By Stephen Downes
December 15, 2003

Reload Eeleases SCORM E-learning Content Player
Kudos to the good people at Reload for releasing an open source SCORM content viewer to go along with their open source SCORM content package editor. As Wilbert Kraan notes, "It plays SCORM 1.2 in a pretty straightforward fashion, but is mainly meant to help content developers understand and control what is going on behind the scenes." Exactly what I needed. By Wilbert Kraan, CETIS, December 14, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Sunday Afternoon Thoughts on the Design of RSS Aggregators
Good article outlining the reasons why someone might choose a desktop RSS aggregator over using a server side (website) aggregator. I have tended to use server-sides because (a) they can store a lot more data, useful for searches and the like; (b) I can share this data with other people; and (c) I know how to program server-side applications, but have no patience for the nuances of the dsktop. Anyhow, even if you have no particular interest in RSS, this article is a good read because the comments about client-side and server-side applications are more widely applicable. You will probably face them sooner or later in some context or another (the selection of an e-learning application, say). By William Grosso, O'Reilly Developer Weblogs, December 14, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Impact of Schooling
The point of this article is to emphasize the difference between 'schooling' and 'learning' and the author, Jay Cross, does do with vigour, bringing to bear two of my favorite (and oft-visited) themes of e-learning: networks and surfing. "Learning is that which enables you to participate successfully in life, at work and in the groups that matter to you. Learners go with the flow. Taking advantage of the double meaning of 'network,' to learn is to optimize one’s networks." Cross explains, "In a world where we don't know what's coming next, what constitutes good learning? We're in whitewater now, and smooth-water sailing rules no longer apply. In whitewater, successful learning means moving the boat downstream without being dumped, preferably with style. In life, successful learning means prospering with people and in networks that matter, preferably enjoying the relationships and knowledge." What we need to understand is that the same principles apply to teachers as well as learners. By Jay Cross, Chief Learning Officer, December, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The DRM Dictionary
This useful digital rights management resource is 'copyright' and 'all rights reserved', naturally, but can still be viewed for free on the web, something that no doubt troubles other people deeply. By Gord Larose, December 31, 200-31 8:33 p.m. [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Task force: Give Laptops for Students to Take Home
This is a positive initiative. "A business task force looking at education issues wants to provide all Des Moines-area students - in public and private schools - with their own laptop computer over the next two years." But educators say - quite reasonably - that the program cannot cost any teachers their jobs. "We're so desperately underfunded, we're cutting the basics of education. "To divert any money when we're laying off teachers would be awful... It would be the wrong trade-off." Well, maybe, but the cause of the layoffs isn't the computers, it's the cutbacks. It's a dilemma being repeated in jurisdictions around the world. By Donnelle Eller, Des Moines Register, December 13, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Good Practice Database Launched by Adult Learning Inspectorate
From the press release, with the fluff elided: "The Adult Learning Inspectorate (ALI) has launced Excalibur... a range of resources, learning materials and networks... [including] The Good Practice Database... to access examples of successful methods of working with adult learners through text and video clips." By Press Release, PublicTechnology.Net, December 15, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Mystery Patch Blots Microsoft's Fix-Free Month
Just for the record, the automatic update mentioned in this article hammered my Windows XP home desktop, permanently disabling it and making my files inaccessible (three cheers for back-ups). It now becomes the fourth of my computers to acquire a Linux operating system (pushing me ever closer to my goal of a complete conversion to open source). But: if anybody knows how to make Linux use a Linksys wireless ethernet card to access the LAN (and hence, the internet), please let me know. By Robert Lemos, CNet News.Com, December 10, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Colleges Sweeten Deal With Apartments, Cable
I have commented before that, in order to survive, traditional universities will have to turn from their traditional value proposition - unique access to a higher education - to a new value proposition - the rarified residential environment. As this story shows, many university officials have tweaked to this and the trend is now in full gallop. How much longer before governments start questioning whether they should be supporting luxury communal living for rich kids. By AP, CNN, December 12, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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