Stephen's Web

By Stephen Downes
July 11, 2002

Think You Can Run Enron? Play the Game Why create this simulation to promote learning? One of the best sentences I've seen this year explains it in a nutshell: "We did a lot of surveys, and people over 35 merely disliked the e-learning content," he said. "The under-35 audience couldn't stand it." There's a lesson there. By David Becker, CNet, July 10, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

After the Dot-Bomb: Getting Web Information Retrieval Right This Time This is a pretty good article that reviews some of the hard earned lessons about information retrieval learned during the recent dot crash. Some of them - the futility of hierarchical classifications, for example, or the importance of the Bradford Distribution (though I didn't know it was called that (see, I don't know everything!)) - I have learned through my own experience designing OLDaily. Others posit good suggestions I may employ in future iterations of the newsletter. By Marcia J. Bates, First Monday, July 11, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

TOOL: The Open Opinion Layer A fascinating concept. From the article: "This article explores the development of a distributed open opinion layer, which is given the generic name of TOOL. Similar to the evolution of network protocols as an underlying layer for many computational tasks, we suggest that TOOL has the potential to become a common substrate upon which many scientific, commercial, and social activities will be based." By Hassan Masum, First Monday, July 11, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

A Field Guide to Learning Objects It's bad enough trying to read this bulky PDF file on the 24K connection available to me here in Memramcook. But it's worse when I go through the agony - stalling everything else on my computer in the process (Acrobat Reader is a resource hog) - only to find that the content is not what I expected. Take the title of this article literally (I didn't). The article is essentially a list of different types of learning objects. It is by no means a comprehensive list and, quite frankly, it is a list that could be constructed by any OLDaily reader with a few moment's reflection. Ah, but your CEO will love it. By Unknown, ASTD and SmartForce, July, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

E-learning, Online Learning, Web-based Learning, or Distance Learning While readers will find this article interesting as an attempt at a taxonomy of some of the terminology employed in various forms of distributed learning, they should not take this article as the final word on the subject. I have commented before that I have little patience for definitions, and this article reinforces that attitude. Despite appearing to provide sharp and clear definitions (include a lot of dicta about what something is "not") the article sidesteps many of the fuzzy edges. For example, it says that "Web-based learning entails content in a Web browser." Now this may seem intuitively obvious, but the definition leaves open the question of whether learning delivered via web services directly into an application counts as web based learning. My advice is to leave it open. Say it like this: "Web based learning may involve the use of a web browser. It is typically delivered using HTML and may include the use of a variety of media players and applets. It may be delivered using the internet but may also be delivered in the same format using a CD-ROM." The idea is to suggest a set of properties that a type of learning may resemble enough to be called web based learning without attempting to discern sharp edges where none exist (for more do a search on 'Ludwig Wittgenstein' and 'family resemblances'). By Susanna Tsai and Paulo Machado, eLearn Magazine, July, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Know a friend who might enjoy this newsletter?

Feel free to forward OLDaily to your colleagues. If you received this issue from a friend and would like a free subscription of your own, you can join our mailing list at

[ About This NewsLetter] [ OLDaily Archives] [ Send me your comments]

Copyright 2002 Stephen Downes