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March 8, 2002

Scientific American Responds to Flap Over Environmentalism Article Yesterday I related the story of an author ordered by Scientific American to remove the magazine's review of his book from his website. Today John Rennie, the editor of Scientific American, responds, saying "we never complained about what he said or tried to restrict him from saying whatever he wanted; all we did was inhibit his unauthorized republication of our text. We have no objection to Lomborg saying or writing whatever he likes, however much we disagree with it. All we ask is that he respect our legal rights. No one needs to reprint an entire text to criticize it..." This all sounds very fine, but: since when does Scientific American get to decide what is needed or not needed in order to offer a criticism? I can count dozens of times where I have quoted an entire post or article in the course of a criticism. Saying you can only quote a few lines is the equivalent of saying you can only offer superficial criticism. Not good enough. By Declan McCullagh, PoliTechBot, March 8, 2002.[Refer]

Making Sense of Learning Specifications & Standards: A Decision Maker's Guide to their Adoption Contains one of the better explanations of why we need standards, which is worth repeating here. Standards enable:

  • Interoperability - can the system work with any other system?
  • Re-usability - can courseware (Learning Objects, or "chunks") be re-used?
  • Manageability - can a system track the appropriate information about the learner and the content?
  • Accessibility - can a learner access the appropriate content at the appropriate time?
  • Durability - will the technology evolve with the standards to avoid obsolescence?
We need these abilities so we can
  • Mix and match content from multiple sources
  • Develop interchangeable content that can be assembled, disassembled, and re-used quickly and easily
  • Ensure that buyers are not "trapped" by a particular vendor's proprietary learning technology
  • Ensure that our learning technology investments are wise and risk adverse
  • Increase the effectiveness of learning by enabling greater personalization and targeting of the right content to the right person at the right time
  • Improve the efficiency and ROI of learning content development and management
  • Increase the quantity and quality of learning content
The article also talks about the evolution of standards and describes the use of standards in education. The document is in PDF format so (once again) you'll have to kill another tree for it to be of any use to you. By Elliott Masie, et.al., The Masie Center, March 6, 2002.[Refer]

Optimal E-Learning Utilization: A Win-Win This item looks at the reasons employees resist e-learning and offers suggestions for reducing that resistance. The usual suspects are indicted: "People may resist e-Learning because it can feel cold and impersonal. It creates a participant-centric environment that requires initiative and effort. Learners don?t just arrive at the assigned time; they must take personal responsibility for budgeting their time, accessing their computers, learning to use required hardware and software, acclimating themselves to the interface, and overcoming technical problems. That can be particularly challenging for people who aren't comfortable with technology." Well OK, but I wonder about that. People have no trouble learning online when they want to. So I don't think that the source of resistance is in the mode of learning. I think that, in an employee situation especially, you have to ask whether the employee wants the learning, whether the employee has something personal to gain (over and above "increased productivity") from the learning. If an employee is avoiding learning online in a given topic, chances are their classroom participation in the same subject is minimal (even if you've forced them to show up). By Stu Tanquist, eXpressLearning, August, 2001.[Refer]

Online Portal Aimed at Helping Doctors The interesting thing about this item is the introduction of the concept of the "personal learning project" as employed by doctors as part of their ongoing professional development. Doctors to create their own personal learning projects using an electronic Web diary. The diary links to a database containing medical textbooks, drug databases, full-text journals and more. The Dairy helps the doctor formalize the learning question and points to learning resources related to the question. By Sandra Mingail, National Post, February 18, 2002.[Refer]

Web Site Lets Kentucky Parents Check Teachers' Credentials This is interesting. Kentucky parents and citizens now can search a single web site to find out the credentials of every public school teacher in the state using the Kentucky Educational Professional Standards Board (EPSB) Teacher Certification Inquiry web site. The site displays each teacher's certificates and diplomas as well as the subjects and grade levels they are authorized to teach. Obviously the site raises privacy issues, but also equity issues: why can't I see the credentials of my bank staff, for example, or the people responsible for maintaining the city water supply? By Cara Branigan, eSchool News, March 1, 2002.[Refer]

ICT Advice A new service launched this month to provide help and tools for classroom teachers, senior managers, subject co-ordinators and ICT co-ordinators in the UK. An interesting approach: I liked the "ask an expert" feature where each topic is supported with a panel of people ready with answers. The "timesavers" feature may prove propular (especially if it saves time!). The site still has some formatting issues (at least, in Netscape 6.2 (I appear to be the last person on the planet using Netscape)). By , British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (BECTA), March, 2002.[Refer]


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