Stephen's Web

By Stephen Downes
October 28, 2002

TExpo Today's newsletter is coming to you a bit early today because I am co-presenting with Lisa Neale, EDS Consultant and Editor of ELearn Magazine, at the TExpo conference in Fredericton. [Disclosure: fees waived by organizers]. By Various Authors, October 28, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Role of Quality in e-Learning: From Page-Turners to Motivating and Engaging Online Courses Online learning fails when we use new technology to do old things page turning, for example, works wonderfully in books, miserably online In a similar manner, we will find that e-government fails when we use new technology to do old things online voting and online town halls, for example, are good ideas that may turn out very badly. The key to success in both e-learning and e-government hinges on the idea of participation. This involves changing learners from passive consumers of learning to active producers of learning. And in e-government, this involves changing citizens from passive consumers of governance to active producers of governance By Stephen Downes, Stephen's Web, October 28, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

ThoughtWeb From the world of fascinating developments just over the horizon: "ThoughtWeb's purpose is to create and share knowledge and information through the use of free-thinking, pro-active personal agents which provide individuals with intelligent, personalized advice and guidance on the web... intelligent personal agents which are capable of understanding people's personal goals and visions and providing advice, coaching and knowledge to help them achieve these goals." The website is a dearth of information, but I'm including this link to flag this as an emerging trend. By Various Authors, Octiber, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Promoting and Disseminating Knowledge: The Public/Private Interface An important and extensively researched document, this paper looks at what it calls the "question of triage" - given that governments cannot afford to fund all the research that society needs, "When should society 'buy' additional research at the cost of intellectual property rights?" The paper looks mostly at developements in biotechnology (not surprisingly, since most recent activity is in that sector) and in particular at the NIH and the Bayh-Dole Act, which allows universities to own intellectual property rights. Among numerous other recommendations, he calls for a repeal of the act. In addition, he observes that, to some extent, "intellectual property rights have become a drag on the dissemination of taxpayer-funded public knowledge" and have "created a 'lottery mentality' that encourages academic scientists to patent more inventions than they should." Though a large and cumbersome PDF to download, this paper is required reading for anyone interested in the field of intellectual property in scientific research. By Stephen Maurer, Symposium on the Role of Scientific and Technical Data and Infdormation in the Public Domain, September 5, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Introducing the Microcontent Client Good article describing the face of online information access in the years to come. The idea behind the microcontent client is that "it will enable the sharing of meme-sized chunks of information using a consistent set of navigation, user interface, storage, and networking technologies." This is the first I have heard of memes actually having a size, though I suppose the items in this newsletter would qualify. The article does not actgually provide us with a microcontent client, but it suggests that the tool itself is not long in coming. I agree. By Anil Dash, Magazine, October 21, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Impact of "Too Much Information" Some practical information on how to handle high volumes of information, including some techniques I use in my own work. If I had to offer one piece of advice (taken from the hard lessons of experience), it would be this: don't let email linger. Deal with it as soon as it comes in: either file it into an archives folder, respond right away if required, blog it if it's interesting, whatever. Get it out of your inbox and into a form you can use. Of course I say this just moments after handing an email from two weeks ago... like I said, hard experience. By George Siemens, elearnspace, October 26, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

E-prints: The Future of Scholarly Communication? Discussion of the Open Archives Initiative (OAI) from an Australian context, looking especially at work taking place at the University of Sydney, ANU and the Group of Eight Universities (Go8). There is also some discussion about the relationship between OAI and commercial publishers. Good references and links. By Colin Steele, inCite, October, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Phoenix Rises Good overview of the University of Phoenix, noted for its online course delivery, including enrollment statistics and demographics. The article contaions a number of interesting tidbits: the university, for example, is not concerned about using streaming video "because it doesn't work anyways." To create social interaction, the university creates teams of students. And the next major trend in online learning at the university seems to be simulations, used first in the MBA programs but not being adopted elsewhere. By Florence Olsen, Chronicle of Higher Education, November 1, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2002 Stephen Downes