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by Stephen Downes
October 16, 2007

Great E-Learning Books Summarized
This is an interesting series, with summaries of books by people such as Clark Aldrich, Karl Kapp, Willie Horton, and others, offered by e-LearningGuru. The first thing I noticed (I'm so vain) was that they didn't summarize my work! But then I realized, I haven't written a book. Not one with hard covers and ISBN numbers, at least - though I have a few ebooks collecting dust on my website. But I could have. So could lots of us. Why should the people who gave it up to the publishers be given special treatment? Now I don't have time to write these, but I'll make you a deal - if you write them, I'll post them here or link to them (whichever you prefer). Take a look at these to get an idea of the style, then do the same for your favorite e-learning blogger or writer. If you need ideas about who to write about, here's a few. Zaid Ali Alsagoff, ZaidLearn October 16, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment]

Warren Buffett's MBA Talk Vs Evolution of Dance
Which is the better educational material, a speech by Warren Buffet, one of the richest people in the world, on investing, or a 6 minute video on the evolution of dance? The presumption of this post is that the 'crowd' got it wrong, viewing the dance video 59 million times and watching Buffett only 98,000 times. But I learned more about dance in six minutes than I learned about stocks in 60 - and I trust the dance video a lot more, because you can't fake this stuff. Buffett gives us folksy advice like "you should buy what you know" and questionable bits like "if you learned about Wrigley's 40 years ago, you still know everything you need to know." Um, what? I agree with the author that there are "many excellent free online learning resources out there that are not being fully utilized by the global intelligence learning network." But I don't agree that Buffett's talk is one of them - and this illustrates perfectly the folly of trying to plan this or of depending on presumed authority to make the choices for us. Zaid Ali Alsagoff, ZaidLearn October 16, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

OK, first of all, this game is impossibly addictive. I played it Sunday afternoon, finishing all the levels in one sitting. Second, it is hosted at a British museum website. Third, it is - or has the potential to be - quite educational, even without having learning outcomes or anything silly like that. Why, it's not 'serious' at all! And fourth, it lets users create even more games on the basic platform. Try it. You'll see what I mean. And don't blame me if you don't come back from lunch. Various Authors, Science Museum October 16, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

OAuth 1.0 Release May Offer Safer Mashup Opportunities
It's sort of in the same spirit as OpenID. OAuth (Open Authentication) is "an open protocol to allow secure API authentication in a simple and standard method from desktop and web applications." The purpose is to make mashups easier and safer, so that you don't send your password around to a whole bunch of different applications. OAuth for Perl. And discussion of OAuth from Six Apart. meanwhile, in OpenID news, Stefan Brands unleashes a litany of gripes about OpenID, some of which are warranted but most of which are not, and in response, David Recordon accuses Brands of taking the Fox News approach to the debate, stirring up a lot of fear to support his opwn interests. Bill Gaffney, October 16, 2007 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

Summary: Content Is Infrastructure
Summary of David Wiley's post, Content is Infrastructure which assertions a proposition with which I am in basic agreement. "If we want to see education radically improved, we can't architect it. None of us is that intelligent. We have to understand that content is infrastructure in order to start Linus' massively parallel feedback cycle running." Ken Udas, Terra Incognita October 16, 2007 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Facebook As a Learning Platform
To be clear, I do not think that Facebook itself is really a learning environment. It's a large, centralized piece of software that is getting creaky with use (we've seen more outages and the PHP code is once again dumping itself into users' browsers). Its privacy policies are questionable and it is giving out user information to applications willy-nilly. But it is still important, because it reveals many of the features future learning environments (and personal environments in general) will need to have. Something like the social network operating system, maybe. These are nicely captured by this article as Tony Karrer pulls together a number of recent resources on the site to throw out some ideas. Tony Karrer, eLearning Technology October 16, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment]

ROI and Metrics in eLearning
The Washington Monthly's ranking of universities (which I learned about, of course, on the Colbert Report) is based on outputs, not inputs. But it may be no less problematic. The magazine counts the number of PhDs and the number of graduates who enter the military - not exactly the counts that remind one of learning. And in the same vein, Tony Karrer summarizes numerous articles that look at Return on Investment (ROI) and e-learning. Equally a morass. Measuring learning is still like measuring friendship. You can count friends, or you can count on friends, but not, it seems, both. Tony Karrer, eLearning Technology October 16, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

eLML - eLesson Markup Language
One of the things I encountered as I looked at OLAT (see below) was the eLesson Markup Language (eLML), an open source XML framework for creating structured eLessons using XML. This is something we've needed for a long time. The language is the outcome of a Swiss project. As you can see from the XML structure, the XML describes the actual lesson itself. That's why it can be used with IMS Content packaging and SCORM (and hence can be imported into any LMS). This project mostly displays lessons using Flash, but (and I know this from my own work) you can create viewers in HTML and Javascript using DHTML. It can be parsed server-side (they use Coccoon) or client side. Why didn't IMS or ADL or anyone else come up with something like this? It has certainly been needed. It's all open source and the site includes documentation, downloads, applications, and much much more. A first-class job, something some other organizations could learn from. Various Authors, GITTA October 16, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , , , , ] [Comment]

OLAT (Online Learning And Training): Open Source LMS
Another open source learning management system (LMS), this one called OLAT. The post also contains a link to UNICEF's comprehensive list of open source LMSs. Anyhow, I tried out OLAT (there's a demo on the site). It's fast and mostly intuitive to operate. But as I tried to do different things, I found myself clicking clicking clicking. This isn't unique to OLAT, it seems to be something about LMSs in general. But especially those that work on the file and folder model. Clicking clicking clicking. Navigate to folder, navigate to application, navigate to group. Always clicking. Jorge Goncalves, Learning Online Info October 16, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]


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Copyright 2007 Stephen Downes

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