By Stephen Downes
July 23, 2004

Itís All About Learning
The July issue of the International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning is now out and this editorial pretty much summarizes the issue's theme. "Add the distillation of 100 years of psychological literature, philosophies of learning, learning styles, and instructional technologies, and... Do we really practice what we know? Or are we like doctors who, after 20 years of school and college, prescribe the same six drugs for most of our 'patients'." Today's newsletter features three other articles from this month's issue. By Donald G. Perrin, International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning, July, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

RecoSearch: A Model for Collaboratively Filtering Java Learning Objects
There's a lot going on in this paper and this short summary won't do it justice. The author describes a system for "a collaborative infrastructure for authoring, searching, recommending and presenting Java source code learning objects." I am on the one hand impressed by the completness and elegance of the solution described (and, as far as I can tell, implemented). On the other hand, I am concerned by this big-box approach. Everyone does everything the same way within a relatively controlled environment. I don't know, maybe it's a Java world, maybe it's not. I just wish I could make some of this stuff actually work so I could see for myself. But Java just wasn't made for the desktop; the programs always jitter or freeze or crash or wipe out the operating system. And like most people, the desktop is the only environment I really control and can work with. By Jinan Fiaidhi, International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning, July, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Reusable Learning Objects Aggregation for e-Learning Courseware Development at the University of Mauritius
Pretty good overview of the traditional theory of learning objects (it feels funny to say it like that) with some good images. The authors, though, sense the same sort of dissonance I feel with the State of The Art: "The question remains whether we are making optimal use of these repositories? How much sharing has taken place between the various repositories that exist?" By Mohammad I. Santally, Mahen Govinda, and Alain Senteni, International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning, July, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

No Two Swimmers Float Alike
I still feel wistful when I think of Guy Bensusan, a man I never met but who was able to talk to me through his stories, examples, and passion for teaching the person (as opposed to teaching the material). This article takes me back to those heady days on DEOS (now it's all conference announcements and posturing) when we were exploring what teaching online really meant. I haven't seen this article from Bensusan before, though it may be a reprint. Anyway, it takes me back to my own days of swimming lessons when we were packed into a car, driven to Russell, dumped into an icy early morning pool, and drilled red Cross style. I wish I had had Bensusan as a swimming instructor. By Guy Bensusan, International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning, July, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

ECMAScript for XML (E4X) Specification
I still can't reconcile myself to the idea that Javascript is now called ECMAscript (and I won't change!) - it seems to me it should be called Javascript, as it always was, and run by the W3C. Even if ECMA runs it, it should still be called Javascript. Anyway. D'Arcy Norman picks up this nice link to E4X - ECMAscript (Javascript) for XML. Some nice work in there - I like the way they look at the semantics of the thing 9which tells us what content you should get) rather than just raw syntax. And the mechanism for referring to a specific XML document element value is elegant. PDF link from an HTML page. By John Schneider, et. al., ECMA, June, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Why Weblogs?
Link to a longish PowerPoint presentation on the use of weblogs in the classroom. Many screenshots make the presentation a bit of a heavy download (which is why I've simply linked to the blog post) but offer a lot of ideas and inspiration. Nothing new here, but nicely organized and presented. By Will Richardson, Weblogg-ed, July 22, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Future Chat
The summer issue of Threshold - a magazine published by Cable in the Classroom - contains some remarkable content, including this fascinating online discussion featuring students (supposedly) from around the world (meaning, around the U.S.) talking about the the future of learning. This dialogue, archived from a discussion at Tapped In, is chock-full of classic one-liners. Here are just a few: "My powerbook never leaves a 6 foot radius of me" ... "A computer would be able to fit in your eye, or just built in your brain when you are born" ... "ShainaE: maybe, but don't you think there's value in having an actual person there exchanging thoughts with you? JonV: yeah, but i don't think that will be a factor in stopping it" ... "in my one class we have a chance to talk to others live, and yet we IM instead" ... "with the laptops my school is covering at least 1/3 more material than before." PDF. Thanks to Art Shostak for passing this along. By Julie Evans, Threshold, Summer, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Duke to Provide Freshmen With iPods
Interesting. "Freshmen showing up at Duke University this year will get their own Apple iPod, part of an experiment by the school to see if the popular portable music player can double as a learning tool." All sorts of data can be placed on a iPod - frosh "orientation details, the academic calendar, campus tours and even the school's fight song." By Associated Press, Excite News, July 21, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

A Conversation with Brewster Kahle
The CEO of the Internet Archive and a pioneer with WAIS (Wide Area Information System), Kahle has been involved in internet archiving for 20 years. "The idea is to take the Library of Alexandria another step further and make the published works of humankind accessible to everyone, no matter where they are in the world. We hope that then everyone can add to this grand library. Current computers and the Internet are making this conceivable. This seems to be the opportunity of our time, in the way that the generation before got to lay claim to landing a man on the moon. That was something that humankind can point at for centuries as a worthwhile achievement." Via Open Access News. By Stu Feldman, ACM Queue, June, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Open Access Publishing: broadsheet roundup and JISC's role
The British House of Commons and Technology Committee report, covered here earlier this week, has caught the attention of the press. Most of the reports are vaguely positive toward the proposal. This article is a wrap-up of the coverage in the major newspapers. More. Via Open Access News. By Unknown, JISC, July 21, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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