By Stephen Downes
July 6, 2004

Academic Exchange Quarterly
Academic Exchange Quarterly features fiction and the novel this month. But I'm linking because I love this page. Now if it were only in RSS format. Then I could get my articole links and never worry about remembering to go to this page again. But I would want to capture this information in the RSS feed too: "Rankings, updated monthly, reflect accumulated hits from time of posting until the current month. For rankings to be listed, minimum 500 hits is required. Updates recorded in 50 hits increments. Top Ten Articles, number of hits/visitors, in bold." Cooler and cooler. By Various Authors, June, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Who Are All These People, and What Are They Doing in My Classroom?
The new EDUCAUSE Review is out and I carry three articles in today's newsletter beginning with this one, a look into one of those odd problems caused by technology: non-students inhabiting the class online workspace. These people may be students staffing the help desk, courseware company employees, or other teachers. In any case, they pose concerns about privacy and security. I agree with the bulk of the author's sentiment, but not this bit: "students might be fearful about who could be 'listening in' by reading student posts." Here I know I hold a minority view, as "In the 1970s, explicit attention was directed to the requirement that professors protect the confidentiality of any conversation taking place within the classroom." My own belief is that a classroom is a public space, and therefore, what was said in a classroom has been said in public. When people are afraid of who might be "listening" then their freedom of speech, though it may be enshrined in law, does not exist in fact. I know, people want closed classrooms to protect the students. But I don't think it does protect the students; it merely offers them a false sense of security while at the same time tolerating the abridgement of their rights. By Sandra Braman, EDUCAUSE Review, July, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Digital Convergence: Extending the Portfolio Model
"Becoming an artist," writes the author, "becoming anything—an engineer, a historian, a chemist, a sociologist—is hard work. Today, the portfolio approach long used with art students is being adapted for use with all students." This article describes three approaches to portfolio development, but I like the section outlining the opportunities offered by portfolios: authentic assessment, and lifelong portfolios. By Gary Greenberg, EDUCAUSE Review, July, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Open Source 2007: How Did This Happen?
The author describes two possible futures for open source software in academic, one in which it becomes mainstream, the other in which it becomes marginal. What will make the difference is the institutions' ability to understand this: "First, the task of developing application software is very complex and expensive, and sustainable models must address this complexity. Second, coordinating mechanisms will arbitrate success. And third, the collective actions of institutions will influence the outcome." Good article with some sober thinking. By Bread Wheeler, EDUCAUSE Review, July, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Speak Up Day for Teachers 2004 Results
Don't know whether this will generate headlines outside our field, but it might. NetDay, a non-profit organization helping "educators meet educational goals through the effective use of technology," ran this survey during Speak Up Day in May. The survey presents a glowing report; as TechLearning summarized it today, "teachers highly value the importance of technology in their professional lives, with 87% ranking technology as important or very important to their professional responsibilities." Well, sure. The teachers 'speaking up' in favour of technology are largely in favour of technology. That's probably why the survey also finds that, "defying conventional wisdom, older teachers are as comfortable and fluent using technology as their younger colleagues." The conventional wisdom is based on good grounds; this survey, consisting as it does of a badly unrepresentative sample, does not. By Various Authors, Net Day, June, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Scriptometer Overall Scores
I do most of my programming in a computer language called Perl (Practical Extraction and Report Language). Maybe one day I'll switch; I used to program in C and before that in Basic and never thought I'd put either aside. And people are always urging me to write code in Java. But I detest Java, I really do - the special servers you need to run Java programs (called Runtime Engines, or JRE) are not reliable, and you have to have the right version for the programs you have (which means I have three separate versions now, with another coming since Java 1.5 (also known as Java 5) has been released). Anyhow. This nifty page compares the writing of some basic functions in more than a dozen computer langauges, tests them for efficiency and speed, and more. By Pixel, June, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Professor Gives Cisco Manual Away For Free
So what do the textbook publishers do about this? "Mr. Basham, a professor of information technology and IT security at St. Petersburg College in Clearwater, Fla., wrote his own 800-page Cisco networking textbook and last week made it available for download over the Internet free of charge. More than 2,000 copies were downloaded around the world in the first few days of the book's on-line release, according to Lulu.com, an alternative textbook publisher that agreed to distribute it." By Marguerite Reardon, Globe and Mail, July 6, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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