Stephen's Web

By Stephen Downes
September 3, 2002

Read My Weblog, Feed My Weblog It was only a matter of time, I suppose - and indeed, we could see this coming as people like Dave Pell wanted to turn their blogs (as Pell said) from a hobby to a business. Since no blog can charge a subscription on its own, a group of them have come together to form The Blogging Network, a subscription based service granting access to a number of blogs. For the record, OLDaily will not be joining this (orf any other) fee based blogging network. By Rafat Ali , PaidContent.Org, September 1, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Schools Begin Initial Journey With Laptops as Learning Tool After spending a whack of money (and enduring much criticism), Maine's laptop program begins today as the state provides every seventh grader with a laptop. I like the cynicism in this article: "chances are that some of the kids will learn to use them faster than their teachers." Did I say cynicism? I meant realism. By Tess Nacelewicz, Portland Press, September 3, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Chief Learning Officer After a great deal of publicity (I got an email every time a new editor or contributor was appointed), a new magazine, Chief Learning Officer, launched today. I've listed a couple of articles below. I hope they have market research, because my reading of about a dozen or so articles tells me that their approach is to write simply, keep descriptions basic, and keep items short. Yes, I know this is the standard sort of writing for executives (which may explain why so many of them are uninformed), but I can't believe that a person appointed as a chief learning officer would need such basic information - it's a bad sign for the company if he or she does. My message to CLO: beef it up a bit. By Various Authors, Chief Learning Officer, September, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Enterprise Learning: A Spending Summary This article is a good source of notes and quotes about the current and projected size of the enterprise learning market. According to the author, "The enterprise learning market is 37 percent larger than the U.S. motion picture industry and more than twice as large as the burgeoning video-game industry." The source cited is a survey of 292 respondents being offered for sale through the magazine. I'm not so sure that this is the best basis on which to evaluate market size - it is kind of like surveying potential movie-goers to determine the size of the film industry (people forget and they lie; use box office receipts instead). Use the results as a guide, and (in my view) allow for a wider margin of error than the 5.7 percent claimed by the authors. By Gary Gabelhouse, Chief Learning Officer, September, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Learning Solutions - Learning Objects: Behind the Buzz Good utility grade overview of learning objects intended for the general (read: executive) reader. I like the example of learning object metadata contgained in this article. My main criticism is that CLO is going to have to learn to internationalize: it is absurd to cite only American sources as background reading in this field, absurd because it results in things like Elliott Masie being cited as an authority and important resources such as CETIS and EML overlooked. By Richard Clark and Allison Rossett , Chief learning Officer, September, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Simulation May be The E-learning Killer App I believe that simulations are important to e-learning and have been touting them for many years. I've even built a few. So I'm not surprised to hear that "Enterprises that have invested in e-learning have told Gartner that their biggest payback occurs when they include simulation as part of their overall e-learning curriculum." And I am inclined to agree with ZDNet's prediction that "By 2006, 70 percent of all off-the-shelf and custom e-learning content will include some application of simulations." But a killer app? No, not quite. Simulations will be one more tool in the toolbox. But it is the toolbox as a whole that will revolutionize education. By James Lundy, Debra Logan, and Kathy Harris, ZD Net Tech Update, August 29, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Play For Performance It's funny. I had never heard of Thiagi a couple of months ago. Now he's everywhere. I suppose in some circles he has had guru status for some time, but his circles have shifted and now I find him within my horizon. My gain: in what I have seen from him at Net*Working 2002 and now again in his newsletter (which I read today for the first time) I think he has some valuable contributions to make in the area of using games to support learning. Even if he does remind me of Hegel. By Thiagi, Play For Performance, Steptember 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Jones Knowledge Will Give Away Its Course-Management Software This is from last week but it is worth noting for the record that yet another online learning institution has discovered that they make their money offering services to students and not by selling software. Indeed, having their software widely accepted would make it easier to provide services to students (since they might enter the program with prior experience using the software). By Florence Olsen, Chronicle of Higher Education, August 30, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Year Ahead: "Conceptual Confusion" In Distance Education Editorial by Farhad Saba to mark the start of Distance-Educator.Com's 8th academic year (Stephen's Web also started in 1995, so the perspective is interesting to me). Saba reflects some of the malaise that has characterized the field over the last few months. "The field is suffering from what Dr. Michael Moore... calls a 'conceptual confusion'." But I don't agree with Saba that the cause is "the result of new terms" that do not adhere to classical studies in distance education. In some cases, quite the opposite: while our origins in distance education sometimes help us, they sometimes hold us back. The root of online learning is not merely in distance education: we derive concepts from media studies, information technology and even, as the arcane field of epistimology becomes a science, philosophy. Indeed, if we have a conceptual confusion in this field, it is generally because one or another of these progenitors claims sole ancestry. By Farhad Saba, Distance-Educator.Com, September 3, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2002 Stephen Downes