By Stephen Downes
December 10, 2004

An End-of-Year Conversation with e-Learning Leaders... What s On Their Minds These Days?
The use of first names throughout the article is a little off-putting - I kept losing track of who was who - but this dialogue with a number of familiar names in the field was an interesting read. Mostly, though, I got a sense of dogged determination to keep plugging away despite the scepticism and the challenges. And, from time to time, some inspiration. Like this, which I will think about on the walk home today: "Bill H. recommends Up from Slavery by Booker T. Washington because, when I was researching the problems of implementing knowledge management, my Internet searches kept getting hits on this book. What makes it a remarkable resource for us today is that it chronicles Washington s own self-education and his efforts to educate not just individuals but an entire population, namely the children of former slaves in the rural South."

I am a poor wayfaring stranger
Wandering through this world of woe
But there's no sorrow, toil or danger
In that bright land to which I go

By Patti Shank, elearning Developers' Journal, December, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Norm Friesen writes, "Just in time for the holidays, CanCore has given its Website a new look, and included new presentations and papers for your perusal. Among these documents are a series of reports on final conclusions of the international Learning Object Metadata survey, and a number of presentations given in Canada and around the world in connection with CanCore. Another important addition to the Website is the inclusion of a dynamic, online forum. The purpose of this forum is to foster active discussion with those interested in and using CanCore: to answer your general and technical questions, to receive your input on metadata and other areas of e-learning standardization, and more." The CanCore site also seems to now have an RSS feed. By Norm Friesen, CanCore, December, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Knowledge-Building, Outreach and Awareness (KOA)
Infrastructure Canada has announced a new funding initiative. "Typical eligible projects would include the following: * activities and products to address gaps in knowledge, such as studies and quantitative analyses on issues like asset management, investment planning and decision making; * activities and products that increase capacity to undertake and disseminate knowledge, such as internships, and educational materials; and * vehicles for enhancing communication and understanding such as conferences, workshops and websites." Get your applications in by January 31. Grants fund up to 100 percent of costs, and can be up to $500,000. By Announcement, Infrastructure Canada, December 10, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Research Buddy
It's hard to believe that Microsoft went years without adding any of these useful services to Internet Explorer. What an opportunity lost. Today's Firefox extenion comes my way via Todd: the reader selects som text (optional) then cites the page - Research Buddy prepares an academic citation, cahces the page, and saves the reference. By Eric Denman, Ravjot Pasricha, Stefan Popoveniuc and Eswar Vommina, December, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Intractable Problem of Informational Cascades
Michael Feldstein responds to my article in eLearn Magazine (which was originally a commentary on his earlier article in the same magazine) provoing that it is easier to poke holes in something than to sew them up again. Some comments from me below the article, to which Feldstein may have responded by the time you get this link. By Michael Feldstein, e-Literate, December 9, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Teaching and Learning Online With Wikis
Brief introduction to the concept of a wiki, with some examples, and then a discussion of the use of a wiki as an icebreaker in an online course. Good example, and some ideas for people who may know what wikis are but were wondering how to use them. By Naomi Augar, Ruth Raitman and Wanlei Zhou, ASCILITE, November 14, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Little TransQuoter
Interesting concept - it grabs quotes from seperate papers and assembles then (more or less randomly) to form paragraphs of surprising coherence. Raising the question, of course, of whether linearity in language is an illusion. Part of Project Xanadu, which is interesting in its own right. By Ted Nelson, Project Xanadu, December 8, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Grading system gets an F
The author of this article is catching a lot of criticism, most of it unfair. It is the sort of criticism to be expected, though, when a writer cuts straight to the heart of a contradiction in the established order. Yes, the argument is not new, and sadly, neither are the caricatures of the student journalist as lazy, skipping on her classes, or deserving an 'F'. As a former student journalist, I went through enough of this sort of condescending nonsense myself. Here is my take. As the price of an education increases, there is an increasing desire to see this money purchase a professor who is unambiguously on my side, not a glare of disapprobation should I somehow fail to measure up. If there does need to be testing, it should be done by a neutral third party, and at the student's discretion. Professors who support weak teaching with fuzzy grading would be easily exposed under such a system, and the student would be more easiy able to seek out value for what is, after all, a considerable investment over and above tuition. More discussion here and here. By Ailee Slater, Oregon Daily Emerald, December 6, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

News University
Poynter is previewing an e-learning project set for launch in April, 2005 - NewsU. Not thrilled with the sign-up, but many of the courses will be free. "NewsU offers innovative online training for journalists through self-directed modules, e-seminars and faculty-led courses. Tightly focused courses appeal to print, broadcast and online journalists. Log in for 10 minutes or two hours." NewsU is a project of The Poynter Institute and the Knight Foundation. By Various Authors, Poynter, December 9, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Crossroads Dispatches
James McGee recommends this blog, and after a read I echo his enthusiasm. Think of it as Madison Avenue marketing meets the Cluetrain Manifesto. Today's item featured discussion of an unusual marketing strategy described in the New York Times, BzzAgents. Fascinating. By Evelyn Rodriguez, December 9, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

State of the School, Blogging-wise
I was contacted by a writer from University Business yesterday asking about a set of 'best practices' for blogs in schools. The writer appeared very concerned that students might not have any restrictions on what they post. I tried to explain the wrong-headedness of this thinking. Anyhow, I wonder whether the same writer didn't contact will Richardson, who later in the afternoon posted this document "that clearly spells out the use of Weblogs at our school." It's not really a 'best practices' either, but it's a pretty good overview of what's involved. MS Word document. By Will Richardson, Weblogg-Ed, November 8, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2004 Stephen Downes
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