Stephen's Web

By Stephen Downes
June 14, 2002

Aggregators, Assimilators, Analysts and Advisors Educators play the same sort of role in society as journalists. They are aggregators, assimilators, analysts and advisors. They are middle links in an ecosystem, or as John Hiler puts it, parasites on information produced by others. And they are being impacted by alternative formas of learning in much the same way, for much the same reasons. By Stephen Downes, Stephen's Web, June 14, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Digital Resources in Education Overview article describing how technology will change the organization of learning. Focuses on three major changes: individual learner plans, classroom goals and objectives, and portfolio-based assessment. By Arun Kumar Tripathi, Ubiquity, June, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Pringles Solution Billions of dollars went into the development and deployment of 802.11b wireless networks, and yet the system was dramatically improved by some smart consumers with a Pringle's can. This article is mostly about "war driving" - driving around picking up neighborhood wireless LANs - but a link to the Pringle's solution is provided. By Chris Taylor, Time, June 17, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

New Approach to E-Learning is Needed to Tap Into $14 Billion Market, Says Booz Allen Report What I really like about this item is that it essentially says that I've been right all along. In particular, it recommends three principles for success in e-learning, namely:

  • "Develop and distribute education in bite-sized chunks - that is, small, self-contained units, rather than full semester-long courses as part of complete degree programs;
  • "Fill gaps in the traditional learning market through customized instructional tools or new delivery methods, rather than trying to replace the traditional teacher/textbook offering;
  • Provide new and better mediums for learning built around traditional content, such as electronic versions of print-based products with added features, rather than focus on creating new and improved content."
Well OK, I don't really agree with the third point, at least, not exactly. Add new features, yes. But old content may have to be replaced - if you explain the concept in a single interactive diagram, then you don't need to keep and use the 24 pages of text. By Booz Allen Hamilton, Business Wire, June 13, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Test the Nation: The National IQ Test How intelligent are the British? I'm not going to hazard a guess, but the results - especially the maps - of this national IQ test administered to more than 90,000 people a month ago make for fascinating reading. Check out some of the specific comparisons: people who wear glasses scored higher, smokers scored lower, and astrological sign made no significant difference whatsoever. By Various Authors, BBC, June, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Research in Online Learning Community This essay discussing online learning communities leaves me dissatisfied, but it has agood list of references. The core of the paper is the proposal of a theoretical framework for studying online communities. The first step in an analysis of a problem space, such frameworks amount to a division of the topic into smaller domains of enquiry. This could be a preliminary to a larger work, but the authors don't go there. I think that what leaves me most dissatisfied, though, is the one-dimensional nature of the discussion. The work cites academic publications exclusively, which makes it a couple of years out of date and excludes important authors such as Turkle, Figallo, Hegel and Armstrong, and Kim. By Chih-Hsiung Tu and Michael Corry, E-Jist, June, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

SOCCI Digital Rights Management Business Requirements Specification The School Online Curriculum Content Initiative (SOCCI) is an Australian iniative intended to "list the Australian school education sector into a competitive and self-supporting position." It is inteended to accomplish this goal via the development and marketing of learning objects. This paper describes in considerable detail the digital rights management (DRM) required to support this initiative, including a management structure, technical standards and system components. Dated April, 2001, but just posted. PDF format. By Renato Iannella, IPR Systems, April, 2001 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2002 Stephen Downes