By Stephen Downes
July 3, 2003

Learning with Role-Playing Games
Good analysis of RPGs (Role Playing Games) and their role in learning. The article begins with some taxonomies of RPGs from John H. Kim and Levi Kornelsen, then offers summaries of more than a half dozen accounts of the use of RPGs in learning. Other topics include the use of RPGs in the classroom, the use of wargames, adventure games, live action, storytelling games, improvisation, and simulation. Good stuff. By Graeme Daniel and Kevin Cox, Web Tools Newsletter, July 1, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Communities Online
Though presented as a two-column PDF document (and therefore almost impossible to read online), this article is a nice summary of the discussion surrounding online communities from last year's Net*Working 2002 conference held online in Australia. Readers will want especially to note the diagram on the last page summarizing major issues and attributes of online communities. The same author provides a similar summary, and a similar diagram, for the discussion surrounding Communities of Practice. Other titles available from the Net*Working 2002 'Extra' include Managers unlock the secrets of success by Peter Le Cornu, Teaching Online: Complex, chaotic and creative by Marty Cielens, and Bridging the Digital Divide by Martha Goldman. By Nancy White, Net*Working 2002, July 1, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Map Game
Nice drag'n drop exercise which, for the record, I got in one try. By Unknown, Rethinking Schools, July, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Is the Academy Ready for Learning Objects?
The authors of this article answer "yes, but not at a level that suggests massive institutional transformation—yet." Academics must consider whether the contents of learning are incommernsurable across disciplines. Publishers, also, fear the "starlings" - massive numbers of small objects that would overwhelm their ecosystem: "Today's learning content environment—organized as 1,000-page, $120 textbooks—sustains the publisher, supports the faculty member, and engorges the student. Although the faculty selects the text, students are required to purchase the equivalent of discipline-specific hard copies of The Encyclopedia Britannica, and then only consume a small part of the resource." Good article, and I appreciate the desire to look beyond technology for useful metaphors. By Stephen R. Acker, Dennis K. Pearl, and Steven W. Rissing, Syllabus, July 1, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Welcome to CourseWork!
Vendors of commercial LMS and course management systems must be wondering what new product line they can pursue. This announcement is yet another in the list of free, open source course management systems. "CourseWork is a open source course management system based at Stanford University and developed by Academic Computing in the Stanford University Libraries and Academic Information Resources. Using CourseWork, instructors and TAs can set up a course Web site that displays announcements, on-line readings, a dynamic syllabus and schedule, on-line assignments and quizzes, a discussion forum for students, and a grade book. CourseWork is designed both for faculty with little Web experience, who can use CourseWork to develop their Web site quickly, and for expert Web-users, who can use it to organize complex, Web-based materials and link them to Web communication tools." By Various Authors, Stanford University, June 30, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright © 2003 Stephen Downes
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