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February 4, 2002

Four Dimensions of Collaboration and Networked Organizations This is one of these items that I read and ask myself whether there is an e-learning application. The main idea is that the most effective organization is one that is decentralized (networked, to use this article's terminology) but which can work in a centrally organized way where possible. This leads to a survey of four dimensions of network organization: the connection of workers with both hardware and collaboration software; the evolution of a community through dialogue; the evolution of a problem in the community space; and the development of a problem portfolio. I can just see somebody structuring an article about online learning communities around this model. By White Paper, Quovix, 2001.[Refer]

Open Software & Open Standards in South Africa Vendors of instructional and learning management software in the international market might want to take note of the line of reasoning in this article: "A sustained Rand slide will make licenses on imported software (not to mention other imports) prohibitively expensive. Whether or not the Rand enjoys an upswing in future, it makes sense to minimise risk through avoidance, where possible, of dollar-based software license fees and through vigorous encouragement and support of local software development efforts." As a consequence, the article urges, the South African government ought to make open standards "a non-negotiable base for ICT in the Public Sector" and to use open source software wherever possible. By Open Software Working Group, National Advisory Council on Innovation, January, 2002.[Refer]

New Report Finds Linking Community Service to Curriculum Builds Better Students, Better Citizens A study that tries to show, in a nutshell, "that large numbers of young Americans are not fully engaged - intellectually or otherwise - in the teaching and learning enterprise. As many as half of all high school students find their classes boring, and substantial majorities see no particular reason to get good grades in school or to refrain from cheating on tests. Disengagement also extends to activities fundamental to democratic society, such as voting and keeping up with current events. Service-learning has proved to be a powerful antidote to student disengagement..." I have advocated elsewhere that online learning has the potential to get students out of the classroom and into the community, where they belong. Perhaps service learning is one way to do it. It would be interesting to see whether there are any studies linking online learning and service learning. By Press Release, National Commission on Service-Learning, January 28, 2002.[Refer]

A Glove That Speaks Volumes This is one of these inventions that could spawn a raft of useful applications: a glove that converts American Sign Language into electronic text. It seems to me that this glove would be an excellent tool for the teaching of ASL. It also seems to me that for an experienced ASL signer, the glove might be a faster input device than the keyboard. By Katie Dean, Wired News, January 28, 2002.[Refer]

Peer-To-Peer: The Next Hot Trend in E-Learning? Useful article describing the ses of peer-to-peer (P2P) networking in an educational context. Three major applications are suggested: data sharing, resource sharing, and workgroup collaboration. P2P computing has been slow to take hold because users must install software on their computers. And because of this, security becomes a greater issue than, say, using the web. But I think that the main barrier to the widespread use of P2P is psychological - it requires that people become active contributors of content and knowledge, not just recipients. But most people don't want to contribute, at least, not on a sustained basis, because it takes too much time. By Jennifer Hofmann, Learning Circuits, January, 2002.[Refer]

Text-based Chat is Very Small Talk This article points to the small number of users who would prefer to use text-based chat to obtain hlp desk support from a website instead of, say, the telephone. My own experiences with chat are mixed. I think it can work pretty well if it's up front and easy to use, but people aren't going to go looking for it. And it's not for everybody, and especially not for people who don't type well (which is probably a majority of readers). By David Walker, Lighthouse on the Web, February 1, 2002.[Refer]


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