Stephen's Web

By Stephen Downes
December 2, 2002

Microsoft Outlook Today's newsletter is a tribute to Microsoft Outlook. Well, maybe not a tribute. After discovering that my old copy of Outlook wouldn't run on my new XP computer (it decided that I am a software pirate even though I bought and paid for my copy with cold hard cash), I went out and bought a new copy, which, when I installed it Saturday, promptly failed to connect to the Exchange server. Not that that would have helped, because a few hours later (so I am told) our computer staff upgraded the NRC exchange server. It hasn't worked since. So I have been without email for more than 48 hours now (and counting). So if you are waiting for me to send something to you, don't hold your breath. I cannot read or write email. Now you may be wondering, how is it that I can send OLDaily? It turns out that my few lines of Perl code is much, much more reliable than Microsoft Outlook. At that, may I say, sums up the state of computing technology today in a nutshell. By Various Authors, Mircosoft, December, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Reed Elsevier Joins RM for Online Education Initiative In case you didn't know, Reed Elsevier, a British-Dutch publishing company, makes more money from online operations than eBay or (more than 1bn annual web revenues). This is worth keeping in mind as you read this short article describing the company's plans to distribute content to schools online. RM, the company that developed the content platform, "intends the online authoring platform to become a common standard, which will deliver its own material to schools, as well as content from partners such as Harcourt and, in future, other publishers." You won't find very much Reed Elsevier content on the web, by the way: it's kept very much under lock and key behind proxy server access and password protection, the antithesis to an open and accessible web. By Steve Barrett, Revolution UK Online, November 25, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

iWire Education Link to a press release syndication service for education products and services. It's like a certain distance education weblog (which I will not name) but without all the extra page views. By Press Releases, iWire, Undated [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Tablet PCs Stake Out Higher Ed It is no surprise to see this article (especially after several months of hyping the products in OLDaily). As the article says, "That's because seldom has there been a new computer introduced that seems more in tune with both the way business is conducted and the nature of the workers in a single professional community." This article has a nice list of tablet PC "contenders" (inexplicably without any links to product websites). By Paul McCloskey, Syllabus, December 1, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Learning is a Recursive, Self-Reflexive System Process This is all very nice, except, of course, that it is impossible to take all of learning, put it into one nice little box, and then say, "Learning is such and such." I mean, take a look at this account. I read it and say, "Oh, so learning is a change in mental state then." Well, no, not every change in mental state counts (unless you are one of those people that says we are learning every minute of our lives, which begs the question of why we think learning si an activity separate from everything). Well, then, what sort of changes in mental state count? That's where it gets confusing. It depends on what the previous mental state was, it depends on what you want your new mental state to be, it depends on how you intend to apply that mental states. Some mental states, for example, produce behaviour - but it would be a mistake to say that learning is the production of a certain sort of behaviour. So successive assimiliation and accomodation is one way of looking at learning, but not a terribly useful way. By Spike Hall, Connectivity, December 1, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

SC Seeks Input on Pick-a-Prof Students at the University of Texas at Arlington are debating whether to sign a $3000 contract with a web service called Pick-a-Prof. What is interesting about this item is not merely that a commercial professor rating service has set up shop (though that is interesting) but rather that it is marketing itself as a service to student groups (rather than to individual students or to universities). I think this is smart. By Connie Yu, The Shorthorn, November 27, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

MIT's Open Window Industrial grade article about MIT's Open Courseware Project. Those familiar with the project will not find a lot of new content in this article (which could just as well have been cobbled together from press releases and other articles on the same topic). Still, it's a good overview and probably reaches a different audience than most of the online articles. By Florence Olsen, Chronicle of Higher Education, December 6, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2002 Stephen Downes