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August 7, 2001

Cutting the Throat of the University Steve Eskow (and others - see the link immediately below) argue that adopting many of the practices of online learning - such as a standards based approach, a focus on quality, student-centered design - is playing into the hands of corporations that want to privatize universities. In this article, probably the most complete statement of my philosophy regarding universities and online learning, I argue that to provide an effective, accountable and efficient system of learning that educates all people, not merely a privileged few, is the only way to prevent the privatization of universities, and moreover, that we must protect a public system if we are to protect the idea of knowledge for the common good at all. Please forgive my typos. By Stephen Downes, August 7, 2001. [Refer]

The Neo-Sophists: Intellectual Integrity in the Information Age This is a good companion article to read with my article, above. The author discusses the blurring of the boundaries between corporate propaganda and academic enquiry. Using the tobacco industry as a model of how corporations corrupt research, the author cites David Noble's warnings about the commercialization of education. By Randal K. Engle, First Monday, August 6, 2001. [Refer]

Technology, Schools and the Decentralization of Culture This essay is tough going but worth the read, especially for people who think that nothing really changes with the introduction of new technology. The author examines the social and cultural changes that occur in a school when new technology is introduced. As he writes, "This may upset the authority of those who have been passing on long accepted ideas regarding legitimate academic knowledge." By Brian Carolan, First Monday, August 6, 2001. [Refer]

Commission: Students Get More Than They Pay For A report commissioned by the National Association of College and University Business Officers argues that the cost of an education is much higher than a student's tuition. No surprise there. But the numbers are useful when comparing the cost of a traditional, versus an online, program. By Jesse E. Harris, Daily Texan (U. Texas-Austin), Reprinted in U-Wire, August 2, 2001. [Refer]

WebCT and Tsinghua Tongfang Sign Multi-year e-Learning Agreement for China This announcement, contained in a WebCT, is only the latest (if one of the largest) of a series of online learning initiative in China. It's obviously a trend. But I have to ask: will these education providers toe the line when the government asks them to rewrite a few things? Will they report anti-communist writings to the regime? There's more to investing in China than business as usual. WebCT Press Release, July 30, 2001. [Refer]

Home Schooling in the United States: 1999 In the spring of 1999, an estimated 850,000 students nationwide were being homeschooled. This report, based on data from the Parent Survey of the National Household Education Survey Program, 1999, contains information about the characteristics of home schooled children and their families, parent's reasons for homeschooling, and public school support for homeschoolers. July, 1999. [Refer]

Maximizing the Impact of Executive Coaching OK, so this is a little off the beaten track for an online learning list, but the article is quite good, clearly identifying success factors and productivity gains, and it seems to me that at least some of this discussion can be transferred to the online realm. The presentation bizarre: a set of GIF images of photocopies pages. By Joy McGovern, et.al., The Manchester Review, Volume 6, Number 1, 2001. [Refer]

Prototyping (Proof of Concept) Short article describing the major steps in creating a prototype web application and comparing prototypes to demos. By John Rodriguez, WBTExpo, August, 2001. [Refer]

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