By Stephen Downes
November 3, 2003

Partnerships of Indian and Western E-learning Producers: Cultural Issues
I enjoyed this discussion of the cultural difference between India and western nations and how they affect the development of e-learning products in those countries. "Thereís little doubt that Indian e-learning organisations are building on the success of the sub-continentís IT sector and are forming a powerful presence in the global e-learning industry," writes the author. "Most western e-learning companies of any size now have some presence in India, with at least one basing nearly half the workforce there. Indian organisations are involved across the full range of e-learning services and all the way through the value chain, from technology infrastructure, through tool production, content and services." By Patrick Dunn, Viral-learning, October 27, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

E-Learning On The Fly
I don't agree necessarily with putting the learning on a hand-held - I mean, where's the need in a fast food restaurant, where there are plenty of locations for a fixed installation with a larger screen. Still, the overall concept is sound and conforms to the idea of learning as a utility, like water or electricity: "'In the future, learning will be more on-demand and embedded in the workflow' of processes, says Teresa Golden, VP of marketing and strategy for IBM Learning solutions. The mobile training prototypes support trends in training that IBM predicts will become more commonplace, based on findings of new "learning" research the company is unveiling next week." (P.S., they really should have titled this item 'E-Learning on the Fry... heh heh.) By Marianne Kolbasuk McGee, InformationWeek, November 3, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

This is Your Brain on the Internet
The sense of this article is conveyed in a single sentence: "I could never go back to just f2f activities." It is hard today for experienced writers and developers to imagine life without the world's largest reserach library and collaborative network sitting at their fingertips. By Barbara Bray, TechLearning, November, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Brain, Technology, and Education: An Interview with Robert Sylwester
Though I didn't start playing video games as early as recommended in this article, I made up for that lapse with volume. And I had the advantage of learning the technology as it was developed - how many other people can boast of having spent hours and hours playing Pong in an arcade? Or playing Space Invaders the day it came out? "In addition to mastering movement in natural space/time, today's young people have to master cyber space/time. So if they hope to move easily through the Internet, they also must begin to play video games at age 3 or so. Why? Because the Internet is a giant video game, with striking parallels between the two." By Henryk Marcinkiewicz and Robert Sylwester, The Technology Source, November 3, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Hunterstone Thesis - Another Office to SCORM Converter
Just another of the list of SCORM compliant products, prompting an observation and a wry comment. The observation is, as Scott Leslie observes, "a concise (as concise as you are going to get from the American military) description of the various SCORM certification levels and what they actually mean." The wry comment is this: so this product converts office documents into SCORM compliant learning objects. Which means that (at least some) SCORM compliant learning objects are, essentially, office documents. And so I ask, is this what we thought we were up to when we started working with learning objects? And what was the point, when we already had software that could read office documents? Oh, I know, interoperability and all that. But really: just how interoperable does a Word document have to be? No, I always thought it was about something more than that. By Scott Leslie, EdTechPost, November 3, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Going the "Simulation Way": Q&A with Clark Aldrich
Elearning post interviews Clark Aldrich, a leading voice in the use of simulations in education. The main message: simulations are not cheap. "Virtual Leader consumed about 15 man-years (MYs) of resources," he reports. "The team had a core of five people (10 my's), ranging from people who built the entire 3D graphics and game engine from scratch to people who took all of my AI metacoding and making it real. These were hard-core game programmers." He continues, "Most people tell me, essentially ... How can we cheaply build a lot of simulations? That thinking will kill simulations as an approach, and if there is a backlash against simulations in the next year, it is because a lot of people cheaply made simulations." By Maish Nichani, elearningpost, November 3, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Future of Learning Objects
Interesting short summary in which David Wiley summarizes the research interests of some well known practitioners and organizes the future of e-learning into a set of -abilities. By David Wiley, Autounfocus, November 1, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

RLOs: Education if Engineers Did It
While the concept of plug-and-play may work for hardware, suggests the author, reusability in e-learning may be more of a challenge because there is no such thing as context-free learning. "A simple example of reusable learning objects is the topics in software help files. You need to do something and donít know how. You search the help feature. You spend fifteen frustrating minutes skimming through information that tells you everything expect what you need to know." Of course, criticizing Windows help is a little like shooting fish in a barrel; there is no context in which their mangled assistance could be of aid. But the point is well taken; reusability will not work unless content retrieval can be context sensitive. By I.D., After 5, November 3, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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