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March 28, 2002

Howling Mad Over Hollings' Bill More on new copyright legislation being proposed to the U.S. government. This is a useful sketch because it details the impact of the legislation on the average user (so it's not some abstract debate about litigation between faceless corporations). "The bold move to tether music -- or movies -- to certain devices has the potential to upset millions of consumers willing to pay for legitimate content." By Brad King, Wired News, March 28, 2002.[Refer]

Philosopher's Critique of Online Learning Cites Existentialists (Mostly Dead) I missed this one when it came out. Just as well (speaking as a philospher). The cynicism aside, the article does a good job of placing Dreyfus's critiques of online learning into the wider context of Dreyfus's thought generally: "Dreyfus also draws on 20th-century existentialists such as Martin Heidegger and especially Maurice Merleau-Ponty, who argues that the body plays a crucial role in all elements of life, from perception to politics. Without physical bodies, people can attain only intellectual competence in skills." This is the gist of Dreyfus's criticism of artificial intelligence generally, but I believe it is misplaced, not because the knowledge Dreyfus talks about can be acquired by cognition alone (I am not (and never will be) a rationalist), but because we need to think of of the computer and computer networks in an important sense as an extension of the body. I can take actions via the internet that entail real risk, not merely virtual risk, but risk to my financial, emotional, professional and even physical well being. Through the internet I interact with (remote) physical systems, and that has a physical consequence. Thus, at least, is the point (paraphrased and interpreted) of Marshall McLuhan (also dead). By Michael Arnone, Chronicle of Higher Education, March 15, 2002.[Refer]

The "No Significant Difference" Phenomenon: A Literature Review The 'No significant difference' phenomenon, catalogued through dozens of research studies over the years, is the observation that distance or online learning is at least as good as (if not better) than traditional in-class teaching. This article, though, is a thorough review of the oft-cited studies. The author's conclusions are unsettling: "This review found no study, no evidence of any kind that categorically proves that technology does not impact learning in some way, positively or negatively." But one wonders (as, indeed, does the author, though in an oblique manner) whether such proof could ever be forthcoming: "It is difficult, if not impossible, to apply scientific methods to social science hypothesis. Human cognition has, to date, provided no quantifiable absolutes or baseline from which research can benchmark." But if this is true, then why are so many researchers applying scientific methodology to the study of social phenomena? By Thomas R. Ramage, e-Journal of Instructional Science and Technology, vol. 5, no. 1, April, 2002.[Refer]

Get Rid of SAT, Similar Tests Fallout from the suggestion that the College Board vevise the U.S. based SAT I test includes the suggestion that the apptitude tests be scrapped altogether. "Every known test has proved extremely susceptible to coaching. That means students from affluent families can 'buy' a leg up that is unavailable to children from less wealthy homes. The result is that reliance on test scores of any type in admissions tilts the playing field even further against low-income and minority applicants.... A growing number of colleges -- now close to 400 -- do not force many of their applicants to submit test scores before being admitted.... True reformers should ask why any standardized test is still required for college admissions." By Christina Perez, USA Today, March 28, 2002.[Refer]

Online Training in an Online World You will want to have a look at this report - or the detailed executive summary, at least - because the survey itself is quite good and the results reveal trends within the online learning industry. I would not offer all of my support for the fifteen recommendations at the end, but only because they are vague, not misdirected. You could certainly do worse than to take this as a starting point. But do be careful when citing the survey as a quantification of e-learning trends: of the 201 respondents to this web-based survey, "Nearly all of them were either users of Web-based training or decision-makers regarding it. In addition, most were active members of training or online learning organizations." Thi introduces a certain bias into the results, especially with regard to statements concerning the importance or usefulness of online learning. By Curtis J. Bonk, Jones International University, January, 2002.[Refer]

SyncStream 1.3 Seton Hall University is distributing free software that helps faculty produce multimedia presentations. Called SyncStream, the software allows users to synchronize an online slide show with a RealVideo streaming video format. Users can also attach a chat room to a SyncStream presentation. By Anonymous.[Refer]


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