By Stephen Downes
March 19, 2004

India Still Waits: Rural Poor Not Yet Ready For the Promise of Radio
Frederick Noronha has been covering India from the perspective of rural learning, open source software and radio for some time now. In this item, sent to me by email and posted on my website with his permission, he examines the need of the rural poor for community radio, and the halting steps toward that objective. It's a great read, and I will be adding more of his work to my website in the future. By Frederick Noronha, Stephen's Web, March, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Software Agent Targets Chatroom Paedophiles
Those of us who are old enough (and geeky enough) remember Julia and other early 'chatbots', computer programs that act like people in chat rooms. Or try to act like people, at least. The next generation of chatbots is here, powered by neural networks and given the task of protecting the unwary from the unsafe. Judging from the transcript in this message, they will be very difficult to detect (though if they're online 24-7, that would be a dead giveaway). One wonders, will the chatbots ever get good enough to teach? More. Via Dave Green's NTK. By Duncan Graham-Rowe, New Scientist, March 17, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

IA Summit 2004 Wrapup
Good coverage (though at times frustratingly terse) of the recent Information Architecture Summit. Day One and Day Two. Via elearningpost. I really wanted to see the 'student data' diagram in more detail, but it doesn't enlarge and doesn't seem to be on the author's website. Still, the information in these two pages is like a buffet: there's a lot of food, and it's quite tasty, but you have to take what's there and there's nobody to ask for special treats. I should point out, too, that this conference coverage is one of the better examples of group blogging I've seen. By Various Authors, Boxes and Arrows, March 19, 2004 12:52 p.m. [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The "Weariness of the Flesh": Reflections on the Life of the Mind in an Era of Abundance
Thomas Davenport writes, "A centralized highly engineered approach to this vast amount of information is clearly untenable. Even the most carefully maintained records are of no value unless they are used. Information management strategies that make every employee a records manager seem to be the only viable alternative." This theme is nicely developed as the authors look at the need for personal information management and argue for organic, bottom up systems to accomplish this task. By Paul B. Gandel, Richard N. Katz and Susan E. Metros, EDUCAUSE Review, March, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

A University Is Not a Business (and Other Fantasies)
I know a false dilemma when I see it, and I see one in this article. One one horn of the dilemma, a criticism of the university system I have been making for a long time now: that it is essentially a cottage industry, unable or unwilling to adapt to the growing needs of students and society, resistant in so many ways to the opportunities offered by technological change. On the other horn of the dilemma, the proposition that the university must be run as a business, consolodating and rationalizing, attending to the bottom line, becoming customer centric, and probably, doing away with tenure. The latter picture looks attractive only because the former is so dismal. But when one looks at the scandals of Enron and Worldcom, the manipulations of Mircosoft, the feeble performances of Nortel and Corel, to name just a few, the prospect of running universities like a business seems like nothing less than the short road to ruin for the educational system. No, I think we must cling to what universities have become: an essential public service, part of the social infrastructure, and the beacon of hope for people not only here but around the world. That does not obviate the need for change, but it does dictate the direction in which change must go, and it is not toward Wall Street. By Milton Greenberg, EDUCAUSE Review, March, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Chaire de recherche du Canada en e-formation
I don't report on job opportunities, but this is a special circumstance. The Université de Moncton, which is located across the road from us, has an opening for a Canada Research Chair in e-learning. The advertisement to which I link is in French, but so is the position, so if you can't read the ad you probably shouldn't apply for the position. That said, this is a good opportunity, and you'd be working across the road from Seb Paquet, myself, and the rest of the NRC e-learning group, and alongside people from TeleEducation and the crack team at Université de Moncton's IDITAE e-learning design centre. By Press Release, Université de Moncton, March, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Chile Introduces Its Digital Agenda
No English translation is available, so I rely on the E-Media Tidbits summary: "In a long-awaited step, the Chilean government this week introduced its Digital Agenda. It's a 60-page book and website with 34 commitments for years 2004-2006, including directives about promoting digital access, infrastructure, legislation, and use of digital technologies in business. What about digital content? There's a mention of state funding for 'quality content' and a push for e-learning systems." By Various Authors, Secretaría Técnica del Grupo de Acción Digital, February, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Designing Effective Online Learning Resources
Website version of PowerPoint slides (which means it requires Internet Explorer, though I viewed it with Firebird on Linux and it still mostly displayed). The slides are essentially a case study of the design, distribution and evlautaion of a learning object submitted to CLOE. Via D'Arcy Norman. Much more information on the same project is available on Krauss's weblog, available here. By Ferdinand Krauss, March 19, 2004 7:13 a.m. [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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