By Stephen Downes
September 2, 2003

Learning Objects Standards
Another in my series of article for the Australian Flexible Learning Framework. My argument here is that "the use of metadata in general to describe any sort of object can and will be over time a case of mixing and matching appropriate metadata." Additionally, I assert that "The description of learning objects in particular, meanwhile, will over time come to be seen not as reflecting the inherent properties of an object, but rather, how that object has been used in education." By Stephen Downes, Australian Flexible Learning Framework, September 1, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Learning Design and Reuseability
Another reasonable and well written CETIS article, this one discussing the commentary surrounding my Design, Standards and Reusability paper. The general response seems to be to admit that reuse, as I define it, isn't possible using learning design, but that this doesn't matter. "While the reuse-by-tweaking ethos of Learning Design won't give the full financial benefit of lift-and-run-reuseability, Sarah Currier points out that adapting an existing IMS Learning Design is much less labour intensive than starting from scratch. Provided that there will be good tools." Well, maybe, but from where I sit, that still falls far short of where we could - and should - be. So long as learning - and learning design - remains a labour-intensive process, it will become increasingly difficult over time to provide a proper education for all, and that, in the long run, has disturbing consequences. By Wilbert Kraan, CETIS, September 2, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Various Ideas About Scientific Publishing
This article contains an interesting proposal, but I don't think it would work for me. The good bit: "The event of electronic publishing, by removing the printing and shipping costs which previously justified the charging of hefty subscriptions, means that publication of scientific data should clearly rapidly evolve towards a completely open access mode." But following from this assumption, the authors cling to a mode of publication where articles are screened and refereed. That's still too slow. Why would we wait for formal approval before publishing a paper online? Put it up first, and if it receives enough critical acclaim, then clean it up with an edit and place it into a 'journal of record'. By Etienne Joly, Open Access Now, July 22, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

For-Profit Education Faces Tough Course
I learned more about Charlie Brown that I did about distance learning from this article, but it evokes memories of the day my father received his 'small engine repair' course through the mail (complete with small engine). The point of the article is that, despite the criticisms, distance learning "using the good old U.S. Mail" has been around, and well used, for a long time. And with the connectivity offered by the internet, maintains the author, distance learning is undergoing a sort of renaissance. By Unknown, AP Wire, September 2, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Mail Menopause
This article - which wins the award for Worst Title of the Year - looks at the underlying cause of our current email crisis - Microsoft. "The problem: although the recommendations for the way mail programs receive attachments over the net said that 'severe security problems could result' from allowing the mail program to run programs (which is what happens when you double-click on an attachment), Microsoft ignored the advice." By Unknown, The Independent, September 2, 3003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

CDs and DVDs are 'Doomed'
Having seen some of the new MP3 players - flat white boxes the size of a credit card that will hold your entire music collection - the premise of this article seems irrefutable: CDs and DVDs are doomed. This is not quite the end of physical media - after all, data must be stored on something - but it is the end of content-specific physical media. This is, of course, the end of the line for music and video stores. By Tim Richardson, The Register, September 2, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Learning Communities Catalyst
Australia's Learning Communities Catalyst launches today, offering an impressive array of case studies, research reports, tools and more directed toward the concept of building a learning community. By Various Authors, September 1, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2003 Stephen Downes
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