Stephen's Web

By Stephen Downes
January 23, 2003

Business Etiquette Catching Up To A Wireless World I think that the lesson here is, if you can't multitask, don't bring your laptop into your class or your meeting. Nobody expects you to spend a solid two hours in rapt attention to the speaker (that never happened before wireless either). But you are expected to be following the speakrs when they are speaking. If you can't follow the speaker and read email at the same time, don't. If you can do both at the same time, then (in my view) it's only polite to provide audio and visual cues to let the speaker know you're listening. I especially recommend what is sometimes called "active listening" - reflecting and summarizing the content of their remark before proceeding with your own point. People relax a lot when they realize that you are in fact listening even if it looks like you're not. By AP, USA Today, january 22, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

SBC Enforcing All-Encompassing Web Patent A company called SBC Communications Inc is reported to be enforcing patent it owns on the use of frames in web pages. In a letter distributed to web site owners, the company notes the site's use of "selectors or tabs that correspond to specific locations (which) are not lost when a different part of the document is displayed to the user." It then demands between $527 and $16.6m per year to license the patented technology. This use of frames was first made possible in Netscape's Navigator 2.0, released in October of 1995 and was widely and almost immediately used to provide navigation for hundreds of websites (including my own). It is currently used by such systems as WebCT and Blackboard. The patent was filed in May, 1996 and granted in August, 1999. No word on why the company then waited four years to enforce royalties on its, um, invention. By ComputerWire, The Register, January 23, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Ink-jet Printing Creates Tubes of Living Tissue This has nothing to do with online learning but the wow factor is too much to pass over. I can't even begin to calculate the potential implications of this: "Three-dimensional tubes of living tissue have been printed using modified desktop printers filled with suspensions of cells instead of ink. The work is a first step towards printing complex tissues or even entire organs." Talk about an alternative use for Photoshop! By Charles Choi, New Scientist, january 22, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Standardization and Its Unseen Ironies Littered with great quotes and zingers, this article asks, "Who in their right educational mind would want to create a 21st-century system of learning based on the mismeasurement of young children?" The author then launches a sustained attack on the usefuless and reasonableness of standardized testing as a politically motivated ploy against public education and in favour of privatized, standards based learning. He writes, "Those who are most critical of progressive education seek to substitute a back-to-basics education that will actually accelerate the dumbing-down process, rather than reverse it... In other words, the test frenzy will create a dumber, not a smarter America." Wow. By Peter W. Cookson Jr., Education Week, January 22, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

High School Hub As Pete MacKay summarizes, "The High School Hub is a noncommercial learning portal to free online educational resources for high school students. It features subject guides for English, foreign languages, mathematics, science, and social studies." I like the "daily SAT question." By Schmidel & Wojcik, January, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2003 Stephen Downes
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