By Stephen Downes
August 1, 2005

e-Learning Tech That is Fit For Purpose, Innovative and Sustainable
Wilbert Kraan asks the question central to e-learning standards: "for a new type of tool, do you agree an interoperability specification first, and then build applications, or build applications first, and then agree a spec later?" A bit of both, he seems to argue; that's why the E-learning Framework (ELF) is being developed iteratively. He eventually steers toward my way of thinking: "Finally, there is sheer, blinding simplicity. Not just to make sure the spec is consistent and coherent, but mostly to make adoption as easy as possible. RSS and Atom are clear examples of what can be done there. Developers are what makes a technology work, after all." By Wilbert Kraan, CETIS, August 1, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

How To Give A Great Presentation
Not a bad collection of tips, and hence work reading, but won't actually tell you how to give a presentation. I once read a book called Winging It by Keith Spicer that was of vital importance to me. Not online. Maybe it's in a library near you. By D. Keith Robinson, To-Done, July 20, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

New MacTels Using ďTrusted ComputingĒ?
There is dismay in the Apple user community as it appears that new systems will prevent owners from playing 'unauthorized' content. "Itís like a blender that will only chop the food that Cuisinart says youíre allowed to chop. Itís like a car that will only take the brand of gas that Ford will let you fill it with. Itís like a web-site that you can only load in the browser that the author intended it to be seen in." By Alec Couros, Couros Blog, August 1, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Open Source for Digital Curation
Comprehensive guide outlining why curators should consider open source and outlining a number of products and applications. If you are in the museum community this is an essential read. Part of a larger series on digital curation. By Andrew McHugh, Digital Curation Centre, July, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Create vs. Build -- Publishers and Their LMS Dilemma
If I had to define 'useless' it would probably include a description of learning platforms created by publishers exclusively for their own products. As Rob Reynolds observes, "Publishers argue that the LMS platforms available out there don't necessarily provide the best functionality for that content. Well, looking under the surface a bit renders that argument ridiculous." The real reason for such platforms is, of course, lock-in. Once you have the, say, McGraw-Hill platform, you are much less likely to buy Thomson's books. But this advantage disappears as soon as interoperability is achieved, which suggests that interoperability won't be high on their list of priorities. By Rob Reynolds, XplanaZine, August 1, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Kenya Pilots Handheld Education
It's hard to say how successful this program will be, but it probably has a better chance than one requiring expensive computers and land-lines. Charging the machines continues to be a challenge (someone like Bill Gates should send over truckloads of solar-powered chargers) and the contents at the moment are mostly digitized textbooks. By Richard Taylor, BBC News, July 29, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Really Open Source
A look at the rapid uptake of open source in academia with a focus on Rice university's Connexions project. Alan Levine is featured near the end of the article with some good observations. "Levine says that some professors have difficulty understanding that 're-use is not a bad thing.' But Levine sees potential for Connexions at Maricopa and in community colleges generally. 'The alternative future for textbook materials is very intriguing because a lot of our students won't buy textbooks," he says. By Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, July 29, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

HP Free Online Courses
HP offers free courses online. Judy Breck ponders "why free courses like the ones here cannot be used in schools instead of spending education dollars to create courses that teach the same material." Good question. By Judy Breck, Golden Swamp, August 1, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Problem of Where to File: Is it Possible to Construct the Perfect Classification System?
If you are still creating hierarchies to organize your data (say it ain't so!) this article pretty much closes the case: you shouldn't. "Because hierarchies has been the designated one size fits all solution to all our organizational needs, we break our semantically pure hierarchies by overstretching their bounds. As a result, we end up with messy hierarchies that are unusable and unmaintainable." What, then? Two major alternatives are considered: tags, and faceted classification systems. I tend toward the latter, because as the author notes, "tags are too flexible for their own good." Via elearningpost. By Mimi Yin, OSAF, August 1, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

London College Launches All CC/wiki Program
One of those developments we're happy to see. "London's Ravensbourne College is creating a new program called the School of Computing for the Creative Industries. The whole of the coursewear is Creative Commons licensed and the school itself is organized via a wiki." By Mark Oehlert, e-Clippings, August 1, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright © 2005 Stephen Downes
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