Stephen's Web

By Stephen Downes
January 18, 2003

One Standard for All: Why We Don't Want It, Why We Don't Need It If you are wondering where I was (and hence, where OLDaily was) yesterday, I was at Athabasca University's Edmonton office delivering this talk to a number of combative distance learning instructors, designers and administration. My point, in a nutshell: "Objects are best described using multiple vocabularies. There is no way to determine which vocabulary will be relevant to either an author or a user of a given objects. Trying to stipulate a canonical vocabulary a priori needlessly reduces the effectiveness of a system of communication." The PowerPoint version is also available. By Stephen Downes, Stephen's Web, January 17, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Payloads for RSS An "enclosure" is an RSS link that points to a large digital object, such as Grateful Dead song sored in MP3. The purpose of enclosures is to enable high-bandwidth tansactions - such as the downloading of said song - to occur in the middle of the night so that the resulting multimedia will pop up fresh, fast and local the next day. It's a nifty idea and a nifty use of RSS with the potential to be enormously subversive - just the combination I like! By Dave Winer, UserLand, January 11, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Presentation to Management Worth taking a quick look, this presentation from Jay Cross to 36 members of the Harvard Business School Alumni Association was built on ideas submitted by readers and prersents a refreshingly anti-establishment look at e-learning. Among the author's points: "90% of corporate learning is informal yet 80% of corporate investment is in formal learning." And, "The next step is bouillabaisse eLearning, where the learner can pluck out lobster or sea bass or performance support, knowledge bites, online instruction, or whatever suits his or her taste. This is bad news to people who sell measurement systems but a stronger boost for performance." By Jay Cross, Learning Circuits Blog, January 15, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Coming of Copyright Perpetuity The New York Times speaks out against the indefinite extension of copyright. "In effect, the Supreme Court's decision makes it likely that we are seeing the beginning of the end of public domain and the birth of copyright perpetuity. Public domain has been a grand experiment, one that should not be allowed to die. The ability to draw freely on the entire creative output of humanity is one of the reasons we live in a time of such fruitful creative ferment." By Editorial, New York Times, January 16, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

This Is Your Deep Link on P2P NewsBooster, the company ordered by a Danish court last year to cease deep linking to news articles, is circumventing the court order by using a peer-to-peer network instead. "Newsbooster cannot and will not accept limits on the free possibilities of the Internet," Lassen said. "We will continue to fight for a legal ruling that recognizes the difference between a referral via a link and the copying of protected information. But in the meantime, there is Newsbrowser." By Michelle Delio, Wired News, January 17, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

infoAnarchy Wiki infoAnarchy is a website dedicated to opposition to current copyright legislation. This site, a wiki (which is essentially a website anyone can add information to) "contains information related to file sharing, copyright, the gift economy, cyber liberties, peer to peer research, information tools, and similar topics which are discussed on infoAnarchy." There is a wealth of matrial on this site, though people who have followed the issue for some time will find much of it familiar. By Various Authors, infoAnarchy, January, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Scholars scour eBay Nice look at the twin-edged sword eBay provides to academic researchers seeking original materials (such as, say, a copy of Whitman that was owned by Thoreau). On the one hand, the online aution makes it possible for devotees everywhere to acquire rare or obscure material. On the other hand, the increased number of bidders has made such items much more expensive. By Noel C. Paul, Christian Science Monitor, January 14, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

IMS Simple Sequencing Approved You may have forgotten about this, but Simple Sequencing is a way of describing how a student can navigate through a body of learning material. This article provides an update (IMS has approved the spec) and some criticisms. Simple sequencing, notes the author, does not allow for varying roles; the only role supported is that of learner. And "Simple Sequencing presents a few changes from the way things are done in, say, SCORM 1.2 and earlier." By Wilbert Kraan, CETIS, January 16, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

AskNow! OK, so the service at 1:00 a.m. Sunday morning (Sydney time) isn't so great. But the idea is: "National, State and Territory libraries in Australia have joined forces to provide an innovative service for all Australians - AskNow! - Australia's first collaborative reference service. Ask a question and you will get reponses from professional librarians... We will help you with your inquiry, send you useful web pages to look at, or ask you questions for more information. At the end of the session you will receive a transcript with a list of URLs visited." By Various Authors, January, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Does Policy Make a Difference? An Exploration into Policies for Distance Education Study of distance edeucation policies and enrollments at five west and midwest U.S. colleges (generalize at your own risk). The answer to the question posed above is, "Yes, but not as much of an influence as you might think." Early adopters and early majority indtructors will adopt distance learning no matter what the policy says; indeed, they tend to thrive in a policy vacuum. Incentives and support play some role in assisting the more reluctant majority to adopt distance learning. By Katrina A. Meyer, Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, Winter, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

How Can Instructors and Administrators Fill the Missing Link in Online Instruction? This is old news, isn't it? "This paper supports the idea that students benefit from personal contact and access to the professor and learning is enhanced in courses with high degrees of interactivity among students." The author recommends the use of chat, email and discussion boards to facilitate communication. By Thelma J. Roberson and Jack Klotz, Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, Winter, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2003 Stephen Downes
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