Stephen's Web

By Stephen Downes
December 23, 2002

TechLearn Will Close According to Seb Schmoller (I can't find independent confirmation at JISC or on Google), "TechLearn will close. JISC announced, on 23/12/2002, that its TechLearn Centre, based at the University of York will cease operations in July 2003. The Centre acted as a source of information and advice to the JISC community on how best to take advantage of the new technologies for learning and teaching and how these technologies might impact on strategic and operational planning. TechLearn's sister organisation, TechDis, an ICT advice and support service to enhance access for those with learning difficulties and/or disabilities to learning, teaching, research and administration will continue to operate." By Seb Schmoller, December 23, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

An Intermediate Guide to Formal Visual Design Good article surveying the essential elements of design. It is worth noting that many of the principles of paper-based design (such as balance, contrast and emphasis) pass over quite successfully to the online world. Though commentators attack the tone of the article ("Why begin the piece with a snide arrogant introduction that condescends to enlighten the unwashed?") it seems to me appropriate: many of the people involved in disciplines like instructional design have little knowledge of or regard for good design principles. By Matthew Frederick Davis H., Kuro5hin, December 4, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Les emplois de la Formation distance If you are in the field of distance learning and you work in French - or are looking for work in French - then this site may be of interest. In addition to listing employment offers, the site centers around the needs and interests of instructional design professionals, containing tips on salary expectations, performance rubrics, a C.V. repository and more. There is also an associated Yahoo group. By Chantal Dumont, July, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Back to Basics - E-learning in 2003 This smart article captures many of the trends I have observed through 2002, offers some insight into the confusion surrounding e-learning, but leaves me disappointed when it discusses the trends to expect in 2003. The best bit is near the middle: "here are three completely different ways of looking at e-learning. One is asynchronous (CBT on the web), one synchronous (virtual classrooms) and the other a mix (distance learning on the Internet). They have almost nothing in common..." Quite right. And I also agree with this: "Perhaps the greatest wasted potential is in the use of virtual classrooms. Believe it or not, death by PowerPoint is as painful online as it is in the classroom." This article is a great starting point for thought, but you'll have to draw your own conclusions. By Clive Shepherd, Fastrak Consulting, December, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Using Database Software for "Do-it-yourself" Online Homework Assignments The thrust of this artile is to show that you don't need an expensive learning management system to do most functions involved in online learning. A simple off-the-shelf database system, for example, can be used to automate and track student homework assignments. By Thomas Holme, Teaching With Technology Today, December 20, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2002 Stephen Downes