By Stephen Downes
May 1, 2003

Edu_RSS Upgrade
My RSS aggregation service, Edu_RSS, has two new features. First, an RSS feed of the aggregated listings is now available for harvesting by other services. Second, a Javascript feed has been added which allows you to place Edu_RSS listings on any web page whatsoever (yes, even inside WebCT) with no coding or programming. By Stephen Downes, Stephen's Web, May 1, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

More than Personal: The Impact of Weblogs
In this editorial for the New Brunswick e-learning newsletter, After 5, I describe how the common conception of weblogs as the uninteresting personal rants of the disaffected has evolved into a powerful information sharing and community building tool. "Because they tap into the heart of one of the web's great strengths, personal expression and control, and because they draw on the communication capacities inherent in an inter-network, they have become an effective means of distribution any digital content and at the same time a highly selective filtering and classification system for that content." A long list of references and resources at the end of the article has been clipped, but should be available Monday. By Stephen Downes, After 5, May 1, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

From Knowledge Management to Learning on Demand
The third in my series for LearnScope, this article looks at the rise of learning on demand as a natural outgrowth of knowledge management and information and communications technologies. The important bit is right at the end: "Most treatments of the topic try to show how learning objects can be transformed into online courses. But as this brief excursion into learning on demand shows, that is exactly the wrong approach. We should not be thinking about how to blend learning objects with each other. We should be thinking about how to blend them with applications, just as learning is embedded in games." By Stephen Downes, Learnscope, May 1, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Spotlight Site: Open Archives Initiative
My review of this important initiative serves as a good introduction to the concept and the software. My observations are based on actually installing and testing the OAI repository and harvesting software. The site review is full of links for those who want to learn more. By Stephen Downes, The Technology Source, May, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Ten Ways Online Education Matches, or Surpasses, Face-to-Face Learning
We hear a lot about how online learning cannot replace in-class learning because there are some things you can do in person that you just can't do online. What was needed, and long overdue, was a look at the same question from the other direction: an examination of the many ways in which online learning is superior to its traditional counterpart. In the online environment, we are much more able to support student-centered learning, intensive writing, interactive discussions, immediate feedback and so much more. By Mark Kassop, The Technology Source, May, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Global e-Learning Framework: An Interview with Badrul Khan
It's hard to keep everything in mind when you are designing an e-learning solution. It's even harder to keep tabs on everything when planning to do this for an international market. So Badrul Khan's Global e-Learning Framework - nicely described and discussed in this interview - is a useful aid for anyone looking to provide services beyond their own borders. By James Morrison, The Technology Source, May, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Technology for Sharing: Researching Learning Objects and Digital Rights Management
This lengthy and detailed report - the final report of a Flexible Learning study group formed last year - is one of the best and most comprehensive studies of learning objects and associated technologies available. In addition to an extensive reading list, the authors formed their opinions via a series of interviews and conferences attended throughout the course of last year. Even though presented as a lengthy PDF file, this is a must-read if you are involved in the field. My only regret on reading this report is that the authors didn't look forward enough: I would like to have seen some speculation about the likely future of LCMSs, content distribution networks, and the like. But this is a faint criticism of what I think all will agree is a first rate piece of work. By Sam Meredith, Peter Higgs and Tim Hand, Flexible Learning Leaders, April 28, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Towards a Pattern Language for Learning Management Systems
This is a very nice paper that looks for design patterns in learning management systems and proposes a common language for describing these patters. The authors identify a set of common problems - for example, the question of how to provide access to new information, or how to provide access to interaction tools - and describe a common response to them as observed across a number of LMSs. This would be a great starting point for a critique of the current generation of LMSs and a description of how the next generation should evolve. By Avgeriou, P., Papasalouros, A., Retalis, S., and Skordalakis, M., Educational Technology & Society, May 1, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Knowledge Board
This community site for knowledge management based in Europe has recently added a set of resources related to language issues within knowledge management. Good content, but it was a pain tracking it down, scattered as it is over five or six (short) pages. By Olaf Brugman and Cindy Lemcke-Hoong, Knowledge Board, April 28, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Blackboard's Academic Web Resources ... and the Advertising
I have watched the good people at Xplana wrestle with Blackboard's student support function all week. After the software error was fixed, they finally got into the area - only to recoil in horror at the flood of advertising that flowed forth. What's interesting - and I'm glad the author catches this - is that Blackboard's commercial display seems to operate independently of any college or university policy on the subject. "Given that SIN, OU's Sooner Information Network student portal, was just raked over the coals in the April 25 2003 issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education for having advertising on its site, I am surprised that the Chronicle did not say anything about all the advertising on university Blackboard sites." Of course, notes the author, "Luckily for us, though, I doubt that any OU student has ever ventured this far into the bowels of Blackboard." By Laura Gibbs, Xplana, April 29, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

What Consumers Want in Digital Rights Management (DRM): Making Content as Widely Available as Possible In Ways that Satisfy Consumer Preferences
This is an enormously useful study. It could be more so, if it actually spent more time talking about the topic described in the title. Still, I feel a validation from this report for many of the things I have said about DRM from the consumers' point of view. "The strongest preferences seem to be for the capability to do what one has normally done with the printed book. Users expect to be able to read (view or play) it, to print or copy it, transfer, or sell or give it away, and to lend it. They want to extract text, edit it, and embed it in other texts. Users want to take advantage of technology, to authenticate content, make backup copies, and restore original versions. They also want to be able to install electronic versions, uninstall them, or delete them." Consumers also report concern with pricing, extremely limited selections from individual vendors, and proprietary formats. By F. Hill Slowinski, Association of American Publishers, March, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Why Blogs Haven't Stormed the Business World
Mobility would be nice, so you can blog on the road. Some better input tools, and maybe filtering, would be nice. But the big problem, argues this author, is that there is no standardized blog format: if you switch blogging tools, then you are looking at a major conversion job. I doubt that this is the reason business haven't adopted blogs (it's more likely an issue of control). But it's still a good point. With any luck something like RSS will evolve into a defacto standard. By Tiernan Ray, Wireless Newfactor, April 29, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2003 Stephen Downes
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