By Stephen Downes
April 6, 2005

Remote Approach Launches PDF Tracking Service
"Every time the PDF is read, it briefly interacts with the reporting repository to record the event. The user has access to live reports and data to see reports on views, distribution by channel or user group, or even download the logs into other systems and applications." You know, it seems to me that a document that reports back to its author when its being read isn't something to be touted - it's something that should be illegal. By Robyn Weisman, PDFzone, March 15, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Handheld Computer Yet to Reach the Masses
The low-cost Simputer developed for use in India is being regarded as a failure - "Picopeta has sold fewer than 2,000 units in the past 12 months, far below the target of 50,000. Worse, only 10 percent of those Simputers were bought for rural use. Encore software, the other company making Simputers, also sold about 2,000 units." The major reason for the slow sales seems to be the dramatic drop in price of traditional computers. "Sales of desktops and laptops are booming in India, with 4 million sold during the 2004-2005 fiscal year and demand expected to grow 35 percent annually." One wonders, then, about the future of the much-touted MIT project to create a $100 computer for the same sort of market. By S. Srinivasan, iWon News, April 3, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Why Google is Syndication Shy
I think there's a germ of truth here: "Feeds may be Google's greatest enemy. If Google did offer feeds that connected users with the information they are looking for from the Web they would miss the opportunity to advertise to them. What will remedy this? Google will incorporate contextual Adwords ads into these kinds of feeds, much like Overture has done. What’s taking so long? Beats me." But the answer is this: if Google can aggregate, anyone can aggregate - and who is going to aggregate advertisements? The very first thing to follow a Google RSS feed will be an ad-free Google RSS feed. By Steve Rubel, Micro Persuasion, April 6, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Digital Tweed: Mapping the Terrain of Online Education
Discussion of the recent Sloan-C reports on the number of students involved in online learning. "Some 1.92 million students were enrolled in at least one online course as of fall 2003, up almost 20 percent from 1.6 million in Fall 2002. Sloan-C projected the Fall 2003 online course enrollment numbers would increase by a third to 2.63 million students for Fall 2004." Via Distance-Educator, which seems to have repaired its RSS feeds. I also notice that DE is now offering a "premier membership subscription service" consisting of "8 months of our exclusive, unique Executive Digests". Nice work - but can you make a living from it? By Kenneth C. Green, Campus Technology, April, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Why Online Teaching Turned Me Off
I'm not really sure of the point of this contrarian article - the author says "I want to look my students right in the eyeball" while pretending (I guess) that the eyes in the top row of a 500 seat classroom are anything other than a distinct blur. What i think happened is that the author expected a 2010 experience from 1995 software - this bit, for example, is telling: "Click, click. Next comment. If there's a thread to this discussion, I've lost it." But mostly, I think, it's this: "I love classrooms. I love the physical presence of students in all their variety." I'm glad this professor enjoys himself so much. But this professor's pleasure is no reason to keep learning in the dark ages. By Susan Sharpe, Washington Post, April 3, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Critical Attributes of ID* Project Success
This item is a bit dated, but it was raised in the same conversation on trdev as the next item, and seemed worth passing along (*Instructional Design). By Michael Greer, Educational Technology Publications, in 1992 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

How to Select a Content Developer
Useful article that takes a middle-of-the-road approach to selecting a content designer based on an analysis of the design requirements (based on the ADDIE Instructional Design Model). By Mitch Weisburgh, Pilot Online Learning, April, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Interesting. "MindRaider is Semantic Web outliner. It aims to connect the tradition of outline editors with emerging technologies. MindRaider mission is to organize not only the content of your hard drive but also your cognitive base and social relationships in a way that enables quick navigation, concise representation and inferencing." Coded in java, so it's a pain to install. Looks like open source - it's on SourceForge - but absent any declarations I can't tell for sure. The integration with a wiki is a very cool idea. By Martin Dvorak, April, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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