By Stephen Downes
April 5, 2005

Carl Berger is Blogging!
D'Arcy Norman writes, "Carl Berger, the Gandalf of EDUCAUSE and Merlot, has (finally) started blogging!" This is good news, not so much because we get to read what he thinks (though this is no small bonus) but because he will now experience first-hand what we have been talking about all along, which could only mean good things. Actually, Berget is only one of a number of new bloggers at the Leadership Institute Blog at the Apple Digital Campus Exchange (sadly, you have to have an account to submit comments, and there's no way to register for an account, which makes it a prototypical Apple product). I'm not sure how long the blog will last, but if the writers keep coming up with content like this survey of what students (want to) use the web for (notice how poorly 'taking an online course' fared) then I certainly hope it's a permanent gig. By D'Arcy Norman, D'Arcy Norman dot Net, April 2, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Brian Lamb, Learning Objects, Wikis, Flickr, RSS-- They Wanted it All (No Fooling)
As Alan Levine writes, "we got some good things going here." Brian Lamb is dishing out learning chaotic style and people are eating it up. Good presentation summary with numerous links to resources, wiki pages and other arcania. And you know - it's not just that people can be more productive with these new tools, it's not just that communication is improved - it's that they are more fun and more personal. Some people cann this sort of approach controversial - but from where I sit, the corporate, hierarchical, authroitarian model of learning is, or at least ought to be, much more controversial. By Alan Levine, CogDogBlog, April 04, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Homegrown Single Sign On at UM - St. Louis
I enjoyed this presentation on the various iterations of a single sign-on system at a university (I loved Phase II - you have a single user ID, but you still have to log on to each application separately - which led immediately to Phase III). But still, the system depends on a single centralized user database - manageable (just) for a university, but unworkable in wider society. By Kyle Collins and Kelly Crone-Willis, University of Missouri-St Louis / EDUCAUSE Resources, April, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

BlogPulse Conversation Tracker
Will Richardson reports on the BlogPulse Conversation Tracker, a system that combines discrete weblog posts into a coherent conversation. Here, for example, is a somewhat disjointed conversation arising out of BloggerCon. Or another one on the Kryptonite bike lock saga. There's still a lot of disconnect - bloggers don't link to each other explicitly as much as you might think. But the concept is sound and should form the basis for some novel distributed content readers. By Various Authors, Blogpulse, April, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

CMS interoperability?
Good overview of Content Management System (CMS) interoperability, a problem that will continue to grow as the number of CMSs increases. The author notes, "there still needs to be a common standard for the information itself, if meaningful interoperability is to be achieved. It is here that the difficulties arise, due to the lack of any consensus standards in this area." Quite right, and this is the one area of online learning standards development that has puzzled me - where have IMS, SCORM and the others been on a specification for learning objects themselves? David Wiley has referred me a couple of times to Connexions, which does support a Connexions Markup Language - but no authoring tool (I have been playing with the site this past week - they explain to me that the online editing tool is only available for published content, which means you can use the authoring tool only after you have authored the object... d'oh). By James Robertson , Step Two Designs, April 4, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Final Report for the AMeGA (Automatic Metadata Generation Applications) Project
The main conclusion of this report on automatic metadata generation is that "there is a disconnect between experimental research and application development. It seems that metadata generation applications could be vastly improved by integrating experimental research findings." The report also found that organizations are using various metadata encoding schemes - "one participant reported the use of seven different systems." The authors found broad support for automatic metadata generation but a desire to have it cgecked by human interpreters - a wise precaution. PDF and therefore difficult to read online. By Jane Greenberg, Kristina Spurgin, and Abe Crystal, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, February 17, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Slim – Inexpensive – Transparent
Inteview with Martin Röll, a Luxembourger blogger living in Dreden and producer of Das E-Business Weblog and various publications on the topic. "I’m not that interested in formal scenarios," he says, "but in informal learning, because it has an interface to knowledge management and is connected with the daily work of a knowledge worker." By Joscha Remus, Checkpoint E-Learning, March 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Information Revolution in Iran
Interview with Nasrollah Jahangard, Iranian president Mohammad Khatami's Special Envoy in Information Technology Affairs on the subject of online learning. He certainly says the right things. "The use of ICT in education goes beyond buying computers... the successful use of ICT in education in Iran depends mainly on changing the existing vision about the concept of 'education' itself.... The main question is how the new digital skills will co-exist with the conventional educational paradigm. After 're-schooling' in the past, 'de-schooling' will become the most popular educational doctrine in the near future." Shades of Ivan Illich. By Joscha Remus, Checkpoint E-Learning, March 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Go Test Go
Greg Hodgins wrote in to let me know about Go Tests Go, a service that provides online tresting to Java enabled mobile phones. Tests are geared toward professional or scholastic test or exams, such as foreign language certification and are used by students for practice. Shows how far behind the times I am - I didn't know there were Java enabled mobile phones. GTG is a subscription service, as everything connected to mobile phones seems to be. By Various Authors, April, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Exemplary Online Educators: Creating a Community of Inquiry
What makes some online educators more effective than others? Using Garrison, Anderson and Archer's Community of Inquiry model as a framework, this paper undertakes a qualitative study of the question. "Online learning is not just a learning enhancement," write the authors, "it is an entirely new way of learning and teaching that is likely here to stay." Maybe, but the preliminary results from the study will sound familiar to anyone: effective online instructors are "challengers", they are "affirmers" and they are "influencers". But what seems to change is the relationship between student and instructor. "What struck me about this was how important it is for the instructors to guide, share and participate and not to assume or present themselves as being the authority on a subject." By Beth Perry and Margaret Edwards, Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education, April, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Understanding PISA
My article on the recent Fuchs and Woessman report (the one that claims computers don't improve educational outcomes) has been published in the Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education (I am on the Journal's editorial board). More articles from TOJDE are also available online. By Stephen Downes, Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education, April, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Be sure you read this item before you read the next. Frederick Noronha writes, "There are an estimated 140 million children in the age group 6 to 14 years in primary schools. Of these 30 million cannot read, 40 million can recognize a few alphabets, 40 million can read some words, and 30 million can read paragraphs. Over 55 million of these children will not complete four years of school, eventually adding to the illiterate population of India. It is important to know this to appreciate the difficulty of achieving Pratham mission of 'every child in school... and learning well'" Pratham Canada launched last fall. By Various Authors, April, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

It's a Flat World, After All
This is a great article, one that addresses the newly level playing field worldwide created by the internet and open source, among other things. The sort of level playing field that allows me to read this article in my living room, free of charge, and to send it to people I know in India, Australia and South America, where "a 14-year-old in Romania or Bangalore or the Soviet Union or Vietnam has all the information, all the tools, all the software easily available to apply knowledge however they want." And while the author depicts it (accurately) as a challenge to America, I view it (also accurately) as an opportunity for the rest of the world. For the author, this new era began on 11-9 -- the date in 1989 of the falling of the Berlin Wall. For me, it began on 6-4 -- the date that same year of Tiananmen Square, the date the actions of a few reached out and electrified the world, electrified me. This has been a long time coming, and has a long way to go, and whether we in the west rise up to meet the social, technological and educational challenge an empowered world represents, the sight is nonetheless deeply gratifying. By Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times, April 3, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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