Stephen's Web

By Stephen Downes
November 20, 2002

Flexibility Through Online Learning Summary of research (in PDF format) obtained by Australia's Flexible Learning Advisory Group FLAG). The study reports that most students who experience online learning do so as part of a program delivered by mixed mode. It suggests that online learning likely to be more expensive than conventional approaches, but is also likely to deliver better learning outcomes and levels of learner satisfaction. In particular, learners value the convenience and freedom of online learning. Students also value opportunities to communicate and interact with teachers. (This summary was "more than a quarter plagiarized"). By Unknown, National Vocational Education and Training System, November, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Nonsense of 'Knowledge Management' The first two thirds of this paper constitute an exhaustive (and sometimes cynical) survey of the different meanings of the term knowledge management in articles and books, at consulting companies and in business schools. The author then provides a reasonable (if short) account of "tacit knowledge" as originally described by Polanyi and tried to identify how the (mistaken) notion that tacit knowledge could be "captured." The author then looks briefly at the idea that knowledge management should be more concerned with people than technology and concludes, finally, that knowledge management "is, in large part, a management fad, promulgated mainly by certain consultancy companies, and the probability is that it will fade away like previous fads." He continues, "according to the rhetoric of 'knowledge management', 'mind' becomes 'manageable', the content of mind can be captured or down-loaded and the accountant's dream of people-free production, distribution and sales is realized - 'knowledge' is now in the database, recoverable at any time." By T.D. Wilson, Information Research, November, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Open-access Journals – Will They Fly? Good article, unfortunately unattributed, summarizing the discussion of open archives for academic journals at the ALPSP/OSI conference. PowerPoint Presentations are also available: Les Car, The Pressures Towards Open Access; Jan Velterop, The Commercial Case for Open Access; Martin Richardson, Alternatives to Open Access; and Raym Crow, Converting an Existing Journal to Open Access. By Unknown, ALPSP, November, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

A Scalable Architecture for Harvest-Based Digital Libraries Interesting though dauntingly technical paper describing efforts to design a larger scale architetcure designed around the Open Archive Initiative harvesting protocols. The paper also shows how various applications can access the system and discusses some prototype implementations. By Xiaoming Liu, et. al., D-Lib, November, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Up to 14% of Australian University Students May Be Plagiarizing From Web, Study Suggests The phrase "up to" is commonly used in advertising to indicate an amount that is theoretically p[ossible, but almost certainly not the case. "Earn up to $5000 a month" really means you will earn $5. "Lose up to 30 punds" means your scales may nudge a pund or two, if any. This study is of the same ilk. A review of of almost 2,000 essays indicated that about 14 percent of them contained "five percent" of plagiarized content. Even the higher threshold, the eight percent or so that contained "more than a quarter" plagiarized content, is suspect. And simply "checking against" existing web content is no way to identify plagiarism. To me this looks like a lot of twisting and turning to find a problem where none really exists. How many of the essays surveyed were simply lifted from essay banks? We are not told, and so my guess would be none. By Andrea L. Foster, Chronicle of Higher Education, November 20, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Global Goofs: U.S. Youth Can't Find Iraq CNN is broadcasting the rsults of this National Geographic survey showing that many young people in various countries (especially the U.S.) fail a simple test where they are required to locate entities such as Iraq, Afghanistan and the Pacific Ocean on a map. The National Geographic Society is an interested party, of course, and it would be interesting to see the actual test. That said, the gap bewteen American students and those in other countries is probably even wider than the test suggests, since the questions were America-centric (requiring that students locate specific U.S. states). Imagine what the results would look like were both the Americans and, say, the Germans required also to locate Bavaria or Baden-Württemberg. By Unknown, CNN, November 20, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright © 2002 Stephen Downes