By Stephen Downes
January 7, 2004

OLDaily Lite?
My apologies to everyone for yesterday's issue of 'OLDaily Lite' - all the fluff, none of the content. It was caused by a server hiccup that erased my links database (currently a 4 megabyte file containing some 5,000 records, give or take - you can grab it here if you're interested in my collected wisdom since August 12, 1999 (when I first started using this file format). Anyhow. It doesn't work any more. It's too large and my site gets too much traffic. Most of it is my Referrer System, which uses a similar data file. So anyhow, I'm working feverishly to redesign the referrers.cgi (current non-functioning code is here). I am also rewriting my newsletter generation system (current code is here). If you are curious to see how OLDaily is generated behind the scenes, you can try out my new system, since it's empty at the moment. Enter it here and feel free to play with it; it's very similar to what I currently use in look and feel, though I use a better style sheet (one that actually works in all browsers). While I'm linking to work in development, you might want to take a peek at the beautiful interface Raphael coded for Edu_RSS Topics - still very much in development, of course, but click here and select 'browse'. So. That's the state of the art in cubicle 2 at 55 Crowley Farm Road - it's like a construction zone in here, with a lot of stuff (including OLDaily) held together with binder twine and hope. But soon, I hope, I will have some nice applications to give away. By Stephen Downes, Stephen's Web, January 8, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

A Loss of Learning
Discussion prompted by some of Jay Cross's observations and on what counts as "stupid" in learning. Things like this, certainly: "Twice per week my son joins a group of students in a barren classroom setting. The professor has never appeared in real life, not once, but instead delivers lectures via videotape. The students watch the videotape and take notes. Once per week a seminar takes place with the aid of a teaching assistant to help answer any questions about the videotape or the required reading. All evaluations have taken the form of computerized multiple choice tests - a trite form of assessment that often has more to do with word games than it does knowledge. While my son is sitting in the classroom with his classmates, identical "lectures" are taking place in other parts of the campus simultaneously and after looking at the course calendar it is clear that these "lectures" are being presented to thousands of students. These same students are about to embark on the same process in the new term. What we are in fact viewing here is a new problem to the problem of overcrowding. It's not too hard to imagine what Neil Postman might think about this - didnít he write 'Amusing Ourselves To Death?' And all this for the sale price of a mere $12,000 (CDN) per year - what a great deal!" By Brian Alger, Inside Learning Weblog, January 2, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Interactive Social Networking Industry Analyzed via the Value Framework
Via George Siemens comes this nice analysis of the interactive social networking industry. This, as you can see from the document, is already a huge field with almost unlimited potential. By Gary George, VMS3, January, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Hacking in Hot Potatoes: A little knowledge brings a lot of power
Hot Potatoes has been around almost forever, it seems. This versitile tool has been a favorite for those wanting an easy way to generate web-based quizzes and activities. This useful presentation offers a number of tips and tricks for tweaking your Hot Potatoes to customize the results to your tastes. It doesn't hurt that one of the authors is the creator of Hot Potatoes. Via the University of Calgary's Best Practices in E-Learning programme. By Stewart Arneil and Martin Holmes, january, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Annual Speaker Survey
This interesting article consists of issues raised by former keynote speakers at the annual Distance Teaching and Learning Conference in Wisconsin (which will always be remembered by me as the conference where zero people attended my talk on RSS, blogs and syndication a year and a half ago (their loss)). If I had to pick some issues that occupy my mind to flag, they would include "development of teaching/learning models based on geographically distributed communities-of-practice" (Chris Dede), "a technology architecture to sustain elearning design, development and implementation, content management and administration" (Gloria Gery), and the provision of "content through copyright and licensing mechanisms like Creative Commons" (David Porter). By Various Authors, Conference on Distance Teaching and Learning, January, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

To: The Next Head of the Motion Picture Association of America
This advice for the incoming MPAA head could equally well apply to publishers of educational material. Paraphrased: You've got time to prepare, but not as much as you think. The Napster for your industry is already here - it's called BitTorrent. If you clamp down on downloads you risk alienating your audience. But if you provide good value they are less likely to turn away from you. What is good value? People want their digital media the way they want it: every way imaginable. Think $5 a movie, unlimited use. By Chris Anderson, Wired, January, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Education Forum
Spartacus reports, "January 2004 saw the launch of an international forum which enables people from all over the world who are interested in education to post information, ask questions, and to take part in debates about education. The forum also helps teachers to find partners for subject specific and cross-curricular curriculum projects. It is hoped that the forum will provide a world community of teachers. Most of the website is in English but there is also sections in German, Spanish, French, Dutch, Swedish and Greek. In the near future there will be sections added in other languages. There is currently an interesting debate taking place on the development of E-Learning." By Various Authors, BECTA, January, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Efficient Use of New Nechnologies in Language Learning: A Case Reflection
I don't know whether a study of the use of email for language is really breaking new ground, but I want to ask whether the presumptions in the analysis are well founded. The author writes, "efficiency is concerned with (1) the maximum production of desired effects (outputs or outcomes) and (2) the minimum use of resources (inputs) which are not absolutely necessary or which are not readily available." So, on this analysis, minimizing "the need to access computers" becomes "more efficient". But is that so? Anyhow, this paper is the current subject of discussion on the IT Forum. By C. Lai, IT Forum, January 6, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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