By Stephen Downes
July 12, 2005

Proposal: Chat and Discussion Interchange Datamodel
The proposal that prompted my discussion of Metadata the other day is now out in the open, thanks to Norm Friesen, the lead author. "This standard provides a data model for the interchange of communicative and related information generated through the set-up and use of text-based, synchronous (chat) and a-synchronous (discussion) communication technologies." My paper, in turn, has prompted a healthy discuission on the CETIS-metadata list. By Norm Friesen, Ipseity, July 12, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Politics of E-Learning Standardization
Draft discussion of the role of standardization in e-learning. The authors explore the idea of "the function of standards as an instrument of justice" and in particular the nature of standards as understood by Actor Network Theory - that is, the idea that standards are not merely technnological black boxes but rather embody a host of social and cultural considerations. Some good observations here, including the suggestion that "standards enforce a kind of homogeneity or abstract uniformity that may be anethema to the educational enterprise." By Norm Friesen and Darryl Cressman, Ipseity, July 7, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Workflow and Web Services
Just to keep you up in the rapidly changing world of e-learning frameworks, JISC and DEST have agreed to collaborate, the major result being (naturally) a name change - the E-Learning Framework is now joined by (replaced by?) the The e-Framework for Education and Research - and a new website. Be sure to read Scott Wilson's paper, Workflow and web services (PDF), for a good grounding in the fundamentals of the approach. Note well his description of 'composite applications' - "A Composite Application (Figure 2) is an application that provides a rich user experience by leveraging a collection of services." For background on the concept, look up web services orchestration and choreography. More from Stuart Yeates. p.s. Scott, put dates on your papers! By Scott Wilson, CETIS, July, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Learning Development Cycle: Bridging Learning Design and Modern Knowledge Needs
George Siemens weighs in with another significant paper. Starting with the premise, established elsewhere, that "learning today has moved beyond courses," he outlines a model of four distinct learning domains: accretion, transmission, acquisition and emergence. Each demands a different sort of learning (not 'instructional design') and Siemens accordingly offers a learning development cycle that takes this into account. I'm not so sure I'm happy with the taxonomy of learning domains - associating cognitivism and constructivism with emergence is, in most respects, not how I would organize learning. But this is a very minor criticism of what is overall a stimulating and well-considered paper, one that will take its place as part of the foundational literature for a new theory of learning. By George Siemens, elearnspace, July 11, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

News Flash! MERLOT Peer Reviews 8 Year Old Project
The headline exaggerates a bit - the project has only been in the queue for three years. Nonetheless, I think the point is made: "It does make me wonder about the scalability of the oft-desired structured review process of learning content." I've argued for a long time that it is not scalable. Though I give credit to MERLOT for sustaining the unsustainable for, um, such a long time. By Alan Levine, CogDogBlog, July 12, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Turning Wikipedia into an Asset for Schools
Some people think that potential inaccuracies in Wikipedia disqualify it for use in the classroom. Andy Carvin, though, argues that its flaws may be an asset. "When you go to Wikipedia, some entries are better referenced than others. That's just a basic fact. Some entries will have a scrupulous list of sources cited and a detailed talk page on which Wikipedians debate the accuracy of information presented in order to improve it. Others, though, will have no sources cited and no active talk pages. To me, this presents teachers with an excellent authentic learning activity in which students can demonstrate their skills as scholars." Good thinking, and I concur. By Andy Carvin, Andy Carvin's Waste of Bandwidth, July 11, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Best of Australian Flexible Learning Community
Kudos to Rose Grozdanic who, over the course of the last few months, has pulled together this archive of the materials from the Australian Flexible Learning Community, which operated between 2001 and 2004. Contents are organized into five themes, or you can search. I remember being at a planning meeting for this community in Adelaide in 2001 and during its run I contributed a series of twelve articles, which you can find here. By Various Authors, Australian Flexible Learning Community, July 12, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Interview with Gerald Heeger
University of Maryland University College (UMUC) was one of the earliest and is currently one of the largest players in the field of online learning. The author of this article interviews UMUC's president, Gerald A. Heeger. Heeger discusses some of the reasons many online learning ventures have failed and promotes the idea of a global open university. "This network of open universities would bring greatly expanded opportunities to a growing global student body." PDF. By Badrul Khan, BooksToRead, July 11, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Distance Education Course Taxonomy
I'm not sure whether it's possible to devote a whole blog to distance education course taxonomy. Then again, taxonomy forms the bulk of a lot of writing in the field. At any rate, I'm not going to miss the opportunity to link to this new blog on the subject and to wish author Lynn Hunter well. By Lynn Hunter, Distance Education Course Taxonomy, July, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2005 Stephen Downes
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