Stephen's Web

By Stephen Downes
March 21, 2003

Use and Abuse of Reusable Learning Objects This is a very nice paper capturing most of the traditional debate surrounding learning objects (and taking a fairly traditional line, arguing that only something that"combines its digital element and an exposition" can be a learning object). There is some insightful stuff here, too, foreshadowed with the discussion of an object's "form" and "relations" and instantiated with a lucid outline of Wittgenstein's concept of the "language game." Consider this: "According to Wittgenstein, the meaning of a word in a language is neither inherent to it nor is it derived from an object it stands for. Instead, the word becomes meaningful in its rule-governed use in a language." Quite right. The author then takes the next step, one I have been urging in my writings: "The LO should be thought of as a word or preposition, and the usages of LOs as language-games. Like a word, a LO is abstract, but can be understood and shared among users. Similarly, as individual words cannot independently produce meaning, the LOs - self-standing and self-referential - in themselves are insufficient to generate significant instruction." So far so good, but now I disagree with what follows: "Creating LOs that conform to the conceptual definition advanced here requires that the structure of the LO reflect the two basic foundational principles, learning intent and reusability." Well, no. We just got done saying that a learning object cannot contain a learning intent, that this intent is derived solely from its relation with other objects in a context of learning. We cannot now require that the intent be contained within the object. Hm? Anyhow, do read this paper; it's a nice read by an author who knows what he's doing. By Pithamber R. Polsani, Journal of Digital Information, February, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

How to Create a Web Simulation As OLDaily readers will know, I played with Forio's simulation engine over the Christmas break. This page is a much needed tutorial for their engine. From the website: "This tutorial will teach you how to build models and simulation web interfaces to those models. By the end of the tutorial, you will have learned how to develop a user-friendly web simulation. This is an active, hands-on tutorial. Throughout the tutorial, you'll be building a simulation. You'll start with writing model equations and then you'll design a web interface." By Various Authors, Forio, March, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Next Generation Course Management Systems When you look at the list of features listed in this look at the CMS of the future, ask yourself: why weren't they included in the first wave? I mean, these are really basic features - the capacity to edit content, launching content in its own window, evaluation tools... what did developers think they were building last time? Moreover, it seems to me that next generation CMSs should go well beyond the list offered here. PDF format. By Colleen Carmean and Jeremy Haefmer, EDUCAUSE Quarterly, Spring, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Five Obstacles to Technology Integration at a Small Liberal Arts University The five obstacles are:

  1. lack of a clear (institutional) vision
  2. lack of leadership
  3. lack of critical mass (of technology)
  4. lack of incentive (for teachers)
  5. lack of direct faculty participation
By Edwina Spodark, THE Journal, March, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2003 Stephen Downes
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