By Stephen Downes
December 20, 2004

2004 In The Rear View Mirror
Something piqued me last year and I came out with 2004: The Turning Point, a foolhardy foray into short-term prediction. I say a lot of things, and some of them might not be true. And people rely on my projections, perhaps not so much as they rely on astrologers, but enough all the same. So how did I do? Let's look at the article. By Stephen Downes, Stephen's Web, December 19, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Quality and Standards
"A brief outline of my position on quality and standards, submitted because it exists..." What follows is the shortest version ever of my 'Resource Profiles' paper, with some comments on quality recommendation thrown in. The item has received some comments also worth a look (and to which I will probably reply shortly). By Stephen Downes, Learning Circuits Blog, December 19, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Encouraging Creativity in Student Online Work
The December IJITDL is out; I carry two articles. In this first item, the author argues that "Distance educators could learn valuable lessons about encouraging creativity from today’s business organizations." What follows is a bit of an overview of creativity, ranging from Amabile’s six myths about creativity to Havvind and Tinker's five types of questions to encourage richer student responses. By Brent Muirhead, International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning, December 20, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

OPEN Public Commonwealth Support System of Distance Education (PCSSODE)
E-learning, like everything else in China, must be developed on a huge scale. This paper outlines one aspect of that project, a public commonwealth support system of e-education (PCSSODE). The service works "by setting up a franchise system based on CRTVU system employing satellite transmission and web technology. The ongoing pilot project reached milestone of service 15000 students and 13 Universities by now." By Tao Hou, International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning, December 20, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Current Directions in Australia's Vocational Education and Training System
From the abstract: "This paper provides an overview of the factors which influence and drive Australia's technical and vocational education and training (TVET) sector. It details the objectives of Shaping our future, Australia's national strategy for TVET from 2004 to 2010, and key initiatives of the sector to meet the changing economic and technological environment: a review of training packages, and a review of the national standards for training providers. It also discusses issues facing the TVET sector, as identified in a paper published by the Business Council of Australia (2004). Further, an overview of the apprenticeship and traineeship system, which has expanded considerably in recent years, is provided." By Tom Karmel, NVCER, December 7, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Component Frameworks
Scott Leslie sent me notice of this very interesting presentation. The key is on the third slide (edited for syntax): "[The] Web Server paradigm fails lifelong learners – How? [The]Stateless browser leaves no trace behind. To manage their learning they need their own records. Lifelong learners attend multiple institutions over time, even at the same time. [They] have to learn a new environment at each. Their record and portfolio is scattered. They need a continuous connection for learning, but, if off-campus, this may be slow, unreliable, expensive. As eLearning becomes more complex, VLEs won’t scale. PLEs [Personal Learning Environments] allow the learner’s system to share the load." The solution proposed is complex, Java-based and Web-Services based. I think it needs to be simple, language neutral, and use appropiate protocols for appropriate tasks. My advice: don't try to build the whole thing at one. Roll out a simple open base platform and let people add on to it. Don't try to design it; let it grow. PowerPoint. By Bill Olivier, December, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Lehigh XL30 Microscope Now Available to K-12 By Remote Control
It costs $40 an hour to use, and no doubt there are scheduling issues, but I still think online access to this scanning electron microscope is one of the more innovative uses of technology to support K-12 learning. Via NextED News Digest. By Announcement, Lehigh University, December 17, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The State of Distance Education: Observations
Survey article looking at the state of online learning today. The major points: online learning is growing rapidly and it's getting easier all the time. The article also mentions blended learning and takes a look at mobile learning. No mention of blogs or RSS, and the PBS Campus website does not appear to have an RSS feed either. So 2003. By Candice Kramer, PBS Campus, December, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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