By Stephen Downes
April 15, 2004

John Seely Brown Interviewed by Seth Kahan
I've never really bought into the 'storytelling' aspect of new forms of online learning (and things like blogs and social networks) touted in this interview with John Seely Brown and similar articles. Maybe it's just me. I get really impatient with stories - as I sit there, listening to irrelevant stage setting I want to grab them by the collar and say, "Get to the point already." So why does the story seem so attractive? Part of it is the narrative - it takes us in a nice linear path through difficult terrain. Part of it is the personalization - stories are about real people (me, even) and events, and related to this, the ability to represent a concept from multiple points of view or contexts. Part of it is the informality. And part of it is the wider range of expressive elements a story may contain. But none of this is particular to storytelling specifically, and so it seems to me that the concept of storytelling is itself no more than a metaphor for linear (but non hierarchal), context-specific, expressive discourse. Now all this I do buy into. Of course, put like that - who's interested? The trick here is to not get caught up in the metaphor - people like Brown may say storytelling, but they're lulling you into accepting an idea that's a lot more complex, and a lot more important. Via Seb's Open Research, via Jay Cross. By Seth Kahan, February 10, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

'Be a Freeporter!': Enabling a Mobile News Publishing Community
Interesting presentation outlining the idea of a network of independent, interactive 'freeporters' (see more on my thoughts about their gear below). Good discussion of the way relationships work between sender and receiver in networks. By Tom Nicolai, Mobile Entertainment: User-Centred Perspectives, March 27, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Government of Canada versus BlogsCanada
As I said when I originally posted an item on Blogs Canada last August, it would be a mistake for the Treasury Board to complain against the site's look and feel. Nobody listens. This mistake has now been made, with the official Cease and Desist notice having been sent April 8. In its press release Blogs Canada's Jim Elve stands his ground, as he should. Mockery is too great a freedom to give up without a fight. By Jim Elve, Blogs Canada, April 15, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Wireless LAN, High Quality MPEG-4 Video Conferencing
This is cool. But take it further. Send a person with this sort of set-up to a live conference. Webcast the proceedings as experienced by the person, but also the conversations in the hall, the receptions and the parties. Allow online participants to interact with the person and in this way, either directly (via a small speaker) or by proxy, converse with conference participants. Webcast the whole thing live so that hundreds of viewers can watch the mayhem. And to take it even further: stage a conference where only people so equipped may attend. What fun! Via Unmediated. By Announcement, VisiWear, April, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

IBM Predicts Age of Open Media
In concord with my own projections: “The winners will be more open, will deliver protected information through variable packaging and pricing, will know their consumers and business partners intimately, and will deliver media to them how, when, and where they want it.” This applies to e-learninmg as well as media. Note well. Via Unmediated, which in turn was found via elearnspace. By Leigh Phillips, Digital Media Europe, April 13, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Blogging in Schools Question
Thanks to Will Richardson for organizing the many blog posts from this week's discussion of blogging in schools. And for nailing the issue with some well chosen comments: "For blogging to be of value," he writes, "it has to be born of passion." So, "By its very nature, assigned blogging in schools cannot be blogging. It's contrived." So? "My students drop blogging like wet cement when the class is over. And it's because I can't let them blog in the first place." For after all, "I can let them write about their passions, but I can't let them do it passionately due to the inherent censorship that a high school served Weblog carries with it." By Will Richardson, Weblogg-ed, April 13, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Eduplone Reveals Initial IMS Learning Design Support
Plone is an open source content management system (CMS) that has won a wide following for its ease of use and functionality. This article describes one of the advantages of open source: it allows people to innovate in ways not considered by the original designers. Hence, eduplone is the same CMS platform rigged to work with learning objects. Specifically, Plone's workflow engine can be used to export using IMS learning design specification. This is a nice step forward in content authoring. "The Plone system itself makes the process of authoring content rather simpler than what is typical in the SCORM world. Eduplone learning sequences presume just two people with moderate technical skill sets. SCORM presumes a team of experts in instructional design, web coding, graphical design, subject experts etc." By Wilbert Kraan, CETIS, April 15, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Innovation/Productivity Quotient
E-learning is listed as one of the major innovations (grid computing, service oriented architecture, social networking and access devices are the others) that will allow companies to achieve the next major gain from using IT, by fostering innovation. All of these are network technologies; no centralization here. But some of these are technologies that will work a lot better on a private network than the wider internet - grids and services especially - leading me to think that their impact will not be felt as much by individuals. Via elearningpost, e-clippings. By John Hagel III and John Seely Brown, Optimize, February, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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