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Jul 31, 2001

Questia to let College buy Online-Library Service in Bulk As the author correctly observes, this is a change in strategy for vendors of online library materials: changing from individual subscriptions, where the student would be charged $19.95 (or a similar fee) directly, to bulk sales, paid for by the institution. I think that if sales of online learning mjaterials are going to succeed at all, the bulk sales route is the only way to go. By Tome Fowler, Houston Chronicle, reprinted in the Chronicle of Higher Education, July 30, 2001. Submitted on Jul 31, 2001 [Refer]

Ready or Not, Here Come the Digital Libraries Meet the e-libraries, says the author. They have e-books, course packs, and even research guides to sell, and they're targeting your students. Now: how much of this is inevitable, and how much of this is sales spin? I don't think that the commercialization of library materials is yet accomplished. By Ron Feemster, University Business, July 1, 2001. Submitted on Jul 31, 2001 [Refer]

Digital Copyright Act Harms Research Argument to the effect that the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) harms research by prohibiting scientists not only from studying encryption algorithms but also in preventing them from detecting spyware, insecure software and a host of other problems. The DCMA says that proprietary software must remain, in essence, a black box, but the interests of privacy and security argue otherwise. By Richard M. Smith, MSNBC, July 30, 2001. Submitted on Jul 31, 2001 [Refer]

WebCT Announces Availability of IMS Content Migration Utility This is a significant development. WebCT can now import and export IMS compliant course materials. To paraphrase this press release, administrators can now import or export and save content and assessment information from WebCT courses in XML using IMS Content Packaging 1.1 and Question & Test Interoperability 1.1 format. This allows schools to save their courses in a non-proprietary format that can be shared with other IMS-compliant software. It also gives institutions the flexibility of importing IMS-compliant courses created outside the WebCT environment. Now I ask: will somebody build a course content marketplace WebCT users can tap into to find IMS-compliant course content? WebCT Press Release, June 30, 2001. Submitted on Jul 31, 2001 [Refer]

The Changing Faces of Virtual Education I cannot gush enough about the usefulness and timeliness of this important book published this month by the Commonwealth of Learning. A sweeping overview of the major trends and issues in online learning, this volume is overflowing with examples and descriptions, filled with incisive observations and sharp analysis, and brimming with evocative issues and points of view. A must-read for any person in the field, and recommended as a standard text for any course introducing students to the world of online learning. The entire text is available online in PDF format. I have also provided individual links and descriptions for each of the eight chapters. Edited by Glen Farrell, The Commonwealth of Learning, July, 2001. Submitted on Jul 31, 2001 [Refer]

Chapter 1: Introduction This chapter puts the discussion of virtual education into context. Virtual education - or online learning - is a rapidly growing field, fuelled not only by increasing technological capacity but also by a worldwide educational need, as evidenced by trends in world population, globalization, collaboration and the growth of knowledge. The development of virtual education is seen as one stage in a progesssion of stages beginning with distance education and evolving, perhaps, into intelligent learning machines. But many other writers argue that elements of the traditional approach to learning, such as human interaction, are and will continue to be important. Some authors - and I agree with this view - describe a growing diversity of learning opportunities, each taylored to the particular needs and circumstances of the individual. By Glen Farrell, The Commonwealth of Learning, July, 2001. Submitted on Jul 31, 2001 [Refer]

Chapter 2: The Changing Venues for Learning Looks at what happens when we consider providing advanced education to a world-wide population. Clearly, our institutional infrastructure - traditional classrooms, schools, and the like - is insufficient. Learning is moving to alternative venues such as community learning centers, multi-purpose community centers, and especially telecenters. Of the latter, several models and examples are provided. Outlines the technology required for telecenters, lists success factors, and provides a checklist for planning, managing and using telecenters. By Vis Naidoo, The Commonwealth of Learning, July 2001. Submitted on Jul 31, 2001 [Refer]

