Stephen's Web

By Stephen Downes
July 18, 2002

Chalkboards Face Erasure as Longtime Classroom Staple When I first encountered whiteboards in the classroom, I hated them (I'm a technophobe in so many ways). The markers were harder to read than the thicker chalk. They were frequently dried out. They were more expensive. They stank. Today, I would almost always use a whiteboard over a chalkboard... and according to this article, the days of the chalkboard are numbered. It also describes some mnore novel uses of computerized whiteboards (already familiar to many educators) that can be used as smart projection screens, screen capture devices, and more. Slowly (too slowly for a technophile like me) the classroom display is changing. By Greg Toppo, Detroit News, July 17, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Cyber Schools Find a Niche It's official (it must be, it's in MSNBC): online learning has a niche! This straightforward description of online learning is designed to depict the approach as a viable alternative to traditional schools... but only an alternative (in the truest sense of the term). By Greg Toppo, MSNBC, July 17, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Dozens of Texans Try to Help Write History at Textbook Hearing Texas officials attempt to rewrite the history texts... and inadvertantly call into disrepute the idea of public input into public education. Oh my. "Some spoke of a failure to mention the religious beliefs of the founding fathers. A busload of students from the University of Texas at Brownsville bemoaned the lack of Hispanics. One man argued that what he called the 'violent nature' of Muslims should be included." Democracy (we have learned from hard experience) must be guided by principles that prevent the tyranny of the majority... must public education obtain a similar set of principles? Would - could? - private education ever do the same? By Jim Suydam, Austin American-Statesman, July 18, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Gaga for Google? When Results Don't Count This article would make good fodder for those who argue that not all research should be conducted over the internet. It points out that some people - even notable technology leaders - have very small web tracks (that is, they generate only a few results on Google). I have noticed this myself. But I don't agree with the author's assessment of the reason - that they "are not into self-promotion, extensive IT industry participation, or gaming search engines." I don't think that's it: having a web footprint is no longer reserved for the odd or the fanatical. But it does show that web coverage is uneven: many companies and institutes do not have a proper web site, even in 2002, and news coverage is skewed in favour of a particular demographic. If we are to be able to conduct all our research on the internet (instead of trudging to dusty and distant libraries) we need to encourage greater web site developmment and broader news coverage. Demand, very often, preceeds supply. By Dan Farber, ZDNet, July 17, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Templates for Teachers OK, they're not learning objects in the traditional sense. But these templates for teachers adhere more to the spirit of learning objects than a lot of other things I've seen online. Genuinely reusable, genuinely useful, the sites listed on this page include forms, letters and a wide variety of other documents teachers can adapt for their own use. By Linda Starr, Education World, December 31, 200-31 8:33 p.m. [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2002 Stephen Downes