By Stephen Downes
April 8, 2005

Sony Patents Imaginary Brainwave Broadcasting
According to this item, Sony has patented "the concept of beaming ultrasonic signals into a person’s brain to transmit recorded images or sounds." Now of course, "no experiments had been conducted, and that the patent “was based on an inspiration that this may someday be the direction that technology will take us." Given that you don't actually have to invent anything to get a patent, the author wonders (as do I) "Why aren’t science fiction writers loaded, then?" By Joel Johnson, Gizmodo, April 8, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Education as Toaster
Well, it's an interesting analogy. "We put bread in, and toast comes out. Teachers are the toaster operators. The field of educational technology is responsible for the engineering and marketing of the toasters." Taken to a certain point, the analogy - intending to contrast the division of labour in other industries with the artisan nature of learning - works. But on the other hand - who wants mere toast? Via Trey Martindale. By Nathan Lowell, Cognitive Dissonance, April 8, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Shock of the Old 2005
Good presentation by Derek Morrison (and read the slides (2.62 Mb PDF); the notes by themselves don't really do the job). Morrison writes, "there are now so many opportunities and services arising 'out there' that it's perfectly feasible that if institutions are found wanting in their future IT/e-learning infrastructure and services provision that the teachers and students will migrate to systems and services about which institutions have no knowledge and over which they certainly will not be able to establish any control." By Derek Morrison, Auricle, April 8, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

How to Let Educational Systems Talk
Good background on the new IMS General Web Services spec describing the three major scenarios described and what they mean in general terms. Despite the heroic effort to make arcane topics accessible I think average readers will still find it too technical. But that's OK because average readers won't care - the differences between the models described are like the differences between the how your computer connects to a web server as opposed to an instant messaging server. But if you are writing software intended to be accessed by a learning management system, then you need to follow this item. By Wilbert Kraan, CETIS, April 6, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

ADL Plugfest 9 Proceedings Available, Some Notable Presentations
Scott Leslie links to presentations from the ADL Plugfest held in February and now available online. There is a lot of content here, too much to summarize (because it's too much to read before today's newsletter deadline). But hey, if you want to fill your week-end with SCORM, this is the place. By Scott Leslie, EdTechPost, April 7, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Some good points in this presentation, but author David Wiley takes a stance that is more to the middle of the road for my liking (Scott Leslie calls him a "a lone voice in the wilderness," and he probably is in the ADL crowd, but from my perspective he is more establishment - it's all point of view, I guess). Anyhow, Wiley sets up a nice distinction between the "Centralized / Top-down Camp" (which favours intelligent tutoring systems, automated LO assembly systems, advanced visualization techniques and the like) and the "Decentralized / Bottom-up Camp" (which favours large scale self-organizing social systems, content creation, and more). But his main point is that design consists of "making instructional choices under a set of constraints" and that the right design is a little of each camp, depending on the constraint. Viewed from this perspective, SCORM, as a set of constraints, is "not about people learning more, better, or faster," but instead, enabling interoperability and distance learning - and design, therefore, is "getting the job done" within the constraints of SCORM. By David Wiley, ADL Plugfest, February 23, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Is Phoenix the Future?
Interview with Gary A. Berg, dean of extended education at California State University Channel Islands, who, according to this article, "eceived extensive access to University of Phoenix administrators and faculty members." Observes Berg, "what a tenured faculty member from a traditional university would notice most is their lessened influence... here is nothing like a faculty senate. Faculty members at the University of Phoenix are completely and very intentionally left out of operational decisions." The future represented by the University of Phoenix - "increased use of part-time faculty, intensive formats, standardization, distributed and distance learning formats, an emphasis on assessment" - is also being seen at traditional institutions. By Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, March 28, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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