By Stephen Downes
June 11, 2004

NUTN 2004: Quality in Distance Learning
I am off to Kennebunkport, Maine, in a few minutes to speak at the National University Telecommunications Network (NUTN) annual conference. I thought going to Maine would be easy because it's just down the road - but this has turned out to be one of my more difficult trips to plan. It's one of these places where people just expect you'll drive (or fly in on your private plane, I suppose). So if you see me wandering aimlessly around the Boston bus station this evening, you'll know I missed one of my insanely tight connections. Meanwhile, I already know that my internet access will be minimal, so I may miss one or two issues next week. But I should get some nice photos and may write up a report or two. By Various Authors, June 12, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Wink - Tutorial Creation FreeWare
Alec says this as well as I can, and it's well worth passing along: "Wink is a neat little tool designed for the development of online tutorials or presentations ... and it's freeware! In the past, I have used more comprehensive packages such as Camtasia Studio or Viewlet Builder to create instructional Flash-based animations, and while Wink doesn't offer all of the functionality, it's a good start. And did I mention it's free? Oh yah, I did. Freeware is a wonderful thing ... and if you are interested in more great freeware programs, check out The 46 Best Ever Freeware Utilities. Most are PC-only, but there are a few programs in the list available to other platforms." By Alec Couros, Couros Blog, June 10, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Wide World of Wiki: Choosing a Wiki for an Element of a Fully Online Undergraduate Course
James Farmer provides a nice review of wiki software that can be used to support an online class (a wiki is essentially a website that allows any reader to chaneg the contents). Following up, he adds a Wiki wish list and links to some wiki software missed in the first article. By James Farmer, Incorporated Subversion, June 10, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

So of course there's a whole community around the idea of 'playlists', which is the generic term for what I created with Ed Radio. Seb pointed me to the author of this site, which takes any HTML page containing links to MP3 files and converts it to a playlist which you can play using Real or some other audio player - just what I did with Ed Radio, but (presumably) without the bugs. Ed Radio, meanwhile, is starting slowly, both in terms of content and visitors. That's all right, that's what I expected. Onward and upward. By Lucas Gonze, WebJay, June, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Review of Learning Design Tools
Link to and description of A Review of Learning Design: Concept, Specifications and Tools, a report for the JISC E-learning Pedagogy Programme by Sandy Britain (MS Word doc). If you have any interest in learning design at all, or just want to learn about it, you should read this report. The first part of the article is a good overview of the nature and history of learning design. The extended second part is a review of a number of learning design tools, including some I hadn't heard of before (such as eduPlone and Lobster). The Auricle article linking to the report provides a summary and discussion, including some useful links. By Derek Morrison, Auricle, June 11, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

VoIP in the Enterprise
I have always hated telephones, and I discovered when I installed Skype onto my computer that I hate them as much online as in the traditional form. But most people like telephones, and they are looking for the ease and savings that may be obtained by transferring voice communications to the internet. This raises new issues - we have new IP telephones in our office, but unlike traditional phones, you have to take a course to learn how to use them. So now I hate telephones even more. Anyhow, all this is to introduce this round-up of articles at eWeek which will be like manna from heaven for those of you who need to know a lot about VoIP in a hurry, By Various Authors, eWeek, June, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Miquel’s Pentagram Theorem
Your word for today is 'concyclic' - points that lie on the same circle. I didn't know that word yesterday, but now I do, thanks to this nice contribution to the internet from Peru. By Antonio Gutierrez, Geometry Step by Step from the Land of the Incas, June, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

A Model for Sustainable Student Retention
The drop-out rate for online learning, note the authors, is steadily about ten or twenty percent higher than for traditional learning. It may be tempting to seek a simple explanation for this, but as they note, there is no simple explanation for drop-out rates in general. What follows is a fascinating excursion through several explanatory models of retention culled from the literature. Good overview; worth reading. By Zane L. Berge and Yi-Ping Huang, DEOS News, May, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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