Stephen's Web

By Stephen Downes
December 16, 2002

Low-income Schools Rewrite the Rules This sounds right to me: "Research shows that children from poverty often come to school lagging academically, and teachers spend a great deal of time trying to catch them up. But teaching patterns, Payne and other researchers said, can be used to shorten that time. According to training materials used by the teachers, 'the mind sorts data against patterns, mental mindsets and paradigms to determine what is important and what is not.'" By Susan E. White, Virginian-Pilot, December 16, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Laptop Program a Hit in Rural High School A report on the Maine laptop program: "Students and educators credit the computers with rising aspirations, improved grades and fewer disciplinary problems." By Associated Press, Portsmouth Herald, December 16, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

XML and the Future of E-Learning If you already know what XML is and what it does, this article won't add to your knowledge. But if it's all still a bit mysterious to you, then this introduction is a clearly written and non-technical introduction to the concept. It's not strong, though, on explaining just why we will need to use XML, so don't use the article as a means to convince sceptics. By Patti Shank, Learning Circuits, December, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Google Viewer Google is at it again. Google Viewer lets you watch as your search results as Web pages are automatically scrolled across your screen. And Google Webquote lists each search result along with quotes from other sites about that particular link. Both of these have numerous potential uses and should be thought of in connection with other applications (like, say, searching for learning objects). By Various Authors, Google, December, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Genecast It was only a matter of time. For those of you who still use UseNet, there is now a product that converts RSS files to UseNet messages. I have never been much of a UseNet users (it was ruined by spam long before the email variety came along). But this may make me reconsider. By Various Authors, December, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Project Entropia This is very interesting. Entropia is a hree dimensional online environment where millions of users can interact with each other at the same time. But unlike other online communities, the virtual world will run on real cash. There are no access fees to enter the virtual world (much like casinos - heh) but no doubt plenty of opportunity to spend once you're inside. By Various Authors, December, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

WebCT Becomes First Course Management System Vendor to Demonstrate Product Support for Shibboleth in Higher-Ed E-Learning Shibboleth is designed to enable the sharing of multiple Web resources. It allows different systems, such as course management systems and library databases, to access one another securely without requiring users to log in separately for each system. Personally I think Shibboleth is exactly the wrong way to go, since it entrenches controlled access databases and institution-specific user identities. Anyhow, as the headline says (with PR fluff thrown in), WebCT supports Shibboleth (I live for the day I see a three word press release headline). By Press Release, WebCT, December 16, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Music Industry Fight to Block Net Access Hits New Lows Analysis of the battle over music file sharing with some lessons distributors of learning content really should heed: »What the trend really points to is a huge consumer demand for easy-to-find, low-cost music. But instead of moving quickly to compete in this new marketplace, the industry has launched an aggressive campaign to stop consumers from even sharing music as they would a VCR tape.» By Unknown, USA Today, December 9, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Creative Commons Unveils Machine-Readable Copyright Licenses From the website: »Creative Commons, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting the creative reuse of intellectual works, launched its first product today: its machine-readable copyright licenses, available free of charge from The licenses allow copyright holders to easily inform others that their works are free for copying and other uses under specific conditions.» By Various Authors, Creative Commons, December 16, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright © 2002 Stephen Downes