By Stephen Downes
January 26, 2005

Learning Design - Natural vs. Machine
This, I think, is a central principle: "Any design for a learning tool that continues the idea of separation will fail." What sort of separation? Among others, "topics, subjects, expertise." In the alternative approach, "experiences, situations and circumstances become the source of design." This is not to eliminate the need for separataion, but there should be a balance. "Looking at ways of facilitating design through a greater range of interaction is at the heart of a network learning environment." Quite right. By Brian Alger, Experience Designer Network, January 25, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Pachyderm Asset Management
D'Arcy Norman is working on a PHP script that will create a basic asset management tool. He writes, "Iím thinking a version of this PHP asset management app, running on top of a simple asset metadata database, may form a valuable Small Piece, patterned after del.icio.us, but giving us the ability to extend for our purposes." I think he's right. P.S. Note Norman's new permanent website. By D'Arcy Norman, DíArcy Norman Dot Net, January 21, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Networks for Newbies: A Non-Technical Introduction to Social Network Analysis
It's 115 slides, but the download is light and it doesn't take long to view them all. But you'll want to revisit this presentation, as it offers a comprehensive look at social network analysis with a clear exposition and pages of worthwhile references. If you don't have time, at least look at the first five slides, which are of fundamental importance. After reading this, take a look at this post on Mathemagenic talking about blog network visualization. Or this item by Seb on Corante. Via elearnspace. By Barry Wellman, Centre for Urban & Community Studies University of Toronto, January, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The idea is to create a university (or at least, online university content) out of a wiki. Scott Leslie writes, "O.k., I admit I chuckled when I first saw this, but heck, I regularly turn to Wikipedia now for quick reference info (as does the Gurunet desktop reference app I use to check word definitions) so maybe this is one of the faces of open education to come. Not much there yet, though there is a page with some ideas on what it could become, but you gotta start someplace." By Various Authors, January, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Sofia Open Content Initiative
Sharing Of Free Intellectual Assets. "Modeled after MITís OpenCourseWare Initiative, Sofia encourages the free exchange of community college-level materials on the World Wide Web. It is our hope that Sofia will lead to the exploration of ways of supporting instruction and student learning using web-based resources." The project recently announced the launch of its first eight courses. By Various Authors, Foothill - De Anza Community College District, January, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Google Video Search
Well, this one will be all over the web shortly. Google has a beta video search service. It indexes videos using close captions, and displays images captured from the video at the point of the caption. By Various Authors, Google, January, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Where Was Desktop Search When We Needed It?
Screencams - applications that let you record a video of your screen, with a voice-over - have been around for a long time. I remember the Lotus screencam product from 1997 or so. Screencasting is the distribution of screencam videos in (much) the same way that music is distributed in podcasts. Probably the best way to do it is to use Flash, the way this one does; it makes the viewing experience seamless. Oh, and do take a moment to look at this screencast - it gives you one of the best Windows tips you'll see all year: "Desktop search has been right under our noses for years -- built into Windows but then crippled by weird design choices." For another example of screencasting, see Udell's account of the Heavy Metal Umlaut page on Wikipedia. By Jon Udell, Jon Udell's Weblog, January 25, 20004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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