Joel Spolsky: Set Your Priorities, Joel on Softare October 14, 2005
This article is focused on priorizing software improvements, but it seems to me people who design business processes should also take note, taking the point of view of the user. Is following this process going to benefit me? Will filling out this form improve my productivity? If the answer is no, you have a dysfnctional business process on your hands, and implementing it will harm, rather than help, the organization. [Tags: None] [Comment]

Brian Kelly: JISC Standards: A Presentation To The JISC, Jisc October 14, 2005
Some of the observations near the beginning of this presentation are worth noting, for example, the need for simpler, lower level and more flexible standards ("Web services considered harmful"), or for example, an examination of what the word 'must' means in the context of standards. The rest of the slide show describes a JOSC project to create a standards catalogue. [Tags: Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC), Project Based Learning] [Comment]

Unattributed: Student Achievement - What Shoudl We Really Be Measuring?, Canadian Council on Learning October 14, 2005
Interesting report that should nonetheless be read critically. The author looks at Canada's performance in international tests in language, mathematics and science, asking about what additional achievements should be measured and where performance could be improved. Looking at the results - which see only Finland performining consistently better than Canada, and by a narrow margin - one wonders at the attitude behind such half-hearted comments such as "Canada is performing relatively well" and expressions of concern about Canada "lagging behind". As usual, the best indicator of performance was socio-economic background. But beyond noting that this was less of an indicator in Canada than in other countries, the author had nothing to say. The main message I take out of this (with caveats about the testing to begin with) is something like: don't mess with the system, it's among the best in the world. Beyond that, it seems to me the greatest area for improvement is in improving access for people of lower socio-economic standing. Finally, as I've suggested elsewhere, evaulation beyond testing is required - a student who performs well in tests but who suicides upon graduation is counted as a success by these measures. We need to look at this, as well as health statistics, crime, employment, life satisfaction, creativity and innovation, and more. [Tags: Assessment, Canada] [Comment]

Scott Elliott: Public Schools, Private Markets: A Reporter's Guide to Privatization, National Education Writers Association October 14, 2005
Interesting and useful guide providing background and contacts for members of the media covering issues related to the privatization of components of the educational system, including charter schools, vouchers, private management of schools (such as Edison), and commercial supplementary services. The picture the booklet presents is one of mixed to dubious success - the introduction of charter schools in Dayton, Ohio, for example, is reported to have offered no improvement in grades, and also to have hurt educational outcomes in the public school system as well. But that said, the authors caution repeatedly that care must be taken when interpreting measurements of educational outcomes. PDF. [Tags: Edison Schools, Schools, Assessment, Online Learning] [Comment]

John Borland: Mystery Donor Gives Stanford Free Yahoo Music, CNet News.Com October 14, 2005
The rush to force music services on universities turns weird as a mystery donor has paid to have Yahoo's music service installed at Stanford. The freebie won't last long as students will be hit with monthly charges at the end of the year. [Tags: Yahoo!] [Comment]

Albert Ip: Top down or Bottom Up, Random Walk in E-Learning October 14, 2005
Short post focusing on the different between Us (BP) and Them (SP). "While the SPs are claiming pedagogical neutrality of the technologies, the fact is, they are NOT. AND, more importantly, SP fails to see the implicit pedagogies embedded in the learning technology standards they are creating. BPs, on the other hand, are pretty open and straight forward about the pedagogy that a particular approach is embracing." [Tags: Online Learning] [Comment]

Joe St Sauver: The Impending End of Traditional .forward-style Forwarding, Campus Technology October 14, 2005
It's a typical scenario. Student enrolls at a university and gets a university email account. Preferring to use an existing Hotmail or Gmail account, the student has the university account automatically forward to the existing account. The university then proceeds to send a flood of email to the student, everything from parking notices to Bookstore sales to registration information. Inevitably, some students flag this as spam, and the university is flagged as a spammer by ISPs around the world. The typicial IT solution proposed in this article? Block email forwarding and prevent remote access to email, so the student is unable to flag the university as a spammer. The user-centered solution not proposed: stop flooding the student's email inbox with spam. [Tags: Spam] [Comment]

Doug Lederman: Easing the Copyright Challenge, Inside Higher Ed October 14, 2005
This item actually came out before the merger but gives us an idea of what to expect. The U.S.-based Copyright Clearance Center is launching a program to link its services with the Blackboard course management system. As Eduventures's Cathy Burdt comments, "By providing a utility that is integrated, you’re taking the guesswork away somewhat. That’s a net gain for publishers who want to protect their copyrights, professors who want to use a wide variety of works, and universities that are trying to build business processes to manage tasks such as these." The future of Blackboard will be closely tied to the future of commercial content, as publishers will finally have the sole-source point of purchase they've been wanting for a long time. Via Doug Lederman. [Tags: Mergers and Takeovers, Copyright and Patent Issues, Blackboard, Books and eBooks] [Comment]

Christopher D. Sessums: Liberation and the Internet: Communities of Practice and the Power to Connect October 14, 2005
I enjoyed this paper, a look at online learning that takes as a point of departure “Reflections on Liberation,” by Suzanne Pharr, which discusses liberation politics as a means of “breaking down the barriers that prevent a large portion of the population from having access to economic and social justice.” What I found interesting was the comprison between communities of practice (or, more accurately, communities of interest) today and the practice of identity politics in previous eras. As Pharr notes, there is always a risk that these communities can become “limited, hierarchical [in their] approach, reducing people of multiple identities to a single identity.” [Tags: Online Learning] [Comment]

Darren Kuropatwa: Rip Mix Learn, A Difference October 14, 2005
Presentation delivered to math teachers in Manitoba today. Instead of using PowerPoint, the presented instead created a blog with the major parts of the talk each as separate entries. Topics covered include blogging, RSS, social networking tools, and more. Good coverage; useful links for others creating similar presentations. [Tags: Networks, Web Logs] [Comment]