Content-type: text/html ~ Stephen's Web ~ Slowdown of Activity in Australia

Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

Jul 10, 2005

I guess this email is being circulated about in Australia so I may as well post it here so people know the source of my comment that e-learning seems to be slowing down there. Links have been embedded where in the original email they were spelled out.

Slow down of activity in Australia

It's important to note that my newsletter is the product of just one person and is therefore often subject to reporting personal impressions and feelings. This is one such case. Readers (I hope) know this, and subject what is written to appropriate scrutiny.

That said - it *does* feel to me that Australia has almost vanished from the e-learning landscape.

- Education Queensland's Learning Place newsletter has vanished, the articles were taken down, and all you get now are seminar advertisements, awards and similar such stuff -

- The Flexible Learning Leaders seem to be gone - they were a constant source of information, since they all created blogs or some such thing and kept me informed. I know the program has been discontinued. But even this year's seem unusually silent.

- The FLN RSS feeds went dark - I have now, thanks to your other note, found them again - I had looked on the page but didn't see the text (there should be one of those orange XML buttons people cue on)

- West One appears to operate mostly in the dark - no newsletter or RSS - and anyway, it seems you have to pay for everything

- The Net*Working 2004 conference adopted a blended learning approach, which from my perspective was a disaster - I guess, what, 4,00 or 5,000 people were signed up, yet participation in the seminars was only a few hundred, for a very limited time, and online activity was sparse. Moreover, there was no improvement in the conferencing software over Net*Working 2002.

- The Australian blogging community has been relatively quiet - some have been fired or close to fired for talking about open source.

- Blogtalk Downunder was well received internationally but didn't get a lot of local participation and almost no institutional endorsement -

- Haven't heard anything from Albert Ip recently - he is starting a commercial publication

- LAMS released last November - but the major uptake and support seems to be from Britain

- The latest news out of ANTA is that it is being abolished.

- News from DEST is miminal and mostly just surveys and statistics - of note this year is only the Endeavour program - "bringing together under the one umbrella all of the Department of Education, Science and Training's (DEST) international scholarships"

- Though I keep up with NVCER every issue, they havn't published anything related to e-learning or flexible learning for ages

- The AVETRA newsletter is not available online. Only two AVETRA conference papers in 2004 dealt with online learning, and this year, only one.

There's more, but this is what I came up with on the spur of the moment. From my perspective, it is almost as through the Australian e-learning sector has vanished. There's nothing left but DEST and EdNA.

And this is what prompts my remarks about centralization. For online learning, outside of EdNA, what is there? It feels as though everything is being brought in close, consolidated, centralized. Perhaps there's a whole host of grassroots initiatives out there - but I'm not seeing them, I'm not hearing about them. What I'm seeing is mostly commercial content, federated networks, WebCT -- centralization.

Again - this is just my perspective. But is the perspective of someone with a deep interest in and affection for Australia. And it is the latter that prompted my comment.


That's the end of the email. Since then, I received feedback from the Australian Flexible Learning Framework that their RSS feeds have moved to here and email from someone else noting that their community has been dismantled.

Also worth adding is an observation about how long it has been since many of the Australian logs listed on this chart have been updated.

Nobody really disputed my observation, and some expressed concern that what I said could be accurate. Of course, there is a lot of activity in Australia, but it seems that the government's emphasis is shifting, and it's this that I note.

Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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