Chapter 3: The Continuing Evolution of ICT Capacity: The Implications for Education Observes the rapid growth in information and communications technology (ICT) capacity and traces the consequences in education and especially online learning. Good list of examples of ICT in education, such as online universities (e.g., Universitas 21), educational portals (such as Hungry Minds and UNext), and government and university projects. Surveys the technology being used, including the Web, satellite broadcasting (with an extended look at African Virtual University), video conferencing, and compact disks. Identifies the web as the key emerging technology, but also looks at such useful applications as voice recognition, wireless technology, local power generation and machine translation. Outlines some major policy issues for administrators and recommends a "minimal virtual education strategy." By Tony Bates, The Commonwealth of Learning, July, 2001. Submitted on Jul 31, 2001 [Refer]

Chapter 4: Object Lessons from the Web: Implications for Instructional Development Authoritative overview of the nature and impact of learning objects on online learning. Probably the most controversial chapter, the author begins with a critique of rigid institutional approaches to learning and contrasts that with what learners are actually looking for, as evidenced by examples such as Napster. Defines learning objects and their attributes (granularity, modularity, interoperability, customization, etc.). Lists a number of learning object initiatives, such as Canada's POOL and the U.S. IMS project. Looks at how learning objects are developed, standards groups, and software needs. Outlines the implications for institutions and developers (especially with regard to the idea of shared content). Good diagrams, many examples. By David Porter, The Commonwealth of Learning, July, 2001. Submitted on Jul 31, 2001 [Refer]

Chapter 5: The Provision of Learner Support Services Online Learning support has eveolved since the days when the instruction booklet said "You need a 28,800 baud modem, whatever that is." This chapter provides a brief history of learning support in distance and online learning and then provides a statistics-backed argument (including drop-out rates) for the need for learner support. Offers several models of learner support and describes the 'form and content' of learner support services generally, including post-graduate support and support for special needs. Concludes with a summary of support issues for policy makers. By Yoni Ryan, The Commonwealth of Learning, July, 2001. Submitted on Jul 31, 2001 [Refer]

Chapter 6: The Development of New Organisational Arrangements in Virtual learning An overview of organizational arrangements in online learning providing a comprehensive survey of models supported with a wealth of examples. Begins with a survey of new markets and new virtual educational institutions (with enrollment figures). Takes a close-up look at African Virtual University and highlights some of the challenges faced by institutions in the developing world. Looks at some of the more interesting partnerships between institutions with other institutions and with private companies (plenty of examples). Outlines the rise of for-profit institutions, publisher initiatives, virtual high schools and more.Concludes with an assessment of the factors driving alternative organizational arrangements. By Peter J. Dirr, The Commonwealth of Learning, July, 2001. Submitted on Jul 31, 2001 [Refer]

Chapter 7: Quality Assurance Defends the need for quality assurance with respect to learning outcomes, learning design, and assessment. Locates the need for quality assurance within the context of a global marketplace (yet with local needs). Offers a nice checklist of quality criteria (this could be extracted and would make a very nice one or two pager). Examines the role of accreditation, looks at how quality impacts marketing, and examines institutions' capacity to provide quality in an online environment. By Andrea Hope, The Commonwealth of Learning, July 2001. Submitted on Jul 31, 2001 [Refer]

Chapter 8: Issues and Choices Offers useful definitions of some key terms ('distance learning', 'flexible learning', etc). Maps the emerging vision of online learning as web-centric and learner centered. Lists constraining forces, such as access, costs and faculty concerns. Lists driving forces, such as access, cost and the capacity to 'unbundle' faculty roles. Raises issues such as privatization and globalization. By Glen Farrell, The Commonwealth of Learning, July 2001. Submitted on Jul 31, 2001 [Refer]

Learning Swap Shop Good article on P2P (Person-to-Person) technology as applied to online learning (again scoured from the web by elearningpost, who seem to be on a P2P kick recently). This article is a level-headed assessment of the technology that correctly states that P2P will fill a niche in online learning, not replace all other forms of online learning. Also useful and very relevant is the collection of 'five tips to make P2P learning a reality' at the bottom of the article. By Clive Shepherd, Fastrak Consulting, 2001. Submitted on Jul 31, 2001 [Refer]

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