By Stephen Downes
October 22, 2004

Australia 2004
The complete summary of my Australian trip. This page contains links to audio recordings of my talks, collections of photos, and other resources. By Stephen Downes, Stephen's Web, October 22, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

A Learning Framework
This contribution to ITForum is a keeper as author Donald Clark outlines Clark Aldrich's book "Simulations and the Future of Learning" and his recent article "Six Criteria of an Educational Simulation." He writes, "when building a learning package or program, it helps to think of a wider framework than simply shoveling the content (subject matter) to the learners. That is, one has to start thinking of the context that will support the learning of it." Clark rounds out his post with a number of useful links well worth following. By Donald Clark, ITForum, October 21, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Describe This
According to the announcement, Describe This is "a service designed for the automatic extraction of metadata from online resources. The site offers an easy to use interface where you can indicate the resource to analyze and how to download the results as XML, XHTML or RDF files." I tested it on my own website and on David Merrill's PDF (see below) and it worked for both, though certain desirable metadata (such as DC:creator) were missing. It can automatically analyze and generate metadata registers for the following formats: HTML and XHTML, Dublin Core/RDF, Dublin Core/XML, Dublin Core/HTML (META tags), GIF, JPG (EXIF) and other image formats, RSS, bibTex and some proprietary Formats XML, for example Amazon XML Web Services. Thanks, Toni, for the link. By Various Authors, Sand's Dublin Core Services, October, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

First Principles of Instruction
First rate paper arguing, first, that there are general principles underlying all instructional theory, and second, that learning suffers if these principles are not followed. The second part remains speculation, but the first part is examined in some detail through the lens of a variety of models and theories. Essentially, the idea is that learning involves four stages: activation, demonstration, application and integration, and that these stages centre around a central problem. Don't miss this essay. I don't know when it came out, but it was just mentioned in WWWEDU and is still listed as a new paper on Merrill's website. Update: according to Describe This (see above), it is dated from December of last year. By M. David Merrill, Submitted for publication to Educational Technology Research & Development, December 15, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Metadata for the Masses
Nice brief discussion of the idea of ethnoclassification - classifications systems evolving through undirected use by a population, rather than stipulated from above by a standards body. The path analogy is especially apt. By Peter Merholz, Adaptive Path, October 19, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Buntine Oration: Learning Networks - 0
In the first of a series, Albert Ip discusses the first paragraph of my paper and gets the message exactly right. Describing four of his students who, learning as they went, built an Apple II network from scratch, Ip observes, "The line between a teacher and a student is thin, very thin indeed. I think I learnt more from the Apple II local area network project than my students." P.S. Ip's blog is deliberately named. A glance at the Random Walk entry in Wikipedia is well work a read. By Albert Ip, Randon Walk in E-Learning, October 21, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Handle System
A comment in my discussion area yesterday noted that, for the Koper link, "they actually use the Handle system and state explicitly to point instead to http://hdl.handle.net/1820/238" (or hdl:1820/238, though most browsers don't support that notation). The idea of the handle system is that, instead of pointing directly to a link, you point to a handle proxy server, which will redirect you to the link. This is exactly how Persistent Url (or Purl) works, except without the special handle syntax. The benefit is that if the URL for the resource changes, links using Handle still work (assuming that someone remembers to update the Handle proxy server). On the other hand, as the Handle documentation states, the system is perfect for managing "intellectual property" - that is, it is perfect for enforcing access restrictions at the network level, rather than at the server or resource level. Maybe so - but this was the point of my discussion with Dan Rehak in Utah over CORDRA, which also uses the Handle system. Applying digital rights at the network level, in addition to imposing a substantial overhead on everybody, runs the risk of fracturing the internet into a series of private networks. Will CORDRA or Handle do that? I don't know. I have no doubt that some people would like it to, though, and so urge caution regarding the implementation of Handle. The Handle system is used now by Digital Object Identifier (DOI), Defense Virtual Library, and DSpace, among others. By Various Authors, October 22, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Learning Networks versus the Behmoth?
Corrected link to the Auricle article cited yesterday, an analysis of my Learning Networks paper and link to similar work by Rob Koper. By Derek Morrison, Auricle, October 21, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2004 Stephen Downes
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