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January 17, 2002

Celestia Cool: Celestia is an 3D space simulation for Unix and Win32 that lets you travel through the solar system, to the stars, and even beyond the galaxy. Visit over 100,000 stars, 100 solar system bodies, and all known extrasolar planets. The software is free and distributed under the GNU Public License. By Chris Laurel, Celestia, January, 2002.[Refer]

Let Them Eat IT: The Myth of the Global Village as an Interactive Utopia I will be upfront and admit that I am a McLuhanist. Communications technology extends our senses and this to a large degree eliminates spatial boundaries, bringing communication (and hence information and empowerment) to humanity as a whole, not just to the world's elites. So I feel compelled to forward this article, an article that attacks these ideas. The concept of the global village has failed, argues the author, and from the wreckage of the dot com collapse is arising a digital hegemony dominated by western cultural influences. I have a few comments in reply. First, it's early days: you don't build a global village overnight. Second, the proliferation of western values (and especially American values) is meeting with resistance - consider, for example, the many people resisting the commercialization of knowledge and information. Third, I think of my own experience where I receive emails from all corners of the globe on a daily basis. And finally, though there was a dot com crash, it was the commercial hegemony that crashed, not the thousands of individual web pages, open source projects, document sharing and general chatter that characterizes the global village. Reading the media, you'd think that the global internet is in trouble, but don't forget, it's the media - not the internet - experiencing the trouble. This article isn't available at the CTheory website yet, so the link is to a copy posted on Yahoo Groups - you do not need to log in to read it. By Songok Han Thornton, CTheory, January, 2002.[Refer]

How to Evaluate a Content Management System Nice article that presents a fairly complete step-by-step account of how to evaluate a content management system. A similar procedure, with minor amendments, could be used to evaluate a learning content management system (you would need to ask additional questions about such things as learning object standards, for example). By James Robertson, Step 2 Designs, January 15, 2002.[Refer]

A Crash Course on E-Learning Portals Introductory article on the topic of online learning portals. The article stresses the need for the portals to be platform neutral, especially from the point of view of the user. It also looks at customized and personalized portals and highlights the use of portals to provide companies with a competitive edge. By Bray J. Brockbank, OS Opinion, January 16, 2002.[Refer]

Intellectual Improprieties Did you know someone was granted a patent in 1998 for 'training with manuals'? Or that someone else has a 1996 patent for a computerized data representation technique we all know as 'pie charts'? These are two extreme examples cited in this short article describing some of the U.S. Patent Office's larger errors. The examples are culled from a site maintained by Gregory Aharonian. By Steve Ditlea, Scientific American, February, 2002.[Refer]

Stanford Online Courselets Welcome to a new bit of jargon. The 'courselet' is defined as "a self-contained, integrated set of learning materials designed as a custom tutorial and offered online in support of Stanford engineering, science and engineering management courses." The courselets contain two or three hours of instruction, a self-test, and are distributed over the web to Stanford students. By Press Release, Andy DiPaolo and Dale Harris, January 16, 2002.[Refer]

SmartForce to Buy Centra in $284 Million Stock Deal As the headline suggests, Centra, known for its real-time virtual classrooms, is to be acquired in a $284 million stock deal by SmartForce, known mostly for its e-learning content but also for its LMS and content creation tools. The move improves SmartForce's learning delivery capacity but mainly delivers Centra's 775 customers, the majority of whom are new to SmartForce. This transaction is the largest to date in e-learning history. More information. By Reuters, Yahoo Finance, January 16, 2002.[Refer]


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