By Stephen Downes
May 19, 2004

Indiana Essays Being Graded by Computers
Teachers may hate it, but the irony is that students may prefer automated essay grading. "Teachers, you know, they're human, so they have to stumble around telling you what you need to do," he said at a practice session. "A computer can put it in fine print what you did wrong and how to fix it." By Sol Hurwitz, New York Times, May 19, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Yahoo Sets up Standard to Combat Spam
The anti-spam legislation having proven to be an elaborate sham, and the propogation of commercial threatening to choke online communication, companies offering email services are increasingly pressed to offer an anti-spam system. This method, in which outgoing messages are embedded with an encrypted digital signature matched to a signature on the server computer, offers some promise. But other major players - and in particular, Google (GMail) and Microsoft (Hotmail) must play along. I have my doubts. By Reuters , CNet News.com, May 18, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

New Service Connects Prospective Online Faculty With Institutions Offering Online Courses
When people say 'on demand' as in those IBM commercials they usually mean content or software. But probably the major 'on demand' application will be services, and in particular, people. This service is an example of that, in which online course providers can access instructional talent from an online pool. Something like this is my retirement plan: relax at home, and when I need some money, log on and offer some writing or consulting services to whomever is in the market. By Press Release, eMediaWire, May 19, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

A New Kind of Academic Freedom
Interesting item from Syllabus (though sponsored by HP, so read with the appropriate grain of salt) discussing the evolution of wireless access on campus. In some ways a bit dated (for example, discussing the 'current' 802.11b standard) and a bit wide-eyed (for example, observing that students will access the net from unusual places) but still a good way to catch some of the promise wireless brings to educational computing. Of course, since we can expect wireless to be pervasive throughout the community, the article doesn't answer a key question: why would a student travel to campus to access wirelessly when he or she could do it from the Starbucks downtown? By Linda Briggs, Syllabus, May, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Digital Storytelling Cookbook
Via elearningpost, this guide to storytelling is worth a look. I use some, but not all, of the elements. My items always have a distinct point of view and I do from time to time 'experiment' with emotional content ('experiment' isn't really the right word for me). But I don't try to solve a dramatic question - my stories are explorations more than anything else. I never use soundtracks (though I would if I were working in audio) and while my voice is somewhat unusual, I depend more on content and pacing that vocal intonation. By Various Authors, Center for Digital Storytelling, May, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Eugene sent me this link to MusickEd, which, while it is a commercial site (and slow to load on the dial-up line I am using - they should run the large image through Fireworks or consider scaling it down) is worth a mention because it seems to me that a site like this would work really well in conjunction with a site like inDiscover, which allows musicians to share their work with others and allows readers to identify their favorites. MusikEd offers free community services and a resource centre as well as commercial content packages. Though it may take a while to tweak the balance, I see something like this combination as promising - a wealth of free services, community, and content, supported financially by higher end or custom content and services. By Various Authors, May, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Global Support for Information Society Targets
Results of a survey taken for the World Summit for the Information Society (WSIS) showing strong (95 percent) support for the notion that "cyberspace should be declared a resource to be shared by all for the global public good." Count me in the 95 percent camp. Priorities identified by the survey include connecting educational institutions, research centres, and people in general. The survey was conducted online, is heavily biased toward government workers, and is fairly small for a global population, and so should not be accepted at face value as indicative of global opinion, only of the views of WSIS participants. By Press Release, International Telecommunication Union, May 17, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Social networking and iTunes
I like nuggets of information that are found through digging. Like this observation of the use of an iTunes fiule system as a messaging platform. One of the oldest rules of technology is this: people will use technology in ways it was never intended to be used. Futurists fail endlessly to predict the impact of technology because they look at the technology, not the people. But you have to watch the people, the way this author does. By John Zeratsky, May 11, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Have Your Google People Talk to my 'Googol' People
In the late 1930s, Columbia University professor Edward Kasner's 9-year-old nephew, Milton Sirotta, came up with the word "Googol" to name the largest number in the world. A googol, wrote Kasner, is 10 raised to the 100th power. Now relatives of Kasner, who died in 1955, are demanding compensation from Google. "Other than changing a couple of letters on the name, they are capitalizing on it. This is a business. These guys are going to make billions of dollars. It's not a cute little thing." Sheesh. By Gerald P. Merrell, Baltimore Sun, May 16, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Looking good. Todd sent me this link of a service that accesses your email and converts it to an RSS feed that you can read in your aggregator along with the news headlines. By Ryan Grove, May, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2003 Stephen Downes
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