Stephen's Web

By Stephen Downes
May 29, 2002

AMTEC 2002 Today's newsletter is coming from Regina, Saskatchewan where I am attending the Association for Media and Technology in Education in Canada (AMTEC) conference. By Various Authors, AMTEC, May 28, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

AMTEC 2002 News The best demonstration of learning with new technology at AMTEC 2002 is not courtesy of the presenters or even the keynotes, but rather, of 23 students from Schell School in Holdfast, Saskatchewan. The grade 9 to 12 students, armed with notebooks, digital cameras and recorders, the students will produce seven newsletters, a video broadcast and a website covering the conference. This link is to their website; check back over the next few days for better coverage of the conference than I could ever give. By Various Authors, Schell School, May 28, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Microsoft Dials Down School Software Audit Demands The news in this article is couple of weeks old but the slant on the story shows that Microsoft has missed the point of objections to its marketingh, um, audit plan. According to the article, Microsoft admits that the audit demand was "ill timed" and that schools will have more time to comply. But this isn't the issue: the issue is Microsoft's use of strong-arm tactics to convince schools to buy a Microsoft license for every computer they own, even those that do not run Microsoft software. By Cara Branigan, eSchool News, May 28, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The 24-Hour Professor Another scare article from the Chronicle which asks the question, "Is technology turning college teaching into a 24-hour job?" This is a change of tactic for the Chronicle, a shift from the argument that online learning allows too little contact with students to the argument that online learning allows too much. "E-mails are like Hitchcock's birds... They pursue you relentlessly, hover in flocks, and leave you running for cover." The gist of the article is that professors should have limited 'office hours' online. But of course this is a 19th century approach to a 20th century problem. A properly managed website, FAQ and sponsored student discussion can significantly reduce the professor's workload. Too bad the Chronicle sees no alternative to the one-on-one student-professor interaction. By Jeffry R. Young, Chronicle of Higher Education, May 31, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

OCLC, Olive Software Ally to Digitize Library Newspaper Archives Ah I don't know what to say about this item but it looks important enough to pass on. Through a Byzantine arrangement of exclusive arrangements and access to materials, libraries can offer access to newspaper archives. The main point of this article seems to be that it could produce a revenue stream for libraries. If I'm reading this right (and I can't tell, because there's a lot of doublespeak in this article), the idea is to turn libraries into news archive rental services. EduPage reports, "After collections have been digitized, libraries can host them on their own servers or on OCLC's server. Libraries maintain control of the content and its distribution, and OCLC will offer a premium service where users can pay for access to the full text of some content." Well I have to ask why libraries - which are supposed to provide free public access to these materials - should be content to be turned into marketing shills for this information monopoly. By Barbara Quint, InformationToday, May 28, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Rookie IM Service Challenging Major Players I have mentioned Trillian in previous issues of OLDaily (use the [Research] feature to learn more). It allows people to communicate with AOL-IM, ICQ, MS messaging and yahoo! Messaging all through the same service. The lesson in this article is that people prefer services that are interoperable rather than services that depend on a proprietary interface, no matter how strong the brand is supporting that interface. By Scarlet Pruitt, InfoWorld, May 29, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

THINQ e-Learning Survey Says... Top Execs Worry About Talented Workforce THINQ, of course, has a vested interest in the results of this survey. The survey participants, attendees at the e-learning 2002 Conference & Expo last month in Washington, D.C., constitute a biased sample. e-learning Magazine, one would guess by their participation, is more interested in advertising revenue than credibility. And yet... despite this sham of a survey, the trend reported is likely real: the hiring and retention of quality employees is becoming an increasing concern to managers and executives. It would be nice if e-learning magazine did some real journalism in the field (or at least read some basic texts on sampling and statistics). By Press Release, THINQ, May 28, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2002 Stephen Downes