By Stephen Downes
June 21, 2004

A Special Request
My thanks to the many people who have sent me notes describing the impact of our work here at the NRC e-learning group. For those who missed the request sent out Sunday (that is, text, RSS and Javascript feed subscribers), there is still time to send me an email. As for the rest - hundreds of you! - thank you for the support and encouragement. By Stephen Downes, Stephen's Web, June 20, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Should We Be Using Learning Styles? What Research Has to Say to Practice
Seb Schmoller brings us two nice - and critical - reviews of learning styles. As the authors note, "There is... a strong intuitive appeal to the notion that we all have individual preferences and styles of learning." It is, indeed, an intuition I share. And yet - the research doesn't support the intuition, mostly because there is a lack of good research. Moreover, because such research would abut against so many contextual factors, it is possible that such research may never be forthcoming. By Frank Coffield, et.al., Learning and Skills Research Centre, June, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Learning Styles and Pedagogy in Post-16 Learning: A Systematic and Critical Review
"This report critically reviews the literature on learning styles and examines in detail 13 of the most influential models. The report concludes that it matters fundamentally which instrument is chosen. The implications for teaching and learning in post-16 learning are serious and should be of concern to learners, teachers and trainers, managers, researchers and inspectors." Really nice summary of the learning styles models - a great place to get an overview. The authors are also quite rightly sceptical of much of the work so far. "The danger here is of mindless and atheoretical empiricism. We conclude that some order will, sooner or later, have to be imposed on the learning styles field from outside." By Frank Coffield, et.al., Learning and Skills Research Centre, June, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Real Estate Educators Unhappy with Distance Learning Regulations
I find this very interesting and perhaps the leading edge of a trend. "There is growing controversy in the real estate industry regarding the regulations and costs to create distance learning, according to RealtyU... the advancement of distance learning within the real estate industry is being severely hindered by the current regulations." Now of course there is a certain self-interest being expressed here, but one wonders, given that real estate agents are evaluated by tests, why there would be regulations governing the delivery of learning. Via ADL Co-Lab News. By RisMedia, Real Estate News, June 15, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Italy School Foils Cheats by Blocking Phone Signals
Tech fights tech - this short item, describes the use of jamming equipment to block cell (mobile) phones during tests at a school in Italy. Heh. I wonder whether we can get cars equipped with similar devices. Via ADL Co-Lab News. By Reuters, Yahoo! News, June 18, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Conversing Company: Its Culture, Power and Potential
With stories, links, descriptions, diagrams, case studies and more, Alan Stewart presents a fascinating excursion into the benefits of conversation for companies. Originally presented in Vienna in 2001, this resource, passed along via elearningpost, provides a refreshing look at an old topic. Oh I know, the value conversing and telling stories has been well established and long predates e-learning. But there is, I think, a tendency to forget that when we think of thinks like knowledge management systems and learning repositories. PDF. By Alan Stewart, World Conference for Systemic Management, May, 2001 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Personalized News? Findory News Has Them
Robin Good points us to this resource, Findory, that cretaes a personalized online newspaper, providing a short description and link to a Findory page containing news reports about Findory (nice). "Findory uses a patent-pending method to order news articles gathered from a wide variety of sources. The algorithm combines statistical analysis of the article text and of users who viewed the articles with information about articles you previously viewed." It should be obvious, but I'll say it anyway: this sort of content distribution mechanism is a natural for education, and is exactly why I have spent so much time working on learning object repositories and related syndication systems. By Luigi Canali De Rossi, Robin Good, June 14, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Teachers Learning New Tools
When people ask whether e-learning is 'just as good' as traditional learning, this isn't one of the metrics that really shows up: improved access and independence for special education students. Oh, this may not have a positive impact on test scores, but it has a positive impact on education and the community. By Associated Press, Globe and Mail, June 21, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Blackboard Soars in Market Debut
So Blackboard's IPO launched Friday and sent the tech community abuzz, posting some of the best results for an initial public offering in months, rising 43 percent on the first day of trading. By Reuters, CNN Money, June 18, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Evaluation as a Strategic Tool
Brief outline of Kirkpatrick's levels of evaluation of learning reosurces, by Kirkpatrick. Useful quick reference. Via trdev. By Donald L. Kirkpatrick and James J. L’Allie, Chief Learning Officer, June, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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