Was a true privilige and pleasure to participate in the LORnet conference. In my opening keynote (slides, 7MB!), I identified what I consider to be the main opportunities that the semantic web provides for learning objects:
1/ consolidated metadata: There is not reason why DC, LOM, MPEG and other metadata should remain so separated on the semantic web. If we all adopt a semantic web based approach (and remember that LOM and DC have committed to do so!), it should be trivial to “mix and match”. After all, metadata is just … metadata!
2/ semantic metadata: Ontologies hold the promise of enabling more semantic metadata, i.e. metadata that can be processed in slightly smarter way. Note that I remain skeptical about the use of intelligent agents, and that I caution against trying to encode All Human Knowledge in an ontology!
3/ content ontology: If we can develop a widely accepted ontology for learning objects, then much more flexible and interesting processing of content becomes possible and we will be able to realize the “Lego vision” of learning objects.
The remainder of my talk cautioned that we could make enormous progress on all these issues, and that, nevertheless, the effect for mainstream education may well be … negligeable, unless we focus on making the technology invisible and transparent to the end user. Yes, “electronic forms must die”! It is more than a year now since I launched the slogan. It seems to me that the message is still every bit as relevant as it was a year ago… The audience in Montreal seemed to agree, as numerous presenters in the next two days referred back to my statement. That was a bit humbling, but I really do hope to help focus more effort in this direction.
There was lots of interesting stuff presented at the conference: Canada surely is doing Good Work in this area and it felt great to meet and discuss with so many new people. I’ll post details about things I liked in the coming days…