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Stephen Downes and Teemu Arina: E-Learning 2.0 In Brief, Stephen's Web September 24, 2005
So anyhow, I played my first game of golf in 16 years yesterday, a community social afternoon that stretched into a social evening and delayed today's newsletter 24 hours. Meanwhile, at the crack of dawn this morning I was awake and preparing for an online talk with a group put together by Teemu Arina in Finland. What was significant was not the content of the talk (which was a brief version of a talk I gave in Ottawa last week) but how we did it. For the audio, Teemu gave me a call on Skype, which he hooked into some speakers. We then set up a chat window for all the participants using a CGI:IRC he had installed on his server, which "allows you to use Internet Relay Chat from a web browser without having to use Java." For slides, we used S5. As we planned (all this started Wednesday afternoon) we thought it would be neat if I could advance the slides fom my end; 24 hours later the programmers at Teemu's end had whipped together a version of S5 that uses Ajax server calls to coordinate slide advances. And first thing this morning, I rewrote their server code (because it requires BerkeleyDB, which I don't have). It all worked pretty well, considering it's probably the first time anyone has done this; Teemu took some photos. If you want to try it yourself, here's the code Teemu's team put together, and here's my hacked together server code. Sure, you could buy Centra or Elluminate or any of these expensive conferencing systems, or you could it for free, the way we did. Note that if you click on the link above, the slide how may move around on its own as others access it, and you might start on any given page. Hover your mouse on the lower right hand side of the page to see the navigation options. [Comment]

Matt Barton: Onward, Wiki Soldiers: Let's Liberate Composition, Kairosnews September 24, 2005
I don't really like the title (people seem unaware of how much military metaphors have permeated culture) but rest of it reaches me in all the right ways. The author explains, "It begun when I read RIP-OFF 101, a report detailing how the textbook industry is inflating the costs of college textbooks by a variety of means, most of them devious. It goes beyond the "new edition" that differs only in pagination. It's a national scandal. I don't want to be associated with it. I find it embarrassing. I want it to go away. Let me add my voice to those of students demanding that the the $70 composition textbook remain on the shelf. We don't need them that badly and never did." Yeah! If the education sector can't get its act together, maybe the students will do it for us. [Comment]

Tom Hoffman: The "IF" in SIF, ESchool News September 24, 2005
I don't write a lot about the Schools Interoperability Framework, largely because of the issues mentioned in this column: it's large and unmanagable, it's nor particularly friendly to open source, and you need big expensive components like a SIF compatable student information system and library information system. Still, as the author notes, it actually has an installed base; "it is actually supported, at least nominally, by lots of vendors." So I am of much the same mind as the author here. "If other open source advocates can't get more concrete reassurance that it works, we're just going to spin our wheels." [Comment]

Stephanie A. Clemons: Brain-Based Learning: Brain-Based Learning: Possible Implications for Online Instruction, International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning September 24, 2005
There is a certain audacity inherent in giving a subsection of your paper a title like 'The Brain: A Synopsis'. Nonetheless, we live in heady times, and this article, from the September issue of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning, demonstrates this. The author offers " four suggestions based on findings from neuroscience research: memory/retrieval, learning styles, increasing attentiveness, and the role of emotion in learning." [Comment]

Sanjay Jasola and Ramesh Sharma: Open and Distance Education through Wireless Mobile Internet: A Learning Model, International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning September 24, 2005
I like this article because instead of simply referring to 'mobile computing' it digs into the nature and functionality of wireless technologies and digital cellular service; you will learn, for example, what the difference is between a third-generation cellular radio transmission technology (3G) and a wireless application protocol (WAP) and how they work together. The point of all this is to develop a WMI Learning Model, that is, a learning model designed specifically for the Wireless Mobile Internet (WMI). This part of the paper is unfortunately brief, but the background makes the read worth the while. [Comment]

Katrina A. Meyer: Exploring the Potential for Unintended Consequences in Online Learning, International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning September 24, 2005
Though we inevitable predict the future, predictions are tricky business, especially regarding major impacts (such as the introduction of the internet) and distance events. This is because variables are not independent; there is feedback, chaos, and the inevitable unintended consequences. The author skecthes a model or framework for understanding the nature of unintended consequences in prediction, and then maps out scenarios in which these can be expected in e-learning. What is the impact on reading? How will emotion and social presence factor into learning? Does self-control become an issue? What happens to institutions, and will higher education's monopoly on learning be broken? [Comment]

Jean Adams: Thinking About Learning as a Bonusable Objective, Learning Circuits September 24, 2005
Seriously, how can you expect readers to take us seriously when you use a work like 'bonusable' in a headline? Moreover, if you "ask learners to document and report visible signs of learning results that can be used to measure progress" and then reward them based on the results of that self-reporting, what do you think the result will be? [Comment]

Unattributed: E-Learning Standards Survey, Learning Circuits September 24, 2005
Results of a survey on the importance of standards completed by 248 self-selected Learning Circuits readers (therefore, expect a substantial skew, especially with respondants from academic institutions representing only 6.5 percent of the total). Most of the readers felt that standards were important, most use standards in some way, and most feel they are getting value out of standards (sadly, the survey doesn't ask them to specify this value, which would have been the most interesting bit). The survey does not specify how many respondants are involved in the sale of products or services that use standards or mention standards as part of their marketing. [Comment]

Clarence Fisher: Information Everywhere, September 24, 2005
Will Richardson links to and discusses this short post, a snapshot of the state of learning with technology, involving the use of games, podcasts (in microbiology!) and more. The author writes, "They are starting to realize they are swimming in it. As they work from our classroom, from the computer lab, from home, from friends' houses, they are beginning to realize about the power, and the depth, and the pervasiveness of the information they are surrounded by." I have had always-on internet for a number of years now (which is why I wail when I don't have access) and (it seems to me) there is a certain sense in which you have to experience this full immersion in order to be able to understand it. The teacher who turns on the computer a couple of hours a week? No chance. [Comment]

Steve McCarty: Spoken Internet To Go: Popularization through Podcasting, September 5, 2005
The author summarizes, "Specific examples are presented: the BlogMatrix podcast hosting site, the podcasting blog 'Japancasting,' and the 'Spoken Libraries' project of the World Association for Online Education. There is also the little-known story that the first school in the world to give iPods to all students was not Duke University but rather Osaka Jogakuin College in Japan, where podcasting is therefore particularly made to order." Good article, informative, and useful to those looking more closely at the use of audio in learning. [Comment]

Richard Reeves: The End of an Era: Good Night News, Yahoo News September 24, 2005
The arrival of free content, even in print form (this article talks about the free tabloid newspapers being distributed to computers) marks the end of traditional newspapers as we know them. And while the author laments the days of 'fairness' and 'public service' (did such days ever really exists?) those in the industry should never really have expected anything else. Knight-Ridder and the New York Times both announced layoffs this week, in the context of which the latter's announcement that they will start charging subscription fees for online columnists smacks more of desperation than of sound business sense. The education sector will experience the same in the months and years ahead, and there will be much surprise, wailing and gnashing of teeth. [Comment]

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Stephen Downes

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Copyright 2004 Stephen Downes
National Research Council Canada

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