By Stephen Downes
October 21, 2004

EDUCAUSE 2004 is taking place in Denver right now and is being blogged by numerous writers. I'm not going to try to summarize a lot (at least, not much beyond the observation that EDUCAUSE seems to have discovered open source in a big way). Fortunately, you can get all your EDUCAUSE news in one place via this EDUCAUSE feed in Edu_RSS. By Various Authors, October 21, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Agent Support for Online Learning
In a sense, this is the 'other' way to approach the discovery and organization of online materials: through the use of agents. This paper describes the use of agents in an educational environment, "It is our claim that well-chosen software technologies, involving agents, can raise the self-organising powers of the network sufficiently to make a LN [Learning Networks] a viable option." Why do I call this the 'other' approach? It's not clear to me at this point that something as complex as an agent is required; I think that the network may be more robust than anticipated. But I could be wrong about this, in which case something like agents will be necessary. By Peter Sloep, et.al., Open Universiteit Nederland, September 27, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Organisational Issues in eLearning
Found via an Auricle article summarizing my talk in Perth, this set of slides by Rob Koper both reinforces and offers an interesting take on the idea of learning networks. Drawing from work in small words theory, Koper proposes modelling learning networks as a graph where the learning is a set of 'activity nodes' within some knowledge domain (what I would call an environment). Learners find resources following 'tracks' or 'pheromones' (what I would call second party metadata). His next project is learning networks for learning design - interesting to see him using PHP-Nuke for the learning network layer. By Rob Koper, Alt-C, September 14, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

WebCT Announces Real-Time Delivery of MERLOT Learning Objects
And to think, MERLOT was hesitant to create RSS feeds. They'll never do it, I was told. And now: "The WebCT PowerLink for MERLOT, released today, supports continuous delivery of up-to-the-minute learning object links directly to WebCT courses... The links point to RSS feeds from MERLOT of learning objects such as animations, simulations, case studies and tutorials in 15 subject areas from biology to world languages." Now it's a very small leap to importing RSS feeds from DLORN - and any provider can add learning content to DLORN - no special deals are required. By Press Release, Business Wire, October 21, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

McGraw-Hill Higher Education Teams With Cisco Systems to Introduce Next Generation of E-Learning Solutions
We're not told how this constitutes the next generation of e-learning solutions, but the real news in this press release is the linkage formed between Cisco and McGraw-Hill, a combination that makes even the most established e-learning companies look very small indeed. By Press Release, PR Newswire, October 20, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2004 Stephen Downes
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