Stephen's Web

By Stephen Downes
March 7, 2003

Robin Good's Web Conferencing Access Kit to 16 Free Try-Outs I normally do not link to sites that require a registration, but I will make an exception in this case because of the usefulness of the content. This handy report provides details of free demo access to about fifteen SOHO (Small Office - Home Office) web conferencing applications. The purpose, of course, is to show you where and how to try out these applications for yourself. It's available in PDF format once you make it through the registration screen. You'll have to skip through a few pages promoting some more detailed reports for sale to get to the URLs and screen shots. By Luigi Canali De Rossi, Robin Good, March, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

SCO Group Sues IBM for $1 Billion Over Unix License Despite some thought that it might back off, SCO Group (formerly Caldera) has launched a billion dollar lawsuit against IBM, alleging that it "transferred pieces of its proprietary Unix software into Linux." According to SCO, "IBM has taken our valuable trade secrets and given them away to Linux. It's a very cozy relationship." By Dan Goodin, Bloomberg.Com, March 6, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Learning in the Large Enterprise: Centralized vs. Decentralized I'm not sure this discussion captures all the nuances of the debate, but it's a good introduction, even if it is written from the point of view of e-learning in large enterprises. Still. One thing it says is this: "Online content puts the largest demands on servers and pipelines. Once that content is pushed out to local management via localized content servers, two problems are solved. Content no longer flows from a single central server through restricting pipelines, and control of content is where it should be, at the local level." This bothers me. Not because what it says is false. But if your e-learning content is plugging up your servers and pipelines, then you need to reconsider your content (or your pipelines). Would the web work if, before using it, we had to download all the content to a local machine? Of course not. Sure, there is caching on the web, but there's no real sense of 'local' content management. So where's the flaw? It's this, I think: in the presumption that the content is all coming from a centralized server. That's what creates the load. But why would you do that? It would be like accessing the web from some huge 'web central,' which would be ridiculous. That's my problem with this article: both options offered are flawed. That's what's wrong with contemporary e-learning: those are the two option we're being given by all the vendors. Why is this so hard for people to understand? Am I the only person in the world who sees this? We have a functioning model of a massively distributed information system that works - the web - and yet vendors and consumers of e-learning continue to propose and implement centralized architectures. It boggles the mind. It just boggles the mind. By Joe Ellis and Todd Mauldin, Chief Learning Officer, March, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

SCORM Detective A few people wrote yesterday to say that they had found the MX-based SCORM testing tool offered by Saba, not at the Saba website, but here, on the ADL website. CETIS has also followed up with an article. Still no response to my email from Saba. By Saba, ADL, February 25, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Standard Bearers Close Ranks In an article that reads like a State of the Union address, the author described the efforts of five major bodies - IMS, ADL, SIF, OKI and IEEE-LTSC - as representing "the collaboration occurring across the entire eLearning spectrum." I think that's a bit overstated. And I think, to quote George Siemens, that "What's needed is simple standards. Period. Right now, standard bodies are creating massively complex standards that are incomprehensible to the people who are supposed to adopt them - instructors/designers. There's a significant disconnect here." Let me be clear: it's not simply that these bodies are running too far ahead of the implementors. It's more like these bodies are staking out a territory of their own, independently of the implementors, and will now have to embark on a campaign to lure implementors toward their way of thinking. It's not going to be an easy sell, because it's not clear that what these bodies are producing is what the implementors want in online learning. By Frank Tansey, Syllabus, March, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

MCEETYA ICT in Schools Taskforce The Australian Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs (MCEETYA) Website is now available. The site is organised around strategic planning, connectivity, interoperability, content, research cross-sectoral activities, and policy and regulation. Viewers will find that the site consists mostly of selected research reports and presentations on these topics. Some good stuff here. Be sure also to explore the 'Qick Links' dropdown menu and if you have time to kill, visit the 'Copyright Aware' site prominently linked at the top of the page. By Various Authors, MCEETYA, March, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2003 Stephen Downes
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