Stephen's Web

By Stephen Downes
June 10, 2002

Freespeling It's a person of small mind that can think of only one way to spell a word. Now there is a web site that lets those of us with more imaginative speling fite bak. By Richard Lawrence Wade, June, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Are Enterprise IM Companies in Danger? Ignore the story, which is yet another business angle on a popular technology. Focus on the interesting nugget: the idea that a corporate instant messaging solution may edit messages on the fly. Using the word 'guarantee' in financial services, for example, is an absolute no-no." OK, so the IM service would filter the word 'guarantee' - but this has the result that the message received is different from the message sent. Well. Assuming we allow software to edit our communications on the fly, just imagine the possibilities! He writes, "Your product is a piece of ^%$^4$^." They read, "I have experienced some problems with your product." By Bob Woods, Instant Messaging Planet, June 10, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Measure the Metrics The premise of this article is straight forward: you need to test the effectiveness of e-learning by looking at actual improvements in performance. This story provides some suggestions about how to go about measuring these. One wonders how a similar strategy could be applied in non-corporate e-learning. Instead of merely testing, say, Grade 12 students, could we follow them around and see whether they are correctly applying trigonometry to measure the height of flagpoles or correctly identifying European capitals on world maps? OK, those aren't very good metrics. But what would be? Or to ask the same question conversely: if we can't identify performance metrics for Grade 12 students, what is being lost if we require performance metrics for the evaluation of corporate e-learning? By Josh Bersin, e-Learning Magazine, June 1, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Do It Yourself Kit It used to be that you had to have a blue ribbon panel and an invitation in order to participate in a public policy strategy discussion. This website provides a mechanism whereby communities can host their own discussions and contribute to a national conference on Canada's innovation strategy being held in the fall. It's not fancy, but it's a great example of how the internet can be used on offline endeavours. And personally, I think setting up and hosting such a conference would be a great class project for Canadian students. By Various Authors, Government of Canada, May, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Iterative Design can be Lazy Design This item will probably be picked up in the e-learning newsletter circuit, so it's important to flag it as bad advice based on a misconception of interative design. The author depicts iterative design as bad design made better through a process of user testing, a methodology easily parodied ("Designer: Your back tire blew out when you were going at sixty miles an hour. Hmm We'll have to solve that one in the next iteration.") But iterative design involves the gradual introduction of new features, not gradual improvements in design - the idea is to introduce and perfect each feature before moving on to the next. Sure, if you are planning to implement a known and limited set of features, these can be added as a unit. But if you are adding novel and untested features (as I am on OLDaily), it is important to assess how each affects the site as a whole before moving on. By Gerry McGovern, New Thinking Newsletter, June 10, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2002 Stephen Downes