By Stephen Downes
July 14, 2003

US Schools Address Plagiarizing Claims
The point of this article is to show how often educators plagiarize. But in so doing, it overstates the case. Yes, yes, I know, plagiarism is wrong. But there are limits, right? If you borrow a short phrase from someone, should you give credit? Maybe. Ask permission? This article suggests you should, but let's not be ridiculous. Yes I know that publishers and lawyers say you should get permission to use every little quote and snippet these days. But you have the legal right to use them without permission, and you shouldn't let your laywers convince you otherwise. By Anand Vaishnav, Boston Globe, July 14, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

PDF: Unfit for Human Consumption
I have written many, many times in these pages how much I hate PDF files. It's not just me. This article from usability expert Jakob Nielsen condemns PDFs for committing numerous "usability crimes." They are long and linear. They crash the computer (especially Adobe's new Acrobat Reader). They have an odd interface. They disrupt navigation. They don't scroll properly. And they take too long to download. "PDF is the monster from the Black Lagoon. It puts its clammy hands all over people with a cruel grip that doesn't let go." By Jakob Nielsen, Alertbox, July 14, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Dynamic Appearance Model and Implementing SCORM 1.3
Dynamic appearance is the art and mystery of creating two different looks from the same document. At a certain level, it's not hard: just switch style-sheets. But when you get into more page-specific properties, you need to use something more complicated, such as (say) Javascript. Sounds simple, but the security provisions in Javascript make it difficult. This article describes the approach taken by Canada's Department of National Defense, the authors of which have been involved with SCORM since before there was SCORM. Docbook, an XML content format, has been designed for this purpose, but is in the words of the author, "fiercely complex" and was dropped by EML. This comment sparked a response from Pierre Gorissen, who argues that it wasn't that complex and that what EML dropped wasn't Docbook, exactly. And the saga continues. By Wilbert Kraan, CETIS, July 13, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Perennial Plagiarism
Good analysis of the topic, with many links (as usual). Covers definitions of plagiarism, reports and statistics, analyses of the reasons why students plagiarize, and suggestions for reducing plagiarism. By Graeme Daniel and Kevin Cox, Web Tools Newsletter, July 7, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Main Points of the Strategy Consultation
The U.K. government has launched a wide-ranging consultation with respect to e-learning strategy. Included with the consultation is a long (65 page) discussion paper (PDF or Word). Areas covered include assessment, accessibility, collaboration and digital rights. There is some good stuff here, including broadband for all schools and "funding models to ensure universal personal access to e-learning for all learners and teachers." There are some odd bits - why would the report urge the exploration of "generic" software (as opposed to Open Source)? The consultation runs until the end of January, 2004. By Unknown, Department for Education and Skills, July 8, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Principles for Electronic Authentication - Consultation Draft
From the website, "A draft set of Principles for Electronic Authentication is being made available for stakeholder review and comment. These Principles form part of Industry Canada's ongoing work in support of the trust and confidence agenda for electronic commerce by establishing a benchmark for the development, provision and use of authentication services in Canada." There is a lot of reading here - perfect for a lazy summer afternoon. Industry Canada is asking for comments: get your responses in my August 12. By Various Authors, Industry Canada, July 12, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

EQO Letter
The European Quality Observatory (EQO) was created to "establish a comprehensive European information and support space for quality in ICT-based training, learning and education." It has published the first issue of its newsletter, called (nor surprisingly), the "EQO Letter." Partners in the initiative include European Schoolnet and The Centre for Research and Technology Hellas (CERTH). EQO is funded by the European Union. By Various Authors, July 14, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Swappers Sprint to Cloak Identities
The net effect of the recent lawsuits by the music publishers has been to push file sharing further underground. It is not a surprise to see new and established peer to peer software vendors taking measures to protect privacy. People working in digital rights management ought to take note. There is a much greater need for privacy then is typically assumed, and not merely by people who want to break the law. If the evidence of internet access is used in file sharing lawsuits, it may well also be used for industrial espionage, background checks, divorce proceedings, tax investigations, and more. A system of digital rights that requires that you produce your identity cannot work. I repeat, a system of digital rights that requires that you produce your identity cannot work. By Dawn C. Chmielewski, San Jose Mercury News, July 14, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2003 Stephen Downes
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