By Stephen Downes
July 1, 2005

Are the Basics of Instructional Design Changing?
Following what I thought was an interesting turn of discussion on ITForum (aggregated here) I wrote this item, first, to underscore the role of philosophy as informing educational theory, and second, to highlight the difference between online learning and 'traditional' distance education. I argue that the theory of distributed representation has a profound implication for pedagogy, as it suggests that learning (and teaching, such as it is) is not a process of communication, but rather, a process of immersion. Put loosely, it suggests the idea of teaching not by telling or even demonstrating but rather through the creation (or identification) of an environment into which a learner may be immersed. By Stephen Downes, Stephen's Web, July 1, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Australian Flexible Learning Framework
After my comments about e-learning in Australia a few days ago, Jacinta Gascoigne wrote in to say, "the Australian Flexible Learning Framework it is still alive and well albeit going through changes and changes. Some of these changes have created problems with what was our old community – it has been replaced with the 2005 Framework’s Networks Community Forum... A special forum, Global E-learning Connect has been established on this site." You can also find RSS feed information here. By Various Authors, June, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Welcome to TagCloud.com
It was only a matter of time. Why go to all that effort to tag links manually when everything you need is already present in the link. This service automates the process, courtesy of Yahoo's content analysis web service. Except for the Yahoo bit (I use my own algorithm) this is exactly how I derive Edu_RSS topics. Manual tagging? Who has the time? Via Albert Delgado. By John Herren, June, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

RSS and Media: Can't we All Just Get Along?
Useful discussion of RSS extensions offered by Yahoo, Microsoft and Apple to support the distribution of multimedia content. Each is slightly different and the author proposes something like a common approach. Historically, when one standard is proposed to replace three divergent standards, the result is four divergent standards. What is demonstrated most of all, though, is what RSS does that other metadata formats don't seem to do: it adapts. (Note: if this link takes you to a blank page, click on the blog home page - it seems to be displaying some formatting issues). By Tristan Louis, TNL.net, June 28, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Why Is Open Source Important For Education?
Pretty much sums it up: "Free and Open Source Software is important because it can help NPO’s and CBO’s stop spending valuable resources, which could and should be directed elsewhere, on software." By Alec Couros, Couros Blog, June 29, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

First Impression of Sakai 2.0: Better Than I Expected
Michael Feldstein's otherwise innocuous review of the latest release of Sakai, an open source learning management system (LMS), has become quite the attraction as several Sakai developers and other commentators have weighed into the discussion, responding to Feldstein's criticism of the discussion tools and the gender imbalance at the Sakai conference. Worth noting in passing is this link to OLAT, another java-based open source LMS, this one being developed in Switzerland. By Michael Feldstein, e-Literate, June 21, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Google's War on Hierarchy, and the Death of Hierarchical Folders
Roger Casselman sends along this link to a good analysis by John Hiler, one of the original visionaries of personal publishing. "If you examine Google's products closely," writes Hiler, "you may notice a surprising pattern: Google is attempting to organize the world's information without folders." This is a correct analysis and a correct strategy. The use of folders - and, indeed, any hierarchal system - breaks down after a few million items. This is as true for search as it is for business organizations. By John Hiler, Microcontent News, May 10, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Developing and Implementing a Methodology for Reviewing E-portfolio Products
As Lisa Grey summarizes, "The study developed a mapping template and explored a sample of twelve e-portfolio products which exemplify the range of existing UK systems, in terms of target learner communities, purposes and functionalities and commercial or non-commercial basis." The authors acknowledge in the report that only a small sample of the available software was considered, with the focus on those in use in Britain. Good report, though they should turn off the update tool. By Helen C Richardson and Rob Ward, JISC, June, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Amazing New Software Turns Any Computer into A TV Station
The author, referring to a Chronicle article, introduces ACTLab TV (aka Alluvium). I installed the demo viewer just the other day to see how it works and was suitably impressed. The secret to this software is that it integrates content authoring tools with shared downloading (a lot like BitTorrent). This puts the distribution of video content into the hands of individuals. So far, only a demo of the download tool is available, though release of the authoring software is expected any day now. By Ronald M. Ayers, Socrates Technological University, June 29, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

If you envision learning objects as objects, not merely bits of content, then this should interest you. The syndication of multimedia content is going to get much more interesting than people realize. Right now, the focus is on audio and video. But as this item shows, applications will also be syndicated. Included is a short list of several existing appcasting feeds. Via Microcontent Musings. By Fraser Speirs, June 29, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

AOL Launches Video Search Service
In the wake of this week's Google Video announcement, news of AOL's response (fortified by the Time Warner video library). By Stefanie Olsen and Elinor Mills, CNet News.com, June 30, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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