Stephen's Web

By Stephen Downes
June 5, 2002

The next Stage: Moving from Isolated Digital Collections to Interoperable Digital Libraries People who have been reading my work on distributed learning object repository networks will recognize a similar theme being expressed in this article. Too much discussion of metadata (why does everyone thing we must settle on a single standard? I must write about this one day) and not enough on methodology and algorithms. Still, a good start. And think: interoperable learning object repositories AND digital libraries (and think: will the educvational world use the library system's metadata? will the libraries use the educational system's metadata? either would be absurd... still think there will be only one standards?) By Howard Besser, First Monday, June, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Electric Symbols: Internet Words and Culture It takes about two thirds of the article before the author gets to his interesting point (which is not even hinted at in the abstract): context preceeds content. As the author asserts, "The context of today is the content of tomorrow." I submit that this is also true of learning: you can't get people to learn the content until you have first established a context. The context, moreover, is expressed in the person's interests and expressions (as, on the net, expressed by previous Google searches). Further, "We argue that narrative and words associated with place, space and time are contextual words. As we note, they are words in the outer orbits of products that comprise the overall brand or the settings for products. The collective psychology of a particular culture first finds a context and then creates content in the form of products, people or events to inhabit its contextual environment." Put this one down as one of the better insights of the year, marred by one of the worst abstracts of the year (some editing and rearranging would not have hurt either). By John Fraim, First Monday, June, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Images of CAUCE Candid snaps from this week's CAUCE conference in Halifax, Nova Scotia. By Stephen Downes, Stephen's Web, June 5, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Interactive Media in Education: An Interview with Chris Dede Interview with Harvard's Chris Dede which gradually turns to the subject of using multiple media in learning. Dede says, "Within my lifetime, people who don't teach with multiple interactive media will be guilty of professional malpractice. Now I'm obviously expecting to live a long time..." But this isn't right, is it? Why would we make people teach with multiple media? Different people teach best in different ways: some people prefer to talk, others to show pictures, and me, I prefer the 150 word essay format. Sure, learning should be available in multiple formats, but not necessarily from the same person. We have to get past this idea that teaching is something performed by a sole practitioner: think team teaching, think network teaching. By Unknown, Syllabus, June, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Comissioned Paper on the Role of Distance Learning in Vocational Education Though completed in February, this report has only this week become available online. The essence of the report is that although distance learning has not been extensively used in vocational education, it could and should be. The report contains some forward looking proposals including the promotion of learning object standards and the funding of learning object repositories. The strength of the report is its survey of current activity in U.S. distance learning, including a good discussion of the Thomson Corporation's many endeavours. I'm somewhat surprised that the authors rely exclusively on American sources for this report: Australia, in particular, has released a number of strong reports on distance learning in vocational education (they can be found via here the [Research] feature), but none of the knowledge gained there is applied here. By Jacques H. Dubois, Synergy Plus, February 8, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Are We There Yet? For Schools Using Technology, The Answer Is 'No' In the United States, a National School Boards Foundation survey shows that while schools have made gains adopting technology to education, there is still a long way to go. The most interesting statistic from the survey reveals that over half the schools rely on students for technical support. And while many school leaders feel that more students will receive online instruction in the future, the primary use of the internet remains research and teacher preparation. By Press Release, U.S. Newswire, June 5, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2002 Stephen Downes