By Stephen Downes
September 21, 2004

2 Cases of Plagiarism, and an Explanation of Why the Practice Might Be Worth It
So anyhow, welcome from Cairns, Australia. I had a fun day today, which began by my missing my flight from Brisbane to Cairns (more accurately - I arrived at the airport in plenty of time, Quantas had me stand in line for an hour and then told me I was too late). So Monday's OLDaily arrives sometime Tuesday. I will try to keep publishing regularly, but expect outages and delays as I am now (I guess) on the outs with Qantas. Some great stuff in today's newsletter; let's start with this item, in which yet another academic blames an assistant for plagiarism (comne on, take some responsibility guys) and this bit in which David Weinberger fills his article so full of qualifiers you can't find the radicalism for looking - *sigh* bite the bullet Dave, or stay home. Yeah, I'm in a rare mood today. A good mood, but don't stand between me and my coffee. By Scott McLemee, Chronicle of Higher Education, September 24, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Quality of Learning and the New Learner
Rod was kind enough to compress the audio tracks from two of my talks in Canberra - I did a third, but was foolish enough to use Internet Explorer and Audacity - which has never given me problems before - stopped recording after 27 minutes. Anyhow, the audio files are here and here. Please note that these are temporary locations - I'll give them a permanent home once I get to a place that has something like broadband. And if you don't like those, I have five more coming some time - it feels like, after two or three years of work, I'm in the field and harvesting content. Whee hoo! Oh, and the link above is just a taste of what's to come in the inage department. By Stephen Downes, Stephen's Web, September 21, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Wikipedia Reaches One Million Articles
I have been talking about Wikipedia here in Australia, and along comes word that it has published its millionth article. Wow. And while we're on the topic of a million, Firefox met its target of a million downloads in half the ten day target it had set for itself - I still don't have mine, I'm on the road. By Press Release, Wikipedia, September 20, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

If pets could blog
"The Joy of Tech asks the unaskable: what if cats and dogs could blog?" I have the answer to that one. I gave my cat a web page in 1995 and she didn't update it for eight years. Pet blogs? Yeah, they'd make one post, and then... nothing. By Unknown, SilentBlue, September 20, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

MERLOT: A Model for User Involvement in Digital Library Design and Implementation
Overview of the MERLOT project, including an account of the history and a nice outline of the role of the editorial boards. Nice organizational diagram though I will confess to some uncertainty as to why all this organizational structure and the $50,000 membership fees are necessary. The short, fluffy, uninformative section on MERLOT's future could be summarized in three words: grow grow grow. By Flora McMartin, Journal of Digital Information, September, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Beautiful, Textbook Instructional Design... I Yawned All the Way to the Post Test
Alan Levine sums the way e-learning should be in one beautiful sentence: "It works now. There is no next-next-next path to my everyday informal, experimental, iterative learning and I rely in my circle of online experts to help out when they can, or to dig until I can find an answer or an alternative approach. I repeat this almost every day, and my own dynamic form of learning as doing makes learning by lockstep lesson, well, painful." OK, two sentences. There's an article too. By Alan Levine, CogDogBlog, September 14, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

I agree with Stigmergic: "Its great to see large scale projects that are dedicated to education." This project, reported in BBC News, is the launch of a satellite that will be used to provide teacher training and educational support throughout India. Great stuff. By Unattributed (how about an author name, hm?), Stigmergic, September 20, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Virtual training on show at NET*Working 2004
The Net*Working 2004 conference will be held online this year, and while organizers in this article are enthusiastic about the many new technologies that will be employed, I have noticed a certain amount of apprehension as to whether they will work. Certainly, my own experience with a wide variety of synchronous conferencing platforms has not been good. Organizers should have their tech support fully staffed when the conference launches and let us only hope they are using a sufficiently fast computer and network for the load. That said, the conference looks first rate and I am looking forward to taking part (note to the publishers - could you please post the authors' names on your articles?). By Unknown, Australian Flexible Learning Framework, September 16, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Private Providers "Critical to Australia's Education and Training System"
Australia is in the middle of an election, and I am in the middle of Australia, so I will tread a little carefully here. But that said, it has yet to be shown to me how private providers solve (rather than exaggerate) problems like equity of access, the advancement of social objectives, advertising-free educational content, and fair distribution of resources. From where I sit, private providers lobby hard for public funding, direct training at those who can afford it, and bemoan every cent spent on the public system (regardless of access issues) as unfair 'competition'. Yeah. That was treading softly. By Unknown, Australian Flexible Learning Framework, September 16, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

E-learning Products of the Future Will Operate in an Interconnected World
The author writes (correctly), "E-learning products of the future will operate in a world that is interconnected through information and communication technology (ICT) that will be used by all teachers, trainers and managers, not just IT 'geeks'." The remainder of the article serves to introduce a new online resource offered by the Australian Flexible Learning Framework called the 'VET Interoperability Framework'. Following the link at the bottom of the article will take you to this resource, a set of discussions and resources covering major issues in interoperability, including standards and metadata, intellectual property, web service and (for some obscure reason) content packaging. Via Teaching and Developing Online. By Unknown, Australian Flexible Learning Framework, September 16, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

How's Your E-Learning
Interesting article, worth a quick read in its own right, but I must confess I was much more intrigued by the new advertising technique used by Syllabus here - the magazine has embedded 'sponsored links' in the text of the article, which when you hover over them, deliver annoying CSS pop-ups and (presumably) link to a sponsor page. The links have their own colour - a dark green on this screen - and can't really be confused with regular links (not that Syllabus ever bothers with regular links anyways). But I think that putting a sponsored link in the 'about the author' section at the bottom of the page is a bit much. Authors may question whether they want the advertising to take all the notice in the body of their articles. By Badrul H. Khan, Syllabus, September 21, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Learning Objects: A Practical Definition
The September issue of the International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning has arrived and I am running two articles, beginning with this item by Rory McGreal, who leaps once again into the fray with a (nother) definition of learning objects. Once again, McGreal has me defining learning objects as "anything and everything" but has this time managed to catch the nuance of my position - "Whether something counts as a LO, depends on whether it can be used to teach or learn, and this can only be determined by its use, not by its nature." But he still disagrees with me. "There are good reasons for restricting which information objects should count as LOs and which will not." His definition, at the bottom of the article - "any reusable digital resource that is encapsulated in a lesson or assemblage of lessons grouped in units, modules, courses, and even programmes" - is still something I cannot support. Gosh, why would we constrain our definition of learning to such outmoded, hierarchical, linear and obsolete concepts? By Rory McGreal, International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning, September 21, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Online Professional Development in Support of Online Teaching: Some Issues for Practice
I've had a number of posts in my Community area concerning the use of telephones to support e-learning (mostly in favour, which surprises me a bit) so I thought this would be a good article to throw into the mixture. This paper doesn't address the blended approach directly but it's a fascinating examination of faculty attitudes toward teaching online (introduced with the observation that people tend to teach the way they were taught). "Staff seemed to desire elearning experiences that surpassed those they currently offered to their students." Perhaps that's why they wanted to use the telephone. By Karah Hogarth, Ingrid Day and Drew Dawson, International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning, September 21, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2004 Stephen Downes
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