Stephen's Web

By Stephen Downes
August 27, 2002

Using HTML Email to Deliver High-Impact Episodic Training Corrected link from last week. By Sven Laurik, Learning Circuits, August, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

A New Model for AOL May Influence Cable's Future This article is worth reading because it raises numerous questions about the shape of the future internet. The idea here is that a company like America Online wouldn't sell internet access - that would be left to your local cable provider - what it would sell is access to its corner of the internet. It's about access to market. "The only way to persuade AT&T and Comcast to distribute the cyberspace service over their cable lines was to package America Online as if it were a premium movie channel." Now of course this article in the NY Times considers the relative advantages for the businesses involved. But what does it mean for individual users and online learning? Would there be a special educational internet channel? I could certainly see how a lot of people would lobby for that: it would keep out the riff-raff. But would it also keep out content the publishers don't want to compete with, ensuring a pure (and high-priced) supply of online educational content? By Seth Schiesel, New York Times, August 26, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Online School Faces Expulsion What's missing in this article is what happened to the students in this disasterous $9 million experiment in a privately run online school, but I shudder at the thought. You may complain that publicly run school boards are inefficient, but they're never this bad. The school, Einstein Academy, "has always had a culture of anti-government and anti-bureaucracy, including failure to maintain accounting records or complete forms." Moreover, "Einstein could account for only 86 of 1,232 computers sent to students who later left the school, potentially costing taxpayers $690,000." And another company, Tutorbots, "routinely used Einstein teachers to develop coursework, and then billed Einstein for the work. Tutorbots' charges totaled 47 percent of Einstein's budget during its first six months of operation." Here's my advice: leave the management of school boards and schools to the professionals, not the shysters. By John Gartner, Wired News, August 26, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

IMS Digital Repositories Specification The IMS Technical Board has accepted the Digital Repositories Interoperability (DRI) v1.0 Public Draft. According to the email note sent yesterday by Norm Friesen to the Standards mailing list, "the specification outlines ways of sharing metadata and digital resources between networked databases. The specification attempts to accommodate both accepted means of accomplishing this (e.g. Z39.50, FTP) as well as relevant, emerging technologies (e.g. SOAP, XQuery)." The standard consists of three documents: the core information model, the XML binding specification, and the best practices and implementation guide. By Various Authors, IMS, August, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Students Complain About Devices for Reading E-Books, Study Finds Well here's a big surprise. When you create an electronic text reader that limits your use of the text, students complain. Though students who used e-books did as well on quizzes as other students, according to this Ball University study, they found moving from page to page 'tedious" and they didn't find the screen settings useful. Some students also complained of eyestrain. By Scott Carlson, Chronicle of Higher Education, August 26, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Where Cheaters Often Prosper No comfort for educators who rely on the traditional term paper to evaluate student work as, according to this article, term paper sites continue to grow and have become one of the more successful areas of web business. "I don't think we've had a year so far where we haven't grown," said Jared Silvermintz, college student and co-founder of Genius Papers. According to the article, "The site, which Silvermintz started as a junior in high school six years ago, charges $20 for a one-year subscription to a soon-to-be-upgraded database that he says will contain more than 40,000 papers." By Joanna Glasner, Wired News, August 26, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2002 Stephen Downes