By Stephen Downes
May 20, 2005

Japan OCW Alliance
Six Japanese universities have formed an OpenCourseWare alliance and are offering their learning content for free on the internet. All you people with your closed federated content networks: it's time to open them up and make free online learning a reality. By Press Release, May 20, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Learning Objects – Is the King Naked?
Teemu Leinonen argues that we should throw out the term 'learning object', reasoning that it doesn't add any meaning to the concept we are trying to define. "For me it is still just (learning) content with a good description (metadata) - just like all content should be." Scott Leslie expresses his agreement, but with a caveat: "my small fear is that in throwing out these terms, we'll also throw out many of the problems they were supposed to be trying to solve - namely enabling learning content to be shared and found through means that were otherwise unavailable." By Teemu Leinonen, FLOSSE Posse, May 19, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Competency Based Learning Management
Good article defining and then describing arguments both for and against competency based learning management (CBLM). The idea of CBLM is that a given task or occupation can be broken down to a set of constituent skills. These skills, or competencies, can form the basis of personalized training. Sounds like a good idea. Though I have concerns about employer-driven training programs. But here, I think, is the knock-down argument: "A CBLM system, in a company competing in rapidly-changing dynamic markets, has a half-life of mere months." By Godfrey Parkin, Parkin's Lot, April 30, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Give Your DVD Player the Finger
Let's just say that there is no way I would submit to a fingerprint exam merely to watch a DVD. That said, I have to wonder about the direction of invention being based on the needs of the vendor, rather than the consumer. I've seen a lot of this lately. By Katie Dean, Wired News, May 19, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Learning Molecules Model
How do you communicate the concept of learning objects to subject matter experts (SMEs) who may be new to the field? The use of metaphors is recommended, argue the authors. And to this end, eCornell developed a model it calls Learning Molecules. This article describes the learning molecules model: "At the nucleus of the molecule is a Scenario (S)—the contextualizing problem or case study that is the lynchpin of eCornell’s application", and surrounding this core are resources, utilities, collaborative tools, and evaluation tools. Of course, this model works only if the SME knows more about the Periodic Table than about learning theory - an assumption I'm not sure I'd be comfortable making. By Ulises A. Mejias and David Shoemaker, Learning Circuits, May, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Blogtalk Downunder Presentation
James Farmer posts slides and audio to his Blogtalk Downunder [photos] presentation, 'Centred Communication' or 'your intranet is like Canberra'. The idea is that planned networks, organized hierarchically, are barren and sterile, while organic networks, organized as a semi-lattice, are not. I'm not sure 'Canberra' is a good example. Yes, the city is a planned city. But I have been to Canberra and found it a very pleasant city. More from Blogtalk Downunder: Marcus O’Donnell, Blogging as pedagogic practice: artefact and ecology (PowerPoint); Thomas Burg, technologyLog (Slides and podcast). By James Farmer, incorporated subversion, May 20, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

State Network Chart
One to put in your reference section: this page links to an Excel spreadsheet listing every state public sector or education network in the U.S. "State Networks focus on serving the non-profit/public constituencies, including higher-education, K-12 schools, libraries and state and municipal governments. The missions of state networks vary, from providers of connections services, to end-user support, training of technical and professional personnel, and coordination of purchased services." By Stacia-Ann Chambers, EDUCAUSE Policy Office, May, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Education as Commodity
According to California's Grade 11 and 12 Language Arts standard, "by grade twelve, students read two million words annually on their own." What is magic, asks the author, about two million words? And even more to the point, how does such a number take into account the individual needs of students? "It assumes that everybody needs to know exactly the same things in exactly the same proportions." In other words, it turns education into a commodity, like toasters or black Fords. Good discussion, and be sure to read the comments, as Jim Ellsworth replies, "the real standards–the ones enforced by the world - are going to be one size fits all. They won’t care about students’ individual differences: if you don’t have the competencies, you won’t get the job." By Nate Lowell, Cognitive Dissonance, May 2, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

[Refer] - send an item to your friends
[Research] - find related items
[Reflect] - post a comment about this item

Know a friend who might enjoy this newsletter?

Feel free to forward OLDaily to your colleagues. If you received this issue from a friend and would like a free subscription of your own, you can join our mailing list at http://www.downes.ca/cgi-bin/website/subscribe.cgi

[About This NewsLetter] [OLDaily Archives] [Send me your comments]

Copyright © 2005 Stephen Downes
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.