By Stephen Downes
March 1, 2004

Of Equality and Gay Marriage
As the title of this article suggests, it has nothing to do with online learning. I have included it today because I think many of you will be interested in reading it. If it's not for you, that's cool too... there's lots of great stuff below. By Stephen Downes, NewsTrolls, February 27, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Learning in Communities
The latest in my series of articles for the Australian Flexible Learning Community, in this item I look at the question of why we want online learning communities and what makes these communities work. I comments, "Probably the greatest misapplication of online community lies in the idea that it is an adjunct to, or following from, the creation and design of an online course.... the relation ought to be the other way around: that the course content (much less its organization and structure) ought to be subservient to the discussion, that the community is the primary unit of learning, and that the instruction and the learning resources are secondary, arising out of, and only because of, the community." By Stephen Downes, Australian Flexible Learning Community, March 1, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Thomson ISI to Track Web-Based Scholarship with NEC’s CiteSeer
This is very interesting: "With the Open Access movement bringing Web-based scholarship to increased prominence, leading A&I services that have long provided the access tools to identify scholarship face new challenges. Thomson ISI, a longtime leader in netting scholarship, primarily through citation patterns, has launched a new initiative to handle this problem. It will collaborate with NEC Laboratories America to create a comprehensive, multidisciplinary citation index for Web-based scholarly resources. Due out in early 2005, the new Web Citation Index will tap a number of technologies developed by NEC, primarily the “autonomous citation indexing” tools of NEC’s CiteSeer software... to provide researchers with access to the highest-quality content available, no matter what medium or business model supports it." Via FOS News. By Barbara Quint, Information Today, March 1, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Auxiliary Resource: Content Repositories and Resolution, Identifier Infrastructure
Interesting PowerPoint Presentation from Dan Rehak of the Carnegie Mellon Learning Systems Architecture Lab on the use of external "resources" in addition to learning objects in an online course. There's a lot of stuff that looks awfully familiar here: the resources could be anything, could be located anywhere in a network of repositories, and need to be identified and located. While you're browsing the LSAL web page, you might want to download Nina Pasini's An Overview of SCORM for Content Developers PowerPoint presentation, from last week. By Dan Rehak, Learning Systems Architecture Lab, February 19, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Statement of Requirements for Search Interoperability
Corrected link from last week. The authors also provided me with the publication date (if you wonder why I keep doing this, it's because 'copy' doen't work properly in Linux - do a right-click-copy in certain circumstances and it doesn't copy, so when I paste, old information is pasted - and after so many years of working with Windows I somethines forget to check). By Various Authors, U.S. Federal Interagency Committee, February 16, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Ten Lessons From a Goan Classroom
As advertised: "Frederick Noronha takes a close look at the computers-in-school project in Goa." Quick summary of a number of interesting educational computing initiatives in Goa and India, and then the lessons: short, snappy, to the point, and accurate. By Frederick Noronha, Express Computer, March 1, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

E-Learning: Can We Get There From Here
Rik Hall - who created the WWWDEV mailing list back in 1995, offers a bit of a retrospective. What distracted me was a link to Assiniboine Community College's new website, still a little under construction, but nonetheless filled with many of the same people I knew when I worked there between 1995 and 1999. Anyhow, Rik asks, "Can we get there from here? Yes – but the answer is the same as the answer to the old riddle 'How many psychologists does it take to change a light bulb?' Only one, but the light bulb has to want to change." Oh, and congratulations, Rik. By Rik Hall, After Five, March 1, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

IT Titans
With a string of howlingly funny send-ups of the e-learning industry, the anonymous I.D. is gaining a cult following - and would probably fired if his or her identity were ever known (just so you know: it's not me). In this bit, I.D. looks at the wisdom that computer services managers add to the indtsructional design process - wisdom like this: “That (Flash) just adds unnecessary overhead. That simulation would be better done in HTML as 4 multiple-choice text questions.” By I.D., After Five, March 1, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

On the Internet
Hubert L. Dreyfus is back again with a criticism of the internet and of online learning in particular. According to the reviewer, "Dreyfus makes the following claims: that information is difficult to find on the web, that distance learning is not useful beyond basic skills teaching, that a 'disembodied telepresence' is not the same as actually being in the same room with someone." I have dealt with Dreyfus's concerns about disembodiment elsewhere and this review handles the rest, noting that Dreyfus's understanding of both the internet and online learning is so flawed as to constitute nothing more than a straw man against which the author may rail. By Geoffrey Cain, Resource Center for Cyberculture Studies, March, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Road to Riches?
I have discussed theory before, so it's only fair that I mention this article describing some rebuttals. The theory is the idea that more diverse theories promote economic growth. The rebuttals, in the form of single year styatistics from selected cities, suggest a more traditional path to growth: Cut taxes and slash onerous regulations. Obviously, the evidence of one year in no way refutes the theory, which is intuitively strong. After all, "I will take any day Boston and San Francisco and New York over Las Vegas and Des Moines and the rest of Joel's cities." But that there are mitigating factors should be clear: "People want to live in sunny, dry climates and -- to the horror of smart-growth advocates everywhere -- they actually like car-centered cities. In place of Florida's 'Technology, Talent, Tolerance,' Glaeser proposes a different recipe: 'Skills, Sun, Sprawl.'" By Christopher Shea, Boston Globe, February 29, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Intellectual Property Rights
Some reasonable considerations, though no firm resolution, regarding the dabtes surrounding intellectual property. Greenspan does suggest, though, a metric for assessing law in this field: "If the form of protection afforded to intellectual property rights affects economic growth, it must do so by increasing the underlying pace of output per labor hour, our measure of productivity growth." By Alan Greenspan, The Federal Reserve Board, February 27, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Content Creation Online
For those who say online content will not be created unless the creators are paid: "44% of U.S. Internet users have contributed their thoughts and their files to the online world." By Various Authors, Pew, February 29, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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