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December 28, 2001

The Pitfalls of Annual Testing Critical of standardized testing, this article suggests that U.S. government funding for a recently aanounced testing program will create nothing more than 'bubble punching' tests and dubious learning materials. Write the authors, "We also observed teachers using this material in a mechanical way that deadened children's engagement with what they were reading." By Clifford Hill, Christian Science Monitor, December 27, 2001.[Refer]

Guides Redefine Mass Media You can read the full report by applying for 'Guest Access' - a long, obnoxious form - and the report methodology is suspect (they interview three academics, call six technology companies, and read some other reports), but the conclusion they reach is sound (hey, it can happen). Which is, essentially, this: because new technology empowers users, audiences are fragmenting (indeed, any 'mass audience' that existed previously existed only because of lack of choice). Thus, the market share for any publication is decreasing, and therefore also, the revenue potential for any online resource. Nothing new here. The report also predicts the rise of 'guides' that will serve as information brokers (much like OLDaily) and these 'guides' will be the major source of revenue in the future. By Eric Scheirer, The Forrester Report, December, 2001.[Refer]

2002: Year of .Net By the 'year of .Net' what eWeek means is that 2002 will be the year of internet services. Expect to hear a lot more buzz about this concept. In principle, the concept is simple: programs (that you pay for online) are delivered over the internet to be run (at least in part) on your computer. Internet services are the 'second part' of web education standards such as IMS and SCORM. They are also behind the architecture of Microsoft's net XP operating system (which I'm trying out as I type). Some people view it as a way of effectively delivering software (and educational materials) on an as-needed basis. Others see it as a way of getting people to pay regular license fees instead of purchasing materials outright. Will it work? Bill Gates has bet the company on it... and so, for that matter, have a number of educational providers. But as the article says, "This is obviously the foot in the door to force people to use their services, and the one thing that I absolutely do not want from my operating system is to force me into things, especially when they're going to force me to pay for it in the future. I don't trust Microsoft. Unfortunately, trust is what's needed to make .Net succeed, and like any relationship, without trust it will just collapse." By Peter Galli, eWeek, December 26, 2001.[Refer]

Commercialization May Limit Internet The article says it best: "As the Internet becomes more commercialized, companies are able to use the courts, trademarks and copyrights, proprietary technology and deep corporate pockets to control what Internet users do and say, threatening the openness that made the Net unique." And I share this writer's concern: "This is the last remaining communications medium that allows the small person to participate," said Barbara Simons, past president of the Association for Computing Machinery. "To lose that would be a great tragedy." By Anick Jesdanun, Excite, December 25, 2001.[Refer]


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