Stephen's Web

By Stephen Downes
October 23, 2002

DVDs Poised to Become Future Teaching Tool Didn't we go throuigh this with CD-ROMs? Apparently not well enough. Oh well. The point of this article, as the title suggests, is that DVDs will become an important teaching tool. Just as was the case with CD-ROMs before them, DVDs offer much increased data storage, allowing for quick access to multimedia. Obviously DVDs will be useful in certain settings, such as school labs and locations with limited bandwidth. But it is important to keep in mind that DVDs are at best a transition technology and will be rendered largely obsolete for presentation purposes with the advent of true broadband. By Anne Kim, T.H.E. Journal, October, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Distance Learning: Universal Design, Universal Access The legal issues notwithstanding, this discussion of the need for accessible online courses is still worth reading. The author proposes an approach called "universal design" to ensure that an online course is accessible. Universal design is defined as "the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design." Principles of universal design include the accomodation of a wide range of individual preferences and abilities, the effective communication of necessary information without regard to ambient conditions or the user's sensory abilities, and the creation of design that can be used efficiently and comfortably with a minimum of fatigue. By Sheryl Burgstahler, Educational Technology Review, October, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Copyright Law and Roasted Pig Lawrence Lessig asks a simple question: "In 1930, 10,027 books were published. Today, 174 of those books are still in print. What would it take to put the remaining 9,853 out-of-print books onto the Internet?" By Lawrence Lessig, Red Herring, October 22, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Augmented Reality Brings Dinosaurs into the 21st Century I have seen some of the 3-D projection systems in use at Canada's National Research Council and have concluded that they will be a powerful teaching tool in the classroom. Systems such as are described in this article extend that capacity to enable the representations to go beyond the scanned object and to create "augmented" versions - for example, stating with a scanned dinosaur skull, you can layer muscle tissue and skin over it to provide a representation of a living dinosaur. Next step: full motion augmented 3-D representations. By Josh Chamot, National Science Foundation, October 22, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Can You Trust Your Computer? Richard Stallman has released an important criticism of the proposed "trusted computing" paradigm proposed by Microsoft and others. Saying it should be called "treacherous computing," Stallman explains, "large media corporations (including the movie companies and record companies), together with computer companies such as Microsoft and Intel, are planning to make your computer obey them instead of you. Proprietary programs have included malicious features before, but this plan would make it universal. Proprietary software means, fundamentally, that you don't control what it does; you can't study the source code, or change it." By Richard Stallman, NewsForge, October 21, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Scriptum This is kind of cool. From an email I received: "Scriptum allows students to submit assignments in any document format (over 300 document types supported) with a standard web browser. The documents are scanned for viruses before being converted to PDF on the server. Instructors can access assignments from their web browser adding comments, annotations, and valuable feedback. Once a grade has been assigned the document is returned to the students for review in PDF format with rich annotations." It would be perfect, if only it didn't convert everything to PDF (which makes them impossible to read online). By Various Authors, Vancouver Software Labs, October, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The RoMEO Project The RoMEO Project (Rights MEtadata for Open archiving) was launched in August to investigate rights issues surrounding the self-archiving of research in the UK academic community. "It will perform a series of stakeholder surveys to ascertain how 'give-away' research literature (and metadata) is used, and how it should be protected. Building on existing schemas and vocabularies (such as Open Digital Rights Language) a series of rights elements will be developed. A demonstrator system will then be created to show how rights metadata might be assigned, disclosed, harvested, and displayed to end users via the OAI Protocol for Metadata Harvesting." By Various Authors, August, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2002 Stephen Downes