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August 16, 2001

The Refer links in your newsletter should be working properly again. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Learning Objects: Resources For Distance Education Worldwide My essay is now an official publication with an expanded title, appearing in the current issue of IRRODL along with three critiques (there's no direct link to the critiques - click on HOME then scroll down). By Stephen Downes, International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning: 2, 1, 2001. [Refer]

Knowledge Indignation: Road Rage on the Information Superhighway Transcript, with audio link, to a quite good - if irreverent - look at new copyright provisions and several initiatives to combat the publishers' lock on the distribution of educational content. Interspersed with readings from Alice in Wonderland, illegal readings, that is, as they are being read aloud from an Adobe eBook. Produced by Stan Correy, Radio National Weekly, August 12, 2001. [Refer]

Higher Education Portals: Presenting Your Institution to the World When I read this my first reaction was, "This is so last year." But the advice in this White Paper is sound and you are free to ignore the plug for IBM that constitutes the latter half of the paper. Industry watchers should note IBM's emphasis on open source and open architecture, rather than competing Microsoft's proprietary approach. This is a strategy that helped IBM defeat Apple in the PC wars, and we may be seeing the early stages of a similar tussle, especially when it comes to enterprise software. You'll have to fill out a form to access this item, sorry. IBM White Paper, 2000. [Refer]

Through a Glass Darkly: Anticipating the Future of Technology-Enabled Education Interesting article from a historian comparing the current information revolution to the second industrial revolution(that is, the advent of electricity and internal combustion in the late 1800s and early 1900s). Mostly a cautionary tale, the article warns university administrators to be careful when predicting the outcomes of new technologies and describes institutional structures for adapting to widespread change. I think the author is too conservative - I think the information revolution, which gives us something new, is much more fundamental than the second industrial revolution, which gave us more of the same. PDF format and therefore miserable to read online. By Thomas P. Hughes, EDUCAUSE Review, July/August, 2001. [Refer]

Mob Software: The Erotic Life of Code Perhaps save this link for the weekend. This is an outstanding essay advocating what it calls "mob software" design. But that's only one aspect of an essay that is luxuriant in novel ideas. Now it's about software design, but you should (as with similar articles) apply the principles to online learning design. And let me add: this article expresses my vision. This is what I'm up to! Why? Because: "We can never move forward we can never move forward while the bulk of software work is done in secret and while wholly inadequate resources are given to it. Currently, almost all software development work is carried out in a way that cannot result in beautiful, living, adaptable artifacts." This article is a must-read and is destined to be a classic. By Richard P. Gabriel & Ron Goldman, October 19, 2000. [Refer]

Digitizing Education: A Primer on eBooks This 'informational' article reads like an advertisement for eBooks. It begins with a nice story in which a student buys a collection of eBooks from the college bookstore. Surveys eBook technology, including security features and eBook readers and describes how eBooks will 'add value' to education. Would you want to use eBooks? Well: try reading this article on your computer screen. It is in PDF format, the same format used in eBooks. I wasn't able to read it without printing it. Now imagine that publisher's restrictions prohibit you from printing it. Ick! This article is so misguided, so wrong, so NOT what we want online educational materials to look like in the future. Did I mention that the article reads like an advertisement? One of the authors is a senior marketing director for Adobe. By Michael A. Looney and Mark Sheehan, EDUCAUSE Review, July/August, 2001. [Refer]

Video Crypto Standard Cracked? I love this. A Dutch cryptographer reports that he has successfully cracked the High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP) used by Intel to protect videos. But he is not releasing the details of the crack because he is worried about prosecution under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. But now get this reaction from Intel: "Intel spokesperson Daven Oswalt says the company has received several reports from people claiming that they have broken HDCP. But he says none have held up, and the company remains confident in the strength of the system." Well yeah. It's pretty easy to claim that your system is secure when you have a law preventing anyone from proving otherwise. So much for free enquiry and honesty in science. By Ann Harrison, Security Focus, August 13, 2001. [Refer]

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