Stephen's Web

By Stephen Downes
August 1, 2002

PeopleSoft Acquires Teamscape I don't want to turn OLDaily into a listing of mergers and acquisitions, but having predicted a spate of them for this summer, I want to take at least a little time to gloat about being right. By Michael Singer, Internet News, July 31, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Evolving an Integral Ecology of Mind Following some of my recent articles and posts I have been involved in some sidebar discussions about the complexities and subtlties in and theory of learning. My own view is at least in part that any theory of learning must depend in a large degree on what we know about the mind. But what we know - or should know - about the mind is multilayers and dynamic, as this article illustrates. We need "a comprehensive view of 'mind as a whole' by integrating biology, psychology and sociology, and considering 'Mind' as a dynamical interplay between values existing over many levels and scales of complex systems." By Chris Lucas, Brain, Mind & Consciousness, December 31, 200-31 8:33 p.m. [Refer][Research][Reflect]

How to Manage the E-Learning Development Team I've worked on course development teams and so I have a pretty good idea of some of the things that can go wrong, especially when one member of the team is a headstrong, stubborn and unorthodox instructional designer (i.e., me). This article promises to help develop an understanding of how to manage such teams, and it starts well by describing the different roles and some desirable team attributes. But it falls short. What should the administrator do to create the desired outcome? How do you manage strong willed and diverse personalities? How do you draw on individual creativity and ability while at the same time convincing the team members to subsume (at least in part) their passions to team and organizational goals? We need more here. By John M. Ivancevich, Thomas N. Duening, and Robert Konopaske, Learning Circuits, July, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Classroom Discussions for the Twenty-first Century Fairly simple paper describing some research that shows that moderated online discussions improve student writing. That said, I like the way the presentation is layered with some speculation as to why this happens: and a good theory emerges. The authors draw on Vygotsky to suggest that "children can perform at greater levels using peer collaboration with more capable peers." That's fine, but the effect doesn't extend to the more capable peers, who (by necessity) are separated from each other (so they can be placed with less capable peers). In an online forum, though, the more capable students are not separated from each other. "The level of performance for all students, not just the less able, will rise due to influence from more capable peers." Good stuff: nice bit of thinking. By Beth DePasquale and Tom Miller, TechLearning, August 1, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Inexorable and Inevitable: The Continuing Story of Technology and Assessment I wish someone would offer a course in the writing of abstracts. This is a good, clearly written paper but the abstract is a dense fog of verbiage that leaves the reader wondering what the paper is about. Oh well. The author argues that the use of technology in education is "inexorable and inevitable," bringing a number of solid examples to support this case. Thus, "as technology becomes intertwined with what and how students learn, the means we use to document achievement must keep pace." This isn't happening; a survey of a number of state initiatives (presented in a nice grid format) shows that onine assessment is still mostly at the multiple-choice tests on computer stage. What we need is a more sophisticated form of online assessment, one that "might include simulations and other complex performances that not only indicate achievement level, but offer proficiency inferences with clear instructional implications." See? That wasn't so hard to describe. PDF format from volume 1, number 1 of this new (online) journal. By Randy Elliot Bennett, Journal of Technology,Learning,and Assessment, June, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Distance Learning Styles Post from DEOS that demonstrates considerable insight into the topic of distance learning styles. The author reports on some research results, including from his doctoral dissertation a couple of years ago. What I like is that he has very deliberately abandoned the idea of trying to find sweeping generalizations that apply across all contexts. He also recognizes that learning styles - perhaps more accurately labeled learning preferences - change over time and by situation. He writes, "Since student characteristics are in constant flux, the usual requirements for broad generalization in research may need to be abandoned in favor of a model that continuously monitors student characteristics and determines which characteristics facilitate favorable outcomes. This student- and learning-centered approach to research would likely influence educational practice by increasing faculty sensitivity to the individual learner and by preparing them to facilitate distant education." Good links to the authors work for those who want more By David P. Diaz, DEOS, July 31, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Seizing the Moment: Scientists' Authorship Rights in the Digital Age This is a good paper that takes a sober (and sometimes frustratingly unbiased) look at the rights, interests and responsibilities of various stakeholders with respect to copyright in academic publishing. While not proposing a specific model, it suggests that all stakeholders would benefit from increased accessibility to published materials. A nice table of "values at the core of electronic publishing" neatly organizes the competing needs and interests of various players in the environment. My only complaint is that the paper's methodology to a large degree determines its outcome. By considering the needs of all stakeholders, you arrive at a solution that balances those needs. But it leaves open the question of whether you need to balance everyone's needs, or only those of the authors and readers (which is, essentially, what publishing is all about). Publishers' needs, in other words, might be irrelevant. Still: good read. By Mark S. Frankel, American Association for the Advancement of Science, July, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Weblogs in Education - Edublogs? Nice bit of digging to ferret out most of the interesting work on weblogs in education. OLDaily readers will have seen many of the articles listed, but there are some examples of weblogs in action that are new to me. In any case, it's nice to see all these resources by early adopters collected in one place. Found via Eclipse. By Graeme Daniel and Kevin Cox, Web Tools Newsletter, July 29, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2002 Stephen Downes