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September 17, 2001

Canadian Universities Band Together in a Giant Journal-Licensing Deal Citing cost savings and increased accessibility, 64 Canadian universities have signed a licensing agreement with 650 journals at a cost of $US 30 million. That works out to $468,750 for online access to each journal, which ought to cover the cost of a secretary. The agreement expires in three years. By Janice Paskey, Chronicle of Higher Education, September 14, 2001.[Refer]

Taking Classes to the Masses Interesting and fairly comprehensive article comparing the relative success of the online courses offered by traditional colleges and universities as comparied to their more flashy - and now broke - dot com counterparts. The article is well written and well researched, but I wish it had managed to state an important lesson implicit in its examination: in online learning, content, not sizzle, sells courses. By Christopher Shea, Washington Post, September 16, 2001.[Refer]

How to Be a Leader in Your Field: A Guide for Students in Professional Schools It's interesting how the internet changes everything while somethings never change. This article about thought leadership in the professions could have been written a hundred years ago or it could have been written yesterday. I have seen the pattern described in this article emulated many times on the internet: new tools for an old profession. But the pattern prescribed has always bothered me. Pick an "issue," study it, find a new question, create a taxonomy... "Your goal is to lead: to present the profession with a valid issue that calls for action. Again, you don't need to specify what the right action is. You only need to give form to the issue." So many academic careers have been founded on this model yet it seems so dissatisfying, so rooted in what is already there rather than in what could or should be. "Issues" are what Kuhn would call part of "normal science" but the really interesting breakthroughs - and leaders - transcend normal science. The followers pick issues with existing practice, the leaders define new practice. Or so it seems to me. Still, good article: pass it on to your students. By Philip E. Agre, UCLA, September 15, 2001.[Refer]

The Market Logic of Information Cyberspace, argues the author, is not a world apart but rather just another aspect of the world as a whole. As such, it is bound by the same rules and principles. Thus, though such features of the Internet as 'always-on' information access may at first appear to radically transform enterprise, they in fact only accelerate existing trends, and in particular, consolidation and standardization. These trends, however, result in a loss of diversity, not so much in individual products as in the infrastructure that underlies them. The loss of what the author calls "deep diversity" enabled by less homogenous systems is something to be concerned about. Yeah, ok. A good business-theoretic analysis of a criticism many people have been making about learning objects. By Philip E. Agre, Knowledge, Technology, and Policy 13(1), 2001.[Refer]

Mobile Devices Will Soon Be Useful Good analysis outlining major trends in mobile and wireless computing (WAP and Bluetooth are out, 802.11 is in). Also an introduction to the oddly named Danger Device (Danger Research's 'Hiptop'), a combination voice phone and PDA with a unique twist-open keyboard. By Jakob Nielsen, Alertbox, September 16, 2001.[Refer]

Adapting the Tools of Drama to Interactive Storytelling Tacit knowledge, many article in knowledge management assert, is in an important sense a form of storytelling. And online learning, I have asserted in numerous articles, should be approached as more similar to online games than to, say, online texts (sadly, by the evidence, few people agree with me, but that's another story). This article, a design guide for builders of online games, bridges the game by explaining how traditional dramatic techniques are needed to create realistic and compelling online games. The article is a good read in its own right and really ought to be taken seriously by (creative) developers of online courses. By Randy Littlejohn, Gamasutra, September 14, 2001.[Refer]

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