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April 17, 2002

IBM Drops Internet Patent Bombshell Members of the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS) were stunned to learn in late March that IBM is claiming two key patents that could undermine the proposed e-business XML protocol (ebXML). This story is relevant to educational developers because two widely used protocols - SOAP and WSDL - are also privately owned by IBM and Microsoft. Additionally, large corporate contributions have been made to educational protocols such as the Instructional Management Systems (IMS) protocols (on which SCORM is based). Now even if IBM backs away from any claim to royalties - which I expect it will - they nonetheless wield a powerful weapon (which amounts to a veto) when dealing with standards users. I cannot caution educational software and content developers enough: do not lock yourselves into a single standard. By David Berlind, ZDNet Tech Update, April 17, 2002.[Refer]

The eLearning Developers' Journal The eLearning Guild announces a major change of strategy. Here's the email: "We have decided to make a change regarding The eLearning Developers' Journal. Effective now, it will no longer be a paid subscription based journal. Rather, it is now available to all members as an added benefit of your free membership.... We are also changing the Journal's format. Instead of being a monthly publication, it will now be a weekly online 'e-journal'." By Anonymous.[Refer]

Modular PC Downsizes the Computer I have my office computer, my office laptop, my home computer, my home office computer, and my personal laptop. This is necessary because it's simply not convenient to carry computers around and my iPaq needs a base computer to sync with. Here's a better idea: a fully functioning Windows XP computer the size of a paperback. With wireless internet and network access. That I can simply plug into whatever monitor (etc) happens to be kicking around. Oh yeah, and the cost: about $US 1000. Now if only I could get the Linux version so I don't have to spend the same amount again in software (nobody writes about how much pre-installed software costs and about how cheap retail computers would be were it not for the software costs). By Jim Krane, Los Angeles Times, April 17, 2002.[Refer]

IEEE Editor Replies to Politech Post on DMCA-free Papers Following up: the IEEE, was earlier reported to be requiring that all authors warrant that their submissions be compliant with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). IEEE's Steven Cherry is now writing that "removing the reference to the DMCA from the IEEE Copyright Form is in the works." In the works? Here's a hint: use the delete key about fifteen times. Elapsed time: 15 seconds. By Declan McCullough, PoliTechBot, April 15, 2002.[Refer]

AuthorChats Pete MacKay sends this note about an innovative service that allows participants (usually children) to chat online with authors and illustrators of their favorite books. By Anonymous.[Refer]

Shaping the Learning Curve Through a Code I don't write a lot about cheating and plagiarism because I think the issue is overblown. Case in point: an allegation where one school's efforts to limit cheating entail that a student shall not learn from another student (which, to me, sems to be exactly opposite to what we would like to accomplish). From the article: "The university officials who filled in the violation form were forced by the Georgia Tech rules to stray so far from their obligation as educators that they seriously listed part of the freshman’s offense in exactly these words: 'He was trying to learn it.'" Now please don't read me as condoning cheating. I'm not. But do read me as condemning really bad course design which results in good learning practices being befined as cheating. By Jay Mathews, Washington Post, April 16, 2002.[Refer]

Companions or Commercials? While pundits such as Elliott Masie are beginning to tout the benefits of internet messaging (IM) in education, advertisers - one step ahead of the pundits, as usual - are planning the deployment of intelligent agents that resemble instant messages, are targeted at kids, and that promote brands or products. This article describes a product called ActiveBuddy (http://www.activebuddy.com/), a company that produces LindsayBuddy, an agent built to deliver information about a 15-year old recording artist. I tried it out (open AOL-IM (or Trillian) and send a message addressed to 'LindsayBuddy') and found it simplistic but impresssive: at my request, for example, it let me play a Lindsay Pagano video. By Dianne Lynch, ABC News, April 11, 2002.[Refer]


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