By Stephen Downes
October 19, 2004

Ten Years After
Today's newsletter comes from the back row of the NAWeb conference in Fredericton, New Brunswick - readers should note that the presentations are all online. This is the tenth year of NAWeb, and the last for organizer Rik Hall, who earns the applause and commendations of this list for this work. Hence the title of my talk, a bit of a retrospective on the conference and tribute to Rik Hall - peace, love and happiness - and where e-learning is going in the future. The title link is to the slides for my keynote here - caution, it's 5 megabytes, full of images. I have also uploaded the audio of my talk - click here for the audio (30 minutes, 3,7 megabytes) By Stephen Downes, Stephen's Web, October 19, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Computer Simulations in Distance Education
The October issue of the International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning is now out. I cite two items today. In this first item, the author provides background on why simulations are used to support learning and reviews related research, including good discussion of a number of specific simulations, such as Chernobyl, C3 Fire and ERCIS. By Les M. Lunce, International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning, October, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Patterns of User Behavior in University Online Forums
This paper contains original and well documented research exploring a wide variety of factors influencing student usage of online academic computer services such as discussion boards. The authors conclude that though students are 'resource rich' they are 'time poor', and this shows up as a pattern of usage of university web services. By Leslie Burr and Dirk HR Spennemann, International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning, October, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Categories of eLearning
Useful diagram and some discussion describing categories of e-learning, including courses, informal learning, blended learning, communities, networked learning, and workplace learning. By George Siemens, elearnspace, October 18, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Gaming Ad Network Launches
When I talk about learning being a resource that is located inside an environment, syndicated into an environment, this is the sort of thing I mean. Of course, this item talks about syndicating dynamic and personalized advertising into an immersive environment, but the same technique can be - and should be - used to syndicate learning into such environments. By Rich Gordon, E-Media Tidbits, October 18, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

For the Record: Facts and Figures in Adult Learning
The new issue of CenterPoint is out and most worth noting is this item, a collection of statistics from the world of adult learning. Here's an interesting tidbit: "Between 1994 and 2000, the total U.S. labor force grew by 10 million, with nearly half of all workers 4.7 million) classified as foreign-born residents (U.S. Census Bureau)." By Various Authors, October, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

IM Readiness: A View from the Centre
More than I can read while listening to David Macneil's presentation at NAWeb, but readers will want to know that presentations from the Information Management conference held by the government of Canada are now online. Intriguing titles include 'Changing the Knowledge Culture at Canadian Heritage' and 'Framework for the Management of Information'. The slides are a but tricky to view - look for the 'Navigate' link at about the middle of the left-hand column to view successive slides. By Various Authors, October 18, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

e-Learning and the Universities: What Roberto Maragliano Thinks
Interesting interview with Roberto Maragliano, Professor of Education and Learning Technologies and Head of the Audiovisual Technology Laboratory at the Universitą Roma Tre. You almost get the impression that he is about to jump into the abyss. "The machine is being delegated a problem which is and remains primarily a teaching problem," he says. "It therefore makes little sense to discuss standardisation, protocols or platforms, if this pedagogical aspect is not taken on board at the same time." And, "will it be up to the engineers to tell us how to assess on-line courses and their impact in terms of learning?" And, "when moving on-line new prospects open up, new pedagogical problems, hitherto unknown or not completely identified." By Carmine Marinucci and Stefano Epifani of the Italian Learning Community portal, elearningeuropa, August 23, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Point. Shoot. Kiss It Good-Bye.
Todd sent me this item from Wired looking at the difficulties surrounding the finding of a photo once you've taken it. Large image libraries, such as the Bettmann Archive (owned by Corbis), employ metataggers, but assigning metadata is more of a dark art than a science. "If, for example, Fraser doesn't recognize one of the figures in a cocktail party scene as Serena Williams and instead tags it "Nightlife," customers searching for photos of tennis stars won't find it, and it might as well not exist." The article looks at automated metatagging, and makes some worthwhile suggestions, but misses some key points: first, that context is going to be crucial to the creation of metadata, and second, that the creation of metadata will have to be a massively distributed, not centralized, enterprise. By David Weinberger, Wired, October, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Tanya Wooley - Flexible Learning Leader 2004
Another educational technology blog that may be new to many readers, though the blog itself isn't that new. Based in Alice Springs, Tanya Wooley introduced me to the people in Alice's Aboriginal Development community (and also to the best Chinese tea-house in town). Readers will appreciate not only her insights into online learning - you may want to look at her PowerPoint game, A Town Like Alice - but also the clear connection she draws between this and a philosophy of diversity. By Tanya Wooley, October, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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