By Stephen Downes
March 3, 2005

Quality Improvement, Quality Assurance, and Benchmarking
A special issue of IRRODL has been released. I cover five items, beginning with this one. Good overview article describing the development, choice and use of two e-learning quality frameworks, with an account of some of the dangers (the 'dark side') of using a quality framework. To me the most interesting part was the question of which framework to use, and it of course boils down to what you want to use a framework for. Such objectives, however, tend to be moving - and not always clear - targets. By Alistair Inglis , IRRODL, March 1, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Central Queensland University’s Course Management Systems: Accelerator or Brake in Engaging Change?
Think about this: "Nearly 45 percent of the respondents believed that the university has implemented Blackboard as an enterprise system as a way to place additional controls on teaching and learning." This appears in the middle of this fascinating article contrasting teleological (or goal-based) and ateleological (or process-based) development methodologies (where 'development' may refer to design, delivery, learning...) and correspondingly centralized and decentralized processes (see the chart adapted from Introna in the middle of the article). It follows therefore that one's choice of process is as much a political choice as a pedagigical choice. Now resistance to a centralized LMS is often characterized as resistance to change. But perhaps the adoption of an LMS is (viewed as) an effective way to maintain the status quo. Of course, that's my view. The author, it seems to me, believes the LMS can be used to support ateleological process. I have my doubts. By Jeanne McConachie, Patrick Alan Danaher, Jo Luck, and David Jones, IRRODL, March 1, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Elements of Effective e-Learning Design
In the recent discussion on ITForum I have been seeing instructional designers say that the tenets of the domain are more or less fixed and define instructional design as a distinct profession. If so, then they would probably resolve to the list in this paper: activity, scenario, feedback, delivery, context and influence. Do you suppose that's it? I can't help feeling there's more. By Andrew R. Brown and Bradley D. Voltz, IRRODL, March 1, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Breaking Down the LMS Walls
The author writes, "The industrial methods that Taylor recommended resulted in a diminution of worker autonomy and an increase in management control. The development and implementation of learning management systems in distance education has proved to be similar in intent and effect." Funny, even though it is now well known that greater management control destroys productivity, so many managers cannot resist the urge. By Michael Hotrum, IRRODL, March 1, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

CanCore: in Canada and Around the World
I covered an earlier version of this paper here a few weeks ago. The list of CanCore implementations in this article, though, seems longer. And is most impressive. By Norm Friesen, IRRODL, March 1, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Letter to Hypathia
Spanish original. "'I can't read any Spanish newspapers; they all ask for an access key.' A man alone, locked in his library, set on saving a stack of books. 'If it has the (c) sign, don't buy it'. Let them keep their texts, their songs, their films. If they soil their work with the signature 'All rights reserved', they will be burying it forever. We will rebuild the Great Library only if we maintain its integrity, and for that we have to post all our knowledge on the Net in a doubly free manner: free of charge and free to use." Putting an entire culture under copyright kills it. ¡Ninguna entrega, ningún retratamiento! By Carlos Sánchez Almeida, República Internet, March 1, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

NYPL Digital Gallery
Launched today, this service from the New York Public Library puts online more than 250,000 historical images, all of which are available for free to view, download and print (but not public comercially). No doubt the server is being overwhelmed; it was frequently unavailable during the day today. Opening day jitters. Also worth noting is the repository system used to store the images and the XML used to managed them. The service will eventually display around 500,000 images - and more to the point, sets a great example of what our own National Library and similar services should be doing. More. Via Zeldman. By Various Authors, March 3, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Government Plans to Abolish BBC Governors
The BBC appears to be headed for significant changes as a Green Paper recommends changes to its governance structure and to its decades-old mandate to "educate, inform and entertain". More. More. By Andrew Woodcock and Anita Singh, The Independent, March 2, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Video of Teacher's Outburst is on Web
This case is a pretty dramatic illustration of the impact of technology in the classroom: a teacher's apparently inappropriate behaviour finds itself posted as a video on several websites. I don't think banning phones in the classroom is the correct response. After all, students have a right to say "Society surveils us, we surveil back." Don't they? By Naomi Mueller, Asbury Park Press, March 1, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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