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April 8, 2002

World Wide Web Security My apologies for the, um, extra copies of OLDaily you received this morning. And for the confusion this evening. I still don't know how they were sent, but I can tell you I spent the better part of the day trying to find security holes in my web server (as opposed to, say, writing about pedagogy in learning objects as I was supposed to). At any rate, my Newsletter script now has a brand new lock on it, and with some luck, your inbox will be spared any further assaults. The link at the bottom of your Newsletter should be working properly as well allowing you to change your user information, email address, or even to *gasp* unsubscribe. By Anonymous.[Refer]

The Test Mess John Hibbs wrote to DEOS the other day about the need to put education before warfare. It was a passionate plea and one that I wholeheartedly support (you probably saw the link, "John Hibbs connects the dots," in OLDaily last week). Well, someone wrote into DEOS and complained, saying that an education list is no place for politics. I haven't read any of the replies (assuming there are any), but I have this to say: if you don't see where politics and education merge, then you just haven't been watching the field.

It's not just about Islamic education in Afghanistan, either. Education is in most societies about much more than merely teaching Johnny and Jane how to read and write. It's about instilling a wide set of cultural mores, values and propositions: for some people, it's even about patriotism (which is the 20th century nationalist version of chanting verses from the Koran).

Thus we turn to the present link, a detailed analysis of the push toward standardized testing in the United States. The movement reflects a growing homogenization of education, a reflection of the fact that we live in a connected age, a statement, even, of the idea that a child's education in California ought to be at least roughly similar to a child's education in Des Moines (or Barcelona? the implications of internationalization - a natural outgrowth of online learning and general testing services - are staggering).

The author of this piece has some sobering conclusions: "At the bottom of the conundrum of testing is a problem in the nature of policy, and underneath that a problem in the nature of human understanding. The policy problem is that, for political reasons, you cannot go around making exceptions for people who feel they can do without some given reform.... The problem of human understanding is that people do not readily grasp a reality radically different from their own. It is, for example, taken for granted among activist Scarsdale parents, as it is among the crusaders at CARE, that testing is even more harmful for disadvantaged children than it is for their own, that 'drill and kill' can only crush young minds, that the real problem is money, et cetera. I asked a group of 13 Scarsdale mothers who had gathered to evangelize me if any of them had ever spent a significant amount of time in an inner-city school. There was an embarrassed silence; they hadn't. The truth was that they simply couldn't imagine a school where eighth graders didn't know the meaning of 'foe' and hadn't acquired the skills that their children had acquired unconsciously."

I have written elsewhere that the trend toward testing is inevitable as we move toward a greater diversity of educational opportunities, a diversity accelerated by the rise of new learning technologies. This prediction remains, in my mind, sound, but with it comes an increasing question: how do we test, test fairly, and at the same time view learning - and what should be learned - with something other than our localized understanding of what constitutes a Good Citizen. By James Traub, New York Times, April 7, 2002.[Refer]

Laptops Going Home With Students The Maine laptop experiment - in which students in the state are given their own laptops - is if nothing else an interesting source of new debates. Forget about whether or not students should be given laptops: the new issue here is whether they should be allowed to take the laptops home. On the one hand it seems so logical (what's the point of giving them laptops otherwise). On the other hand is the "drop factor" - "When you're dealing with kids 12, 13 and 14 years old, accidents can happen at that age." By Tess Nacelewicz, Portland Press Herald, April 8, 2002.[Refer]

OASIS Members Form Technical Committee to Advance XML Rights Language OASIS is a not-for-profit consortium working toward the development, convergence and adoption of e-business standards. The substance of this announcement is that its members have formed the OASIS Rights Language Technical Committee to advance a common XML rights language standard for the digital rights management (DRM) marketplace. So far, of course, this is a whole lot of nothing. But whatever comes out of this (or some similar) initiative will have wide application in e-learning. By Press Release, OASIS, April 2, 2002.[Refer]

The Evolution of the Learning Content Management System This article traces the evolution of online learning through to the development of learning content management systems (LCMSs) but its real value is in the last section where it surveys the business advantage of using an LCMS. This one sentence says it all: "LCMS applications allow for the rapid creation, delivery and evolution of proprietary content in support of product launches." By Shelley R. Robbins, Learning Circuits, April, 2002.[Refer]


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