Seb Schmoller logo and link to site home page

Mailing Number 6 - 15 November 2002

Feedback on these mailings, concerning content, design, material I ought to feature in the future, is always welcome. If you want to send me some, please email me. Remember that my subscribers are a varied group, so at least part of every Mailing will for certain be irrelevant to you!

| Site Home || Mailings Home || News/comment | Resources | Oddments |


Flash (again). Is Flash becoming useable? Will Flash drive HTML away? Jacob Nielsen, whose business made a "strategic partnership" with Macromedia in June 2002, says that many of the accessibility defects of Flash have been overcome in Flash MX (the current version of the product), though he remains critical about the gratuitous way in which Flash is used on many sites. See this updated version of Nielsen's Flash: 99% bad. The "new" way in which Flash is being used is on internet-based applications, rather than to animate pages. Compare, for example, this demonstration hotel booking system, in which the entire interface is on one screen, including credit-card payment, with a "typical" laborious HTML-based booking system. Macromedia, to its credit, is also taking accessibility much more seriously: see the accessibility area of Macromedia's website. (Thanks to Dick Moore for showing me this.)

Resources [back to top]

Sloan-C "Five Pillars of Quality Online Education" report. Useful short report summarising key features of effective asynchronous online learning just issued by the Sloan Consortium (LeTTOL is a Sloan-C accredited course), accessible as a PDF file. Draws on an extensive and growing range of "good practice" exemplars.

GCSE English Online - final evaluation. University of Sheffield's final evaluation of The Sheffield College's outstandingly successful online GCSE English Course has been published. Download it as a Word file.

(Expensive) reviews of individual learning management systems. The US e-learning commentator Brandon Hall publishes an annual evaluation of ~75 learning management systems. Brandon Hall is now selling these reviews on a product-by-product basis, at $140 per shot. Possibly worth the money if you are close to making a purchase decision.

A longish list of links mainly about Learning Objects. Find below a dozen or so resources about learning objects and standardization, which may be useful to you if like me you find you must now get to grips with this aspect of e-learning. I have amended and annotated the list from a similar one which I found through George Siemens elearnspace. In most cases I have included the full URL.

  1. Learning technology standardization (.pdf) - excellent, terse, policy-astute, June 2002 overview of the rationale behind learning technology standardisation, by Peter Sloep of OpenUniversiteitNederland.
  2. The Instructional Use of Learning Objects - online version of probably seminal book about learning objects, by David Wiley and others Hopefully the pejorative acronym CAI i.e. "clip-art instruction", will stick.
  3. A Primer on Learning Objects - - March 2000, optimistic, article by Warren Longmire on an American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) website.
  4. (Learning) Objects of Desire: Promise and Practicality - - April 2002, clear, fairly cautious exposition of the "learning object promise" by Lori Mortimer, on an ASTD website.
  5. Do You Really Need Reusability? Article in elearning magazine arguing that reusability comes at a price, and may harmfully draw resources away from design for learning and towards design for reuse.
  6. Where Have all the Legos Gone? - Sceptical article arguing that elearning standards create a barrier to innovation and good training design.
  7. Being Objective - (Part 1) and (Part 2) - Reports from a September 2002 US Learning Object Symposium aimed at "defining new directions in learning object design".
  8. ADL Website - from which to keep tabs on the "Sharable Content Object Reference Model" (SCORM).
  9. SCORM Odyssey - an article by Bill Shackelford of University of Wisconsin described by ASTD as showing how to "weather the storm about SCORM". (Note: link was broken when I last visited it.)
  10. Making Sense of Learning Specifications (.pdf) - a clear, if over-optimistic, overview from the Masie Centre.
  11. Learning Technology Standards: The Inflection Point of the New Learning and Knowledge Economy? - a visually very crowded slideshow presentation from Wayne Hodkins, who is "Strategic Futurist Director" (sic) for Autodesk, a major developer of computer aided design software. (May not run on older browsers or Macs.)
  12. Learning Objects - extended 3 part essay about learning objects by Stephen Downes, who is Senior Researcher in e-learning at the Canadian National Research Council's Institute for Information Technology.

Oddments [back to top]

Gordon Bennett. I never realised the origins of the expression till I came across a newspaper article and this entry in a Dictionary of Slang. What caught my eye was that whilst behaving throughout his life in the crazy way that gave the slang term its meaning, Gordon-Bennett jr. managed to edit the relatively enlightened New York Herald for nearly 50 years until his death in 1914, mainly by cable from his 301 foot yacht based in Europe: an early teleworker - which is the weak justification for including this item in this mailing.

elgooG. Try this mirror-image parody of Google, which seems to be visible in most browsers even if it is not 100% functional in all of them. Apparently it could be used to perform searches with Google from China, before the recent block on access was lifted. Takes a bit of getting used to.

If you have found this edition of my fortnightly mailing from my web site, or with a search tool, and want to receive your own copy directly, you can sign up for a subscription. If you think others will find these mailings interesting, please refer them to this page.

Last updated - 20/11/2002; © Seb Schmoller

| Mailings Home || Site Home | Privacy |