CETIS, March 5, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Caribbean Association for Distance and Open Learning Established
"The first meeting of the Caribbean Association for Distance and Open Learning (CARADOL) that was created with the financial support from UNESCO was held yesterday at the Distance Education Centre of the University of the West Indies in Kingston, Jamaica." Short article and a couple of links. By Press Release, UNESCO, March 3, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Stop Teaching My Kid
I couldn't pass on this one. The author's contention is that "most parents want an easy pass (in some cases, an easy A) rather than a course in which their children acquire real knowledge and skills." Whether or not this observation is statistically valid, it nonetheless speaks to a misplacement of value, replacing a desire for accomplishment (that is, learning) with a desire for a sign of accomplishment (that is, an A). It wouldn't be the first time people came to value the sign of something more than the thing itself (for a fascinating read, see Gibbon on the iconoclasts). Me, I would have drooled at the prospect of "college level" work in high school. Never happened, though. By Mark H. Shapiro, The Irascible Professor, March 4, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Some Like It Hot
The message in this article is that "every important sector of big media today - film, music, radio, and cable TV - was born of a kind of piracy. The consistent story is how each generation welcomes the pirates from the last." Until now, that is, as new regulations may stall the innovation that led to the creation of the music, film and television industries. By Lawrence Lessig, Wired, March, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2004 Stephen Downes
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